By the Numbers
AVERAGE COMMUTE 19 minutes
MEDIAN AGE 41
MEDIAN INCOME $45,177
MEDIAN HOME PRICE $354,125
BIGGEST EMPLOYERS Los Alamos National Laboratory (9,000), State of New Mexico (7,643), Santa Fe School District (1,850)
TELLING STATISTICRatio of art galleries to residents: 1:235
IN SANTA FE, mud sells. Each year, more than a million tourists come to ogle the signature adobe buildings along with conquistador-era streets, world-class opera, and the 300 galleries that make the city the third-largest art market in the U.S. But the Spanish-colonial ambience of New Mexico's 7,000-foot-high capital isn't the only reason Outside moved here from Chicago in 1994. The 12,500-foot Sangre de Cristo mountains east of town offer year-round adventure, from the powder of Santa Fe Ski Basin to the singletrack of the Winsor Trail, which rises 3,500 feet as it winds through ten miles of pine-and-aspen forests. Add the whitewater of the Rio Grande, and four more ski resorts within two hours, and the 300 sunny days a year aren't enough. Hollywood has also fallen in love; it's hard not to bump into a celebrity amid the tattooed artists, sunburned ranchers, and New Agers downing margaritas at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. The $100 million Railyard project will give downtown a 2,000-seat movie theater, a catchment-irrigated park, and rail service to Albuquerque. And the city is spending $40,000 on the 15-mile La Tierra trail network, which will rival the Dale Ball system for best lunchtime ride.
The Perfect 48 Hours
From subscriber Trevor Daul, 36, a technology-firm marketer:
Greet the sun with a run on the Dale Ball trails. Recover with breakfast at Tia Sophia's (505-983-9880) and a gallery walk on Canyon Road. Rent a bike at Mellow Velo (982-8986) and spend the afternoon on the Winsor Trail. Unwind in a hot tub at Ten Thousand Waves spa (tenthousandwaves.com). After dinner at the Anasazi Restaurant (innoftheanasazi.com), it's salsa dancing at El Farol (elfarolsf.com). On day two, grab breakfast at Café Pasqual's (pasquals.com), then rent gear at High Desert Angler (highdesertangler.com) and fish the Pecos River. Finish with dinner at Guadalupe Café (982-9762) and a night at the Santa Fe Opera (santafeopera.org).
Surrounded by three 8,000-foot mountain ranges, Saguaro National Park, cyclist-friendly roads, and hundreds of climbing routes, Tucson would be a great southwestern city even without its funky bohemian district, north-side shops, and historic Old Town buildings. Throw in the energy of the 36,000-student University of Arizona and rich Mexican influences and you'll understand why the city pulled in more than $2 billion from tourism alone last year. Just pack sunscreen. Lots of it.
"A mountain oasis in the desert." Anne Pestolesi
"The mountain biking rivals any place in the Southwest." Cris Garrido