in 1610, San Miguel Mission is the oldest church in
the U.S., and it still celebrates Mass once a week.
at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and
surrounded by acres of desolate beauty, Santa Fe often
surprises first-time visitors with its wealth of
offerings, from culture, history and a vibrant culinary
scene to outdoor pursuits such as hiking and skiing.
by the Spanish in the early 1600s, Santa Fe is the oldest
capital city in the U.S. It nurtures links to its rich
history and to its blend of Native American, Latino and
Anglo cultures. Even the newest buildings pay homage to
the cityís past.
325 days of sun a year, the area has long been a magnet
for photographers and artists. The landscapeís shades of
red, orange and brown shift throughout the day, providing
a different perspective almost by the hour.
Feís flourishing art community is most vibrantly
expressed in the historic district along Canyon Road, a
roughly half-mile stretch lined with galleries and
works cross virtually every genre, from paintings and
drawings by early artists of the region to Allan Houserís
huge sculptures and modern composite pieces that look like
origami. A stroll down Canyon Road is like taking a free
walk through one of the worldís most diverse art
museums, and much of it is outdoors.
mesa above Canyon Road is another donít-miss art
destination: Museum Hill, the only one of the cityís art
destinations not within easy walking distance of downtown.
A free shuttle takes visitors from downtown for the
2.5-mile ride to the Museum Hill campus.
addition to numerous outdoor sculptures, Museum Hill is
home to four different art institutions: The Museum of
Spanish Colonial Art, the Wheelwright Museum of the
American Indian, the Museum of International Folk Art and
the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. All are worth
seeing, but I found Wheelwright to be the most intriguing
because of its focus on contemporary Native American
in town, donít miss the Georgia OíKeeffe Museum. The
collection includes 140 oil paintings by the innovative
artist, who often used the landscapes and desert skies of
northern New Mexico as her muse.
more interested in history than art will want to start
with the San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the U.S.
Originally built in 1610, much of the structure was
destroyed in an uprising 70 years later, then rebuilt in
1692. The church contains several art pieces dating to the
17th and 18th centuries.
Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously operating
public building in the country, now houses the New Mexico
History Museum. It was built in the early 17th century to
be the seat of government for the Spanish regime. The
museum provides a great overview of the regionís
walking among the galleries and museums isnít enough
exercise, winter visitors can hit the slopes at Ski Santa
Fe, just 16 miles from the heart of the city.
in 1984 by Ben Abruzzo, Ski Santa Fe is still family-owned
and run by his children. It features 79 trails spread
across 660 acres of skiable terrain, with a base elevation
of 10,300 feet and a peak of 12,000 feet. The season is
set to open Thanksgiving Day.
a day-skiing destination, with no hotel at the base. A
city bus can take skiers to the mountain for $5 each way.
Ski Santa Fe is something of a "throwback" ski
area ó the small base lodge has a cafeteria, but people
can bring in their own food too.
only bar isnít at the base lodge; itís 500 yards up
the mountain, which provides rolling, groomed terrain with
a few steep mogul runs and fine glade runs. The trails are
rated 20 percent beginner, 40 percent intermediate and 40
percent expert, but I think some of the expert trails are
really tougher intermediates.
working up an appetite, pick from more than 200 Santa Fe
restaurants, ranging from barbecue and Tex-Mex to sushi
and haute cuisine.
the most iconic spots is Tomasitaís (www.tomasitas.com).
Located in a century-old former railway station, the
kitchen has been turning out traditional northern New
Mexico food for more than 40 years. Management says many
of the recipes are older than the restaurant. Reservations
arenít accepted, so expect to stand in line on weekends.
veteran of the dining scene is The Compound (www.compoundrestaurant.com),
which celebrated its 50th anniversary in July. James Beard
Award-winning chef Mark Kiffin elevates Southwestern
cuisine with brilliant, bold flavors tempered with subtle
use of herbs and spice.
wanting to learn more about the flavors of New Mexico can
enroll in one of cityís numerous cooking-school classes.
The Santa Fe School of Cooking (www.santafeschoolofcooking.com)
offers a variety of workshops, where I got to try my hand
at making tamales and salsa. Even more interesting was a
lecture by school instructor Lois Ellen Frank, a chef and
studying what and how early Native Americans ate, we can
learn how that influenced where they lived and how they
moved from place to place," she said. "We can
compare that with how we eat today and our
you need something to drink with all that food, check out
Santa Fe Spiritsí (www.santafespirits.com) tasting room.
Owner Colin Keeganís distillery produces such diverse
drinks as a smoked gin liqueur and an apple brandy made
from northern New Mexico apples.
tipple of that unique brandy proves that the distillerís
art is yet one more facet of the cityís creative side.
Just donít be surprised if it goes straight to your
head. Santa Fe is also the countryís highest capital, at