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The country’s oldest state capital is anything but outdated. In fact, Santa Fe brims with fantastic food, stunning outdoor terrain, and world-class galleries. Ready to find out why choosy travelers swoon over this storied city? Read on!
By Amanda Gleason
Hotel Santa Fe The city’s only Native American–owned hotel displays clay pots, grinding stones, and other artifacts and serves traditional fare, like bison burgers, at its eatery, Amaya.
La Fonda on the Plaza Savor this historic hotel’s signature margarita, the Bell Ringer, at its lively rooftop bar, where visitors flock to soak up stunning sunset views.
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Daily guided hikes are offered free of charge to guests of this soothing spread, which overlooks the Rio Grande River Valley.
Discover other cultures from around the world as you…
Explore the Past
Where can you find scenic views, renowned museums, and blooming gardens? Museum Hill, located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, offers a one-stop shop for some of the city’s top attractions. Roam among venues like the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, where the buzzed-about turquoise exhibit—composed of hundreds of necklaces, belts, and more—steals the show starting in mid-April, and the Museum of International Folk Art, where you can eye traditional Japanese kites. Then, wander over to the new Santa Fe Botanical Garden, where the bulbs are beginning to bloom. Future residents of the space include native plants once used for healing. Now that’s sowing the seeds for success.
Ten Thousand Waves Relaxing treatments and outdoor soaking tubs await at this Japanese-style spa escape, perched upon a mountainside and surrounded by wildflowers, piñons, and junipers.
Secreto Lounge Sip on The Agave Way—made with red grapes, green chile, tequila, lime juice, and agave—at this intimate hangout inside the famed Hotel St. Francis.
Pedal your way to peace of mind when you…
Go For a Spin
Happy trails to you! Named one of North America’s top 10 cities for mountain biking in 2013 by Singletracks.com, Santa Fe’s pleasant weather only adds to its appeal. Fear not if your wheelies are a little rusty: You’ll find settings suitable for every rider here. Novices will discover plenty of easy terrain—and stunning mountain views—among the 25 miles of multi-use paths at La Tierra Trails. If you prefer a more intense ride, pedal to the 22-mile Dale Ball Trail system, which winds through piñon- and juniper-covered foothills. (We recommend a late afternoon jaunt for prime sunset sightings.) And if you really want to push it, hop on the Winsor Trail (it’s accessible from multiple points in town), and make the ascent to the top of Hyde Park Road, an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet. Talk about a tall order.
Settle in for a meal at:
Tia Sophia’s Kick off your morning with blueberry pancakes and chorizo-stuffed breakfast burritos at this downtown joint.
The Compound Desserts like liquid chocolate cake and ruby grapefruit granita complete your meal at this elegant eatery, owned by James Beard Award–winning chef Mark Kiffin.
The Cowgirl Pull up a chair at this rousing restaurant and order the “Mother,” the legendary green chile cheeseburger topped with bacon, tomato, and a touch of truffle oil.
Then stimulate your inner aesthete as you…
Peruse Local Gems
Here’s a city that’s not afraid to wear its art on its sleeve. More than 250 galleries fill this creative hub, and about one-third of them are situated along a half-mile stretch of Canyon Road, where everything from watercolors to Native American drums are waiting to woo you. As you stroll along, keep your eyes peeled for the kaleidoscopic wind sculptures that spin outside of Barbara Meikle Fine Art. Inside, you’ll find serene landscape paintings mixed with quirky blown-glass fish sculptures. From there, head to the bustling Railyard District, located just south of the Plaza. These vibrant blocks are home to nearly a dozen more galleries. Don’t miss Santa Fe Clay, a studio and shop all in one. Its year-round classes give you the chance to knead and throw with the best of them.
Make a Stop at:
The Rainbow Man Peruse turquoise earrings, coral crosses, and other vintage jewelry dating back to the 1800s at this arts and crafts shop, which opened its doors in 1945.
Kakawa Chocolate House Truffles, agave caramels, and chiles de arbol—whole toasted peppers dipped in caramel and chocolate—are just a few of the reasons sweets-lovers swarm this cozy shop.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Through September, explore the Hawaii-themed exhibit, which features works by O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, highlighting each artist’s experiences on the sunny isle.
Can’t get enough of the local grub? Then continue to…
Relish the Taste
What do you do when your official state vegetable isn’t actually a veggie? Embrace it anyway! Chile peppers are classified as fruits by horticulturists, but that doesn’t stop this flavor-filled city from celebrating them. Discover what makes this fiery food so irresistible during a hands-on class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, where chefs brief you on the defining characteristics of green and red chilies, and also school you on tacos and tamales. The best part? Sampling your creations is a graduation requirement. If you’re craving more global cuisine, the Santa Fe Culinary Academy—a professional school that trains the future Emerils of the world—offers classes to the public that range from Eastern European dishes to international beers. That’s what we call fare play.
Getting There Fly into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), then hop aboard the Sandia Shuttle Express to Santa Fe.
Getting Around Navigating the city’s five historic districts can easily be done on foot. When it’s time for a rest, hitch a ride on Santa Fe Trails, the city’s bus system.
Getting Out Discover rare finds ranging from hand-blown glass figurines to artisanal teas every Sunday at the Railyard Artisan Market.
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