Many people have heard of New Mexico’s biggest cities – even if they aren’t sure whether or not they’re in the United States – but fewer are familiar with our smaller towns. That’s a shame because these communities contain natural beauty, stellar restaurants, and unexpected attractions. So add these 13 spots to your bucket list for 2017:
Truth or Consequences
Located near Elephant Butte Lake, this colorful town is a haven for art and relaxation. If the idea of soaking away your stress at a hot springs hotel appeals, then you need to visit T or C in 2017.
Aside from being the nation’s oldest continuously used movie location, this Northern New Mexican city also contains over 900 buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places. While you’re here, be sure to eat at iconic restaurants like Charlie’s Spic n Span.
Discover Mesilla’s intriguing history and captivating architecture. It’s easy to explore on foot and, when you’re ready to refuel, stop at one of the many delicious restaurants here. (For a “spirited” meal, dine at Double Eagle.)
Chimayo is in a stunning setting, on the scenic High Road to Taos. Pilgrims flock here to collect sacred earth from El Santuario; foodies consider it a mecca because this is where you’ll find Rancho de Chimayo, a James Beard Award winning restaurant.
History buffs and those fascinated by the Wild West adore Lincoln. Each of the well preserved buildings in town tells a story – of feuds, war, and gunslingers.
For a small town, Jemez Springs has a lot going on. From historic buildings to hiking and hot springs, you won’t be bored if you visit this town tucked into the Jemez Mountains.
Flickr/WhiteWaves of Bay De Noc
True New Mexicans understand that Hatch belongs on every bucket list. The Chile Capital of the World hosts the celebrated Hatch Chile Festival each September. During the rest of the year, you can sample the crop at the many excellent eateries in the area.
Go to Taos for its UNESCO World Hertiage site and for the Rio Grande Gorge. Stay for earthships, rafting, and scenic drives. This town is known as a ski destination, but it’s also a great spot to cool off in summer.
In 1954, the entire town of Madrid was listed for sale for $250,000. There were no takers but, since then, Madrid has reinvented itself from a mining community into a quaint artists’ colony that’s well worth investigating.
Hunting for a town that combines an Old West vibe with plenty of outdoor activities? Look no further than Cloudcroft. Hit the Cloud-climbing Trestle Trail for some hiking or drive along the Sunspot Scenic Byway. Either way, you’ll be reminded of how spectacular New Mexico’s scenery truly is.
Remember that kid at school who won all the prizes and awards? In New Mexico, that kid is Los Alamos. It’s in the healthiest county in the state, and is usually at or near the top of rankings for schools, safety, and family-friendliness. Visit this city or scout it out as your next home.
Ruidoso has everything you could want, including shopping, wineries, and access to the great outdoors.
Lake Valley, in Southwestern New Mexico, is creepy even for a ghost town because not just buildings but also possessions remain. It's like everyone walked out one day and never came back. Just watch out for abandoned mines and snakes!