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Long famed as a magnet for artists seeking sunny skies, Santa Fe conjures up images of Georgia O’Keefe, ashes of turquoise, and earthen architecture. So it should come as no surprise that the city has the most art galleries and museums per capita in the entire country.
Fewer people realize that Santa Fe is as much an adventure sports center as it is a haven for artistic pursuits. Come December, the dusty desert town takes advantage of its sky-high elevation and offers some first-class powder at Ski Santa Fe with none of the insane lift lines endemic to many resort towns.
Do a few runs on the beginner’s Santa Fe trail or risk it all on a black diamond, then hunker down at the lodge for a local beer. The perfect tonic for those après ski sore muscles is Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese spa offering massages anchored around a communal soaking tub.
When you’re done on the mountain, Santa Fe’s rich history will keep you in town for a few extra days. The second oldest city in America (after Florida’s St. Augustine) promises relics on every corner. Stay at the downtown Hilton Santa Fe Plaza, housed in a 300-year-old converted hacienda. Or, for a little more luxury, go to the Inn & Spa at Loretto, on the grounds of a former school, and one of the most photographed buildings in the entire state of New Mexico as the paradigm of classic adobe style.
Much pride is taken in the yearly harvest of locally grown green and red chiles, especially at neighborhood favorite haunt Tomasita’s, which serves up large plates of good ole northern New Mexican homestyle cooking. If you prefer the DIY approach, take a class in the Santa Fe School of Cooking where you can get a hands-on lesson by culinary anthropologist Lois Ellen Frank, the Indiana Jones of tamales. When you’ve had your fill of chiles, visit The Compound—headed up by James Beard-award winning chef Mark Kiffin—for some innovative new American fare.
This artists’ colony turned culinary center and adventure hub has naturally become a perennial vacation destination for gay and lesbian visitors over the years. The city even has one of the few openly gay mayors elected in America, Javier Gonzales, a lifelong resident who takes great pride in the diverse and welcoming community he governs. No wonder they call it Santa Gay.