Perhaps more than those of any other Southwestern state, the sparsely populated mountain and desert landscapes of New Mexico exude an ancient atmosphere. Centuries-old pueblos, such as those at Acoma and Taos, remain bastions of Native American life and culture. The legacy of the Spanish colonizers’ culture also remains palpable. Catholic priests planted North America’s first vineyards to make sacramental wine, and some 500 years later, New Mexico produces bottlings of surprising quality. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in North America. This remarkable city contains the oldest church in the United States (dating to 1626), the highly regarded Santa Fe Opera, numerous fine restaurants, a huge array of art galleries and several excellent museums. Taos is overrated. The surrounding landscape is magnificent, but the town itself has become a glorified adobe strip mall plagued by traffic jams.
Both Santa Fe and Taos have relatively moderate summers and winters cold enough for skiing.