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Holiday Guides for North America - United States

Santa Fe Holiday

In the heart of New Mexico, Santa Fe's dramatic location and history combine to make it an alluring favourite for travellers of all interests and inclinations.

The US town of Santa Fe is set in the desert in the south west of the country and is a vibrant reminder of America's frontier past.

Located in New Mexico, Santa Fe gazes across a desert landscape from its perch at the base of the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains and is a maze of quaint narrow streets and alleyways.

<UKNE_MPU />Originally a hit with hippies and artists, Santa Fe is now one of the top tourist destinations in the United States because of its unique history and location.

Founded as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asísi (the Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi) in the early 1600s, Santa Fe was claimed for Spain by Don Pedro de Peralta.

A siege between local Pueblo people and the Spanish resulted in the colonists being driven from New Mexico, returning 12 years later with an army to capture the town. The town still holds annual fiestas and Pueblo dances in honour of its turbulent past and rich cultural heritage.

The legendary Camino Real stretched from Mexico City to Santa Fe bringing settlers to the town and further west. It later attracted artists for the breathtaking desert and mountain views during the 19th century and its earthy adobe buildings.

Santa Fe has a charming 17th century central plaza, which has hosted public floggings, gunfights, bullfights and demonstrations over the years, some delightful churches and old colonial buildings.

The town also has a wealth of superb museums and galleries, with some of the best including the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and House, the Museum of New Mexico, the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art.

With a population of just 65,100, the town is easy to walk around and visit the major sights. One of the smallest state capitals, it does not have its own airport and the nearest is in the city of Albuquerque, with direct flights and buses available from elsewhere in the US.

Santa Fe is dotted with art galleries selling local work, stores peddling cowboy gear, book and furnishings shops and handicraft boutiques. A living reminder of the old Wild West spirit, Santa Fe has some excellent bars, while gallery show, concerts, plays and poetry readings all take place in the evenings.

The town is heavily reliant on tourism and can be expensive, though eating is relatively cheap and there are some excellent restaurants and eateries to be found, with hotels ranging from traditional and basic to large chains.

Santa Fe enjoys soft light, clear air and relatively little rain, though it tends to be cold during the winter months, particularly between December and March when it often experiences heavy snows. Skiers are attracted to the tough slopes and resorts of Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley during the winter season.