Santa Fe is more than just a city of restaurants, it is a major cultural center in the southwest United States. Aside from being the capital of New Mexico, it is a major tourist location that people from all across the country flock to visit.

There is a certain tourist season in Santa Fe, and the feelings toward it are elegantly described in the local bumper sticker, "If it's tourist season, why can't we shoot them?" The whole city seems to stop, as thousands arrive from out of time to buy Native American jewelry, pottery, and other knick-knacks.

Art galleries are a major source of business, with everything from Native American art and sculpture to abstract modern art. Most of the really excellent galleries are on the prestigious Canyon Road. This road is home to galleries and very old houses in its lower sections, and Upper Canyon Road is a neighborhood for the rich and famous of Santa Fe, where many famous artists, actors, and actresses have second or third homes.

The tourist season is composed primarily of three events. It starts with the Indian Market and a short while later the Spanish Market, and ends at the Fiesta. During this span of a few months, every business in Santa Fe booms.

The two markets are quite an extravaganza. The plaza is closed off to vehicle traffic, and the entire downtown area is filled with stalls selling a variety of different things: art (pottery, painting, sculpture), jewelry, antiques, and anything else related to the local culture. (I once witnessed someone selling screen savers with pictures of local life and art)

Fiesta is kicked off on the Thursday after Labor Day with the symbolic burning of Zozobra. Fiesta is a celebration of the allegedly bloodless reconquest of the Taos Pueblo by the Spanish soldiers who had been expelled by the Indians years earlier during the 1682 rebellion. Saturday and Sunday there are several parades, including a Pet Parade, the "Hysterical Historical" Parade, and many others. The Pet Parade features small children and their pets dressed up in funny costumes. The Hysterical Historical Parade is filled with floats that have to do with the theme of the holiday, Spanish conquest. The parades include performances by marching bands from Santa Fe's two high schools, Capital High School and Santa Fe High School. Other parades can have floats of any genre, from a float sponsored by a bank to a float promoting a certain politician in a local election.

Once of the best things about either of the markets or Fiesta is the great food. The best place to get food is at the Five and Dime on the plaza, which serves the most delicious frito pies way in the back of the store.

Aside from Tourism, Santa Fe is mostly an uneventful place. A few things are worth noting. Throughout the whole year, there is Farmer's Market on Saturdays. According to USA Weekend, Santa Fe's farmer's market is one of the top 10 farmer's markets in the country (source: Santa Fe is also notable for its large population of people from the east coast there to experience the fresh air and the New Age, spiritual environment. More religions than you could count have branches here (Buddhism - several varieties, Christianity - several varieties, Islam, and everything in between). Many artists also came (and still come) to Santa Fe to paint and photograph the beautiful mountains and pure, cloudless sky (on some days), and there is hardly ever the least bit of haze. Other subjects of artistic interest are not limited to the herd of buffalo that lives behind the NM State Pen.

This does not cover near everything about Santa Fe, but on a final note, I will provide this interesting tidbit: Santa Fe only has two streets that are wider than 4 lanes. And very few 4 lane roads at that. Come see it and you will surely get a pleasant culture shock, and like many, you may elect to stay.

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