Santa Fe is not Spanish for “the great outdoors,” but it might as well be. New Mexico’s capital city, nestled up against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is a playground for sun lovers 12 months a year. The nearby Santa Fe National Forest is crisscrossed by 1,000 miles of trails – plenty to keep even the most avid hiker occupied for weeks, if not years. The high-desert terrain of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is also appealing to mountain bikers and climbers. If your idea of relaxation is more like soaking in a hot tub, mosey over to the resorts at Ojo Caliente and Jemez Springs, where bathhouses supply water from the natural hot springs that gurgle beneath northern New Mexico.
Just 15 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, Nambe Pueblo offers outdoor recreation including waterfalls, fishing, boating and hiking. Overnight camping facilities are also available. A cross section of Santa Fe’s wildlife can be seen at the Randall Davey Audubon Center. The 135-acre preserve features more than 130 species of rare and common birds, along with copious wildlife, butterflies, flowering plants and forests. The center also offers guided bird tours, two nature trails and historic home tours.
When the weather turns chilly, wax up your skis: Santa Fe is within a two-hour drive of seven ski areas, offering runs of all skill levels. Ski Santa Fe, just 30 minutes outside the city, is a particularly popular spot. Ice skating and cross-country skiing are also available in the parks surrounding Santa Fe. Locals and visitors alike enjoy a wide range of classes and workshops offered in Santa Fe. The inspired scenery is the backdrop for many art classes, but aspiring cooks, writers and gardeners hone their passions here, as well. If you take a Spanish language class, though, don’t ask what “Santa Fe” really means. That would ruin the fun.