While eating breakfast at downtown Silver City’s Tre Rosat Cafe, I overheard a couple chatting at a nearby table. “Twenty years ago they were calling this town the next Santa Fe,” said a woman who looked to be in her mid-fifties. “It never happened.” Her husband nodded in agreement. “Too far from the interstate,” he added.

Amen, I thought to myself.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my former home city of Santa Fe. But one thing that makes New Mexico special is the diversity and singularity of its communities. From Albuquerque to Zuni, no town is quite like any other.

Silver City was founded 150 years ago, on the heels of a silver-mining boom. Many who live in this sunny hilltop town of about 10,000 on the fringes of the Gila Wilderness still work in the mining industry, but Silver City and surrounding Grant County also claim a sizable number of artists, entrepreneurs, retirees, educators, students, and outdoorsy individualists who love it here precisely because it’s unlike any other place in the Southwest—or the world, for that matter.

I fell hard for Silver City the first time I visited, about 15 years ago. Entranced by the slowgoing drive through the Black Range along breathtakingly circuitous N.M. 152, I quickly delighted in the remarkable variety of one-of-a-kind restaurants and funky boutiques along downtown’s colorful commercial drag, Bullard Street. Adjacent to a minimally inhabited national forest nearly the size of Connecticut, Silver City might just be New Mexico’s ultimate destination for getting away from it all without actually having to forgo exceptional dining, distinctive accommodations, and top-notch arts and cultural attractions.

My hope is that predictions about Silver City’s imminent transformation into the next this or that prove forever incorrect. Here are 25 attributes of Silver City that make it such a charmed place to live and visit.