By Maryann Hammers


New Mexico is known for its Spanish colonial and pueblo architecture, Native American culture, vibrant art scene, distinct cuisine, and a diverse terrain that stretches from the Chihuahuan Desert to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.


Here are more reasons to visit, and ways save while you’re there:


The bubbling hot springs at Ojo Caliente Resort & Spa are legendary. The 1,100-acre property in Northern New Mexico opened in 1868, making it one of the nation’s oldest natural health resorts. For centuries before that, Native American tribes gathered around the springs, considering the waters to be a sacred source of healing. If you just want to enjoy the springs for a few hours or the day, rates start at $25-$30, and military members get a 10-percent discount. Or stay a night or two: Lodging rates start at $169, but military members with valid ID get a year-round 10-percent discount, which includes daily admission to the hot springs (children under age 13 not allowed). Accommodation options include modern suites (many with private soaking tubs and pools), cozy cottages, a historic hotel built in 1916, and private homes with full, equipped kitchens. The resort also offers hiking and biking trails, yoga, and custom spa treatments. Call (888) 939-0007.


At Drury Plaza Hotel in downtown Santa Fe, you’ll enjoy private terraces, views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a rooftop pool, free hot breakfast every morning, and complimentary food and beverages at 5:30 p.m. Active duty military members (use promo code SALUTE), veterans (promo code VET), and anyone over age 65 (promo code SENR) get a 10% discount. Use the appropriate promo code when booking online. Call (505) 424-2175.


The Courtyard Marriott Santa Fe offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, in-room refrigerators, an indoor pool, and whirlpools. It’s near the Santa Fe Airport and numerous attractions such as the Loretto Chapel, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Canyon Road Gallery District, and historic Santa Fe Plaza. Rates vary by season and start at about $166 at this writing. But active duty and retired military members pay as little as $123. Call (505) 473-2800, and ask for the Government/Military Rate (rate code GOV).


La Quinta by Wyndham, with 19 locations throughout New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, offers military members a 12% discount off the best available rate, plus other upgrades and perks. All locations offer a free breakfast, pet-friendly rooms, and free Wi-Fi. Find more details.


The mountain town of Ruidoso is within easy driving distance of Cannon, Kirtland, Holloman, White Sands Missile Range, and Fort Bliss military bases. The town caters to military members seeking R&R, with savings of up to 25% on hotels, plus additional savings on shops, restaurants, and attractions. Find details here.


Don’t miss New Mexico’s many military-focused museums and points of interest, including the New Mexico Military Institute, known as “The West Point of the West”; The Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center (about an hour from Santa Fe), with exhibits like “GI JOKES: A Somewhat Light-hearted Look at Military Life”; and Veterans Memorial Park & Military Museum, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall at the Hamilton Memorial Museum with war displays and exhibits of rare memorabilia.