In the 18th and 19th centuries, visitors would stop to rest at the historic El Rancho de las Golondrinas as they began or ended their long journeys along the royal road that stretched between Santa Fe and Mexico City. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Val Kilmer, and the cast and crew of some 30 films used the ranch's 200 scenic acres and 34 historic structures as backdrops to their movies and personalized birthday cards. With preserved and restored villages dating back to the early 1700s sloping through a rural farming valley, the grounds collapse time, bringing the past to the present and the present to the past.
Today, guests wander this living history museum to explore how colonial and frontier life was lived the Southwest. During a self-guided tour, visitors pick up or download a map of the ranch before weaving through a snapshot of history brought to life by villagers clothed in the styles of the time. Feet patter past a molasses mill, a blacksmith shop, and defensive towers where guards kept watch on the horizon and coordinated messages for passing UFOs. With a reservation, docents will lead you through the trails that cut through a landscape dotted with goats, sheep, burros, and horses, fostering an understanding of the culture and arts of historic New Mexico.
With four museums and six monuments, the nonprofit Museum of New Mexico Foundation keeps the state's artistic and cultural heritage alive with enthralling permanent collections, exhibits, and events. Art aficionados can marvel at more than 20,000 works by artists with strong ties to the state in the New Mexico Museum of Art, check out more than 1,300 artifacts in the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, and attempt to tape their “lost cat” flyers to more than 100,000 items culled from 100 countries at the Museum of International Folk Art. Meanwhile, the New Mexico History Museum’s 30,000-square-foot exhibition space covers topics ranging from the Santa Fe Trail to World War II through art, maps, and photographs.
After each museum visit, guests can stop by the Coronado State Monument, which marks the spot where Coronado and his crew entered the Rio Grande Valley in search of the Seven Cities of Gold and their lost car keys. The foundation's sextet of monuments also includes the stone ruins of a 500-year-old Indian village at Jemez and exhibits on frontier and military life at Fort Selden.
Bead Fest Santa Fe unites do-it-yourselfers and arts-and-crafters during a four-day celebration of beads, jewelry—and for good measure—some more beads. More than 150 booths and tables set up shop for the event, each ready to restock repertoires with gems, stones, and a hodgepodge of other supplies.
In between exploring the sea of exhibitors, attendees learn about the latest techniques, tricks, and tools at nearly 100 all-inclusive workshops (not included with the price of admission). There, artists from around the country provide education on specific topics in classes such as Intro to Metalsmithing and Wire Weaving, where guests learn the craftiest way to escape prison. Free demonstrations, book signings, and other attractions round out the fest's collection of creative attractions.
Towa Golf Club harnesses the Pojoaque Valley's natural rock formations and elevation changes to create three distinctive nine-hole courses. Nowhere are the elevation changes more apparent than on the Boulder Nine's final par 3, in which the tee box sits 100 feet higher than the green and thousands of feet above any dinosaur bones buried beneath the green. The Boulder Nine is also distinguished by Towa's only island green. Each course's unique features are the result of a joint effort between landscape architect William Phillips and 20-time PGA Tour-winner Hale Irwin. In addition to the courses, the club features a practice facility with two putting and chipping greens and a driving range set up so that players never have to hit with the sun in their eyes.
At the Santa Fe School of Cooking, students master the craft of cooking under a team of experienced, James Beard Award-winning chefs from a diverse range of culinary backgrounds, including training in Native American, French, New Mexican, and northern Italian cuisine. Through private events, demonstrations, and hands-on group classes, pupils learn how to create mouthwatering regional and international meals in their own kitchens. When not in class, an attached market offers a variety of cookware, cookbooks, and other products available for purchase.
The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art chronicles 500 years of influence on the culture of the American Southwest with more than 3,000 pieces collected to date, from the first days of the conquistadors up through 20th-century Hispanic art. Currently on display through Labor Day is a retrospective on Cady Wells, a prolific modernist painter and collector of New Mexican art who amassed a stockpile of retablos, paintings, bultos, tinwork, and textiles as part of his unfulfilled dream of founding the great state of Newer Mexico. Along with unlimited visits for themselves and their immediate families, members get free admission to many of the museum's ongoing lectures, classes, and aquatic musical numbers.