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Travel Buzz
Santa Fe, New Mexico
By Brian Powell

Proudly hailed as “the city different,” Santa Fe is simply unparalleled with its rich heritage, history, culture and art. Nestled in the picturesque Sangre de Cristo Mountains— foothills to the Rocky Mountains— the city immerses visitors in unspoiled natural beauty and an average of 325 days of sunshine and clear blue skies.

Spanish for holy faith, Santa Fe offers plenty of fun for everyone — spectacular dining and shopping, relaxing spas, museums, skiing and outdoor adventures for all skill levels. Whether it’s exploring the city’s vibrant central Plaza, taking in the world-famous Santa Fe Opera during the summer months or exploring the region’s Native American, Latino and Western cultures, visitors to the city might be slightly overwhelmed at having so much to choose from and experience.

EXPLORE HISTORY

If it’s your first time visiting Santa Fe, consider starting your adventure downtown. With a number of historically significant sites like the Plaza, Saint Francis Cathedral, Lorretto Chapel, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Palace of the Governors, downtown Santa Feoffers many interesting sites all within comfortable walking distance to each other.

Not to be overlooked is the Plaza —the heart of downtown Santa Fe and a central part of the city for nearly 400 years.  The Plaza remains the city’s cultural hub, hosting Indian and Spanish markets and other annual events as well as community gatherings, concerts and more. After you’ve explored the Plaza, venture north on Palace Avenue to visit the Palace of the Governors. Originally Spanish for holy faith, Santa Fe offers plenty of fun for everyone — spectacular dining and shopping, relaxing spas, museums, skiing and outdoor adventures for all skill levels. Whether it’s exploring the city’s vibrant central Plaza, taking in the world-famous Santa Fe Opera during the summer months or exploring the region’s Native American, Latino and Western cultures, visitors to the city might be slightly overwhelmed at having so much to choose from and experience. built in 1610 to serve as Santa Fe’s capital building, this one-story adobe holds strong as the oldest, continuously used U.S. public building in the nation. The Palace holds a collection of over 15,000 authentic southwestern objects and artifacts. 

Continuing down the Old Santa Fe Trail, visitors will discover Loretto Chapel and the infamous spiral staircase. With two complete 360-degree spiral turns, and no visible means of support, this “miraculous” staircase continues to baffle present day engineers. Plan a visit to the Loretto Chapel and witness what some believe to be the craftsmanship of St. Joseph himself.

SNOW, BLUE SKIES & SHOPPING

Excitement takes many forms in and around Santa Fe. Adrenaline seekers will find spectacular skiing conditions just 30 minutes from the city in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Ski Santa Fe offers world-class skiing and snowboarding with dozens of amazing trailheads that also allow access to many continental divide hiking trails, cross country skiing trails, and scenic vistas. Couple the light and dry snow with steep terrain and an incredible panorama, and it’s hard to beat skiing in Santa Fe. What continues to set this city apart from other great destinations is its phenomenal weather and crystal-clear blue skies. To make the most of the superb climate, consider taking a hot air balloon ride with one of the region’s many hot air balloon outfitters. These romantic and breathtaking journeys gently ascend into the sky and provide an awe-inspiring view of the southwest’s alluring terrain. With prior arrangements, balloon companies offer special services for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and more.

 

For unique shopping, Santa Fe hosts the country’s largest and most celebrated Native American market. Everything from handmade jewelry and intricate textiles, to contemporary paintings and photography can be found throughout the 600 individual booths. The Santa Fe Indian Market features the work of more than 1,100 artists hailing from over 100 native tribes. Nearly 100,000 people, including collectors, gallery owners, and art enthusiasts flock to Santa Fe each August for the Native American Indian Market. The 2011 market is scheduled to take place from August 20-21.

FINE ART & DINING

Art is everywhere in Santa Fe—and in addition to splendid Native American art, the city is also home to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. As the most visited Art museum in New Mexico, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to an internationally known American woman artist. One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was devoted to creating imagery that expressed what she called “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.” O’Keeffe’s images include abstractions, large-scale depictions of flowers, leaves, rocks, shells, bones, New York City scapes, and paintings of architectural and landscape forms of northern New Mexico.  After a day of relaxing art viewing, a truly authentic Southwestern meal at one of Santa Fe’s best restaurants will certainly be welcomed. Be sure to visit Santa Luna Restaurant for “can’t miss” dishes like Chile en Norado (roasted poblano pepper stuffed with ground beef, dry pineapple, pecans, piñon, almonds, and raisins, topped with a pecan sauce and pomegranate blend) and Cochinita Pibil (pork cooked in banana leaves and marinated in sour orange juice and achiote). Other local dining spots to place at the top of your list include Pink Adobe, Coyote Café and the El Farol Restaurant and Cantina.

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