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Kid Friendly Things To Do In Santa Fe New Mexico

The Miraculous Staircase At The Loretto Chapel

Comprehensive Santa Fe with Kids Guide (Things to do in Santa Fe New Mexico)

The staircase at the Loretto Chapel is something of a mystery. No one understands who built it, what kind of wood was used or the general physics of its construction.

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft 22 feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel. I knowyoure probably thinking this was some not-so-great planning. I thought the same thing.

Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a plea to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. In answer to the Sisters prayers, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. The carpenter completed the staircase, then vanished without pay or thanks. After searching for the man and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the Sisters prayers.

The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairways construction.

The Wind Sculpture Gardens On Canyon Road

Canyon Road is the art gallery center of Santa Fe. Shoulder to shoulder galleries line the popular winding street offering all mediums of art one craves.

When traveling with children, or for those less art-inclined, it can become overwhelming. However there are a number of galleries with outdoor sculpture, the most whimsical of which are the gyrating wind sculptures.

The most awe inspiring of these outdoor galleries is undoubtedly the Wilford Gallery featuring the kinetic sculpture of Lyman Whitaker. Tucked off Canyon Road in a sprawling courtyard, one can walk amongst the towering forms undulating in the breeze . The outdoor galleries are free and something children will love.

Decide: Red Or Green Chile

Red or green? That’s New Mexico’s Official State Question. This refers to their beloved Hatch chiles, grown in Hatch, New Mexico. The green ones are picked before they ripen. The red ones are roasted or hung to dry and then made into chile powder. You’ll find Hatch chiles on nearly every menu in Albuquerque. If you want to taste a bit of both, then order your enchiladas Christmas-style, which come topped with both red and green chile sauces.

See the dried chile peppers above? When hung together like this, they form a ristra. Youll find ristras all across the state. They make a distinctly New Mexican decoration. Chiles along with pinto beans share the designation of being New Mexicos Official State Vegetables.

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New Mexico History Museum

Learn about the history of New Mexico with your family by planning a trip to the New Mexico History Museum. While youre walking through the museum, youll spot dozens of captivating exhibits that walk you through time and provide you with valuable information on the citys history. You can find out more about the indigenous people who lived in Santa Fe, how Arizona became a state of its own, and even more about WWII.

Exhibits change from time to time, but you can always expect to have a fun learning experience while youre here. If youd like to spend the day discovering all that there is to know about the city of Santa Fe and the state of New Mexico, this is an excellent spot to visit.

Santa Fe: A Favorite Family Travel Destinations

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Santa Fe is one of those places that boasts experiences, smells, sounds and tastes that you really cant find elsewhere. One reason that our family travels is to break our kids out of the bubble we live in. We aspire to expose them to new and interesting ideas, cultures and experiences. Happily Santa Fe, nicknamed the City Different, accomplished this goal for us.

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Santa Fe Indian Market

Victoria R / Shutterstock

The Santa Fe Indian Market occurs annually, during Augusts second week.

Its been operating for close to a century, and the city is swarmed with people wanting to see thousand of amazing works.

When you come to the Indian Market, youll see some of the most gorgeous Native American art youve ever encountered.

The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts does a great job of hosting the event and helping the artists to feel appreciated.

Be sure to have some room in your budget so you can purchase at least one piece of art.

It would be incredible if the Indian Market ran year-round.

However, its annual nature makes it all the more worth cherishing when it comes around.

If youre looking for stunning things to see, you need to plan a trip to Santa Fe for August.

Address: 121 Sandoval St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

Best Places To Stay In Santa Fe

The hotel choices are fantastic in Santa Fe. If youre looking to add to your hotel reward points , La Posada de Santa Fe is upscale Southwestern style, right in the heart of downtown. Also nearby, on the historic Plaza, is the Inn on the Alameda, a boutique lodge with local style.

If no hotel is kid-friendly enough for you, and you need your own house or apartment , Airbnb has some of our all-time favorite Santa Fe spots from an adobe casita to the private 2 bedroom Casa Corvo to the 4 bedroom Casa Azul.

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The Museum Of Spanish Colonial Art

Spanish Colonial Arts Society

The Spanish Colonial era is hugely important in terms of how it shaped not only history but art as well.

The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art does a great job of emphasizing just how much richness came from this point in time.

The authenticity of this museum should be clear as soon as you enter.

