New Mexico January 06, 2017
The One New Mexico Town That’s So Perfectly Southwestern
While people dispute exactly which states belong to the Southwest, most agree that this region includes New Mexico and Arizona. If I had to choose one word to sum up the Southwest, it would be “warm.” This region is associated with a cozy style of architecture, warm colors, warm people, temperatures that range from warm to scorching, and food that’s hotter still. Add in the idea of a cultural melting pot with a long history and you begin to grasp the essence of the Southwest.
This describes plenty of towns and cities in the Land of Enchantment, but New Mexico’s capital city of Santa Fe truly captures the spirit and style of the Southwest.
Santa Fe makes a strong visual impression, with the gently curving lines of its buildings and architectural uniformity.
Approximately 68,000 people call Santa Fe home but, despite the city’s expansion, the historic buildings remain well preserved.
In fact, Santa Fe was recently listed as a finalist in National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards because its plaza would still be recognizable to the people who traded here over 100 years ago.
You can visit a structure purported to be the oldest house in the nation.
That’s because this building sits on foundations belonging to a 12th century pueblo. The house itself was constructed around 1646.
The San Miguel Chapel, the oldest church in the continental U.S., is also in Santa Fe.
This simple yet beautiful church was built sometime between 1610 and 1628. Be sure to view the excavations visible near the altar and ring the old bell.
As you stroll around the historic section of Santa Fe, keep an eye out for hidden courtyards (especially on Palace Avenue).
And forget chain stores. It’s all about indie boutiques here. Browse for popular Southwestern items like turquoise.
For authentic Native American arts, crafts, and jewelry, check out the wares sold by the vendors outside Palace of the Governors.
Artists inspired by the Southwest have long been drawn to New Mexico, especially to Santa Fe. Georgia O’Keeffe has become synonymous with the Land of Enchantment.
Learn more about the artist at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which owns over 3000 works…
…Or explore the plethora of charming and whimsical galleries that line Canyon Road.
The quality of the light is part of what draws creative individuals to the City Different. So don’t forget to look up!
Nothing says “Southwestern” like an azure sky and, even though the temperatures in Santa Fe fluctuate throughout the year, there are an average of 283 days of sunshine.
A Southwestern Christmas means walls adorned with farolitos (also called luminarias). These cast a warm glow and, while the individual decorations may seem simple, the overall effect is magical.
On Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, locals and tourists congregate on Canyon Road for the annual Farolito Walk, a great way to see how farolitos transform the city.
Other annual events include the Santa Fe Indian Market and Fiesta de Santa Fe. The latter is the longest running civic celebration in the nation.
The diversity of these festivities speaks to the many influences that combine to create Southwest culture.
Santa Fe is a foodie city, with a proud history of New Mexican cuisine. To sample some traditional dishes, head to restaurants like La Choza or Casa de Chimayo.
If you want to eat a “breakfast burrito” at the restaurant where the term was coined, head to Tia Sophia’s.
The allure of Santa Fe is undeniable. It has all the Southwestern qualities you could ask for, but it isn’t the only place in the Land of Enchantment to meet that criteria. Which New Mexican city or town do you think most epitomizes the Southwest?
In the meantime, take this
road trip through New Mexico’s most charming small towns, which are full of Southwest pride.