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Santa Fe is one of those American towns with a truly unique flavor. Artists have long embraced this historic community. Adobe architecture and a well-preserved nature contribute to its status as a hub of culture and the arts.

The Plaza de Santa Fe is the heart of the community and the base from which to investigate points of interest. The Palace of the Governors, the oldest public building in the U.S., sits on the north side of the plaza. Alongside the Palace, Native American vendors representing a variety of pueblos and tribes sell jewelry and other handmade items.

Santa Fe has such a rich heritage of Mexican, Native American and Spanish Colonial history that it’s best to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the region’s historical background.

Take a walking tour to better understand its historical significance. Guided walks leave from the blue doors of the Palace of the Governors every morning (except Sunday) from May-Oct. at 10:15 a.m. Another tour leaves from 107 Washington Ave at the northeast corner of the plaza. From November-March, call (800) 338-6877 for reservations. My guide had retired from a six-figure job on Wall Street to lead walking tours in Santa Fe.

This is a good city for walking, as driving in the city center can be confusing and distracting. Park and explore the area by foot.

The oldest house in America and the oldest church stand opposite one another within walking distance of the plaza. The adobe San Miguel has been holding services for nearly 400 years. Other unique churches include the St. Francis Cathedral, whose Romanesque architecture was built to win converts to Catholicism, and the Loreto Cathedral, which is famous for its striking spiral staircase.

Santa Fe has an exquisite collection of museums and art galleries – it ranks as the third-largest art market in the country. Several art galleries line Canyon Road. The Museum of International Folk Art, Georgia O Keefe Museum, Institute of American Indian Arts Museum and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture are just a few of the quality museums in town.

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Visduh Dec. 26, 2009 @ 9:25 p.m.

Always a joy to visit Santa Fe. Just made a short visit early this month, complete with snow and plenty of cold weather. Can't handle that? Wait until summer when it is hot and dry. The 7000 foot elevation does make the winters snowy and the summers a little less scorching than the usual southwest US climate. Arts? The choices are many, including the Santa Fe Opera, an outdoor venue that is world known, operating in the warmer months. The restaurant scene is varied and always innovative. If you think you might like to learn more about Indian arts and crafts, there's no better place to get acquainted. All in all, one of the best cities for visitors in the US. Maybe the best of all.

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