Traveling to this artists' haven is like stepping back in time.

By Ivy Manning
March 18, 2009

New Mexico’s capital city, Santa Fe, lies high in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains, about an hour northeast of Albuquerque. With its graceful adobe homes set against expansive azure skies, a historic plaza that serves as a social center, laid-back artistic atmosphere, and world-class cuisine, Santa Fe is as romantic as La Serenissima herself.

Eat smart: Begin your evening at the Bell Tower Bar on the rooftop of the historic La Fonda Hotel just before sunset. Order a bottle of prosecco, Venice’s famous sparkling wine, and toast the breathtaking New Mexican sunset. When the sun finally sinks below the horizon and the sky turns from crimson to indigo, head five blocks west along the river to Aqua Santa (505-982-6297) where Chef Brian Knox creates a daily changing menu made with local ingredients. Sit on the outdoor terrace lit by twinkling string lights and savor soulful dishes like tagliatelle with slow-braised lamb ragù, pizza with smoked mozzarella and truffle oil, and creamy buttermilk panna cotta with Moscato marinated raspberries.

Be fit: Founded in 1610 (around the same time that the Bridge of Sighs in Venice was built), Santa Fe, like Venice, is a city for strolling. You’ll feel that you’ve been transported to another time as you wander the cobblestone streets in the center of town to East Alameda Street, where a verdant path shaded by cottonwood trees runs along the quietly burbling Santa Fe River. Follow the river walk into the peaceful Eastside neighborhood where small arching bridges traverse the lazy water among adobe homes built in the 17th century.

Live well: Santa Fe is home to many artistic attractions; from the stellar Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to more than 100 galleries in the picturesque Canyon Road art district, there is enough art and culture here to give Venice a run for its lira. Venetian glass collectors will love Tesuque Glass Works, located in the small artist haven of Tesuque five miles north of Santa Fe. Shop in their extensive gallery for a souvenir, or peek in the studio to watch artists blow colorful gossamer art made of glass.

Where to stay: A few steps away from Aqua Santa lies the charming Inn on the Alameda. The inn features flower-filled courtyards that lead to cozy rooms with adobe walls, handmade armoires, and Talavera tiled bathrooms complete with fluffy Italian bathrobes.