Santa Fe

This picturesque city, the oldest capital in the United States, is set at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has a unique Southwestern charm all its own. A few miles south, these mountains taper down from a height of 13,000 feet to a rolling plain, marking the end of the North American Rockies (you’ll notice the increase in altitude on the steadily climbing drive from nearby Albuquerque). Because of the altitude, the climate is cool and bracing, and there’s much to do and see here all year. Explore the charming old town, with its boutiques, art galleries and superb restaurants, or head out into the surrounding area to see the landscape that has attracted artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, for decades. The Pueblos, farmers for centuries, are also extremely gifted craftworkers and painters. Their pottery, basketry and jewelry are especially beautiful. At various times during the year, especially on the saint’s day of their particular pueblo, they present dramatic ceremonial dances, and visitors are usually welcome. Nearby Los Alamos is worth a visit to take in its Bradbury Science Museum, which details the history of the Manhattan Project and birth of the atomic age.