New Mexico

New Mexico presents a convergence of expansive sky and stunning light, high desert and earthy piñon wood, Spanish architecture and grand, sun-drenched landscapes. The sprawling city of Albuquerque is the gateway to the state’s wonders, a jumping-off point for experiencing stunning desert volcanoes and a meeting of mountain ranges. The charming, 400-year-old state capital of Santa Fe is filled with low-slung adobe architecture and offers a haven of art, music, and native culture. Outside the cities, you’ll find a plethora of natural formations, rocky arroyos, river gorges, and the panoramic aspen-covered slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.



When’s the best time to go to New Mexico?

Four distinct seasons color the calendar. Summer is the peak for visitors, with warm days and cool nights. September through November, the region is less crowded and temperatures cooler. Winter is ski season in Santa Fe and Taos, and the holidays provide a warm, glowing backdrop of farolitos (small candles) dotting the streets and adobes, most notably along the famed Canyon Road. The weather in spring is slow to warm and beckons few crowds.

How to get around New Mexico

Most travelers arrive at either Albuquerque International Sunport or Santa Fe Municipal Airport. Hop the Rail Runner commuter rail from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The reasonably priced Sandia Shuttle Express from Albuquerque airport runs to Santa Fe, and the 90-minute New Mexico Rail Runner Express Train connects from Santa Fe Depot to Albuquerque’s Downtown Alvarado Transportation Center. Rental cars are readily available at the airport.

It’s best to obtain a car for driving the stunning landscapes of New Mexico. Smaller towns like Santa Fe and Taos are highly walkable and pedestrian friendly.

Can’t miss things to do in New Mexico

The New Mexico Capitol Art Collection is an extensive collection focusing on nearly 600 New Mexican and Southwestern artists, housed in the State Capitol Complex. This awesome assemblage incorporates paintings, photography, mixed media, textiles, and handcrafted furniture. And it’s free to the public.

Food and drink to try in New Mexico

The culinary culture is an overlapping of Spanish, Mediterranean, Mexican, cowboy, and Pueblo Native American influences. Expect traditional dishes like chiles relleños, tamales, and enchiladas served with guacamole, pinto beans, and calabacitas (a blend of sautéed squash, onions, peppers, and corn). Enjoy it all with a salty margarita, a local craft beer, or a light, local sparkling wine.

Culture in New Mexico

The melding of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures presents a unique style. Modern buildings meet century-old haciendas, colonial architecture, and Spanish churches. Native American pueblos showcase classic pottery and weavings.

Come summer, Santa Fe’s Spanish Market and Indian Market are huge crowd-pleasers, along with the Hatch Valley Chile Festival. Fall ushers in the Old Town Salsa Festival in Albuquerque along with the acclaimed nine-day International Balloon Festival and the New Mexico State Fair. Winter offers the annual Taos Winter Wine Festival and the Canyon Road Farolita (small illuminated candles) walk. Spring is time for the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival.

Local travel tips for New Mexico

When at high elevations, make certain to wear sunscreen, and go easy on the alcohol (at 7,000 feet, one drink equals three). When dining, locals eat their sopaipillas (fluffy fried pastries) not before or during, but after their meal.

Read Before You Go
Resources to help plan your trip
Wake up hungry, for good things are in store. To many locals, a Santa Fe breakfast is the best meal of the day, with a range of Southwestern-style restaurants doling out hearty huevos rancheros, carne adovada, breakfast burritos smothered in chile sauce—all accompanied by fresh juices and hot coffee. It’s best to rise early and beat the crowds.
Of course there’s Mexican food, and New Mexican food, and great hearty breakfasts for pre-ski or pre-hike mornings, but the international culinary options in this funky little town may surprise visitors expecting little more than margaritas. (Those margaritas are pretty tasty too.)
From cervezas and margaritas, to bloody marys hopped-up on Hatch chiles, Santa Fe can roll out cocktails, wine, and beer like the best of them.
Of course there’s Mexican food, and New Mexican food, and great hearty breakfasts for pre-ski or pre-hike mornings, but the international culinary options in this funky little town may surprise visitors expecting little more than margaritas. (Those margaritas are pretty tasty too.)
Hail to New Mexican food—a melting pot of Spanish, Mediterranean, Mexican, Pueblo Native American, and cowboy chuckwagon. The best New Mexican cuisine is earthy and home-style and includes dishes such as tamales, chiles relleños, green chili cheeseburgers, and enchiladas. The official New Mexican state question is “Red or green?” Your answer depends on the kind of chili sauce you want smothered on your dish. Unsurprisingly, the state hosts some of the best New Mexican food you’ll find anywhere.
Seminal American artist Georgia O’Keeffe drew inspiration from the lunar landscapes of New Mexico. Follow in her footsteps at some of her favorite painting spots—The White Place, The Black Place (part of Bisti Badlands), and the home of the “Lawrence tree”—or splurge on a 10-day art retreat at her remote studio getaway, Ghost Ranch. View her most famous works and her letters and journals at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, then stop by her adobe studio to see her paints, easel, and impeccable mid-century furniture. Grab a Georgia O’Keeffe biography at Bode’s, her favorite general store in the center of Abiquiu, then round off your art odyssey with “The O’Keeffe Table” at Eloisa: a five-course tasting menu that pays tribute to the foods O’Keeffe cooked at home. —By Edmund Vallance
It’s no wonder Georgia O’Keeffe came to this New Mexico town to paint. The high-desert setting inspires artists. Think of the city as your oyster: Take in the abundance of local works that occupy a surprising variety of spaces. Hop from ceramic studio to folk art museum, and from photography exhibit to cutting-edge gallery. Even the capitol building is filled with artwork.
Welcome to Santa Fe’s fabled restorative and healing arts. For centuries, the inflicted and ill have sought healing in the dry climate, natural hot springs, and pristine air. Most wellness centers use scented elements of pinion, sage, and lavender in their treatments. Restorative techniques hail from ancient local remedies, as well as from Thai and Indonesian therapies. Yoga and mediation are here, too.
Santa Fe is more than just a plaza! I’ve rounded up the best of Santa Fe’s natural beauty, amazing food, cultural highlight, and yes... including some stops on the plaza.
Santa Fe is a terrific embarkation point for epic day trips. Follow the winding, highly scenic High Road to Taos through the shifting landscapes of the mysterious Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiú home and studio is a short trip from Santa Fe, as are the stark canyons, cliffs, and red rock mesas of Ghost Ranch and Bandelier National Monument.
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