New Mexico is your next stop—which means you’re in for some new and exciting adventures! If the art scene is what you’re checking out, New Mexico and art (in all its forms) are natural partners. Of course, Santa Fe will be on this list. From art galleries and weavings to Georgia O’Keefe and her paintings, you’ll be able to experience so much that may be new to you. Who knows? You may even be able to buy a few pieces!

  • Taos
  • Las Cruces
  • Alcalde
  • Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe

Taos  

Best Cities in New Mexico

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Nestled in the mountains of northern New Mexico, Taos has its own quirky, weird vibe. It’s much more than Santa Fe’s little sister, because it has a thriving and growing art scene of its own. Two itinerant artists who were on their way to Mexico to continue their painting careers were stopped by a broken wagon wheel in 1898. Once they got a look at Taos, they abandoned their Mexico plans and settled right there, inviting other artists to join them.

Residents and visitors to Taos live peacefully next to the residents of the Taos Pueblo, respecting and marking ceremonial dances and feast days. Here, the lifestyle is laid-back and slow. No need to rush from appointment to appointment. 

While the prices for art and sculpture aren’t as high as they are in Santa Fe, don’t expect rock-bottom prices here—artists know the value of their work and aren’t afraid to charge accordingly.

Las Cruces  

Best Cities in New Mexico

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While Las Cruces is some four hours south of Santa Fe, it didn’t miss out on the arts scene. From music and dance to museums and art studios, those new to this city will easily be able to satisfy their longing for art and culture. As one of the best cities in New Mexico, Las Cruces offers New Mexico State University, which is home to the New Mexico State University Art Gallery and  Zuhl Library, which houses well over $400,000 of prehistoric fossils.

Go to Mesilla, located just south of Las Cruces for the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Here, you can buy an agua fresca, take up a spot in the Plaza and listen to local and regional mariachi groups. You’ll fall in love with the history that steeps this southern New Mexico city.

In Las Cruces, the atmosphere is laid-back, but not quite as quirky as it is in Taos. However, you’ll still see visitors decked out in colorful broomstick skirts, cowboy hats, boots and silver jewelry. New Mexico seems to encourage creativity, so don’t expect to find too many non-native artists. Every Saturday, Las Cruces holds its weekly Farmer’s and Crafts Market, where artists from Las Cruces and the surrounding communities set up booths.

Alcalde 

Best Cities in New Mexico

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Alcalde, located about 20 minutes north of Española, is located in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Here, famed artist Georgia O’Keefe settled down and began painting her now world-famous paintings.

Here, the neighbors are salt-of-the-earth people, earning a living and sending their children to school. When you drive into Alcalde, expect to find simple dwellings in a tiny community. As of the 2000 census, the village was home to 377 people. This makes the lifestyle in the village quiet and one that is focused on day-to-day life. Businesses are geared to meeting the needs of village residents. Don’t expect to find pricey galleries, a la Santa Fe. While the market does have some of O’Keefe’s works, you may need to look for them. Even though the community is so tiny, you’ll fall in love with the quiet life—although, to get to work, you’ll have a twisting mountain commute as you drive to Española or Santa Fe.

Albuquerque  

Best Cities in New Mexico

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While Albuquerque may seem to be the land of “Breaking Bad” or “Better Call Saul,” you may be surprised to learn that this city has a thriving art scene. Take a look at the buildings. Those Spanish Mission buildings house, not only government offices, but galleries and art studios.  Several Albuquerque neighborhoods have developed different personalities. For instance, Old Town gives a nod to this city’s Spanish, Indian and Mexican origins. When you go to the Plaza, you’ll be able to enjoy live music and, if you choose to walk around the neighborhood, see some of the local art.

No matter which neighborhood you visit, you’ll encounter residents and visitors who, like you, treasure art in all its forms. Expect to find several different neighborhood vibes. Here, the lifestyle is a little bit more fast-paced, but you’ll still be able to relax and take your time getting to know your new home. Don’t expect a small-town atmosphere!

Visit the KiMo Theatre, founded by Oreste Bachechi, an immigrant to the United States. When he envisioned a theatre for Albuquerque, his dream included Southwestern elements, mixed in with Art Deco influences. This mixture came to be known as Pueblo Deco. 

Santa Fe

Best Cities in New Mexico

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Santa Fe is one of the best cities in New Mexico. With its lighting and vibe, it’s no wonder! Here, the neighbors are a mix of old-time residents, with their roots long established and newer residents who have moved here from other states. Expect that quirkiness that Santa Fe represents; it’s here in full play. 

Attend a performance of the opera at the Santa Fe Opera, located 7 miles north of the city. Established in 1956, the opera has become a well-known opportunity for American opera singers who want to perform well-known operas. You’ll fall in love with the variety of offerings this city has for you, from paintings to music and even food.