by Troy Petenbrink
In the beginning, New Mexico didn’t get much respect; early opponents of statehood said New Mexico’s cultural diversity and rural territory were actually liabilities. Today, those same reasons are what make America’s 47th state worth visiting.
This year, New Mexico celebrates its 100th year of statehood, making it the perfect time to discover (or rediscover) the state’s rich past and promising future. Here are 6 ideas to make a New Mexico trip memorable:
6) Explore History From the Pueblos to the Atomic Age
History lovers can explore the 2,000-year-old Acoma Pueblo atop a towering sandstone mesa; its responsible for the state’s nickname, “Sky City.” The 19 pueblos across New Mexico allow visitors to learn more about its native people.
Fast-forward to the 1940s: New Mexico’s vital role in ending World War II can be explored at Los Alamos, one of the primary locations for the Manhattan Project and home to the Bradbury Science Museum, which documents the history of the famed nuclear weapons project. Also tour Trinity Site, the location of the first atomic bomb explosion (it’s open for public visits twice a year); and The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, located outside of Albuquerque, NM.
5) Stroll a Mile-Long Stretch of Galleries
Art and culture encompass nearly every aspect of New Mexico. There’s Native American pottery and jewelry made throughout the pueblos; Santa Fe’s mile-long stretch of galleries on Canyon Road; and the many museums in Taos, NM.
You can also learn about one of New Mexico’s most famous artists, Georgia O’Keeffe. Walk among the inspiring majestic landscapes that surround her two homes — Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu– where she lived until 1984. View the largest single repository of her work at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe.
4.) Soar Above the Clouds – and Improve Your Golf Swing
Soaring high above the Rio Grande in a hot air balloon or hitting the ski slopes of Angel Fire Resort are just some of the amazing outdoor adventures you’ll find in New Mexico. Visitors can also find opportunities to hike, bike, fish, rock climb and golf, on nationally ranked courses.
3) Indulge in – Hot! – Chili Dishes
Of course, New Mexican cuisine is enough to motivate any traveler to visit the state. A mix of Native American, Spanish and Anglo influences all blend together to create unique flavors. Rooted in New Mexico cooking is the use of red and green chilies, which have inspired such decadent dishes as red-chili Frito pies and green-chili cheeseburgers.
2.) Drink Wine, Wine and More Wine
Many visitors will also be surprised to learn that New Mexico is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in North America, with some 100 varieties of grapes grown in the state. Gruet Winery, one of the state’s largest wine producers, is known internationally for its sparkling wines.
1.) Prepare for Some Serious Déjà vu
A feeling of déjà vu is a common occurrence for New Mexico visitors. The state has become one of the top destinations for filming; it’s served as location for such blockbusters as Easy Rider, Young Guns and Wild Hogs. Many state tour operators, such as ABQ Trolley Co., offer special tours of locations of movies made in New Mexico.