New Mexico Travel Guide

Are you tired of the same old vacation destinations? Let the passion of New Mexico shake up your vacation routine. Escape the same old places for one of the most enchanting destinations in the USA. From the historic streets of Santa Fe to the old ghost towns, New Mexico vacations have a surprise around every corner.

This New Mexico travel guide will introduce you to the culture, outdoor activities, and heritage of this vibrant state. Once your interest is piqued, let VacationRentals.com show you how to make this travel dream a reality with an affordable vacation home. Spice up your vacation routine with a trip to New Mexico!

What to Do in New Mexico

new mexico outdoors

Explore the Wild West

One of the top attractions of New Mexico vacations is the landscapes of the Wild West. Cruise along one of the 26 scenic byways to see mountains, grasslands, and steep rock walls. Adventurous families will aim for the Narrow Gauge Scenic Byway or the Trail of the Ancients to see interesting archeological sites.

After a day of hiking in the national parks or horseback riding along the trails, there’s no better way to relax then a good soak in the hot springs. These mineral waters have been soothing sore backs since the Native Americans first discovered their healing qualities. Some of the most remote hot springs in New Mexico require a hike to reach, so hit the trails and be rewarded with the steamy waters. There are many to choose from, but some of the most popular hot springs are Battleship Rock & McCauley hot springs, Black Rock hot springs, and Lightfeather hot springs.

The state and national parks of the Wild West offer many more opportunities for adventure. Explore the subterranean chambers of the Carlsbad Caverns or keep your eyes out for a bald eagle while hiking through Caballo Lake State Park. Give trout fishing a try in Morphy Lake State Park or try sailing in Heron Lake State Park. There are as many options for outdoor adventure in New Mexico as there are state parks!

Discover the Historical Side of New Mexico

There are a variety of cultural influences that have shaped the history of New Mexico. Native American, Hispanic, and Western influences can be seen throughout the state. In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe is a great place to begin your exploration of the many cultures of New Mexico. A historic plaza, the Canyon Road Fine Arts district, and the Santa Fe Railyard all show local history through architecture, bright colors, and spicy flavors.

roswellHistory is spread throughout the state as well from the pueblo ruins of Los Alamos to Roswell, the mysterious location of alleged alien landings. Hop in your car and discover many different sides to New Mexico history! Any New Mexico travel guide is sure to include the famous names of Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa. You will learn the stories of this American outlaw and Mexican revolutionary general while exploring New Mexico. Learn about the physical history of New Mexico as well, from dormant volcanoes to ancient lava flows to fossil sites and archeological digs.

Get Active in New Mexico

There are so many spectacular landscapes to see during New Mexico vacations that it would be easy to never leave the car. However, there are many ways to discover the varied landscapes of New Mexico. See the state from a different angle: take a hot air balloon ride, go rock climbing, or hang glide. Experience adventure as a family by letting a knowledgeable guide help you discover a new favorite activity.

Most travelers don’t think of water when they think of New Mexico. However, there’s plenty of it, and the rivers are just waiting to give you the ride of lifetime with white water rafting or sailing. Fishing, boating, and windsurfing are all available in New Mexico as well. Take advantage of the consistent sunshine and get in a round or two of golf at one of the state’s many courses.

Pure Entertainment

What sets New Mexico apart from other states that also offer beautiful scenery and outdoor activities is the entertainment factor. People of New Mexico are known for enjoying life, so go ahead, and join in on the fun! Try your luck at one of the casinos or attend a concert. Set your taste buds on fire with the chile peppers that seem to be in every dish, and wash it down with local wines.

A good New Mexico travel guide will also reveal annual events that are known for their entertainment. The film buff will love the Santa Fe Film Festival while foodies looking to spice up their cooking will find inspiration in the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival. From art to music, there is a festival for every hobby in New Mexico. Take time away from adventurous activities to taste local wines at a winery and tour vineyards.

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What to See in New Mexico

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Archeological Sites

Some visitors are surprised to learn that New Mexico is rich in not only Native American and Spanish ruins, but prehistoric ruins as well. The Aztec Ruins National Monument is located in the Northwest section of the state, and is a popular attraction with tourists.

Other fascinating archeological ruins include the cliff dwellings of Gila Cliff that date back to 1270. The Petroglyph National Monument dates back almost 3000 years while the Pecos National Historic Park has incredible ruins of 15th century Spanish missions.

Landmarks

History buffs will want to visit Trinity Site, the location where the first atomic bomb exploded in July 1945. If you prefer art, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe displays the work of this famous local artist. A children’s museum in Santa Fe will keep the kids occupied with a variety of hands-on exhibits while the National Atomic Museum is the country’s only museum focusing on nuclear science and history.

Follow in the footsteps of outlaw Billy the Kid on the Billy the Kid trail. The Hubbard Museum of the American West will reveal local history and your kids will love the Smokey Bear Museum and Park.

