We didn't know what to expect from this enchanting capital city. A few days, we didn't want to leave.
1) Ski Santa Fe
Part of what makes Ski Santa Fe so sweet is that it's only 16 miles from its bustling namesake. Sitting at 10,300 feet, this 660-acre mountain has 79 runs served by seven lifts receiving more than 225 inches of snow each year. While there is snowmaking on more than half the mountain, locals are known to drop off the backside and into Big Tesuque, a side-country area that drops them way down the valley to hitchhike back up. Your timing has to be right. Go early so you can catch half-day skiers heading up the mountain.
2) Ales by the rails
Set in the Railyard section of downtown Santa Fe, with shopping, social establishments, galleries and even a farmers market, the 2nd Street Brewery is where it's at come 5 o'clock. The first craft brewery in Santa Fe, all employees are trained experts in the subject of craft beer. We were sold on the India Pale Ale, described with a “gripping, bitter finish.” If you're looking for food, the Brewpub Nachos disappeared shortly after hitting our table.
3) Muy sabroso
Everybody has to eat, but in Santa Fe there are more than 200 choice establishments that boast New Mexican fair. If you like traditional Southwestern cuisine, you'll love what's on the menu. We inhaled the Carne Adovada at the Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery. At Tomasitas we had stuffed sopapillas, think giant hollow doughnuts stuffed with New Mexican chicken and covered in queso and green and red chile, consumed as a Mariachi band toured the dining rooms. At the Cowgirl, we went for the live music and stayed for the BBQ.
4) Art and walk
In Santa Fe's art district, formally known as Canyon Road, 100 shops, galleries, studios, cafes and restaurants create magical whirlwinds of creativity. You can walk among life-size sculptures, gaze into courtyards featuring works on display or just stroll along window shopping from gallery to gallery. This half-mile self-guided tour of remarkable artistry often puts the artists themselves in front of their patrons.
5) Pueblo Revival
Perhaps one of the most alluring elements of Santa Fe is the architecture. The city beams with adobe and turquoise set against a backdrop of the Jemez Mountains. At the turn of the 19th century, architects drawn to the region by its cultural heritage were motivated to preserve the Pueblo and Pueblo-influenced Spanish styles that date back centuries in one of the oldest cities in America. Stacked living quarters, walls of adobe stucco, flat roofs, a near obsession with wooden roof beams and turquoise trim. From casa grandes and large developments to apartment complexes (what Pueblos essentially were in 750 AD) to quaint and charismatic abodes, this Pueblo Revival, as it is called, has curb appeal and functionality: cooling in summer, heating properties in winter. No matter what season, the dominating presence of Pueblo architecture helps define this vibrant city.