The Spanish Pueblo Revival-architecture is just the start of submerging you in an amazing collection of works.

The focus here is not just on things like paintings but also unique pieces of furniture.

You can also learn about what influenced these artists to create what they did.

The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art is one of the top 10 art museums in the southwest.

Plan a visit today if you want to see some astounding craft on display.

This museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Otherwise, its open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Address: 750 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA

Botanical Garden At Museum Hill

10 BEST Things to Do in New Mexico – When In Your State

Visiting the Botanical Garden was an opportunity to see plants native to the area and learn a tiny bit about how indigenous people lived hundreds of years ago. Visitors will see and learn what a Horno is, a beehive shaped mud oven used by Native Americans to cook bread, corn and meats. A fun sculpture exhibit by Dan, Arlo and Michael Namingha is scattered throughout the garden. Kids will enjoy a small area for digging and creating their own chalk art.

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Stop To Smell The Flowers At Abq Biopark Botanic Garden

The ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden is replete with plants and flowers. Also look for a duck-filled pond, a butterfly and bee exhibit, two greenhouses, and a playful children’s garden. During my winter visit, the outdoor gardens were a little sparse-looking, but two indoor greenhouses are filled with flowers year-round.

Young children especially love the Railroad Garden, which features all sorts of miniature choo-choos riding the rails through tiny towns and scenic displays. Ask kids to find Thomas the Tank Engine!

Cathedral Basilica Of St Francis Of Assisi

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Christians can have a very moving experience when theyre in Santa Fe, New Mexico by visiting the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Its one of the most striking churches in the southwest, and has more than a century of stories behind it.

Religious or not, youll soon see why the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is considered to be such an amazing part of Santa Fe.

This church has absolutely riveting architecture.

The high towers are a perfect way to demonstrate reverence towards the creator.

Youre likely to be awed by things like Our Lady La Conquistadora, a statue of the Virgin Mary that dates back to the 17th century, and the Hebrew Tetragrammaton-engraved keystone.

When you come to Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, you can see one of the most emotionally rich tourist attractions in all of Santa Fe.

Theres daily mass at this cathedral.

You can also take part in the sacrament of confession on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For an unforgettable religious sightseeing experience, come to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Address: 131 Cathedral Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

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Santa Fe Southern Railway

The Santa Fe Southern Railway invites visitors of all ages to sit back and relax for a fun and scenic ride from Santa Fe to Lamy, an 18 mile ride with multiple class service options, snacks, drinks, and meal options, and an incredible view that will have kids pressing their noses against the window in awe. The train cars are vintage, and are originally from the 1920s, and the round trip from Santa Fe to Lamy and back again takes about four hours. Along the way, passengers will be able to look out and see some beautiful scenery of the high-desert variety, and the experience of enjoying that view on a train is an unbeatable one that kids and parents will remember for a lifetime.

430 W Manhattan Ave A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 505-989-8600

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Why We Recommend This Kid Friendly Activity

10 Best Things to Do with Kids in Santa Fe

Have a terrific time with your family by enjoying one of the best things to do in Santa Fe with kids, going on a snowy adventure at this ski resort.

Make memories to last a lifetime as you play with your toddlers by building snowmen or having snowball fights.

With your older children, you can go skiing, snowboarding, or enjoy scenic lift rides together.

If you and your loved ones are new to winter sports, you can book private lessons here.

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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.

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.

Contemporary Art Attractions In Santa Fe

Stroll the back lanes packed with galleries and boutiques that make Santa Fe a thriving center for multicultural arts. Did you realize Santa Fe was designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2005 for its exchange of goods and arts, and that one in 10 residents is said to be employed in the arts and culture industries?

Families should visit the Canyon Road area, an old neighborhood with about half the towns 250 galleries. These are typically small and feature art in their windows, so just a stroll can be fun for younger kids. Acosta Strong, Pottery of the Southwest and Prescott are among the many worth a visit.

Canyon Road is where locals go at Christmas Eve. That night only, the illuminated walkways and gallery patios are lit by farolitas and luminarias , giving the whole street a warm and festive glow.

Opened in 1995 to showcase innovative art, SITE Santa Fe presents the work of lesser-known and renowned contemporary artists. Their original beer warehouse space was expanded a few years ago with a striking folded aluminum addition. In addition to hosting international biennials of contemporary art curated by visiting artists, SITE is also open for frequent live shows and special lectures. Free admission makes it a good choice for those with children.

