Santa Fe is an ancient city that has long been considered visually and culturally breathtaking and very distinct. With an art scene that rivals that of New York or Los Angeles, Santa Fe is ranked as the country’s 3rd largest art market. Its ancient settlements and sites like the Georgia O’Keeffe museum and nearby Navajo markets embody the long held mystique that sets this small city apart from all others.
The city of Santa Fe was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. The town was formally founded and made a capital in 1610, making it the oldest capital city and perhaps tied with Jamestown, Virginia (1607) for second oldest surviving American city founded by European colonists, behind St. Augustine, Florida (1565).
The historic downtown plaza draws visitors to the New Mexico Art Museum and the New Mexico Museum of History. During the summer, there are summer concerts in the evenings on the plaza and the big markets (Indian Market and Spanish Market) are set up in the plaza. Increasingly known for its cuisine, Santa Fe has more than 200 restaurant choices ranging from local New Mexican flavors to creative Southwestern cuisine to authentic world cuisines.
The Canyon Road galleries showcase a wide array of contemporary, Southwestern, indigenous American, and experimental art, in addition to Russian, Taos masters, and Native American pieces. Canyon Road, east of the Plaza, has the highest concentration of art galleries in the city, and is a major destination for international collectors, tourists and locals.
The Santa Fe Opera is world renowned and the opera house is stunning- it’s open air with the Jemez Mountains as the backdrop of the stage. The opera season starts at the end of June and runs through the end of August.
At the base of the high canyons, situated at 7,500 feet about sea level, Santa Fe has the highest elevation for a city in the USA. Its semi-arid climate is varied and appealing during any of the four seasons. In summer, it is always about ten degrees cooler than in Albuquerque 40 miles away, while the winter has skiing in the nearby Sangre de Cristos mountains. In fall, when the aspens are all golden it is like being under a spotlight – it is so brilliant – and the springtime brings the blooming red and yellow colors of the cholla trees or the white flowers of the yucca, blooming in huge beautiful clusters along the hills and canyons.
Santa Fe is also the final destination of the historic Santa Fe Trail – a rugged footnote in our national history. The Santa Fe Trail was a transportation route opened by the Spaniards at the end of the 18th century and used afterwards by the Americans in the 19th century, crossing the southwest of North America connecting San Luis de el Misuri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Travelers faced many hardships along the Santa Fe Trail including weather, lack of available food and water and native Comanche and Apache Tribes. Although part of our Western lore, crossing the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1800s and early 1900′s was risky business and not for the faint hearted. It is far easier to reach Santa Fe today, and for hikers and outdoorsmen and history buffs, nearby Bandelier National Park has both loads of hiking trails and archaeological sites. Additionally, the Valles Caldera has hiking and archeology and the Jemez Mountains and the Sangre De Cristos both are known for their natural hot springs- many of which are open to the public.