Wonderful Wildlife

The unique nature of New Mexico is reflected in its interesting wildlife as well. The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of birds including cranes, ducks, and geese. The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is home to over 50 wolves and wolf-dogs. Wild life conservation areas throughout the state are perfect for bird-watching enthusiasts.

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Where to Shop and Eat in New Mexico

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Chile Fever!

New Mexico vacations can also be a spicy culinary adventure. More than 400 years of flavor are packed into regional dishes. Award-winning restaurants (especially in the city of Santa Fe) have gained the attention of national magazines and television shows, which in recent years have focused on the New Mexican style of cooking. Chiles are the core of this style and are part of a variety of dishes from a green chile cheeseburger to a spicy chocolate truffle. You never know where you will find a chile during New Mexico vacations!

Farmer’s markets are a great place to see the origin of New Mexican dishes. From freshly-roasted chiles to variety of beans to fresh meat, you are likely to bump shoulders with local chefs at one of these markets. To bring home some of the spice of New Mexico, sign up for a cooking course. Spread throughout the state, but with an excellent one in Santa Fe, these cooking courses will show you how to reinvent some of your old favorites with a spicy twist. Choose from a variety of options including New Mexican breakfasts, baking and how to harness the chile.

For a romantic meal utilizing seasonal ingredients in Santa Fe, try Anasazi Restaurant. The Coyote Café is known for having elevated southwestern cuisine and visitors always rave about the chipotle shrimp or duck quesadillas for their bursts of fresh flavor. An affordable alternative to some of the expensive restaurants of Santa Fe is the reasonable choices of Albuquerque. For New Mexican food, try Sophia’s Place or Gold Street Café for good-value options all day long.

New Mexico Shopping

The shopping in New Mexico is just as colorful as the cooking. Popular items to purchase include jewelry, New Mexican crafts, pottery, art, and souvenirs. Art lovers should plan to spend a day or more exploring the Canyon Road Art District. If you love jewelry and particularly turquoise, there will be many temptations throughout New Mexico.

Some travelers don’t think New Mexico vacations would be complete without buying a pair of cowboy boots. A wide choice of boots, hats, and traditional clothes are available throughout the state. The various cultural influences of New Mexico will be seen in the shops. See the western influence with the cowboy boots, the Native American influence with the art, and the Hispanic influence with the cooking ingredients. Other popular items include Navajo rugs, beads, and hand-made pottery.

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When to Visit New Mexico

New Mexico vacations are popular all year round. The high season in New Mexico is the summer months of June through August, and December through March. Good travel deals will be found from April to May and September through November. Any good New Mexico travel guide will warn visitors that summer temperatures can be hot, but will be much cooler in the mountains. The city of Santa Fe is busy all year long, so join in on the action at the next festival or holiday celebration!

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What to Bring to New Mexico

New Mexico vacations will have a distinctly casual atmosphere. Even the nicest restaurants won’t require anything fancy. Don’t be afraid to pack some color—everything in New Mexico is just a bit brighter. If you’re planning on traveling during the summer, remember your sunscreen and a hat. Driving throughout the state is one of the best ways to see all of the landscapes, so remember a good map or invest in a GPS system. You will want your camera to capture all of the incredible landscapes and don’t forget your hiking boots, so you can comfortably hit the trails. Remember items that will keep the kids entertained, especially if you plan on doing some driving. Pack your swimsuit as well to take advantage of the state's many hot springs or to cool off in a river or pool.

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Local Services in New Mexico

The national and state parks of New Mexico have good services for visitors. Expect to be able to find local maps and advice on hiking trails, hot springs, and outdoor activities. Santa Fe has all the amenities travelers could ask for, from banks and ATMs to farmer’s markets. There are plenty of opportunities to stock the kitchen of your vacation rental. Why not pick up some local spices and add some extra flavor to your cooking while in New Mexico?

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What to Know About New Mexico

Now that this New Mexico travel guide has exposed you to all of the culture, heritage, natural beauty, and spice New Mexico offers, the only obstacle you face is squeezing everything in! Plan an itinerary before you go, and don’t try and cover too much ground in a short time span. Make time for the pleasures of New Mexico, from the hot springs to the chile-infused cuisine.

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Getting to New Mexico

The two major airports of New Mexico are Albuquerque International Airport and Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington. Travelers heading for Santa Fe often fly to Albuquerque and rent a car. The highways of New Mexico are efficient, and the scenic drives are well-worth the investment of time. Make a reservation for your car rental in advance to secure the best price.

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Why New Mexico Vacation Rentals?

What better way to explore the culture and heritage of a new place than diving right in with the locals? A vacation rental will allow you to see New Mexico through the eyes of a New Mexico resident. Pick up your groceries at the local farmer’s market, get recommendations for the best restaurants, and spend your vacation with local residents instead of tourists. After an adventurous day of hiking or white water rafting, nothing beats returning to the space and privacy of a vacation rental. Let New Mexico vacations shake up your travel routine!

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