Unique Blend of History, Culture and Nature
As soon as you step foot in Santa Fe you will realize it is unlike anywhere else. With its rich history and heritage that includes American Indian, Spanish, Mexican, cowboy, artistic and modern U.S. cultures, Santa Fe is among the nation’s most unique cities. You’ll discover that it definitely is one of the most interesting, and was named by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as a Best Small City.
Centrally located in the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, Santa Fe has attracted artists, hikers, seekers, skiers and writers to its temperate climates and abundant scenery.
The nation’s second oldest city, its oldest and highest-elevation state capital (2,200 meters above sea level), New Mexico’s oldest city retains a sophisticated feel – its Santa Fe Style.
Authentic Cultures Blended
In Santa Fe, colorful open-air marketplaces, ancient buildings (the Palace of the Governors, for example, is the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building), art galleries and museums sit side-by-side with sleek restaurants, exciting nightclubs and modern hotels. The plaza in downtown Santa Fe is filled with modern stores of all kinds situated alongside the Native American art market, which takes place underneath the portal at the Governor’s Palace.
Outside the city, highlights include Bandelier National Monument, which protects more than 13,000 hectares of canyon and mesa with petroglyphs, dwellings and masonry of indigenous cultures dating back more than 11,000 years. Or, travel the High Road to Taos, a 170-kilometer trip through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains dotted with Spanish Colonial and Pueblo Indian villages where you can tour historic buildings and shop for authentic crafts.
It should come as no surprise that the museums and galleries in Santa Fe feature a blend of art, culture and history.
Some of the better-known include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the Museum of International Folk Art and the New Mexico History Museum.
The Loretto Chapel, now a museum and used for weddings, became known for its “miraculous” spiral staircase. Legend has it that the helix was crafted in three months by an unknown carpenter using no central support or nails. And don’t miss the sanctuary in Chimayo. Pilgrims have for centuries trekked to the chapel for its healing powers.
You’ll find endless opportunities to hike, bike or ride horses in the mountains that surround Santa Fe, and rock climbing, ballooning, parasailing and rafting the nearby rivers also are popular activities.
The region has become known for the quality of its “dry” snow, and ski slopes can be found just minutes from Santa Fe. Trails through the mountains and hills provide opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoe trekking.
The mountains also provide peaceful retreats. Warm, geothermal springs offer solace; you can get a massage or indulge in the treatment traditions of the Southwest USA or Southeast Asia at a local day spa or resort.
Tastes of the Southwest
After a day in the mountains, you need delicious foods to restore and renew. A food capital of the Southwest, Santa Fe is known for its flavorful dishes.
Local favorite staples include Mexican food trucks in the plaza downtown, rich posole (hominy stew), tasty barbecue and, of course, red- and green-chili sauces (known as “Christmas-style” when served together). You owe it to yourself to venture out on the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail. Visit the confectioners’ shops that ring the historic downtown area and you’ll find everything from the most sublime Belgian chocolates to ancient Meso-American-style elixirs.