Recommendations for Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Everywhere in Between

Hi, all! My fiancé and I are taking a roadtrip, and plan on spending most of our time in Flagstaff, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, and would love any suggestions on things to see, do and eat along the way.

We are already planning on spending time at the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest National Park, and some of the petroglyph and archaeological sites. While in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we’re also planning on visiting at least one of the pueblos in the area. Any suggestions on specific sites or pueblos?

We’re big fans of museums, sampling regional cuisine, cultural experiences, and used bookstores. I’d also love to know if there are any unique churches, religious sites, or roadside shrines you’ve encountered along the way.

Thank you so much!

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There’s a little roadside chapel between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Chapel of the Holy Dove. Don’t know of the history of it or if it’s significant in any way. I’ve never seen anyone parked there. While on churches, there’s also the Chapel of the Holy Cross down in Sedona, which isn’t far from Flagstaff. If you do head down to Sedona, then Jerome, AZ isn’t that far away either. It’s formerly a mining ghost town that has been revived recently and now has a bunch of trendy shops and restaurants.

Picture Canyon in Flagstaff is a neat little park with petroglyph sites. The Lowell Observatory is also worth checking out, especially if it’s a clear night. Walnut Canyon National Monument is also just outside of Flagstaff and has numerous Native American cultural sites.

As far as food and drink, there’s seven craft breweries in Flagstaff, by my recollection, and they’re all pretty good. The downtown is very walkable and has several used bookstores.

If you’re interested in museums, then while you’re up at the Grand Canyon be sure to check out the Tusayan Museum and the Yavapai Geology Museum. They’re both inside the park along the main corridor of the South Rim.

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In Flagstaff, head to Walnut Canyon National Monument 10 miles southeast of downtown Flagstaff. The one-mile roundtrip strenuous Island Trail will take you past 25 ancient cliff dwelling rooms. I also like Sunset Crater (be sure to go into the ice cave).
If you are driving south from Flagstaff, take Route 89A through Oak Creek Canyon and go to Sedona. If you are on Hwy 17, take the turn-off to Montezuma’s Castle, a beautiful Native American cliff dwelling ruins. You can also take a little detour west from Sedona and visit the old mining town of Jerome.

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I was in Albuquerque and Santa Fe about… 10 years ago, for the Balloon Fiesta, so hopefully my recommendations are still current.
I loved the Georgia O’Keefe museum (and I wish I’d had time to ride out to Ghost Ranch). The Albuquerque Botanical Garden and adjacent aquarium were pretty nice. The Land of Fire and Ice (a volcano with an ice cave underneath) was a nice little hike but a bit underwhelming. I wish I could remember where the waterfalls and hot springs we found were, but alas! I doubt any of my food recommendations are up to date but Satellite coffee was pretty good.

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Santa Fe: I love Bandolier. Meow Wolf is also delightfully weird. Generally, my favorite regional foods are sopaipillas and most things with green chiles (I don’t have specific recommendations for places to get them, but they should be widely available). The restaurant Cowgirl is fun (get the green chile cheeseburger). If you have any interest in spas or just soaking in an outdoor hot tub, I highly recommend Ten Thousand Waves. Presumably you know about the Palace of the Governors; even if it’s a prime tourist area, I still enjoy visiting–there are several museums in easy walking distance around there.

There are some tiny wineries and breweries I always visit when I’m in the area, but they’ll probably be out of your way (they’re farther north, closer to Taos): La Chiripada, Black Mesa, Blue Heron Brewery (in Rinconada), and Vivac (oh! I see Vivac has a tasting room in Santa Fe now).

I’ve also heard that Ghost Ranch is great, though I haven’t been yet (I’ll be going at the end of May). Have fun! The Southwest is gorgeous.

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While you’re going through Winslow (which you pretty much have to between Albuquerque and Flagstaff), stop at the Standin’ on the Corner Park and belt out Eagles tunes with everyone else…it’s a pop culture thing, and it’s super cheesy, but so much kitschy fun for a pit stop. There’s a flatbed Ford and a mural and statues and every shop in town has the Eagles greatest hits on repeat. You can’t not take it easy. :wink:

Also in Winslow: Tiny Church of the Mother Road, which proclaims itself the World’s Smallest Church (it’s a two-seater!). Pop in, then go grab a drink at Sipp Shop and bask in the Route 66-ness of it all.

Recommended in the Flagstaff area if you want to tour archaeological sites is Wupatki. If you only make 2 of the ruins in the park (it’s pretty big), hit Wukoki, which is generally undervisited and from which you can stand in a ruin and look out toward the Painted Desert, and the big pueblo with the visitor’s center.

Last, but not least: Starrlight Books in Flagstaff. Great stuff…it’s one of my favorite indie booksellers.

Enjoy! Northern Arizona is my happy place!

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http://www.ranchodechimayo.com/#welcome2
This restaurant is near the Chimay Shrine north of Santa Fe. Great for and the shrine is interesting.

If you happen to wind up south of that immediate area, near Alamogordo, there’s the New Mexico Museum of Space History. It’s been two decades since I stated in town and a road trip and checked it out simply because it was there, but I do remember enjoying it well. If I were to go back I don’t think I’d go out of my way to see it again, but it does put you close to White Sands which is worth the stop over when you’re near.

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This, but also one must go to the Frontier restaurant in ABQ for the burritos and sweet rolls and John Wayne.

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In Albuquerque you should do whatever you can to get a Sonoran hot dog - usually found in road side trucks or stands. It’s the best street food I’ve ever had.

