"Santa Fe, New Mexico" Top 5 Page for this destination Santa Fe by karenincalifornia
Santa Fe Travel Guide: 721 reviews and 1,486 photos
Santa Fe is one of the most unique cities in the United States with a history unlike that of any other part of the US. Pueblo villages in the area date back to 1050. The conquistador don Francisco Vasques de Coronado proclaimed the region the "Kingdom of New Mexico" for the Spanish Crown in 1540. Spanish colonists began settling in the area in 1598 and during the next century were determined to convert and subjugate the native nations. At one time, there were over 100,000 indigenous people living in the area. The population of these people, however, was decimated when the region came under the influence of the white man. Since its founding, the city has been a seat of government under the flags of Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, and the United States of America.
Today, Santa Fe remains unique. The Pueblo indigenous people, Spain and Mexico have all heavily influenced the culture, architecture and cuisine.
Santa Fe tries to preserve the influence of native Pueblo people, although some of the authentic charm is giving way as trendy and pricey merchants dominate the downtown area. Houses and commercial buildings within the city limits generally conform to the pueblo style. Downtown Santa Fe (the historic district) has preserved the natural native and Spanish influence, thus making it possible for the public to learn more about the history and local folk art in numerous world-class museums.
The natural beauty around Santa Fe is unparalleled due to its location in the high desert at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Hovering over the the city is the Sangre de Cristo mountain range with its peaks reaching 12,000 feet in elevation.
I first visited Santa Fe as a child when Santa Fe was a rustic city known for little more than being the capital of New Mexico and turquoise. (I know how old this makes me sound. Hold your horses, Dearie, let me get my cane and shawl....) My second trip was as a newlywed B.C. (before children); my third trip was with my husband and 9-month old son. In May 2005, I returned for my fourth time with my husband and two children, now teenagers.
I've seen Santa Fe transform from a rustic outpost to a small city with numerous shops selling inexpensive (but beautiful) native jewelry to an upscale destination resort town with spas, expensive galleries, 5-star restaurants and dozens of ultra-fine jewellers. To be honest, I miss the old Santa Fe. At the same time, the new Santa Fe is fun and exciting and ended up being a perfect location for a family trip with my teenagers.
- Pros:Fascinating culture, delicious Southwestern cuisine, beautiful jewelry and pottery made by Native Americans, the second biggest US center for art (Manhattan is first)
- Cons:Extremely expensive shops and restaurants are causing the city to lose some of its original authenticity
- In a nutshell:Santa Fe is so unique, it sometimes feels like it hasn't yet been ceded to the US by Mexico
The best way to get to Santa Fe is to fly into the Albuquerque airport, rent a car and drive one hour north to Santa Fe.... more travel advice
If you've been paying attention to my tips, you've noticed that the directions I give use the central plaza as a point... more travel advice
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