Why Go: This remote village on a high desert plain is especially magical at Christmas, thanks to its rich mix of cultural traditions. Not to miss: historic Ledoux Street all lit up with luminarias (paper lanterns); the ceremonial reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter, called posadas; and the dramatic American Indian Christmas Eve celebration that takes over the main square in Taos Pueblo. Plus, you can ski all day long on Christmas Day at Taos Ski Resort, 18 miles away.
Where to Stay: Near the town square, El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa features objects from around the world in its spare, elegant rooms. Book a room with a fireplace to up the cozy factor.
Holiday Dinner: On twinkling Ledoux Street, the seven-table hideaway Byzantium offers a winter menu with dishes like shrimp ceviche and grilled pork scaloppine with apple, cabbage, and mustard-seed compote.
A rolling mesa at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos has a magical quality. Its rugged beauty, majestic mountains, wild Rio Grande river and unique blend of cultures - Spanish, Native American and Anglo - have historically drawn artists and photographers, evidenced by the plentiful galleries, museums and festivals. To experience the Native American culture here, explore Taos Pueblo, where the Tiwa Native Americans have practiced their traditions for centuries. Finally, the Anglo influence is prevalent in the business district, with its shops, art galleries and some of the finest restaurants in New Mexico. Skiing is also a major draw, but the challenging slopes are geared to the more advanced crowd. There's no rat race here; a fair share of non-mainstreamers have made this laid-back, low-key mecca their home. You, too, may not want to leave its tranquility and natural beauty.