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  • Cityscape O’Keeffe country
  • City life Artists and adobe

With 17th-century buildings, sprawling ranches and clear views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it’s no wonder that New Mexico’s capital is also the hip art and dining hub of the American Southwest…

Long before artist Georgia O’Keeffe settled in Santa Fe to paint ram skulls, calla lilies and cacti, the adobe-crafted was known for its distinctly Spanish and Mexican history. These days, the tiny city, which centres around a Spanish-style plaza, ticks every vacation-worthy box. The chilli-based cuisine lures award-winning chefs from around the world to create Southwestern takes on staples – including the fiery chilli-topped burger – and local specialties, such as grilled elk. The city’s unique style has also created a thriving design industry for Native American crafts and Southwestern furniture. Nature-lovers can scale the nearby hills for scenic vistas, or travel the town on horseback. And, of course, O’Keeffe’s legacy looms large: the city is something like a large-scale art colony, with works cramming the galleries that line rambling Canyon Road.

Do go/Don’t go

Though Santa Fe is sunny year-round, temperatures dip to desert lows at night. For the best weather, visit in May and September. The town is hottest between June and August, but afternoon showers can roll in, so keep rain gear on hand. Take a day to adjust to the altitude: the high elevation can lead to shortness of breath.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes The largest nearby airport is Albuquerque International Sunport, a 65-mile drive from Downtown Santa Fe. The airport serves Chicago (www.united.com), Baltimore (www.southwest.com), Los Angeles (www.aa.com) and other major airports. Just outside of town, Santa Fe Airport is a municipal airport serving Los Angeles (www.aa.com) and Dallas (www.aa.com), among other closer cities.
  • Automobiles Though Santa Fe is small enough to navigate without a car, most visitors fly into Albuquerque, and make the hour-long drive themselves. There is plenty of parking in town.