New Mexico

New Mexico USA

Native American pottery.
Photo courtesy Tourism Santa Fe.

ENCHANTMENT 2.0

The classic New Mexico relocation tale goes something like this: "I came here on vacation and never left." It's — essentially — the story behind painter Ernest Blumenschein's move west, which led to the Taos Society of Artists' founding, and that of Georgia O'Keeffe, who also answered the state's siren call. These days, blockbuster author George R. R. Martin and Hollywood stars like Julia Roberts share similar stories, sojourning here for inspiration and retreat.

Chances are, New Mexico will leave you enchanted, too. The state's landscapes are awe-inspiring, from the depths of Carlsbad Caverns to the glittering dunes of White Sands National Monument, two destinations recognized for their beauty and uniqueness the world over. The cultures here are deeply rooted and beckon to be visited, whether by attending a dance at one of the state's 19 Native American pueblos and three tribal nations, or climbing the ladders to ancient dwellings at Bandelier National Monument, just miles away from Los Alamos National Lab, one of the country's most high-tech facilities. Santa Fe was founded before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, making it the oldest capital city in the United States and home to the oldest continuously used public building in the country. The city's stellar arts and culture scene includes world-class performances at the Santa Fe Opera and groundbreaking and traditional works of art along Canyon Road. The state as a whole attracts millions of people every year and keeps them coming back. (Or maybe it's just the red and green chile. It's said to have addictive properties.)

As a New Mexico native, I can tell you: This is a transformative time for the state — and a great time to visit. From new additions like Santa Fe's Meow Wolf, an immersive art installation that leads visitors into fantastical realms, to downtown Albuquerque's rejuvenation, there's much to explore. Qualities that have made visitors fall in love with New Mexico for decades are better than ever.

As GuestLife New Mexico marks its 40th edition, let it be your guide and friend. It will lead you to well-appointed lodgings, like Albuquerque's new luxury Hotel Chaco. It will entice you with upscale and classic restaurants, happening nightlife spots, and our plentiful art galleries and boutiques. It will take you to plazas from Santa Fe to Las Cruces, from marquee attractions like Albuquerque's Sandia Peak Tramway to off-the-beaten path marvels like Chaco Culture National Historical Park. You'll also get a taste of the talents here by meeting five of the state's top artists and a handful of buzzworthy chefs and breweries creating the latest iteration of New Mexican cuisine.

During your visit, revel in city life, but be sure to hit the road. The state's majesty also lies in its broad mesas and hidden hamlets, like Pie Town, home to the best slice of green-chile apple pie you'll ever taste and just down the road from the Very Large Array, where astronomers' antennae explore the cosmos. Take your time. Take it all in — and enjoy

— Ashley M. Biggers