By Sean M Nash
Santa Fe is a city with a rich and vibrant history. The earliest known inhabitants settled in Santa Fe around 900 A.D. Since that time, a number of different cultures have claimed the land as their own. In 1912, it was incorporated as part of New Mexico as the 47th state. In an effort to preserve the history of this extraordinary place, many of the original structures have been preserved and newer ones are subject to strict building codes. A culturally significant society, Santa Fe was the first city in the U.S to be listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). With so much history and beauty, it should come as no surprise that over a million visitors flock to this city each year. Go see for yourself what Santa Fe has for you.
Often when people travel they coordinate it with events or festivities. Year round cultural events dot the calendar with unique and fun things to do. One such event is the Burning of Zozobra during the Santa Fe Fiesta in September. It is said to be the oldest community event in the United States. The festival centers on the peaceful reoccupation of Don Diego de Vargas in 1692. This September marks the 300 year anniversary of this celebration. Some other worthwhile events to mark your calendar for in town are the Rodeo de Santa Fe in June, Santa Fe Wine Festival in July, and Las Posadas in December.
Enjoying the Outdoors
Santa Fe offers a wonderful landscape full of color and special geographic features which make it great for visitors with different outdoor interests. The Rio Grande offers up to class six on the rapids. Guided tours like those offered by Santa Fe Rafting can lead you down either path. Skiing, snowboarding, and other snowy fun can be had atop the Sangre de Cristos Mountains from Thanksgiving to about Easter. As if Santa Fe was designed by nature to impress, there are dramatic cliffs and terrain as far as the eye can see. Hiking and horseback riding are popular as a result of the aesthetic charm and vast landscape. We recommend checking out Hermits Peak when in Santa Fe for a great trail of moderate difficulty with endless rewards.
Santa Fe was settled long before it became part of the United States and has managed to preserve a lot of the structures from its history. The capital itself is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. The “oldest house” or De Vargas Street house is said to have been built in 1610 and is quaint but rich with historical significance and value. The Palace of the Governors and San Miguel Mission also share “oldest” distinctions and are great for wandering around or day dreaming yourself back in time. Again, the community and government restrictions make many efforts to keep the historical nuance intact so you won’t have to look far for something different from your typical box stores and high rises.
There are not too many travel destinations in the U.S where you’ll find the number and quality of museums to be so top notch. There are two places that really concentrate those efforts and that would be in the aptly named Museum Hill and in and around the Palace Of The Governors. There are more museums than any one trip will allow so check around as I’m sure there are several which will appeal to each type of traveler. The Museum of International Folk Art offers the largest collection of folk art in the world. Or there’s the Museum of Indian Art where the curators take a then and now approach to displaying native collections of art in partnership with elders, tribal members, and scholars. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is celebrating its 15 year anniversary and is the most visited museum of New Mexico. The list goes on to reflect much of the art of the South West while having diversity and a fresh look into each subject.
If you need a drink or want to dance or both Santa Fe has that too. Some bars have great outdoor patios such as La Casa Sena Cellar Lounge and Bishops Lodge among others. If you like a dive bar there’s Matador. There are multiple bars with live music, with local market food, and others that just want to pour drinks down your throat. It is said that New Mexico is the birthplace of vineyards in the U.S. If this is true then you can experience some of that by looking up Estrella Del Norte vineyards or Haak Vineyards for that. To forget about the Opera would be a tragedy. The stage and setting are well designed to engage guests as well as allowing them to drift off into the surrounding environment. Well known for their tailgating, I’d recommend you at least take a moment to check out the vibe. When in Santa Fe don’t be afraid to do the other stuff but do make time for the many things that make it unlike anywhere else in the country.
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