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Shopping or chilling, SF ranks at top

SANTA FE — The latest survey by Travel + Leisure magazine reconfirms long-standing traveler opinions of Santa Fe: It’s a great place to shop ’til you drop and then chill out with a little peace and quiet, but go somewhere else if you’re looking for a singles bar scene or want a wild weekend.

The national magazine’s 2011 online survey ranking 35 American destination cities gave Santa Fe No. 1’s in four categories: “cultural getaway,” independent boutiques, peace and quiet, and home decor and design stores.

The City Different ranked last in “sports crazed” and was No. 33 for a singles bar scene and “wild weekend.” Only Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., ranked below Santa Fe for a wild weekend.

Santa Fe also got top five rankings for offbeat people, flea markets, safety, best place to visit at Christmas and the fall, cleanliness, romantic escape, diversity, museums and galleries, architecture/”cool buildings,” weather, antique stores and intelligent people.

Jim Bradbury, executive director of the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau, noted that the survey compares Santa Fe to cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and New York.

“It’s a real testament to Santa Fe’s enduring character when we are included in such a group and get voted as the best, in one way or another, year after year,” he said.

Santa Fe also was ranked first for cultural getaway and peace and quiet last year.

This year’s survey was conducted on the Travel + Leisure website from mid-May to mid-August.

Santa Fe was ranked fifth in “driving ability” by participating travelers.

But maybe visitors haven’t been around long enough to catch on to the City Different’s disdain for left-turn red lights and other traffic control devices. Santa Fe residents who participated in the survey had a much worse view of City Different drivers, ranking them in the middle of the pack at 17th.

Locals also ranked Santa Fe people as only 22nd most attractive. Visitors liked the look of Santa Feans better, putting them at 16th.

Santa Fe ranked near the bottom of the pack in “cocktail hour” and live music and concerts. Santa Fe was 23rd in the “tech-savvy” category.

Here are some of the other Santa Fe results in the Travel + Leisure survey:

♦ Santa Fe was second overall for “quality of life and visitor experience,” behind only Savannah, Ga. — despite ranking only 22nd in affordability, 17th in “lots of hotel options,” 19th in public transportation and pedestrian-friendliness, 12th in public parks and outdoor access and 29th in wireless coverage in this general category.

♦ Santa Fe was 14th in the overall food/drinks/restaurants category. Santa Fe came in ninth for fine-dining restaurants; 21st for barbecue; 30th for pizza; 24th for hamburgers; 10th for cafés; sixth for ethnic food; 15th for street food; 18th for microbrew beer; and 12th for coffee.

♦ Santa Feans were ranked eighth for friendliness, 15th for “athletic/active” and seventh for stylishness.

♦ Santa Fe was second, behind only New Orleans, for shopping overall. Its only finish out of the top five in shopping categories was for luxury stores, where it ranked 13th.