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Getting To And Around Albuquerque Is Easy

From San Diego, its only a 90-minute flight to Albuquerques International Airport . After landing, I shuttled to the Hertz counter and rented a GMC Arcadia with Hertz NeverLost. Hertz NeverLost is an in-car GPS system featuring real-time content regarding attractions to visit, activities to enjoy, and places to eat. Navigating through New Mexico with Hertz NeverLost was easier than I ever thought possible. Every place I wanted to see was already preloaded into the cars GPS, making travel from Point A to Point B, almost effortless.

Normally, when I rent a vehicle, I go for the cheapest car that can accommodate my baby gear. Ive been doing it all wrong! My pimped-out Hertz was a key component to my vacation success and, in the future , Ill guiltlessly splurge on a Hertz SUV with four doors, all leather interior, satellite radio, and a rear view camera! I see now that Hertz rentals are worth it.

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Spend A Day On The Slopes At Pajarito Ski Resort

17 Things to do in Santa Fe, New Mexico: A Travel Guide

*Disclaimer: We received complimentary ski passes in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own.

When you think of New Mexico, snowboarding is probably not the first thing youll think of. But it most definitely should not be the last!

We have boarded at many resorts and were pleasantly surprised at how much we loved Pajarito Ski Resort.

The history alone is fascinating. This resort had humble beginnings as a boys ranch. The boys would use horses and sleds to haul supplies up to make a tow rope.

The US army later took over the site and used it as a secret research location while developing the atomic bomb.

Volunteers helped to slowly turn the mountain into a small ski resort. It soon became a place for world-renowned scientists to escape the daily stress while working on the Manhattan Project at the nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory.

To get to the resort today you still have to pass through the Laboratorys security checkpoint. Pretty fascinating, huh?!

We also love that Pajarito is a smaller resort. Meaning less time waiting in line and more time on the slopes.

It also never feels crowded, we took many runs where we felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves.

A smaller resort also means a smaller price tag. Pajarito makes skiing as a family affordable. Especially since 5th graders, as well as kids 10 and under, ski for free.

The snow is pretty decent as well. We visited in the springtime and lucked out with 11 inches of fresh powder.

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Connect With Nature At Tingley Beach

Head to Tingley Beach for walking and biking paths, pedal boat rentals, and fishing fun. Entrance to Tingley Beach is free to the public. Be aware that there’s no swimming at Tingley Beach.

The whole family can go fishing together at Tingley Beach. Children’s Pond is just for anglers aged 12 and younger. Be sure to purchase a fishing license in advance!

Kids will definitely want to sail a model-sized yacht on Model Boat Pond. You can bring your own boat or buy tokens inside Tingley Beach Station to borrow one.

Families will see all sorts of ducks and other wild birds at Tingley Beach. You are welcome to feed them, but you should do so away from the water to avoid polluting the ponds. It’s also important to note that bread is not healthy for birds. Instead, try feeding them oats, frozen peas or corn, chopped lettuce, or halved grapes.

Take A Hike At Tent Rocks

Exploring the slot canyon at Tent Rocks was at the top of my Santa Fe bucket list. Unfortunately, we packed too much into our day and by the time we got there the slot canyon trail was closed.

The park rangers start ushering guests out of the slot canyon and close the trail about 20 minutes before the park actually closes, so keep that in mind when planning your visit.

However, the Cave Loop Trail remains open until the park closes. This trail is an easy 1.2-mile loop trail that passes along the outskirts of the tent rocks.

There is a cave that can be viewed from the trail, along with some cool cone-shaped rock formations.

If you are lucky enough to do the Slot Canyon Trail, it is about 3 miles round trip. It will take you through a narrow maze of towering canyon walls and up a steep incline to an incredible view from the top of the mesa.

I am hoping we can make it back to complete the whole trail someday! The area is beautiful, though, and occasionally you may even spot buffalo roaming along the Rio Grande River.

Entrance is $5/vehicle. They also have a plant and bird guide available from the kiosk at the beginning of the trail. If you have little ones they may enjoy playing I Spy along the way with the different plants and birds.

And that was our weekend in Santa Fe! We loved exploring the city and spending time in the great outdoors. We hope this guide helps you find awesome things to do in Santa Fe with kids!

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