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The ancient and modern come together in New Mexico like nowhere else. New Mexico’s storied past is unique, and the blending of culture and history this rich deserves to be explored.
New Mexico is well known as the “Land of Enchantment,” but one of its better-known features isn’t land at all, but a road. Called the “Mother Road” in Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath (or “Main Street USA”), Route 66 has been largely replaced by nearby interstate highways, but that hasn’t diminished the romance the original name still conjures.
Between the towns of Tucumcari and Gallup you can find several stretches of the original historic route intact as well as several attractions that celebrate the famed highway. Tucumcari serves as an eastern entrance to the road and features Route 66 kitsch and fun like the famed Tee Pee Curios shop, and legendary vintage motels such as the Blue Swallow. Just down the road a bit in Santa Rosa, travelers can check out the route’s namesake museum, which features “anything having to do with wheels” and has a number of restored and tricked-out cars on display.
The beautiful capital of Santa Fe is the next stop in our route. One of the oldest cities in the nation, Santa Fe is a city melded from its Native American past, its Spanish upbringing, and its recent, modern renovation. Part of what makes this city so gorgeous is the stunning architecture which can be seen in many of its structures. A good example of this is the Loretto Chapel, which displays the mysterious St. Joseph staircase. Santa Fe is also chalk full of wonderful museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Palace of the Governors, and the Museum of Archaeology. To get a scenic view of the city, consider hopping on the Santa Fe Southern Railway, where you can take a take day trip through the greater Santa Fe area in the comfort of a rail-car with full amenities. Or simply walk through the capital and experience all the great shopping, exceptional restaurants, and energetic night life of the city for yourself.
Travel south on I-25 to the next stop; Albuquerque, and a visit to the National Atomic Museum. This unique museum was established in 1969 as an intriguing place to learn the story of the Atomic Age, from early weapons research and development through today's peaceful uses of nuclear technology, such as in the field of medicine. There is no better way to see this exciting city then in a Sandia Peak Tramway ride. The Tram lifts you from the Sandia foothills, 10,000 ft to the top of Sandia Peak. While you are at the top, grab lunch at one of the restaurants nearby, and enjoy a fantastic view of Albuquerque. Also, be sure to stop by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, where you can see massive dinosaurs, gaze at the stars in the planetarium, walk through bat-filled caves, or watch a movie at the Pynamax theater.
Finish the trip in the colorful little town of Gallup. Once just a pit-stop on Route 66, Gallup is now a growing tourist town, with a jazzy downtown district full of brassy shops, throwback diners, and interesting attractions. Don’t pass through without visiting the Red Rock State Park, with its beautiful desert landscape, and museum, highlighting the lives of the early Native Americans in that area.