Established in 1607, Santa Fe, New Mexico is brimming with history, culture, art, and natural beauty like no other in the United States. A world-renowned tourist destination, it features the best in southwestern cuisine, shopping, and gallery visits. For those who love the outdoors, the surrounding areas sparkle with beauty, blue skies and sunshine 300 days a year. Festivals abound and music, from opera to jazz, can be heard most nights of the week.
History buffs find full-time pleasure exploring Santa Fe’s many important sites. The city claims the oldest church in the country, the beautiful Iglesia de la Misión de El San Miguel. The jewel of the city is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, built in the 19th century in the French Romanesque Renaissance style. Visitors flock to the Loretto Chapel to see its wonderful staircase with two 360-degree turns.
Long before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, American Indians inhabited New Mexico and forever influenced its culture and traditions. Today you can visit 19 towns located throughout the state, including the famous Pueblo de Taos, known for its multi-story adobe architecture. The village artists are known for their clay pottery, jewelry, and art. Many ceremonial dances are open to the public. Not surprisingly, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Santa Fe one of the organization’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations in America for 2009.
One of the world’s leading art centers, Santa Fe is home to more than 200 galleries and more than a dozen museums. Spend an afternoon at Museum Hill, beginning with lunch at the Museum Hill Cafe. While you’re there, don’t miss the Wheelwright Museum, an eight-sided building inspired by a Navajo hooghan. The Case Trading Post in the basement of the museum is one of the most beautiful museum shops in the world. The prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market takes place every August and features more than 1,200 artists from 100 tribes.
The natural beauty of the Santa Fe area is breathtaking. For those who love the outdoors, there are every imaginable activity available, such as hiking, skiing, and river rafting. The Bandelier National Monument contains beautiful trails, cliff dwellings, and ancient artifacts from the villages. The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a geological wonder filled with towering cone-shaped tent rock formations. Close to town and a great way to spend a few hours, Pecos National Historical Park is a beautiful site with ruins dating back to the 17th century.
Santa Fe is a year-round tourist destination, with the summer and Christmas holidays being the most popular due to its special festivals. Visit anytime. You will come back again and again.