Top Things To Do in Santa Fe with Kids

by | May 14, 2022 | Destinations, Family Adventures, South West, USA

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The wild west still lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our family felt it the moment we started walking past adobe structures, lining a brick sidewalk, in the old town square. Cowboys tipped their hats in our direction as we passed by. We basked in their warm welcomes. 

My family came to “The City Different,” the name given to Santa Fe because of its mix of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo style structures, in search of new adventures and a great camping experience.

 

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Blue Door on Adobe Home.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

 

The Culture of the Wild West

Something about the wild west demands a sense of connection to the rawness of our ancestor’s land. Whether it is the karst canyon ledges, flat open desert terrain, or mental images of wild horses roaming the landscape, you can only appreciate it once you have arrived in Santa Fe, NM.

As the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe has several cultural institutions dedicated to educating, preserving, and fostering an understanding and appreciation for the various nations, tribes, and pueblos that dot its gentle yet rugged landscape. 

In fact, the state of New Mexico, nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, and specifically Santa Fe County, is one of the largest havens for Native Americans in the United States.

 

Perfect Little Santa Fe, NM Home.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

Rustic Adobe Home with Santa Fe Style Blue.// Photo by Larry Lamsa on Flickr



Best Time To Visit Santa Fe

To escape the big crowds and tremendous heat waves, the best time to visit Santa Fe is in the late spring and early summer. Wildflowers bloom during this time. The surrounding area is a mecca for all things outdoors, horseback riding, rafting, rock climbing, hiking, and even cross-country skiing. Though fall from September to November brings tons of festivals and events before the cold snap hits so, really, it depends on what you’re looking for.

 

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Santa Fe Family Activities

Santa Fe is the perfect place for friends and family to cherish some quality time together. There’s so much exploration to do and history to discover. Families can’t miss the following fun things to do.

 

Santa Fe Children’s Museum

As parents of two rambunctious little boys, we loved the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. This is a great place for kids to be free and enjoy all the fun activities and interactive exhibits. For our two little workers, the Discovery Construction Zone, the Sandbox (complete with a mud kitchen), and the Lookout Tower were absolute favorites.

Paseo Pottery

My family happens to think that haphazardly slinging paint from its original container onto a piece of paper makes us little artistes. Not so much; however, if your family considers themselves to be art lovers, then a pottery experience at Paseo Pottery is a must. The local artists are exceptionally talented and fun individuals who offered us a fun and cultural look into the world of pottery art. Although we each had the opportunity to use the potter’s wheel, shaping the clay into our own expressions of art was more our style. The best part was that we found it to be suitable even for our young kids.

 

Pecos National Historic Park

One of the other highlights during our southwestern adventure was exploring the Pecos National Historical Park. Bring your kids to see and experience an unforgettable Civil War Reenactment that is always open and free to the public. 

 

Pecos Mission Church, New Mexico.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

Mission Church inside Pecos National Park, NM.// Photo by Alan Villasenor on Unsplash

 

Here at Pecos National Park, there are many trails to follow, but for families with younger kids, the Ancestral Sites Trail is an easy loop of just over one mile that leads you past the Pecos Pueblo and adobe-constructed mission church. Along the way, enjoy the great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range and Glorieta Mesa along the way. 

 

 

Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe, NM is one of the best places our family has visited in a long time and we especially loved the small town charm that pervades this desert space. We enjoyed walking (I mean, running) all around the Santa Fe Plaza (yes, its downtown), which is well known for its lively atmosphere (although I take pleasure in reporting our family turned it up a few notches).

DISCLAIMER: My boys are talented in that they can turn any place, anywhere, into a play area (even right at the heart of Santa Fe), and as gentle, loving parents – we play right into the craziness (heck, we only live once!

Front and center in Santa Fe’s historic downtown is the plaza’s central park, where Native American artists sell unique creations including everything from liquid light glass, turquoise and silver jewelry, apparel (such as tribal clothing, hats and leather goods), and an array of fantastic souvenirs from your typical keychains to hand-carved Zuni Fetishes

 

 

This area is surrounded by New Mexico’s traditional adobe buildings and is next to several fantastic attractions, such as the Palace of the Governors, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

 

Romanesque Architecture in Santa Fe, NM Most Coveted Cathedral.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

Prayer Candles Inside The Basilicata of the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in downtown Santa Fe, NM.// Photo by Doni Rath on Unsplash

 

Museums Even the Kids Will Love

There are some things you just can’t miss if you make it out to Santa Fe. Head on over to the Museum of Indian Arts located on Museum Hill (home to four world-class museums within walking distance of one another). The Museum of International Folk Art is steps away and hosts the world’s largest collection of international folk art. Visit the permanent collections on display at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum for a look into the life of one of America’s most notable artists.

