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Santa Fe is one of the most culturally fascinating cities and the oldest capital city in North America, founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1607 — thirteen years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Santa Fe sits at nearly 7,000 feet and is the very heart of Southwestern style. Don’t miss a stroll down Canyon Road on Christmas Eve when the entire gallery district and much of the city is lit up by the light of thousands of farolitos (candle lanterns) lining rooftops and sidewalks, and is filled with throngs of merry caroling locals and tourists gathering around street side Piñon bonfires. Long a top year-round art ...

Santa Fe is one of the most culturally fascinating cities and the oldest capital city in North America, founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1607 — thirteen years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Santa Fe sits at nearly 7,000 feet and is the very heart of Southwestern style. Don’t miss a stroll down Canyon Road on Christmas Eve when the entire gallery district and much of the city is lit up by the light of thousands of farolitos (candle lanterns) lining rooftops and sidewalks, and is filled with throngs of merry caroling locals and tourists gathering around street side Piñon bonfires. Long a top year-round art destination, it is old and new, flat desert transforms into high mountains, with extreme winters that surprise out-of-towners who think of New Mexico as hot and arid. Santa Fe is an excellent destination for those who prefer a balanced activities-and-sightseeing vacation. Even in winter, the more than 300 days of sunlight in this high desert oasis dapples the landscape a golden hue and makes the abundant snow and vivid scenery very appealing for being outdoors. The mountains around Santa Fe offer a variety of winter activities and are well known as day-trip destinations for Santa Fe and Albuquerque skiers, however, out-of-town visitors will find the ski area a lot bigger than most people imagine and a surprising variety of terrain for all skill levels. Ride the bumps or glide through the trees at Ski Santa Fe, only 16 miles from the city center and boasting one of the highest lift-served elevations in the nation — 12,080 feet on top, 10,350 feet at the base, where groomed trails wind through towering Ponderosa pines in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and hikers can explore some fantastic areas in the Santa Fe area too, including the Aspen Vista Trail and the Nordic Trail on Hyde Park Road, as well as the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains.

Aaron Anderson
About the Expert

Aaron Anderson is coauthor of Lonely Planet's Washington, D.C. City Guide, a contributor on western states to Lonely Planet USA, and he wrote the Austria chapters for Lonely Planet's Western Europe and Europe on a Shoestring.

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Aaron Anderson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Thanksgiving through early May