No matter what time of year you visit Santa Fe, it’s a magical destination for families. Here are our top seven picks for family activities in Santa Fe.
1. Meow Wolf
Recently opened in March, 2016, the Meow Wolf Art Complex is not easily described by words alone. Along the lines of a choose-your-own-adventure storybook meets children’s museum housed in an immersive art exhibit, the Meow Wolf’s main attraction, The House of Eternal Return, is something families must experience. As visitors enter, they’re given a small snippet of information about a family. Something mysterious has happened. And, then you are off to explore and investigate as you walk, climb and crawl through a fantasy world in search of answers. Keep in mind, solving the mystery might very well leave you with as many questions as you had in the beginning. For hours of operation and pricing, visit www.meowwolf.com.
2. Santa Fe Children’s Museum
The newly-renovated Santa Fe Children’s Museum is a definite must-do for families with young kids. While somewhat short on square footage, the children’s museum is jam-packed with engaging, interactive exhibits. Indoors, kids can take center stage in a Kindie rock band, star in an original puppet show and explore the scientific principles of magnets, motion and more. The water play and bubble area are popular hangouts, as well. Playing on a child’s natural sense of joy and discovery, there is even more fun outside. From the gigantic Rubik’s Cube, a spacious sand play area, Whisper Dishes and a wooden ship, families can play together, exploring the arts, sciences and humanities. For hours of operation, pricing and special programs, visit www.santafechildrensmuseum.org.
3. Museum Hill
Museum Hill is home to four museums, a café and a botanical garden, all cozily hidden in a natural setting. To out-of-towners, the secluded location may seem barren at first. However, visitors soon figure out that the area has much to discover. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture shares the history and contemporary life of the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache and other indigenous cultures of the Southwest. The Museum of International Folk Art houses Alexander Girard’s lively collection of folk art. The displays have viewing windows of all shapes, sizes and heights, allowing guests of all ages and sizes a variety of ways to view the eclectic vignettes. Kids will especially enjoy a stop at the Tree of Life children’s play area.
4. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
While an art museum might not immediately seem family-friendly, the Georgia O’Keeff Museum is quite the family experience. The staff takes extra care to ensure guests of all ages enjoy the remarkable work and life of Georgia O’Keeffe. Young children are given a picture book creating an engaging and age-appropriate way to explore the iconic work of the famed artist. Older kids enter armed with a sketch book and the simple instructions to draw what inspires them. The museum’s manageable size also lends to its accessibility, creating a less intimidating and interactive way for kids to explore modern art. To learn more about Georgia O’Keeffe and the museum, visit www.okeeffemuseum.org.
5. Bandelier National Monument
Just outside Santa Fe in Los Alamos, New Mexico is Bandelier National Monument. While hitting the history books might seem mundane to some, walking amongst it is an entirely different experience. At Bandelier National Monument, you can get an up-close look at what life was like for ancestral Pueblo people. Explore petroglyphs and dwellings carved into the cliffs, amongst ancient structural ruins that still stand in the valley by the bubbling stream. The 33,000-acre park is teeming with a diverse ecosystem. Paved and dirt pathways, rocky stairs and wooden ladders take visitors on a guided exploration of the park’s most popular features including the ancient dwellings, falls, archeological sites, canyons and more. Visitors can even climb into some of the cliff dwellings, offering an exciting look into the past. The climb to The Alcove House, which sits about 140-feet above the canyon floor, entices visitors to climb four wooden ladders and many stone stairs to walk inside the ancient home.
The park’s Junior Ranger program brings the thousands of years of history into an age-appropriate adventure that is rewarded with an official Junior Ranger badge to honor the accomplishment. Stop by the park office before and after your adventures to pick up your booklet and badge! Find all the information you need for your visit at www.nps.gov.
6. The Railyard District
In the height of train travel, Santa Fe was a key interchange between three railroads. The Railyard, once an epicenter of transportation, is now a gathering place for fun. Bustling with food, shopping, art and one of the largest farmers’ markets in the country, the Santa Fe Railyard is a cultural hub brimming with family fun. In the Railyard Plaza, walk along the tracks and browse locally-grown produce and artisan creations. Take in a movie at Violet Crown Cinemas. Play in Railyard Park designed to embrace the areas natural beauty. This unique park has shady groves, drought-resistant plants, picnic areas, an outdoor performance space and a creative children’s play area with natural and constructed structures to climb, slide and play on.
7. The Cuisine
Food is an important part of travel and Santa Fe does not disappoint. Spicy green chilies, rich chocolate and delicious beef are prominent local ingredients. Indulge in fluffy sopapillas, juicy green chili cheeseburgers, spicy barbeque, decadent chocolate treats and so much more. Cowgirl BBQ is a great family restaurant with its family style seating, fun outdoor play area and the famous ice cream baked potato. Travelers looking to experience New Mexican cuisine favor Tomasita’s while locals prefer the authentic flavors at La Choza.