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Santa Fe, New Mexico

National Geographic Traveler magazine recognizes this year’s leaders in sustainable tourism.

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Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe

World Legacy Award Winner, Sense of Place: Enhancing Cultural Authenticity and support for the preservation of historic monuments, archeological sites and indigenous heritage

Among the great pleasures of travel is browsing local street markets, whether buying tree-ripened fruit at a farmer’s stand or discovering a one-off collectable in a back-alley flea market. Casual conversations with local vendors can also reveal a lot about a place.

In Santa Fe, where the Indian Market is nearly a hundred years old, what quickly becomes clear is this high desert city’s deep connection to authenticity. If a cowboy from yesteryear rode into Santa Fe’s downtown plaza today, he would instantly recognize it. That’s because Santa Fe has placed a premium on safeguarding its rich cultural heritage–from historic adobe buildings that grace the city center to the Santa Fe Fiesta, a music, dancing, food-loving extravaganza that is also one of America’s oldest continuous public celebrations.

“Preserving this rich heritage is our duty and our passion,” says Randy Randall, executive director for Tourism Santa Fe. Today’s travelers can stroll the San Miguel Mission and the Palace of the Governors much as early settlers did, or test their “hot meter” at the more modern Green Chile Harvest Festival. When the day is done, book into one of the many eco-friendly hotels, part of Santa Fe’s robust sustainability initiatives, which are helping to bring the past into the future.

Finalists: Adventure Canada, Canada; Awamaki, Peru

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