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New Mexico

5 free things in Santa Fe

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows cow skulls for sale in one of the shops near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    This July 14, 2010 image shows cow skulls for sale in one of the shops near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows St. Francis Cathedral, one of many historic churches and missions in Santa Fe, N.M. Aside from being one of the city’s most photographed landmarks, Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 declared the cathedral the Southwest’s cradle of Catholicism. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    This July 14, 2010 image shows St. Francis Cathedral, one of many historic churches and missions in Santa Fe, N.M. Aside from being one of the city’s most photographed landmarks, Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 declared the cathedral the Southwest’s cradle of Catholicism. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows tourists approaching a display of chile ristras at one of the shops near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).

    This July 14, 2010 image shows tourists approaching a display of chile ristras at one of the shops near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows Native American artists selling their wares under the portal in front of the Palace of the Governors in the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).

    This July 14, 2010 image shows Native American artists selling their wares under the portal in front of the Palace of the Governors in the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).

  • FILE - This Jan. 27, 2006 file photo shows a woman looking at Buffalo, a mixed media piece by artist Holly Hughes, part of the Capitol Art Collection at the Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M. The collection was created in 1991 and consists of nearly 600 works exhibited in the building’s public spaces and on the grounds outside. The collection is currently valued at more than $5.6 million.  (AP Photo/Jeff Geissler, File)

    FILE - This Jan. 27, 2006 file photo shows a woman looking at Buffalo, a mixed media piece by artist Holly Hughes, part of the Capitol Art Collection at the Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M. The collection was created in 1991 and consists of nearly 600 works exhibited in the building’s public spaces and on the grounds outside. The collection is currently valued at more than $5.6 million. (AP Photo/Jeff Geissler, File)

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows tourists browsing as Native American artists sell their wares under the portal in front of the Palace of the Governors in the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).

    This July 14, 2010 image shows tourists browsing as Native American artists sell their wares under the portal in front of the Palace of the Governors in the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).

  • This Oct. 9, 2010 image shows the changing aspens from one of many pullouts along the highway to the ski area near Santa Fe, N.M. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to Santa Fe’s adobe skyline. A short drive out of the city leads to numerous hiking and biking choices. In the fall, the changing aspens attract thousands of people. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    This Oct. 9, 2010 image shows the changing aspens from one of many pullouts along the highway to the ski area near Santa Fe, N.M. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to Santa Fe’s adobe skyline. A short drive out of the city leads to numerous hiking and biking choices. In the fall, the changing aspens attract thousands of people. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

  • This undated image provided by the New Mexico Tourism Department shows art on display in Santa Fe's Canyon Road neighborhood. Canyon Road is home to more than 100 fine art galleries and studios that welcome visitors for free. The galleries feature everything from antiques to traditional Hispanic and Native art and international folk art. (AP Photo/New Mexico Department of Tourism)

    This undated image provided by the New Mexico Tourism Department shows art on display in Santa Fe's Canyon Road neighborhood. Canyon Road is home to more than 100 fine art galleries and studios that welcome visitors for free. The galleries feature everything from antiques to traditional Hispanic and Native art and international folk art. (AP Photo/New Mexico Department of Tourism)

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows pueblo-style architecture relfected in one of the shop windows near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building.  (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

    This July 14, 2010 image shows pueblo-style architecture relfected in one of the shop windows near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

  • This July 14, 2010 image shows cow skulls for sale in one of the shops near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
  • This July 14, 2010 image shows St. Francis Cathedral, one of many historic churches and missions in Santa Fe, N.M. Aside from being one of the city’s most photographed landmarks, Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 declared the cathedral the Southwest’s cradle of Catholicism. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
  • This July 14, 2010 image shows tourists approaching a display of chile ristras at one of the shops near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).
  • This July 14, 2010 image shows Native American artists selling their wares under the portal in front of the Palace of the Governors in the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).
  • FILE - This Jan. 27, 2006 file photo shows a woman looking at Buffalo, a mixed media piece by artist Holly Hughes, part of the Capitol Art Collection at the Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M. The collection was created in 1991 and consists of nearly 600 works exhibited in the building’s public spaces and on the grounds outside. The collection is currently valued at more than $5.6 million.  (AP Photo/Jeff Geissler, File)
  • This July 14, 2010 image shows tourists browsing as Native American artists sell their wares under the portal in front of the Palace of the Governors in the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan).
  • This Oct. 9, 2010 image shows the changing aspens from one of many pullouts along the highway to the ski area near Santa Fe, N.M. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to Santa Fe’s adobe skyline. A short drive out of the city leads to numerous hiking and biking choices. In the fall, the changing aspens attract thousands of people. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
  • This undated image provided by the New Mexico Tourism Department shows art on display in Santa Fe's Canyon Road neighborhood. Canyon Road is home to more than 100 fine art galleries and studios that welcome visitors for free. The galleries feature everything from antiques to traditional Hispanic and Native art and international folk art. (AP Photo/New Mexico Department of Tourism)
  • This July 14, 2010 image shows pueblo-style architecture relfected in one of the shop windows near the historic plaza in Santa Fe, N.M. A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building.  (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

There’s no doubt this capital city has truly earned its nickname as The City Different. Its skyline is not made of skyscrapers, but rather a collection of flat-topped adobe buildings that has taken more than four centuries to evolve. There are plenty of private and state-run museums that can provide history lessons, but simply wandering the streets, talking to locals and breathing in Santa Fe’s mountain air – seemingly always tinged with the sweet smell of burning cedar and pinon – can all be done for free.

The Plaza: A national historic landmark, the plaza has served as the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe since the early 1600s. It plays host to art markets through the year and is home to the Palace of the Governors.

Canyon Road: Just blocks from the plaza, Canyon Road is home to all things Santa Fe-style. The long, winding road is lined with more than 100 fine art galleries and studios that welcome visitors for free. The galleries feature everything from antiques to traditional Hispanic and Native art and international folk art.

Historic churches: Amid all the adobe architecture is an impressive collection of chapels, cathedrals and mission churches that dates back centuries. One of the largest is St. Francis Cathedral. Also within walking distance is the oldest church in the nation, San Miguel Mission Church.

State Capitol Art Collection: During the legislative session, the Roundhouse – it’s the only round capitol building in the country – is often crowded with people running between committee meetings and hand-shake sessions. But the building’s hallways are also adorned with hundreds of works of art.

Sangre de Cristos: The Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to Santa Fe’s adobe skyline. A short drive out of the city leads to numerous hiking and biking choices. In the fall, the changing aspens attract thousands of people. Just be prepared for the change in altitude.

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