New Mexico hasn’t historically seen the high number of tourists of other western states like Colorado and Arizona, but that actually adds to its charm, mystery, and serenity. Aptly named “The Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico is a place of wide open spaces, deep cultural roots, and impressive landscapes that run the gamut of forest to desert and mountain to valley. Reconnect with yourself and the nature that surrounds you in these iconic New Mexico towns.
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Taos is the ultimate place to be in New Mexico if you love skiing and snow sports. There are several ski resorts here to hit the slopes and take in the mountain scenery. But Taos is also a fun town to visit any time of the year, even when the snow isn’t falling. It has an artsy vibe, and the scenic landscapes have even drawn in artistic legends like Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. You’ll often find craft fairs here, as well as the Taos Art Museum to experience the city’s artsy side. Don’t miss the Taos Pueblo when you visit, which is an authentic adobe Native American pueblo and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Santa Fe is one of the most famous and unique cities in the entire state, and so many first-time visitors fall in love with it right away. There are several historical districts that tell the story of what led up to Santa Fe being established as a city in 1610 and how Spanish colonists took over from there. Santa Fe is a very artsy city with Native American crafts and jewelry for sale in the plaza, musicians performing impromptu songs in open lawns, and so many galleries with beautiful items for sale. This is also a wonderful spa vacation destination and top spot to visit for foodies Recommended restaurants in Santa Fe include Geronimo, Coyote Café, and Sazon.
You’ll only need to take a short drive from Santa Fe to reach Chimayó, which is a town founded by Spanish settlers in the 17th century. It’s surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has deep spiritual roots. In fact, it’s often considered to be a Christian pilgrimage site, but people of all beliefs enjoy the history, architecture, and beauty here. The El Santuario de Chimayó is a National Historic Landmark and the site of where a miraculous healing is believed to have happened hundreds of years ago. After walking inside and around the church, check out the nearby stores to shop for souvenirs and locally made goods.
Albuquerque is a large New Mexico city that offers a little something for everyone. “Breaking Bad” fans will enjoy taking a tour of the iconic TV filming sites, and active travelers will love the great bike routes through and around the city. In the fall, the city really comes alive with the International Balloon Fiesta, a huge event that launches hot air balloons in the New Mexico skies. Make sure to explore Albuquerque’s historic Old Town, get birds-eye views from the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, and sample local beers and wines from the area’s many breweries and wineries.
Travelers who have a fascination with the paranormal owes it to themselves to visit Roswell, the alleged site of an alien spaceship crash in 1947. The UFO museum is fun to visit, and you can even bring your leashed dog inside! Other local attractions are Bottomless Lake State Park and the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
Many people haven’t heard of the town of Silver City, New Mexico, but this is another great small town worth a visit. Near the border of Arizona, Silver City was established by miners in the late-1800s who were looking to get rich on the region’s silver deposits. Come here to learn about the history of the Wild West and also dine at some amazing restaurants. Make a point to eat and drink at the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery, Diane’s Restaurant & Bakery, or Vicki’s Eatery.
Head to the southern part of the state to visit the outdoor lover’s paradise of Las Cruces. This is where the Organ Mountains are located, which provide some remote and challenging hikes. The Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument also offers biking, fishing, and camping. In town, get your taste buds ready for the Las Cruces Green Chile Trail. You can also explore some interesting ghost towns and the White Sands Missile Range Museum and Missile Park while you’re in the area.
Another lesser-known town in New Mexico that we love is Cloudcroft, which is the gateway to the lovely Lincoln National Forest. This is a small mountain town with a deep history connected to the railroad. Come here for a small-town vibe and to check out fun local festivals. The Bad Ass Mountain Music Festival is a fun and affordable outdoor music event that takes places over a couple days in mid-June. In July, you can check out the Jamboree Arts & Crafts Fair. And in the winter, this is a great place to be if you love to ski. Ski Cloudcroft is the southernmost ski area in the state and a family-friendly destination for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
After spending some time in the large town of Las Cruces, make a plan to drive over to nearby Mesilla as well. This is a charming and historic small town with a lovely town square and lots of locally owned shops surrounding it. Once you’ve walked through the picturesque streets and popped into a couple stores to browse, stop into the Spotted Dog Brewery for a pint of local craft beer. Depending on when you visit, you might be able to join the annual Cinco de Mayo festival in May or the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiesta in September.
Truth or Consequences
What draw many people to Truth or Consequences is the town’s name, which is admittedly quite peculiar. In 1950, a radio show host set out a challenge for a town to change its name to that of his game show, and this is the town that did it! When you visit, “T or C,” make a point to relax at one of the local spas. There are hot springs in the area that can be experienced in soothing and historic adobe bathhouses. For outdoor recreation, head over to Elephant Butte Lake State Park nearby.