Albuquerque can easily be confused as “Albu-quirky.”

As the most notable city in the state of New Mexico, it’s not exactly Prince Charming when there are so many cooler small towns to visit.

New Mexico is a mix of historical sites, wide open spaces, and charming cultural towns well worth a visit, but if we’re being honest, Albuquerque is Boresville, USA.

One might be excited to visit the biggest city in the state hoping to witness majestic mountains and get a glimpse of New Mexico city life, but even the mountainous backdrop looks unamused as if they’re screaming to the high heavens, “take us to Santa Fe!”.

Apparently travelers agree as the new hotspot of New Mexico is just an hour away from Albuquerque and is now easier to reach than ever before.

Laid Back But Never Boring

Unless you like twiddling your thumbs waiting to find anything remotely interesting, then Santa Fe is for you.

Cathedral in Santa Fe, NM

Okay, okay… Albuquerque’s Old Town district isn’t that bad, but when comparing apples to apples or green chiles to green chiles, Santa Fe is well worth the hour-long trip.

The capital of New Mexico has far less than half the population Albuquerque does, but it packs a punch with the fun small-town vibes and stunning nature surrounding the city.

Welcoming to all ages, there is something for everyone from the booming arts scene, ample outdoor activities, and last but definitely not least, a ‘Margarita Trail‘!

An Airport Overhaul With New Direct Flights

American Airlines plane

Getting here has never been hard, per se. Much like reaching New York City from Newark, most travelers have had to fly into Albuquerque to reach Santa Fe.

But that’s no longer the case. The Santa Fe Regional Airport (SAF) has undergone an extensive makeover.

Adding a brand new terminal will make this incredibly underrated city much more accessible for domestic travelers, hence the ‘Regional’ name in the airport title.

United Airlines plane

More routes are rumored to be in the works, but these 3 cities are officially offering daily direct flights from American and United into SAF:

  • Denver
  • Dallas
  • Phoenix

All 3 are major hubs and easy to reach in their own right, should you need to make a connection.

Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago are supposed to be next in line, but no official word as of yet.

More Than Just Turquoise Souvenirs

Not every capital city in the U.S. is a winner – sorry, Albany!

This small city offers plenty to do and see.

Santa Fe is often viewed as just an artsy town with turquoise souvenirs, antiques, and art galleries.

Hikers in Santa Fe, NM

While shopping is definitely a plus here, with some pretty cool offerings to bring back home, there are some unsuspecting aspects to Santa Fe you may not know.

One of the most popular attractions right now is Meow Wolf, a unique art installation with rave reviews from tourists.

While not currently in season, Santa Fe does make for an awesome ski trip. For now, travelers will have to settle for other epic outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, fishing, or river rafting.

The bad news is someone beat us all to Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt!

New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe

Sante Fe Is The New Albuquerque

Whether or not you agree Albuquerque is a snoozer or not, there’s no denying Santa Fe has taken over as the state’s travel hotspot.

And perhaps best of all, the city is surprisingly luxurious, with a mix of name-brand stays and picturesque pueblos to rent.

Not only are tourists pouring in already as the city has embraced an influx of tourists this year, Santa Fe can now serve as the same gateway to other towns as Albuquerque has served them.

Empty street in Santa Fe

New Mexico, in general, has all the ingredients for an epic road trip with plentiful, delightful small towns to visit.

Rather than fly into Albuquerque, travelers can now fly into Santa Fe and visit other cool cultural towns nearby, such as Taos, Chimayo, and Jemez Springs.

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