Melanie Lieberman

Santa Fe may be one Travel + Leisure’s best cities in the United States, but it got there by being full of small-town charm.

One of the most fun things to do in Santa Fe — and one of the best ways to get a feel for the city’s distinct, creative vibe — is to check out the art scene. Canyon Road is flanked by more than a hundred art galleries and studios, specializing in everything from Native American and folk art to contemporary works.

Art is interactive and immersive at Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, which is part jungle gym, part museum, and part art house. Fun fact: Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin is a big supporter of the project.

Avant-garde not really your scene? Just an hour from downtown sits the Georgia O’Keefe Museum Home and Studio.

Tourists who love jewelryshould hit up the Palace of the Governors. It’s the best place to shop for Native American jewelry. In addition to tiny stores, authorized street vendors from nearby Pueblos sell handcrafted pieces typically made of sterling silver and untreated turquoise.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, seek out New Mexico’s famous chile. Waiters will ask whether you want a dish garnished with red chiles, green chiles, or Christmas—a combo of both. Here, everything comes with chiles, including breakfast burritos, sandwiches, corn bread, and (of course) chiles and chili.  

Another important activity for your trip to Santa Fe is to visit the city’s missions, which provide a glimpse into the area’s Spanish history. Cristo Rey Church dates back to 1940 is a truly iconic attraction — after all, it’s the largest adobe structure in the country.

The Loretto Chapel, on the other hand, is Roman Catholic in design, but is best known for its floating helix-shaped staircase. The steps make two 360-degree turns, and there are no visible supports. Ready to plan a trip? Be sure to give the video, above, a watch.

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