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In Santa Fe, I like Tomasita’s for New Mexico style Mexican food (it’s own cuisine, really, based on the green and red chiles). Also, I never miss going to Tecolote Cafe for breakfast or lunch. Get either the Breakfast Basket or their very good and hot Green Chile Stew with a big, puffy tortilla.
If you want a great green chile cheeseburger, I like the fast-food chain called Blake’s Lotaburger.
Jackalope, along Cerillos Rd., is a fun place to shop for many kinds of interesting things.

If you take the road up to Taos, try Orlando’s for good NM food.

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I asked my mom about pueblos (she lives in the area and is the reason I know anything about it!) and she says generally she recommends Taos Pueblo, but also see if anyplace is having a dance or feast when you’re there. And if you’re going in August, the Santa Fe Indian Market is apparently huge.

On your way to Flagstaff, maybe also check out Canyon de Chelly? We enjoyed hiking down the canyon–though that was 20+ years ago!

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Canyon Road in Santa Fe is fascinating – many artists exhibiting their works. Prices are moderate – I bought a painting and love it!

The Georgia O’Keefe Museum is wonderful, also the Folk Art Museum.

Taos Pueblo or Bandolier or both.

On the road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is the Mine Shaft Tavern. Check it out!

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Stay over night in Gallop, NM at El Rancho Hotel at 1000 E Highway 66. Each room is named for a movie star, many of which stayed there while filming in the area. It is an amazing Hotel.

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In Santa Fe, go ti Meow Wolf and plan to spend some time. It is amazing! If you go from Albuquerque to Santa Fe via the Turquoise Trail instead of the freeway you will go through Madrid, pronounced MAH-drid, a little arty town. The Mine Shaft is ok but we like the place across the street better, and there are many interesting shops to check out. In Santa Fe, in addition to Meow Wolf, do visit museum Hill. There are several museums around a plaza with several sculptures all around the plaza. We spent much of a day exploring 1/2 of the craft museum. There are free shuttles from downtown Santa Fe as well ample parking. There is a great art museum and a New Mexico history museum downtown. If you go to Flagstaff and head east out of town you might turn off at Volcano National Monument. There is a lot of info about volcanoes at the ranger station and there are large lava fields you can walk through as well as a cute little volcano.

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Flagstaff has the Riordan Mansion museum, the Northern Arizona Natural History Museum (dinosaursssss!), and a pioneer museum off the top of my head. That’s on top of the National Parks that everyone else has listed (I prefer Walnut Canyon to Wupatki but I always end up almost blowing away in the wind at Wupatki so that might have something to do with it.)

If you do head over to Jerome, there’s also Tuzigoot National Park in Clarksdale. And if you’re there it’s like 5 minutes to downtown Cottonwood which seems really touristy/artsy from what I drove through. Lots of antiquing opportunities that I plan to hit this summer. Oh and if you’re there then you can head over to Out of Africa wildlife zoo and see the tiger splash show. But maybe not in the dead of summer. That was a big mistake.

Williams, AZ has Bearizona, which looks interesting but I haven’t been myself just yet.

Heading towards Winslow on your way to Albuquerque you’ll pass Two Guns, an abandoned tourist trap/camp ground with a dark history. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/two-guns
The Mountain Lion sign for the zoo is still visible and it’s fun to poke around the maze of ruins. I haven’t been down into the death cave yet. It’s cold and steep down there and my knees wouldn’t like that at the moment.

A detour off of Route 66 onto the Navajo Nation and the boarder of New Mexico will show you Window Rock. It’s beautiful (and free!)

Happy exploring!

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New New Mexican here (as in, I recently moved to New Mexico). I love this state. Santa Fe is a wonderful place, and the plaza is worth seeing, along with the New Mexico history museum, the galleries, restaurants, etc… Others have mentioned Meow Wolf, which is a must for a first-time visitor, at least if you’re into weird art. And if you’re on these forums, then you probably are.

Bandolier is really cool, too, and if you want nature, taking a trip further up into the Jemez Mountains and the Valle Caldera nature preserve is awesome. The hot springs up in Jemez Springs are less populated than you’ll find at the resorts down in Santa Fe. Unfortunately, the wild hot springs in the area aren’t as good as they used to be. There are some of those near Taos on the Rio Grande if you ask around. A trip to Taos is worth it, too.

And since you mentioned religious sites, most non-locals probably don’t know that right now, religious pilgrims are traveling across New Mexico, to sites like Chimayo, which is north of Santa Fe. Your Ultimate Guide to the Chimayo, NM Pilgrimage

Rancho de Chimayo is also an outstanding New Mexican restaurant. The Chimayo chile is a rare local cultivar that I love (more obscure than the standard New Mexico chiles). It’s a town that’s just rife with authentic New Mexican culture, even if less touristy and bougie than Santa Fe and Taos.

And wherever you are, ABQ, Santa Fe, and all points in-between, I can tell you were to go for the best New Mexican food, or just a good green chile cheeseburger.

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MeowWolf!

I’d recommend Acoma Pueblo…it is in a gorgeous part of New Mexico-right between Gallup and Albuquerque. It is set back a ways from I-40, so do allow enough time. You must go with a tour guide and they all give wonderful insight into the present day life and history of the Pueblo.

I also love Inscription Rock at El Moro Park. While there, stop at the Ancient Way Cafe!

And Chaco Canyon–it is where this region really began. Don’t miss it!

Depending on the time of the year when you come–you could hit the Intertribal Ceremonial in Gallup over the first weekend in August or the Gallup Balloon festival during the first weekend in December. Both are not to be missed!!

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I agree!! I live in Gallup and it is a gem! Come for our Arts Crawl on the second Saturday of every month OR for the nightly Indian Dances at City Hall in the summer time!