Shabby bohemian chic has never been Santa Fe's style. Sure, its most distinctive city buildings are made of mud, but its arts scene and civic soul have long had a lustrous, upscale classicism. Which makes what's happening in this industrial, 50-acre lot ―once used as a switching ground for trains ― so unexpected. Drawn by lofty warehouses and a sense of artistic ferment, some of Santa Fe's trendiest galleries are relocating to the Railyard District with restaurants and boutiques in tow, giving this area the vitality of a tiny Santa Monica. It may be only half a mile from the historic Plaza, but the old railyard feels as if it exists in a different century. This one.Site Santa Fe.
What: The most important contemporary art space in the Southwest, with exhibits both exhilarating and discomfiting. (And host of the Sixth International Biennial, which begins July 9.) When: 10-5 Wed-Sat, 10-7 Fri, 12-5 Sun. How much: $8, free on Fridays; $10 during the Biennial. Where: 1606 Paseo de Peralta; www.sitesantafe.org or 505/989-1199.
What: The neighborhood pioneer, open since last year. Its stark white space exudes L.A. cool. Through the end of May, catch the scavenged-material sculptures of Albuquerque artist Matt Jones. When: 10-5 Tue-Sat. Where: 1611A Paseo de Peralta; 505/989-4897.
Casa Nova and Asian Adobe.
What: Two import shops under one roof. One nods to southern Africa with ceramic tableware, chunky jewelry, and handbags woven from gum wrappers; the other looks to China, with pearls and silk pashminas. When: 10-5 Mon-Sat. Where: 530 S. Guadalupe; 505/983-8558 (Casa Nova); 505/992-6846 (Asian Adobe).
Railyard Restaurant & Saloon.
What: Smokestack Lightning Burgers and Bloody Train Wreck cocktails served in an old-time railway storage warehouse. When: Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner daily. How much: $$. Where: 530 S. Guadalupe; 505/989-3300.
Santa Fe Southern Railway.
What: Vintage cars, plush seats, and a scenic 18-mile route through the high desert to Lamy and back. When: 10:30-3 Mon-Sat; the shorter Hotshot trip runs to the Galisteo Basin 2-4:30 Sun. How much: From $28, $14 ages 3-13. Where: 410 S. Guadalupe; www.thetraininsantafe.com or 888/989-8600.
Info: The Railyard District is about ½ mile south-west of the historic Santa Fe Plaza, with Guadalupe St., Paseo de Peralta, and Cerrillos Rd. as its major thoroughfares.