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With its striking blue skies, down-to-earth southwestern vibes, and a flurry of cultural events planned for summer, there are plenty of reasons to head to Santa Fe, New Mexico, this season—the August debut of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain opera being one of them. Here's our travel guide on where to stay, eat, and explore while you’re there.
Where to Stay
For the ultimate luxury in town, book one of the 65 casita guestrooms or suites at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Sante Fe. Each comes with its own private terrace or patio, from where it’s best to take in the area’s undulating hills and blue skies (from $325; 198 State Rd. 592; 505-946-5700; fourseasons.com). For more a boutique experience, choose the Relais & Chateaux Inn of the Five Graces (from $360; 150 E De Vargas St.; 505-992-0957; fivegraces.com), whose adobe-style guestrooms are decked in over-the-top Southwestern flare (mixing Spanish, Asian, and Latin American influences) and intricately mosaic-tile bathrooms.
Where to Eat
Breakfast might just be the best time to snag a bite at Pasqual’s, one of Santa Fe’s most talked about tables (121 Don Gaspar Ave.; 505-983-9340; pasquals.com). With local dishes like a chorizo burrito, smoked trout hash, and huevos rancheros, you might even last until dinnertime. For Japanese cuisine, Izanami, the culinary arm of the much-loved local spa Ten Thousand Waves, can’t be beat for either lunch or dinner (3451 Hyde Park Rd.; 505-982-9304; izanamisantafe.com). Think: chicken skewers wrapped in shiso leaves, eggplant with den miso sauce, or a spinach salad with toasted cashews, bacon, shimeji mushrooms, shallots, and tofu dressing. For a quaint, happy atmosphere, head to Joseph’s (428 Agua Fria St.; 505-982-1272; josephsofsantafe.com), which relies on locally sourced ingredients to dream up internationally tinged dishes like cast-iron cauliflower with white beans, fried capers, and green olive dust and a sweet and spicy glazed duck confit with lentils, rice, crisp onions, and spices.
What to Do
Currents New Media Festival
Santa Fe’s arts scene might be best known for its prodigious southwestern aesthetics (fans of Spanish, Indian, Hispanic, and folk arts and crafts have a slew of dedicated festivals to choose from this summer), but there’s more to explore in this small, global, city. Get a dose of the future from June 12–28, when interactive and fine art video installations, multimedia performances, and web based art forms created by nearly 500 artists from around the world hit venues throughout town. currentsnewmedia.org.
The Great Race
If you happen to be in Santa Fe on June 23, catch 120 cars built between 1915 and 1972 race through the city’s historic downtown plaza on day four of the nine-city, 2,400-mile driving competition, starting in Missouri and ending in California. greatrace.com.
Rodeo de Santa Fe
This three-day event from June 24–27 is the perfect way to get a taste of the city’s cowboy culture while taking in the rugged pastimes of the West (think: barrel racing, mutton busting, bull riding) at the city’s open-air grounds. 3237 Rodeo Rd.; 505-471-4300; rodeodesantafe.org.
ART Santa Fe
The international contemporary and modern art fair returns ro the Community Convention Center for its 15th year from July 9–12 (201 W. Marcy; artsantafe.com). For other, more permanent displays of art in the city, try gallery SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo de Peralta, 505-989-1199; sitesantafe.org), Zane Bennett Contemporary Art (435 S Guadalupe St.; 505-982-8111; zanebennettgallery.com), or Santa Fe Clay for the world's best ceramic art (545 Camino de la Familia; 505-984-1122; santafeclay.com).
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
From July 19–August 24, catch the sounds of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and many more as part of the 43rd season of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Among the many highlights playing throughout the area, don’t miss the one-night Music & Wine Gala for a private piano performance and an alfresco four-course dinner and wine auction, hosted at the Las Posada de Santa Fe (tickets for $600; to reserve, call 505-982-1890).
Santa Fe Opera Debuts Cold Mountain
The highlight of this year’s season at this open-air opera house just might be Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon’s brand-new production of Cold Mountain, adapted from Charles Frazier’s book of the same name. Catch showings throughout August, when the desert air is just right. Tickets start at $40; 301 Opera Dr.; 505-986-5900; santafeopera.org.