Santa Fe Palace of the Governors

Seasoned collectors will tell you that buying from roadside vendors is a no-no if you want guaranteed quality and authenticity, but the Native American Artisans Program at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, defies that rule of thumb.

Spanish settlers established outdoor vending areas by 1700 in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and today, these lively spots constitute some of the most thriving hubs of artisanal exchange in the Southwest. Buying directly from the artisan is the main appeal, and it is exciting to rub elbows with Native American artisans of many groups assembled here with some of their best work.

As a mecca of art and antiques, Santa Fe is hardly a secret for treasure-hunters. The joy of Santa Fe is that it offers one-stop shopping among all three historic cultures of the Southwest: Native American, Hispanic, and Western. No matter how specialized your interest—from Navajo rugs to Hopi kachinas to silver spurs and Mexican tinware—you’ll find it in Santa Fe.

Have you discovered a treasure while shopping in the American Southwest? Drop a comment below. I love to hear your stories!

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