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Founded the same year as the Jamestown settlement, in 1607, Santa Fe is still a capital city and a vibrant center of art and culture more than 400 years later. From the intricately detailed bronze doors of the Basilica of Saint Frances to the fascinating exhibits in the city’s many museums to the heights of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe offers an almost limitless range of outdoor pursuits, fascinating history, and inspiring creativity.

An excellent place to begin an exploration of the city is in its historic center. Framed by a lush garden, the lovely Romanesque bell towers of the Basilica recall the city’s Spanish past. Visitors can enter the church for a look around. There’s a small chapel on the northern side dating to the 18th century that is a visitor favorite. If you’re staying at Four Kachinas Inn, take the Old Santa Fe Trail for a light 10-minute walk and you’ll reach the Basilica.

Just a block away from the church is the focal point of the downtown area, historic Santa Fe Plaza. This main square of the city is ringed by the galleries and restaurants for which the city is so famous, but is an attraction in its own right, as it plays host to festivals, art exhibits and impromptu musicians playing Native American flute music. While strolling around the area, visitors can also drop by one of the many museums nearby. The Palace of the Governors, an atmospheric Pueblo-style building dating to the 1600s, houses the New Mexico History Museum, with three floors of exhibits detailing the life of ancient Native Americans and historic artifacts dating right up to the present day. Nearby San Miguel Mission is the United States’ oldest church.

New Mexico’s most famous artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, is known for her distinctive abstract floral paintings, and a museum dedicated to her life’s work is located just outside of the city center. Of particular interest to visitors may be her landscapes of the local area, painted over the decades that she lived on Ghost Ranch in nearby Abiquiu.

For hiking enthusiasts, Atalaya Mountain, part of the Sangre de Cristo range, offers excellent trails spanning anywhere from one to several miles in length. The trailhead for many of these treks is St. John’s College, where visitors can park in the parking lot before embarking on their hike. There are also plenty of horse stables offering trail rides into the high desert surrounding Santa Fe, a wonderful way to take in the area’s natural beauty.

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