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Santa Fe — Other activities

(Area code 505)

The museums in Santa Fe are first rate. Buy a four-day pass for $15, which will admit you to five of the best: the Museum of International Folk Art (strong in Spanish art of the area), the Palace of the Governors (for local history), the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum Of Spanish Colonial Art. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (left) has its own entry fees.

You should consider touring the eight Indian pueblos near Santa Fe. The San Ildefonso Pueblo, famous for its distinctive pottery style, is the most scenic. Its annual festival to honor its patron saint is in late January and features traditional clothing and dances. If you have a car, and especially if you are driving north on U.S. Hwy. 84/285 to Taos, be sure and take the Hwy. 503 turnoff at Pojoaque and drive east to Chimayo, site of the Santuario de Chimayo, famous for its dirt thought to have healing powers. At the end of the church parking lot, you’ll find Leona’s, a funky little walk-up where the tamale pie and burritos are exceptional. On the way to Taos you wind through foothills and into high mountain Hispanic villages like Truchas and Las Trampas. For beautiful woven blankets, stop at Ortega’s in Chimayo, where family members still practice a craft brought to New Mexico in the 1600s by their ancestors.

An initial warning: It will be much cheaper to ski all day than venture into Santa Fe’s many tempting shops and galleries. That warning given, more than 250 galleries feature Native American crafts and art, as well as fine art on a par with galleries in New York, Florence or Paris. In fact, Santa Fe is the second largest art market after New York. Local artisans sell their wares on blankets in front of the 390-year-old Palace of the Governors, a long-standing Santa Fe shopping tradition.

Canyon Road is the world-famous strip of galleries featuring wonderful art of all styles, for all tastes. The walk from the Plaza area is pleasant. The Waxlander Gallery features wonderful pastel still-life works of J. Alex Potter. Our favorite is Nedra Matteucci’s Fenn Galleries, 1075 Paseo de Peralta, just south of Canyon Road. The day we visited, we counted four Zuniga sculptures starting at $80,000 each. Don’t miss the garden.

Two stores we love are Nicholas Potter Bookseller, an old house at 211 E. Palace stuffed with used and rare books, and The Shop, also on E. Palace brimiming with Christmas stuff. Tees & Skis near the Plaza carries mostly soft goods like hats, goggles, long underwear. In a good snow year, they’ll inventory parkas and sweaters.

How can you not indulge yourself in Santa Fe? Compared with many resorts, spas here are almost affordable. Perhaps that’s because there are so many high quality day spas. Here’s a sampling:

When one of our writers was in desperate need of a body tune-up after a bad landing, High Desert Healthcare & Massage (984-8830), just off the Plaza, worked wonders. The emphasis is on massage and bodywork, and treatments available include Swedish massage, deep tissue and medical massage, Oriental bodywork, reflexology, Ortho-Bionomy, Rolfing, acupuncture and Kotoama life medicine. Therapists will mix and match to suit your needs. Rates for massage and bodywork begin at $42 for a half hour and increase by quarter-hour to $93 for one and a half hours.

Soak away your cares and get a massage or a facial or a wrap or glow at the Japanese-influenced Ten Thousand Waves (992-5025, 982-9304). Communal, women-only and private baths/tubs are available. Prices for massage begin at $89 for 55 minutes. A 25-minute salt glow is $49. Admission to the public or women’s tubs is $14. If you really like the place, you can stay at the House of the Moon Lodging, with rates for simple Zen-style rooms running $190 to $215. Fancier rooms are available, too. It’s about 3 miles from the Plaza and on the road from the ski area.

Santa Fe Massage, a day spa with locations at La Fonda (982-5511) and Hotel Santa Fe (982-1200), delivers a multitude of services, including massage, body treatments and skin-care treatments, all beginning at $45 for 25 minutes. Spa packages are available combining various treatments, ranging from 80 minutes to two and a half hours. If you’re too pooped to go to them, they’ll come to you for an additional $25, minimum one-hour treatment (949-1166).

A humongous menu of services is available at Sterling Institute (594-3223). In addition to the regular stuff, it offers three-hour signature spa treatments from around the world, combining treatments for body and face or skin (starting at $195). Basic massage is $70 for 50 minutes, a salt glow is $65 for 50 minutes, facials are $50.

RockResorts Spa at La Posada is as full-service as you can find. On the menu are massage, skincare and body treatments as well as salon services, wellness therapies and even classes in yoga, Pilates and personal training. The signature treatment is a chocolate-chile wrap – sounds good enough to eat (50 minutes for $125).

SpaTerre (984-7997), at the Inn at Loretto, is a full-service spa offering massage, facial care, body treatments, Indonesian and Thai rituals and salon services. A 50-minute massage begins at $90; facials begin at $60; 50-minute body treatments begin at $110; ritual treatments begin at $175.

Call the Santa Fe Visitors Bureau (505-955-6200; 800-777-2489) for more information on these and other activities.