The Land of Enchantment
New Mexico is a state of the American Southwest, great to visit at any time of the year. It has a large native Spanish-speaking population, as well as many Native American communities. There is a diverse collection of American Indian pueblos (communities of Native Americans), reservations and artwork. Navajo Nation, in the northwest region, is the largest Indian reservation in the state. The state’s largest cities are Albuquerque and Sante Fe, which hosts a major fine arts scene of local artists and craftspeople. The Carlsbad Caverns (collection of vast caves) and Chaco Culture National Historical Park are some of the must-sees. To travel around this vast western state, book a train ticket or rent a car. For more information visit: newmexico.org.
Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community
Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions
Taos Pueblo. Photo by Ron Cogswell.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque features four different tourist attractions – a zoo, botanical garden, aquarium and Tingley Beach. The BioPark also hosts seasonal activities and events like art shows, concerts and festivals.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is home to important historical and cultural sites from ancient Pueblo populations, and includes the greatest concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. Tourists can see the ruins of the ancestral communities on a self-guided tour or ranger-led walk. Hiking and biking trails are also available in the park, and visitors can also enjoy a Night Sky Program during certain times of year.
Stand at the intersection of four states – New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado – at Four Corners Tribal Park. The park, which is open year-round, also features Navajo jewelry, crafts, traditional foods and demonstrations by Navajo artisans.
The Lincoln State Monument features 17 historical structures related to the town of Lincoln and the Lincoln County War from 1878 to 1881, such as the Tunstall Store, San Juan Mission Church, and the Old Courthouse that is now used as a museum. The buildings allow visitors to learn what life was like in the “Old West” and the days of Billy the Kid and the Battle of Lincoln.
The New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe teaches visitors about the history of New Mexico covering the time periods of its early indigenous history, Spanish settlers, the Wild West and the recent history of Santa Fe and New Mexico. The museum is free to visit on Friday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m.
Acoma Pueblo's Sky City features an ancient Pueblo village on a 370-foot mesa and the Haak’u Museum, which includes exhibits on Native American history and culture in the Southwest, traditional Acoma customs and other aspects of Acoma heritage. Walking tours are available throughout the year, except during ceremonial days.
Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a Pueblo village that was inhabited almost 1000 years ago. Daily tours teach visitors about the history, culture and population of Taos Pueblo, and visitors can attend Feast Days and other religious ceremonies in the village.
- Astronomy Adventures
- Big Al Horseback Riding & Snowmobile Tours
- Kokopelli Rafting Adventures
- Llama Adventures
- New Mexico Enchanted Hikes
- New Mexico River Adventures
- Outspire Hiking & Snowshoeing
- Roadrunner Tours
- Tours of Old Town in Albuquerque
- New Mexico Tourism
- Albuquerque – New Mexico’s largest city
- Santa Fe – New Mexico’s state capital
Arts & Culture
Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. Photo by Chyeburashka.
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Art & Cultural Museums
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe is the most visited museum in New Mexico and is dedicated to the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The museum’s collection includes over 3,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures by O’Keeffe. The museum also showcases other artists such as Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol and Sherrie Levine.
Tinkertown in Sandia Park near Albuquerque is a quirky folk art museum featuring miniature wooden characters carved by artist Ross Ward, including scenes of a 1940s circus and a Western village. The museum is a favorite attraction in the area and is open daily from April to October.
Other art and cultural museums in New Mexico include:
- Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, Albuquerque
- Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell
- Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe
- Haak’u Museum, Acoma
- Hardwood Museum of Art, Taos
- Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque
- El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, Santa Fe
- Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque
- Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe
- Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe
- National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque
- New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
- Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe
- Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Fe
- SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe
- Taos Art Museum, Taos
- Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Santa Fe
- University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque
- Albuquerque Little Theatre, Albuquerque
- Albuquerque Theatre Guild, Albuquerque
- Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Santa Fe
- Duke City Repertory Theatre, Albuquerque
- Fusion Theatre Company, Albuquerque
- KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque
- Lensic Theater, Santa Fe
- New Mexico Ballet Company, Albuquerque
- Opera Southwest, Albuquerque
- Revolutions International Theatre Festival, Albuquerque
- Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe
- Tricklock Company, Albuquerque
Sports & Recreation
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
There are no major league professional sports teams in New Mexico, but professional minor league teams allow international visitors to watch popular American sports (and at a lower cost!):
- Albuquerque Isotopes (baseball)
- Las Cruces Vaqueros (baseball)
- Las Vegas Train Robbers (baseball)
- New Mexico Renegades (hockey)
- Raton Osos (baseball)
- Roswell Invaders (baseball)
- Santa Fe Fuego (baseball)
- Taos Blizzards (baseball)
- White Sands Pupfish (baseball)
College athletic programs feature a number of sports teams and often include football, basketball, baseball, soccer and many other sports. Examples of colleges with sports programs in New Mexico include:
- ENMU Greyhounds, Eastern New Mexico University
- New Mexico Lobos, University of New Mexico
- New Mexico State Aggies, New Mexico State University
- Western New Mexico Mustangs, Western New Mexico University
Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Photo via National Park Service.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Blue Hole is a clear, blue lake that is popular with scuba divers even though it is only 80 feet deep. The lake is located two hours east of Albuquerque in Santa Rosa, where visitors can also swim in any of the 12 spring-fed lakes in the area.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has over 117 caves, including some that can be explored on self-guided tours or ranger-led trips. Visitors can also watch bats fly in or out of the caves from May to mid-October, or attend a Night Sky Program.
