- New Mexican Enchiladas: There are few things more New Mexican than the enchilada. You can order red or green chile, or "Christmas" -- half and half. Sauces are rich, seasoned with ajo (garlic) and oregano. New Mexican cuisine isn't smothered in cheese and sour cream, so the flavors of the chiles, corn, and meats can really be savored. Enchiladas are often served with frijoles (beans), posole (hominy), and sopaipillas (fried bread).
- High Road to Taos: This spectacular 80-mile route into the mountains between Santa Fe and Taos takes you through red painted deserts, villages bordered by apple and peach orchards, and the foothills of 13,000-foot peaks. You can stop in Cordova, known for its woodcarvers, or Chimayo, known for its weavers. At the fabled Santuario de Chimayo, you can rub healing dust between your fingers.
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park (Nageezi; tel. 505/786-7014; www.nps.gov/chcu): A combination of a stunning setting and well-preserved ruins makes the long drive to Chaco Canyon an incredible adventure into ancestral Puebloan culture. Many good hikes and bike rides are in the area, and there's also a campground.
- Santa Fe Opera (tel. 800/280-4654 or 505/986-5900; www.santafeopera.org): One of the finest opera companies in the United States has called Santa Fe home for over 50 years. Performances are held during the summer months in a hilltop, open-air amphitheater. Highlights for 2009 include the world premiere of The Letter, composed by Paul Moravec, the first performance at the Santa Fe Opera of Gluck's Alceste, and new productions of Verdi's La Traviata and Donizetti's The Elixir of Love.
- Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (tel. 800/733-9918; www.balloonfiesta.com): The world's largest balloon rally assembles some 750 colorful balloons and includes races and contests. Highlights are the mass ascension at sunrise and the special shapes rodeo, in which balloons in all sorts of whimsical forms, from liquor bottles to cows, rise into the sky.
- María Benitez Teatro Flamenco (Institute for Spanish Arts, Santa Fe; tel. 888/435-2636; www.mariabenitez.com): Flamenco dancing originated in Spain, strongly influenced by the Moors. A native New Mexican, María Benitez was trained in Spain, to which she returns each year to find dancers and prepare her show. This world-class dancer and her troupe perform at the Lodge at Santa Fe from late June to early September.
- Taos Pueblo (Veterans Hwy., Taos Pueblo; tel. 575/758-1028; www.taospueblo.com): Possibly the original home of pueblo-style architecture, this bold structure where 200 residents still live much as their ancestors did a thousand years ago is awe-inspiring. As you explore the pueblo, you can visit the residents' studios, munch on bread baked in an horno (a beehive-shaped oven), and wander past the fascinating ruins of the old church and cemetery.
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