Since the 1500s, northern New Mexico has attracted visitors from around the world. It's a place you can return to after an absence and feel as though you are discovering it for the first time. It could be because of the way the light plays off the pastel blue sky and the fluffy white cumulus clouds, or the diverse topography that blankets the horizon in every direction, or the rich history that dates back several thousand years, or the blending of multiple cultural influences. Or it could be that this vast and beautiful landscape offers so many ways to have a great time. It's actually all the above, as well as the native folk and fine arts, the cuisine, the theater, and shopping that make up northern New Mexico's fascinating fabric.

On a recent visit, we observed that New Mexicans have a love affair with their utility vehicles, especially old pickup trucks. Here, the restoration of vintage pickups seems embedded in the locals' DNA. On the streets of Santa Fe, the country roads that lead to and from the pueblos, or on the blue-line roads that wind through the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains, this passion for old trucks is evident everywhere.

The area encompasses Santa Fe north to the Colorado border and west from Chama to Red River and Taos in the east. We began our odyssey in Santa Fe. Stroll up Canyon Road, and you'll find a huge art colony. You can spend hours in the historic central plaza where, every morning, local vendors spread their handcrafted jewelry of silver, turquoise, and other precious metals and gems on blankets in front of the Palace of the Governors. You'll quickly understand why all levels of art aficionados gravitate to Santa Fe.

The gastronomic possibilities in Santa Fe seem endless. La Plazuela, for example, at the La Fonda inn on the southeast corner of the Plaza, specializes in fusion-style New Mexican cuisine. After a leisurely lunch, from the Plaza take a guided walking tour of the highlights of downtown, including the Palace of the Governors and St. Francis Basilica, a block away from the Plaza. In the summer, classic truck owners meet on the Plaza to show off their vehicles at Santa Fe Vintage Car Club gatherings. The capital city's past and present are as colorful as its landscape.