Santa Fe: Taste the Spirit of the Southwest

The adobe facades of Santa Fe  (Corbis)

With its breathtaking high-desert setting, Southwestern heritage, and cultural pedigree, Santa Fe is a perfect destination for art and nature lovers looking for a stress-melting getaway. It calls itself the "City Different" and has a romantic draw all its own. Up at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the sky is a deeper blue, the stars are closer, and the morning air is crisply scented with piñon, the native pine trees that cling to the hills surrounding the city.

At street level, old adobe buildings mix harmoniously with dramatic contemporary architecture, and a lively new Southwestern cuisine draws inspiration from the city's longtime interweaving of Native American, Anglo, and Hispanic cultures. The city embodies tranquility, in its people, architecture, and culture.

Santa Fe's stark desert beauty was a source of continual inspiration to longtime resident Georgia O'Keeffe, whose serene images of flowers, bones, and cacti are omnipresent in the city. Confront her original work and be shocked by the sensuality of some of her other paintings at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (217 Johnson St., 505.946.1000, www.okeeffemuseum.org).

While O'Keeffe was among the first to draw artistic attention to the city, the vibrant art scene now encompasses a wide array of galleries and studios, including the spacious, sophisticated Gerald Peters Gallery (1011 Paseo de Peralta, 505.954.5700, www.gpgallery.com), which attracts art-savvy locals and visitors alike with its well-chosen array of contemporary photographs, paintings, and sculpture, often with a Western theme.

After your gallery stroll, enjoy oysters baked with pesto and parmesan followed by pasta with lobster at the intimate Julian's (221 Shelby, 505.988.2355, www.juliansofsantafe.com), an Italian restaurant of the highest order. Or sip a glass of New Mexico's homegrown Gruet sparkling wine on the lovely outdoor patio at La Casa Sena (125 E. Palace, 505.988.9232, www.lacasasena.com).

Celebrating an anniversary, planning a proposal, or just craving a splurge? The sleekly contemporary Geronimo restaurant (724 Canyon Road, 505.982.15000) matches substance and service with style. For drinks and dancing after dessert, check out the splashy Paramount club (331 Sandoval, 505.982.8999). The music (and theme) changes nightly, but the lively, good-natured crowd is always constant. Look for the sexy little Bar B at the back of the club if you've got a sweet nothing (or two) to whisper.

And if you haven't fallen in love with Santa Fe yet, just unwind in front of the grand fireplace at the striking Inn at the Anasazi (113 Washington Ave.). Located just off downtown's historic Plaza, the inn is known for its dramatic wooden façade, memorable Anasazi restaurant, and a Southwest-inspired décor that's simultaneously rustic and refined (and happily free of any howling-coyote kitsch). Over on the east side, the expansive La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa (330 E. Palace Ave.) offers privacy, relaxation, and all-in-one amenities including the in-house Avanyu Spa and acclaimed Fuego restaurant. Both hotels offer enticing couples' add-ons throughout the year.

The next day, soak your dance-weary feet (and the rest of you) in the private, Japanese-style outdoor hot tubs overlooking the mountains at Ten Thousand Waves spa (3451 Hyde Park Rd., 505-982-9304, www.tenthousandwaves.com), a 20-minute drive from downtown.

Finally, round out your getaway with a plunge into love and drama on a grand scale at the renowned Santa Fe Opera (Hwy. 84, 505.986.5900 or 800.280.4654, www.santafeopera.org), which operates out of a stunning open-air theater during its two-month summer season.

Published: 13 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Santa Fe

$290
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#1
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
$104
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#2
Old Santa Fe Inn
$135-$191
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#4
Fort Marcy Hotel Suites

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