They hit the nail on the head when they named New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. This amazing state of gorgeously raw landscapes and deep cultural heritage offers the best blend of outdoor adventure and ethnic diversity in America. Its star town, Santa Fe, was booming before the pilgrims even arrived to Plymouth Rock and that’s just a taste of how old and intriguing New Mexico is.
There are a lot of attractions centered around the state’s amazing Native American culture. Eleven different tribes have their own land called pueblos, which are largely open to curious visitors. The most impressive is Taos, but Santa Fe is the real gem, an ancient town with unique adobe architecture and loads of dining, shopping and historic sites. New Mexico’s biggest city, Albuquerque, also has its share of noteworthy attractions like its Old Town and the Sandia Peak Tramway.
What makes New Mexico so impressive is its other worldly red rock landscapes. With a car you can see scenery that inspired artist Georgia O’Keefe at Abiquiu or hike among the aspens in the Sangre de Cristos mountains. There is superb skiing at Taos and Santa Fe, and world-class mountain biking and rafting all over the state. Best of all, you can combine the two by hiking into ancient Native American sites like the Gila Cliff Dwellings or Bandolier for a memorable mix of nature and culture.
Folks here may not come across as outwardly friendly, but towns like Santa Fe and Taos thrive on tourism. Santa Fe has an incredible selection of five-star inns, award-winning restaurants and spas that attract just as many celebrities as regular visitors. Famous restaurants and hotels are not cheap, but you can always find top-notch, authentic New Mexican food in modest cafés off the beaten path.
Without a car, you simply won’t get the full experience. You could get by in Santa Fe for a few days without one, but the best landscapes, cultural attractions and outdoor recreation are well outside the capabilities of New Mexico’s public transportation. Even if you just drive the backcountry between Santa Fe and Taos it will be a revelation, and rental cars are well-stocked at Albuquerque’s airport.
- Browse the handmade jewelry sold by Native Americans sitting along the sunny side of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza
- Experience a 700-year old Native American cliff dwelling at Gila Cliffs
- Ski the awesome slopes of Taos Valley, one of America’s best kept secrets
- Embrace your weird side with a UFO tour of Roswell
- Feast on New Mexican green chili dishes in a myriad of restaurants
- Drive the High Road to Taos and step back in time, passing through villages, apple orchards and alpine forests
- See what made legendary artist Georgia O’Keefe decide to move to New Mexico by spending a day in Abiquiu
- Wander the maze of Albuquerque’s historic Old Town as you hunt for artistry to take home
- Go sand sledding on the dunes of White Sands National Monument