When you’ve had your fill of art galleries, it’s time to have some real fun with a visit to Meow Wolf. Here your kids will love exploring over 70 rooms of interactive art that will explode your imagination beyond recognition.

 

 

Outdoor Adventure

Before the end of April, six awesome ski locations, all within an hour and a half of Santa Fe, are available for thrill-seekers. For our kids, the mountains at Ski Santa Fe proved to be super friendly with the perfect white powdery terrain to suit all proficiency levels.

 

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We booked a kid-friendly adventure with Santa Fe Mountain Adventures. The staff here are wonderful and I don’t think we will ever forget our trek to Bandelier National Monument where we had the opportunity to visit ancient Pueblo ruins. This particular adventure is exhilarating for all ages. Even older kids will love trying to distinguish the various petroglyphs painted throughout the homes carved within the canyon walls.

 

Explore the Cave Dwellings at the Bandolier National Monument in NW.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

The Rocky Cliffs at Bandolier National Monument.// Photo by Michael Kirsh on Unsplash

 

Also, about an hour south of Santa Fe, visit the Wildlife West Nature Park to view desert wildlife. Since its beginning, the park has played an important role in rescuing, rehabilitating, and even providing permanent care to those animals unable to return to the wild.

 

Where To Eat In Santa Fe

The Santa Fe Farmers Market is open year round and is a great gathering place to meet locals while your family walks around savoring the local delicacies and treats while stocking up on fresh seasonal produce, toiletries, and herbal remedies.

 

The Santa Fe, NM Farmer's Market.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

Fresh Pickings at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.// Photo by Graham Tiller on Flickr

 

We love eating like the locals, so even though you can find some pretty snazzy upscale dining options in downtown Santa Fe including all kinds of fare from American to Indian, head on over to Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant or the colorful La Fogata Grill for some delicious meals created by the mexican grandmother you never knew you had.

When You Go

 

 

Getting To Santa Fe From LA

If you do not have enough vacation time to make this a road trip, then you can find cheap direct flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Santa Fe (SAF) with American Airlines.

 

Where To Stay In Santa Fe

Our family camped eight miles from Santa Fe in Hyde Memorial State Park. Reserve your own very special nomadic stay HERE in a private yurt that sleeps up to six people – complete with access to the park trails, a fire ring, and a nearby restroom.

 

Admiring the Santa Fe, NM Night Sky from a Yurt.// Top Things To Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

Yurt Life in Santa Fe, NM.// Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

 

Twenty minutes north of Santa Fe, Rancho Jacona is a fantastic, budget-friendly place to spend several days with kids while discovering all there is to do in and around the oldest capital city in the United States. The 12 animal-inspired casitas (little homes) make for a tranquil yet communal space in this pleasant 17th-century family-friendly homestead.

If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale but not too fancy, try the Hotel Santa Fe. Owned by Native Americans, guests love the hotel for its spacious rooms. Set in the Railyard District, the hotel offers unique cultural experience with on-site ceremonial dance performances, historical storytelling and an on-site gift shop featuring hand-made crafts.

If mommy wants a spa treatment after all that desert adventuring, try the Inn and Spa at Loretto. Built at the end of the historic Old Santa Fe Trail high in the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Inn and Spa at Loretto is an architectural recreation of the Taos Pueblo, a national historic landmark.

Santa Fe is a great place to spend time together as a family. With its strategic location at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, adventure patiently awaits your family.

 

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The Wild West by Rail in Santa Fe, NM.// Top Things Top Do in Santa Fe, NM with Kids

 

Joseph Fabiano is a writer, nature enthusiast, and stay-at-home father of two wild and free boys. He enjoys starting his day with a good run, hot mug of coffee, and a jump in the Ionian Sea, no matter the weather. Currently based in the Apuglia region of southern Italy, he enjoys discovering the world with his best traveling buddies (his little monkey’s and beautiful wife) at every given opportunity. Every trip, long or far, should be made an adventure according to Joseph as he believes inspiration and creation is right in front of you.

 

















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