Santa Fe Travel Guide - Where To Spend and Where To Save

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I love Santa Fe.

I love the culture, architecture, food, colors, people... and I really love that I have a cousin who lives there so that we get to go visit every so often! 

Santa Fe is one of those of unique places that is as charming as it is quirky, and as cutting-edge as it is classic, which makes it all the more enjoyable for every member of the family! 

My family and I have visited Santa Fe the last two summers, and while I am nowhere close to being an expert, I have picked up a few tips and saving tricks that I hope will benefit others as well. 

Without further ado, here is my Santa Fe Travel Guide: When to Spend and When to Save.

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Getting there: Save 

The drive from Denver to Santa Fe is a mere 6 hours, so getting there for us is fairly easy and inexpensive; however, if you are traveling from a further distance, you may want to save valuable time by flying in to either Santa Fe Regional Airport (SAF) or Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ). As I have talked about before, my husband, boys, and I love to travel (and fly several times a year), and are always looking at different ways to save, which is why we:

1.) Chose a credit card designated for travel points

2.) Do a lot of price comparing through third-party travel sites

Now, to expand on each point:

The Best Rewards Credit Card

I have said it before and I will say it again: I am a huge fan/follower/advocate of Dave Ramsey, BUT... the one rule of his that we do not follow is not having credit cards... I know, I know; that is probably his biggest rule of all, but here is the thing: We use our credit card the same way we'd use a debit card and basically charge all of our bills/expenses to it. Here is the kicker, though: The credit card is linked to our bank account, so we literally pay of it off 2-3 times per month and NEVER put anything on there that we cannot afford or immediately pay back. 

(I cannot stress this enough: If you charge things and are not able to pay it off right away, DO NOT DO IT! You are just acquiring high interest rates/debt and will not reap the rewards of the card.)

That being said, we are able to earn quite a few points each month through our handy dandy Chase Sapphire Preferred card! 

With a million travel-related credit cards out there, why did we decide to go with this one? After my husband did a lot of research (and I mean A LOT of research), he found that we would earn points for each dollar spent AND receive 25% more points when redeemed for travel! So far this year, my husband and I have taken an anniversary trip to Las Vegas (our roundtrip airfare on Southwest and room at Planet Hollywood both covered by points), and used our points to cover the airfare for next month's trip to Disney World. 

All of this being said, if you plan to pay off your credit card at the end of each month, travel rewards cards are definitely the way to go (especially Chase Sapphire)! 

Utilize Price Comparison Sites

You probably know this trick already, but price comparison sites like Booking.com can be a huge asset when it comes to getting the best deal. Since they cover hundreds of thousands of destinations and work with countless airlines/hotels/car rental companies, you can easily compare airlines, prices, and arrival times to make sure you are getting the best deal. 

Booking.com

Accommodations: Spend

Now, when I say spend, I don't mean you need to be paying $250+ for a hotel...

...but, in a unique town like Santa Fe, I think it is both fun and important to nix the generic hotel chain for something a bit more authentic. 

Don't get me wrong; when we went to my cousin's graduation last summer, we stayed at a chain motel that was very clean and comfortable, but after booking a country casita from Airbnb on our last trip, I don't think I can go back! 

Santa Fe is famous for its stucco siding, clay roofs, and colorful desert setting, which -- for a city girl like me -- is an absolute treat to experience, which is why I whole-heartedly endorse skipping the hotel and opting for your own New Mexican home! From cozy casitas to charming adobe style homes, there is no shortage of unique places to stay in Santa Fe. 

Believe it or not, renting a home in Santa Fe is incredibly affordable, with some casitas costing a mere $49/night (meaning you do not necessarily have to spend more to get more)! 

The place my family and I stayed was on a working horse ranch, and had a living room, 2 bedrooms, a loft with two beds (which the boys LOVED), a full kitchen, and a gorgeous bathroom. The cost for the entire house was $149/night (which, split between my folks, brother, and myself was next-to-nothing) and the experience was priceless. 

 Can I move here?! 

Can I move here?! 

Santa Fe Airbnb
 The stable was right outside our front door! 

The stable was right outside our front door! 

 Our host was so sweet and gracious, and brought out the miniature horse for the boys to pet! 

Our host was so sweet and gracious, and brought out the miniature horse for the boys to pet! 

 If you need a great place to stay in Santa Fe, shoot me a message and I'll give you the info on where we stayed. 

If you need a great place to stay in Santa Fe, shoot me a message and I'll give you the info on where we stayed. 

If you have never used Airbnb, you are in luck, as my reader's can receive $40 off their first stay by using this link to book! 

Food: Spend

Repeat after me: When I go to Santa Fe, I solemnly swear to skip the fast food joints and only eat at local restaurants. 

Good? Good. 

New Mexico is home to my favorite foods ever, like green chile (What can I say? I'm a Colorado girl!), Huevos Rancheros, and breakfast burritos, so whenever I go, you better believe that I will splurge in terms of both carbs and cash! 

Obviously, smothered burritos and homemade sopapillas are not going to set you back a bunch, but I still recommend setting money aside just for food. 

 Breakfast at the incredible San Marcos Cafe & Feed Store: Christmas-style Huevos Rancheros (what else?) and coffee.

Breakfast at the incredible San Marcos Cafe & Feed Store: Christmas-style Huevos Rancheros (what else?) and coffee.

Entertainment: Save

One of my very favorite things to do in Santa Fe is to just walk around and enjoy the art and architecture of this beautiful area, which costs a whopping $0. However, there are a bunch of other really awesome things to do around Santa Fe, like art museums, history museums, and other special events, so be sure to look ahead of time for potential deals and promotions. 

Another way to save on Santa Fe attractions? 

Groupon

I use Groupon for EVERYTHING (please tell me I'm not the only one), so you better believe I use it for food and entertainment whenever we travel. 

As of this publication, Groupon has Santa Fe deals for such things as:

  • Wine Tasting for Two or Four with Syrah Wine to Take Home at Vivac Winery (Up to 48% Off)
  • Luxury Spa Packages at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado (Up to 49% Off)

  • Visit for Two or Four Adults at IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Up to 52% Off)

  • Hot-Air-Balloon Ride for Two or Four from Air Carriage Hot Air Balloon Rides (Up to 48% Off)

Obviously the deals on Groupon are always changing, so be sure to check before you go!

Happy saving and happier travels, friends! If you have been to Santa Fe, I would love to hear about your favorite things to see, do, and eat. Please share your recommendations in the comments! 

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