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Santa Fe, New Mexico: Luxury Travel Guide to a Great U.S. Destination

What makes this 400-year-old state capital intoxicating & foreign-feeling

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Santa Fe, New Mexico: Luxury Travel Guide to a Great U.S. Destination

Santa Fe's landmark St. Francis Cathedral was built by famed, French-born Archbishop Lamy.

© Chris Corrie/New Mexico Tourism Dept.
Santa Fe, New Mexico: Luxury Travel Guide to a Great U.S. Destination

Winter lights glitter on the Santa Fe Plaza, the heart of this beautiful town.

© Richard Khanlian/New Mexico Tourism Dept.
Santa Fe, New Mexico: Luxury Travel Guide to a Great U.S. Destination

Magic hour in Santa Fe: dusk settles on St. Francis Cathedral.

© Karen Tina Harrison.

Santa Fe, a Unique and Beautiful Luxury Travel Destination in the American Southwest

Santa Fe, New Mexico -- nicknamed "The City Different" -- is an American travel destination with its own distinctive personality. Santa Fe looks and feels like nowhere else, and furnishes as close to a foreign vacation as you can get without crossing the border.

Santa Fe even smells different, with air scented with fragrant piñon wood burning in ubiquitous fireplaces.

These days, Santa Fe is a luxury travel paradise. It offers over a dozen lovely luxury hotels, some with historic Wild West legacies.

And the dining! Santa Fe's culinary pride is such that it's nearly impossible to get a bad meal, and there are many places to get a great meal.

Santa Fe's cultural scene is rich beyond any expectations. This small city of 68,000 boasts sensational museums, a live music scene, a summer opera, and non-stop festivals. And artistic Santa Fe houses more art galleries than any U.S. city but New York and Los Angeles.

Santa Fe Travel Basics

  • Location: In northern New Mexico a hour north of Albuquerque
  • By car: a day's drive from Denver, El Paso; an overnight drive from L.A., Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City
  • By air: You fly into Albuquerque Sunport, typically via connection in Dallas or Denver. Santa Fe has a small airport serviced by American Eagle from L.A. and Dallas
  • Day trips from Santa Fe: Taos; Las Vegas, NM; Los Alamos; Pecos; the Turquoise Trail; Santa Fe Ski Mountain
  • Climate: High desert (7000 feet in altitude) with four distinct seasons: long, cold winter; short, raw spring; warm summer with refreshing daily rain; crisp, colorful fall. Best time to visit: June through mid-November
  • Clientele: Santa Fe is not a party town patronized by young travelers. It is a well-behaved, early-to-bed destination whose typical visitors are prosperous, art-loving, Pilates-toned Baby Boomers
  • Dress code: Western! Cowboy boots and hats; outdoor gear; turquoise jewelry

What Makes Santa Fe So Unique

Santa Fe's heritage is a heady mix. Within moments, visitors you know that "the City Different" -- the U.S.'s oldest state capital -- is indeed one of a kind. Santa Fe's The local culture is a heady mix of styles and traditions: Pueblo Indian, Spanish, Wild West, New Age, and art capital. Santa Fe feels like nowhere else in the world.

And Santa Fe looks like nowhere else in the world. Its vivid landscape is a work of art, vibrant with orange adobe, silver-green sage, a brilliant azure sky, and patches of bright-yellow chamisa blossoms.

Santa Fe's glorious landscape inspires outdoor adventures and artistry of all kinds. Santa Fe is filled with artists…and visitors taking creative workshops in art, writing, cooking, performance, and filmmaking, courtesy of DIY Santa Fe's Creative Tourism programs.

Reasons to Visit Santa Fe

Santa Fe offers a varied vacation, whether a weekend getaway or a nine-day extravaganza. Santa Fe luxury travel temptations include:

Spectacular Beauty...

Santa Fe resembles a Georgia O'Keeffe landscape. She painted what she saw. The colors of the landscape and the endless sky are really that intense.

Gracious luxury hotels of many styles:
• A "Pueblo Revival" jewel furnished with Navajo rugs and kiva fireplaces, like Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
• Ten minutes from town, nestled in piñon-covered hills, the plush, hushed getaway, Four Seasons Rancho Encantado Resort Santa Fe
• Two blocks from the central Plaza, monastery chic and modest tabs at Hotel St. Francis
• An art-filled New Mexican casino hotel 20 minutes north of Santa Fe, Buffalo Thunder
• A super-deluxe inn built in apartments from the 1600s and furnished in Balinese and Moroccan antiques, Inn of the Five Graces

Captivating museums like the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the New Mexico History Museum

Galleries galore on Canyon Road, a mile-long art market along an 18th-cetruy street.

Vibrant performing arts including the renowned Santa Fe Opera, the historic Lensic Theater that houses the Santa Fe Pro Musica orchestra; a jazz club called Gig, and many more venues

Superlative restaurants and bars, among the most dynamic and innovative in the world. Santa Fe visitors savor:
• Shrines to Southwestern cuisine like chef/owner Eric Distefano's brilliant Coyote Cafe
• Celebrity-chef roosts like Martin Rios' Restaurant Martin and other Santa Fe luxury dining musts
• Kakawa Chocoloate House, the "fabulous dive" Horsemans Haven, and more great cheap dining
• Exemplary, inviting hotel restaurants like Restaurant Anasazi
• Lovable bars with blues jukes and transcendent handcrafted margaritas, like Lowrider Bar at Hotel Chimayo

Shopping for one-of-a-kind Wild West treasures:
• The ultimate cowboy boots, custom or not, at Back at the Ranch
• Dazzling silver and turquoise jewelry at Ortega's on the Plaza
• Museum-quality Navajo rugs at Shiprock Gallery
• Investment-grade Pueblo pottery at Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery
•And the luck of the draw at you-never-know Santa Fe flea markets

Want to know more about visiting Santa Fe? Visit the official tourism website

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