Santa Fe did not need its signature adobe, hundreds of galleries or multitude of festivals and markets to make Time magazine’s 100 World’s Greatest Places list.
The picture accompanying Santa Fe’s listing was of Opuntia Cafe, which concisely illustrates what Time was up to this year in assembling its greatest places in the world as the world is seeking to regain some sense of normalcy.
This was not the year for Eiffel Towers, Roman Coliseums or Sydney Opera Houses.
“In many ways, our third annual list of the World’s Greatest Places is a tribute to the people and businesses at the forefront of those industries who, amid extraordinary circumstances, found ways to adapt, build and innovate,” magazine editors wrote in a note titled “How Time Picked the List.” “It shines a light on ingenuity, creativity, revitalization and reopenings in destinations across the world.”
Time sought nominations from its international network of correspondents and contributors. Freelance writer Sucheta Rawal wrote the Santa Fe entry, which was titled: “Monument to the Southwest.”
“Santa Fe is steeped in history. This year, it welcomed the arrival of Bishop’s Lodge, an Auberge Resorts Collection retreat nestled near the Santa Fe National Forest. A chapel built in 1874 by the first Archbishop of Santa Fe stands at the center of this luxury resort and ranch, where guests can take horses on guided trail rides. In keeping with the Southwestern spirit, the Santa Fe Railyard, a cultural hub that offers commuter train service, leisure activities and an outdoor rail trail, is now home to a new outpost of Bosque Brewing Co. as well as the Opuntia Cafe, which has an indoor garden and a selection of seasonal bowls and toasts. Elsewhere, a pandemic surge in bikers inspired volunteers from the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society to build a five-mile loop at Galisteo Basin Preserve.”
Opuntia Cafe fits the Time description to a T. Opuntia opened in October in the Railyard after owners Todd Spitzer and Jeanna Gienke did tenant improvement work during the pandemic shutdown. “I think it was fascinating that [Time was] taking a whole new angle of what makes Santa Fe great,” Spitzer said. “For me, it’s the combination of the Indigenous, Spanish and artistic culture. That’s what drew me here. You can create from that.”
Sandra Brice, Railyard director of outreach and marketing, said the diversity of the area is catching on and gaining notice.
“Ingenuity and creativity is what the Railyard is all about,” Brice said.
The Time blurb in no way subscribes to the Tourism Santa Fe talking points for Santa Fe, but Executive Director Randy Randall said, “We’ll take what we can get,” adding, “To be singled out in the [pandemic] recovery is significant and meaningful. The beauty is, somebody cared about Santa Fe enough to make this recommendation for us.”
As much as Santa Fe routinely makes national magazine lists as a tourism mecca, the city predominantly is a regional travel destination. Texas and Colorado make up 43 percent of visitors, with Texas accounting for 28 of all visitors, according to Tourism Santa Fe statistics.
Only five other states account for 2 percent to 8.6 percent of Santa Fe’s visitations: California, Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma and Florida.