New Mexico's capital city and the oldest capital in the United States, Santa Fe, is sited just 60 miles (97km) north of the state's largest metropolis, Albuquerque, from which it differs quite remarkably. Where Albuquerque is high-tech and expansive, Santa Fe is arty and intimate. The home of Georgia O'Keefe, the city has become a haven for artists of all persuasions, featuring more than 250 art galleries and studios.
Plaza in Santa Fe © JuliusR
Tourists not only flock to this 400-year-old city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains for the museums and galleries, but also because it is surrounded by almost a hectare (two acres) of National Forest, offering great opportunities for skiing, rafting, golf, horseback riding, mountain climbing, hiking and a host of other associated recreational pursuits, including unusual activities like geocaching.
More urban attractions are plentiful as well, with enough to keep the whole family busy. Kids will love the Santa Fe Children's Museum and going for a ride on the Southern Railway, while adults will enjoy the numerous art museums and Spanish colonial architecture. Everyone can enjoy Santa Fe's multitude of festivals, including wine festivals, rodeos, cultural events, and film and art festivals. Santa Fe's music calendar is full as well, and the Santa Fe Opera enjoys an international reputation.
The local culture is built firmly on Spanish and Native American roots, which is reflected in the city's historic architecture and the crafts sold on the plaza by the hawkers. The city is also confusing to navigate by car, with its narrow winding lanes and one-way streets, making it best explored on foot from its busy central plaza. Santa Fe makes an ideal base from which to explore the many Indian pueblos, which are within an hour's drive throughout the valley of the Rio Grande.