Loretto_stairsThe City Different is America’s oldest capital city and one of the country’s top tourist destinations with almost 400 years of history, art galleries galore, a world-class opera, unbelievable dining experiences, upscale hotels and great shopping. How can visitors soak in everything Santa Fe, New Mexico, has to offer in one day?

They can’t, but here’s a start.

The best historic attraction is the Loretto Chapel (207 Old Santa Fe Trail) and its famous “miraculous staircase.” Legend has it that a mysterious carpenter built the corkscrew stairs using no nails and no support beams. The stairs, which feature two 360-degree turns, were built between 1878 and 1881. Photography is allowed in the chapel, which also sports an excellent gift shop.

Santa Fe, of course, is a shopper’s paradise. Liberty Westerns (227 Don Gaspar), Lucchese (a Lyle Lovett fave, 203 W. Water), Nathalie (503 Canyon Road), Back at the Ranch (209 E. Marcy) and Blondi’s (122 W. San Francisco) will be happy to outfit you in high-end duds suited for the manure-less West, not the barn.

On the historic Plaza, Simply Santa Fe (72 E. San Francisco) has just about everything, but for the best Santa Fe shopping experience, walk to Packard’s (61 Old Santa Fe Trail), look at the stunning jewelry and get a history lesson on Hopi kachinas and fetishes from Don, The Kachina Man.

If art’s your game, few can match the Western artifacts at Manitou Galleries (225 Galisteo) or Sherwoods Spirit of America (130 S. Lincoln), while the Joe Wade Gallery (102 E. Water) offers an exquisite selection from contemporary artists such as Buck McCain and Jack Sorenson.

For the overall treat, however, stroll through the sculpture garden at Nedra Matteucci Galleries (1075 Paseo de Peralta) and marvel (as we locals still do) at the various displays inside including an extraordinary collection of Sacagawea Dollar artist Glenna Goodacre’s works.

Nor is there a shortage of museums. Palace of the Governors (105 E. Palace) and El Rancho de las Golondrinas (334 Los Pinos) are sure to please history buffs, while Indian enthusiasts have their choice between the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum (108 Cathedral), the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (710 Camino Lejo), and Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian (704 Camino Lejo).

The “must-see” destination, though, is the Museum of International Folk Art (706 Camino Lejo), featuring 120,000 pieces from more than 100 countries and stunning dioramas. Allow plenty of time to see everything at this museum, which will surely prove a hit for adults and kids alike.

For information, write Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau, 201 W. Marcy St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, call (800) 777-2489, or log
on to www.santafe.org.

Best Dining

atole piñon pancakes, Tecolote Cafe

green-chile cheeseburger, Bobcat Bite

Dinner: banana enchiladas, Los Mayas

Like it hot: green chile stew, The Pink Adobe

Like it cold: dessert, Inn of the Anasazi

On a budget: Harry’s Roadhouse

Max-out-the-Visa: The Compound

Best Views

On foot: Cross of the Martyrs

On wheels:
Artist Road/Hyde Park Road to Santa Fe Ski Area

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