Gila National Forest offers many outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, fishing and several hot springs. The forest is located near Silver City in southwestern New Mexico.
Petroglyph National Monument has many activities and attractions for international visitors, including volcanic cones, canyons, archaeological sites and a large collection of rock carvings and art from Native Americans and Spanish settlers. The monument is located on the west side of Albuquerque.
Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River flows through the Rio Grande Gorge in northern New Mexico. Fishing, rafting, hiking, camping, horseback riding, kayaking, biking and canoeing are available in the area throughout the year. International visitors should consider using a tour company or outfitter for outdoor activities in the area.
Ski New Mexico has information on eight skiing and snowboarding areas in New Mexico and on cross-country skiing trails. Many ski areas offer rentals, lessons and trails for both beginners and advanced skiers and riders.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
New Mexico cuisine is a reflection of its multicultural population, which includes Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Native American and even “Wild West” cooking styles and ingredients. Locally grown produce, like beans, corn and hot peppers, are a common component of New Mexico dishes, especially in Mexican cuisine. Some popular dishes in the state include tamales, burritos, enchiladas and posole.
Shop at a local farmers’ market in New Mexico to find fresh fruit and vegetables and, often, handmade goods and food.
- National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show, Albuquerque, March
- Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest, Albuquerque, March
- Hatch Valley Chile Festival, Hatch, August/September
- Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, Santa Fe, September
- The Whole Enchilada Festival, Las Cruces, September
For a unique and local perspective on American cultural, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
The Gathering of Nations in April is one of the largest pow wows in North America. The Albuquerque event attracts over 500 tribes from the United States and Canada for traditional dancing, music, singing, art, crafts, food and much more.
Summerfest is a free outdoor festival with live music, food, dancing, art, family activities and other fun events each June in Albuquerque.
Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque features performances from flamenco companies over several days in June. The event attracts some of the best Spanish flamenco dancers in the world and also includes workshops and classes for adults and children.
The Santa Fe Indian Market is a Native art market that has been running for over 90 years. The August event is one of the largest of its kind in the southwest and features over 1,000 Native artists from the U.S. and Canada.
Fiesta de Santa Fe celebrates the conquest of Santa Fe by the Don Diego de Vargas of Spain. The festival includes dancing, mariachi music, food, arts and crafts, religious ceremonies, parades and a tradition called the burning of Zozobra. The event is usually held in the second week of September.
Held each October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest festival of its kind in the world. Visitors can see balloons of all shapes and sizes and see one of the most popular events at the festival, the Mass Ascension.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
New Mexico Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for New Mexico participants include:
- Craigslist – New Mexico
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in New Mexico communities, such as:
- Albuquerque – ABQ Ride
- Santa Fe – SF Bus System and Santa Fe Pick-up, a free shuttle service to many attractions in downtown Santa Fe and the Rail Runner Express train depot.
Greyhound provides bus services in New Mexico and to surrounding areas and across the United States.
The New Mexico Rail Runner is a commuter train connecting Albuquerque and Santa Fe with additional stops in Belen, Los Ranchos and other areas.
The Texas Eagle travels between Chicago and Los Angeles and makes stops in Lordsburg and Deming, New Mexico. The Southwest Chief stops in Raton, Las Vegas (New Mexico), Lamy, Albuquerque and Gallup while traveling between Los Angeles and Chicago. The Sunset Limited route travels between Los Angeles and New Orleans, making stops in Lordsburg and Deming.
Health & Safety
Participants in New Mexico can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- New Mexico Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management
- Emergency management updates on Twitter @nmdhsem
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- New Mexico FEMA updates on Twitter @femaregion6
Help Your Community
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Volunteermatch.org, Idealist.org and Serve.gov are three general volunteer websites that match local organizations with volunteers in their communities.
Keep Santa Fe Beautiful works to clean up Santa Fe and often needs volunteers at its annual Great American Cleanup event. Visit the website for more details on how to help.
New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism promotes community service throughout New Mexico and connects volunteers with organizations in need of help. Search for a volunteer opportunity based on your interest and location and find out more about the organization on the website.
Habitat for Humanity builds low-cost housing for families and individuals in need, and welcomes group and individual volunteers to help with home construction for a day, in their stores and in offices, often with no experience needed. Find a local affiliate in New Mexico for more information on how to join.
Find a local food bank in New Mexico and help sort food donations, prepare and pack meals, help in the office, or assist with other tasks. Volunteers are often only needed for a few hours and both groups and individuals are welcome.