Founded around 1610, Santa Fe is the second-oldest city and the oldest state capital in the US, and is all but unique in having not only preserved many of its seductive original adobe buildings, but also insisted that all new downtown structures follow the same architectural style. And yet, despite being home to the country’s oldest public building and throwing its oldest annual party, Fiesta, Santa Fe is also synonymous with contemporary chic, thanks to its thriving art market, gourmet restaurants, great museums, upscale spas and world-class opera.

Santa Fe’s mind-boggling assortment of characters include traditional and avant-garde artists, New Age hippy transplants, Spanish families that have called the city home for centuries, Mexican immigrants, retirees from both coasts, and more than a few Hollywood producers and movie stars. Most are drawn above all by the relaxed attitude, the sense of space, the unbeatable climate and that certain something that gives Santa Fe a singularly alluring essence.