What Travel Writers Say

Santa Fe - New Mexico's magical carpet ride

© By Mike Keenan
Farmers Market

If you enjoy art and artists, jump aboard Santa Fe's magic carpet ride with over 240 art galleries and dealers in town, just to please you! The city and surrounding areas boast a high concentration of artists. Georgia O'Keefe, (Can you visualize the skeletal steer head?) lived for a time in Santa Fe, but primarily in Abiquiu, a small village about 50 miles (80 km) away. The Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe presents exhibitions of her work and that of associated artists or related themes with over one thousand of her art in all media.
     Canyon Road, east of the Plaza, offers the highest concentration of art galleries in the city, and it's a major destination for international collectors, tourists and locals. Santa Fe's art market is one of the three largest in the United States. The Canyon Road galleries showcase contemporary, indigenous American, and experimental art, in addition to Russian, Taos Masters, and Native American pieces. And sauntering along the streets, one marvels at the number of myriad contemporary modern statues.
     With a population of 70,000, the city is located at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level at the base of the southern Rocky Mountains in north-central New Mexico, and it has just celebrated its 400th birthday! Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the United States. (St. Augustine is slightly older.)
Click for Santa Fe, New Mexico Forecast      There are four seasons here, including snow during the winter. June is the hottest month in the mid to upper nineties. Because of elevation, the cool evenings are perfect for sleeping. The most popular months for visitors are April through October.
     The Albuquerque Sunport is the closest, major airport to Santa Fe, one hour north of Albuquerque by car. The Santa Fe Municipal Airport is located just outside of Santa Fe and handles commuter and private aircraft. Santa Fe is a little more than one hour's drive south of Taos, New Mexico.
     It was designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2005, the first U.S. city to be so honoured and currently one of only a handful of "Creative Cities" in the world. The Creative Cities Network aims to enrich a member city's cultural identity in the midst of a growing trend towards internationalism. The project focuses on the main product of excellence of these cities, and finds ways to maintain its relevance in city life, local economy and social development. The fields of excellence is classified among: Literature, Film, Music, Craft and Folk Art, Design, Media Arts, and Gastronomy.
     This has sparked a city-wide effort to elevate the profile of Santa Fe's many creative sectors. The city has consistently appeared in the top 10 of Travel +, Leisure's "World Best Awards" (#5 in 2009), the top 10 of Conde Nast "Reader's Choice Awards," the top 10 of American Style's best small art towns in America (#1 in 2005-2009), and in a variety of other polls including one of AARP Magazine's Top 10 Healthiest Cities to Live and Retire.

Native Artist Pottery  Native Sculpture, Marcy St  Skull  Mailboxes  Native Dancer, Plaza  Zane Bennett Contemporary Gallery

     The Santa Fe Railyard Development, opened in the fall of 2008, features a new Santa Fe Farmers Market building and year round sales areas, outdoor performance space, public plaza, park area, gardens, galleries, retail, multi-use path, and green space.
     In 2008, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express train began service between Santa Fe and towns to the south including Bernallio, Albuquerque, Los Lunas, and Belen.
     At 109 East Palace St., just off the main square, tourists discover the secret door that led to the Nuclear Age as scientists and technicians passed by for check-in, on their way to Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project to create the atomic bomb in the 1940s.
     Santa Fe became the capital of New Mexico in 1912, and the first governor, Lew Wallace, was the fellow who wrote the epic Ben Hur. Author D.H. Lawrence moved here in 1928 and cynically noted: "Old Spanish, Red Indian, desert mesas, pueblos, cowboys, all that film stuff... That is New Mexico wrapped in the absolutely hygienic and shiny mucous-paper of our trite civilization."
     In the historic La Fonda Hotel, check out the framed wall photos from the 1920s of pale white tourists sporting sombreros and bandanas in front of brashly outfitted tour cars. yes, there will be an army of jewelry vendors outside with their trinkets, but also vivid flowers that bloom between the cactus thorns.
     The St. Francis Cathedral is noted for its hulking baroque exterior, neatly contrasted with the massive adobe walls of the San Miguel Mission and the vintage 1612 "Oldest House."
     The Santa Fe History Museum opened in 2009 with 30,000 square feet of exhibition space, filled with artifacts from the city vaults, multimedia presentations and even some magic petroglyphs. You may read documents from the Spanish mission priests, study the science of the atomic project and learn the legend of Billy the Kid.

Basket Dance  Rail Runner  Loretto Chapel  Taco  Winter Farolitos  Christmas Lights, Plaza

     The town's famed food scene offers high-end, trendy restaurants with celebrity chefs all the way down to cheap burrito shops, something for everyone.
     In the end, Santa Fe is many things to many people. A place of healing for tuberculosis, a spiritual mecca, an exquisite adobe oasis for the super-rich or even a performance stage for a troupe of Native American dancers. You will love it!
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo credits
Courtesy of Santa Fe CVB

If you go
This Destination
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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe,_New_Mexico
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Santa_Fe_%28New_Mexico%29
About.com: http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/santafe/a/santafesights.htm
Santa Fe CVB: http://www.santafe.org/

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