I’ve been meaning to finagle not just a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico for awhile now but have thought – how cool would it be to hang out there for a month or so and just so wild with my Canon 7D. I don’t have a window for making that a reality yet but it remains on the list.
What’s so magical about this place where I want to put my Canon to the test? The colors for one. Santa Fe is is in the sangre de Cristo mountain range and while the colors will have you jumping up and down, there’s also a spiritual sense about the place.
Santa Fe is Spanish for Holy Faith, and while it’s only 70,000 people, the history and culture lurks, from as far back as 1610 when the Spanish settled the area. It touts itself as the oldest capital city in the U.S. as well as having the oldest church structure: the San Miguel Mission.
Things to note, not to miss and why you should visit:
The Santa Fe Fiesta: The fiesta happens every year, and includes the picking of the fiesta’s queen and king and the evening candlelight parade — a somber religious procession that begins in the center of town and winds up a hill to the Cross of the Martyrs — to the burning of a 15-m tall papier-mâché puppet called Zozobra, or Old Man Gloom.
Artwork: There is a ton of Native American cultural art — from horses to terrain to architecture (pueblos and other unique structures).
Clean: Santa Fe is known to be one of the cleanest cities in America, another great reason to visit.
The Historical Square: Inside the square is a 17th century building that was once a center of Spanish administration running along one side. Grandly named the Palace of Governors, but built of humble adobe, it is thought to be the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S.
Crafts and Pottery: Santa Fe boasts some incredible artisans who make crafts, jewelry and pottery. They sell their wares in front of the museum and other parts of the city.
Chapels and Churches: Be sure to check out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Santa Fe’s patron saint), the nearby Loretto Chapel and La Fonda on the Plaza hotel, where apparently the author Willa Cather stayed in the 1920s while she wrote the literary classic Death Comes for the Archbishop. Also don’t forget the very old San Miguel Mission.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Museum: O’Keeffe who died in 1986 is one of the most influential female artists of the 20th century who helped give birth to American modernism. The museum in Santa Fe has over 3,000 of her works, including many inspired by New Mexico, where she spent over four decades of her life following the death of her storied photographer husband, Alfred Stieglitz.
Tex-Mex and Mexican Food Galore: There are tons of fabulous restaurants lining the cities edges and in the city center. They eat a lot of Tex-Mex here although it’s easy to eat healthy. Vegetables that are staples of regional pueblo pantries (squash, beans, chilies and corn) are very prominent in New Mexico cuisine. Among meat-based dishes, carne adovada, a traditional red-chili-pork stew, is universally loved.
Santa Fe Indian Market in August: This may not be a Farmers’ Market, but it is the ultimate art market – not just for Santa Fe, but for the entire nation of Native artists. 80 years going strong, it has become the world’s largest and most highly acclaimed Native American arts show and New Mexico’s largest attended annual event.
Santa Fe Opera House: while Santa Fe may not be known for it’s opera, the open-air design is gorgeous and offers gorgeous views of the night sky. Ooera soprano singer Judith Blegen and bass Samuel Ramey spent parts of their early careers there.
Restaurants, Bars and Art Galleries Along Canyon Road: From the Frank Howell Gallery to Red Dot Gallery, you’ll find pottery, paintings, photography, textiles and crafts. There are loads of restaurants and cafes to try along the way as well.
Photo credits: Santa Fe Opera House Robert Reck, market: SantaFe Home Store, Top photo cntraveler.