Just where will you spend your precious travel dollars? Of course, you want and deserve the most enriching experience you can have. Well, we’re here to tell you that trying to find your passport (or getting it renewed in time), paying the high cost of flying internationally, and exchanging your currency just isn’t necessary!

You can absolutely enjoy a transformative cultural experience right here in the United States in 400+-year-old Santa Fe, New Mexico, a destination dupe for multiple international spots. Established in 1610, Santa Fe is not only the oldest state capital in the country, but also the oldest European settlement west of the Mississippi. Its rich cultural and historic heritage blends Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences, and it is constantly evolving as a destination for artistic expression in all forms.

So, don’t go international. Come to Santa Fe!  

Santa Fe is a destination dupe for:

Cusco, Peru

Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Morroco, North Africa

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Cusco, Peru

Machu Pichu + BandelierSanta Fe and Cusco both sit at very high elevations—Santa Fe at 7,199 feet and Cusco at 11,200. Like Santa Fe, Cusco welcomes millions of visitors every year, many to use it as a jumping off point to tour Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca citadel and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Visitors to Santa Fe use it as a gateway to the ancient archaeological site of Bandelier National Monument, where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived from 1150 CE to 1550 CE or the Taos Pueblo, built between 1000 and 1450. Both cities are culturally rich and invested in preserving their traditions, as well as their distinctive architecture—in Santa Fe, the adobe buildings reflect the Pueblo, Spanish, and Territorial styles, and in Cusco, the pre-Columbian times as well as colonial constructions. You can generally speak Spanish in both cities.


Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Albaicin + Santa Fe

Both Santa Fe and Granada are located in the foothills of mountains that offer excellent recreation and skiing. Granada’s Sierra Nevada Mountains boast nearby Sierra Nevada Ski Station and Santa Fe’s Sangre de Cristo’s feature Ski Santa Fe. From any viewpoint, the mountain backdrop of these cities offers a majestic quality, though Santa Fe’s population at 80,000 makes it a more inviting and charming size. As with Santa Fe, Granada has preserved many of its historic museums and monuments, including the Cathedral of Granada. In Santa Fe, Franciscan friars rebuilt Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in 1714 and named it in honor of the Patron Saint of Santa Fe. And both cities have made a commitment to retain the historic character and street plan of the earliest neighborhoods—for Granada, it’s Albaicin and for Santa Fe, the downtown Plaza. Local and regional cuisine is emphasized in both Granada and Santa Fe and each shows their zest for life with seemingly endless options for entertainment. In both cities, you will hear and can generally communicate in Spanish.


Morocco, North Africa

Morocco + Santa Fe

When the Spanish conquered Santa Fe, they brought with them quite a bit of Moorish influence, having been ruled by the North African peoples for 800 years, so, in part, the fact that Santa Fe and Morocco are reminiscent of one another should come as no surprise. As with Santa Fe, tourism is a critical factor in Morocco’s economy. In 2019, the country of Morocco hosted 13 million tourists, while the city of Santa Fe welcomed 3 million. A majority of visitors are intrigued by the history and culture of both cities, Morocco with its ancient and Islamic sites and Santa Fe with its blend of Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences. Each offers ample opportunities to experience various markets and artistic communities. Many visitors travel to each destination for the outdoor adventure, which makes a lot of sense since a large portion of Morocco is mountains, including the Atlas and Rif Mountains with the highest peak being Toubkal at 13,671 feet. And Santa Fe resides in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, whose highest peak at 12,622 is Santa Fe Baldy, which can be seen from downtown Plaza. You’ll delight in the famous cuisine of each destination. Among the most famous Moroccan dishes are Couscous or Tajine, and in Santa Fe, the enchilada, breakfast burrito, or Frito pie. Plan ahead to see events at either the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple, built in 1912, with a California Mission Style Revival design and Moorish influence or The Lensic Performing Arts Center, a Spanish-Moorish style theater built in 1931 as a motion picture and vaudeville act venue, now presenting dance, concerts, readings, and more.


San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel + Santa Fe

Sister Cities since 2013, both were inhabited by indigenous communities before Spanish invasions around the 16th century. In the early 1900s, artists began arriving in both San Miguel de Allende and Santa Fe, and creative people followed, transforming the cities into art colonies of sorts (in fact, Santa Fe was recognized as the first UNESCO Creative City in 2005), which, in turn, spurred the opening of hotels, shops, and restaurants to cater to the new visitors and residents, as well as more and more exciting events. Tourists tend to become so enchanted that they not only return but many choose to retire and become residents of each city, attracted by the climate and the cultural opportunities. Both Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende have made strong commitments to preserve and honor their heritage and historic character. With regard to architecture and design, you’ll find Santa Fe’s historic center on its downtown Plaza reminiscent of the layout plan developed by the Spanish in the 1600s. Special building codes help retain the Pueblo and Territorial styles. San Miguel de Allende’s large historic core zone also evokes its past with the same grid street pattern favored by the Spanish and here, no parking meters, traffic signals, or fast food restaurants are allowed. Believe it or not, there’s also quite an obsession with doors in Santa Fe and San Miguel de Allende, so don’t be surprised if you see people snapping pictures and gaping at the charming entrances.

So, don’t bother booking an expensive flight and getting your passport renewed. Santa Fe is ready to deliver everything you seek in an international destination and more! Get a taste of The City Different! Order your Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide now or browse our deals and specials to help you plan your next trip to Santa Fe.