This small American desert town is having a very big moment.
It’s hard to say exactly how Santa Fe became the hottest ticket in the United States. Was it the almost overnight success of Meow Wolf, the psychedelic art collective whose immersive House of Eternal Return transports visitors to another dimension via a fridge door? Perhaps it was a renewed interest in Georgia O’Keeffe, the iconic American painter whose Spanish Colonial home and studio in Abiquiú look much as she left them when she died in 1986. Or maybe it’s the fascinating mix of Native American, Spanish and Anglo influences that permeates everything from the Pueblo-style architecture to the jewellery and textiles of its abundant vintage stores. Creative types have been quietly flocking to this New Mexico hotspot for centuries (it’s said to be the largest art market in the country after New York and Los Angeles) but these days the secret is well and truly out.
To make the most of its cinematic landscape, visit during the milder months, September to November, and for an authentic south-western experience, book in at historic Hotel St Francis. The city’s oldest hotel is an elegant and rustic homage to the Franciscan missionaries’ journey through New Mexico – better yet, it’s located just a short stroll from James Beard Award-winning restaurant The Shed, where the bohemian atmosphere and acclaimed burrito are quintessential Santa Fe.
From there it’s a 20-minute walk to Canyon Road’s 100- plus galleries. Sore feet? Sink into one of the region’s famous hot springs. Ten Thousand Waves is a Japanese-style bathhouse close to the centre of town, while Ojo Caliente, an hour north, has stellar views of the area’s surreal scenery.