Jonah and I just finished spending a long weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the first time ever. I had no idea what to expect and I think with just basic research you might conclude that it isn’t kid-friendly but after a deep dive I am happy to report that there are lots of things to do in Santa Fe for the whole family.

Meow WolfSanta Fe Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return offers a mind-bending, interactive art experience that captivates children and adults alike. This immersive and fantastical exhibition, created by a collective of over 100 local artists, invites families to step into an otherworldly realm of multimedia art installations, surreal environments, and mysterious narratives. The sprawling, 20,000-square-foot space is a playground of creativity where kids can explore a Victorian house with secret passages, encounter whimsical creatures, and engage with interactive exhibits that blur the lines between art, technology, and storytelling. Each room unfolds like a chapter in a fantastical storybook, encouraging visitors to touch, play, and explore in a space where imagination knows no bounds.

Tumbleroot Pottery PubTumbleroot Pottery Pub

The Tumbleweed Pottery Pub in Santa Fe offers a delightful and creative experience for families looking to tap into their artistic side. This cozy and inviting studio welcomes visitors of all ages to explore the world of pottery in a fun, relaxed setting. Here, kids and adults can buy some clay and then let their imaginations run wild with tools provided by the pub. The atmosphere is designed to inspire creativity and joy, making it the perfect spot for a family bonding activity or a unique way to create personalized souvenirs of your Santa Fe visit. Parents will appreciate that they have adult beverages available. 

Santa Fe Children’s Museum

The Santa Fe Children’s Museum stands as a beacon of learning and fun for families visiting Santa Fe, offering an engaging escape into a world where education meets play. This hands-on museum is designed with the curious young mind in mind, featuring a wide array of interactive exhibits that cover everything from science and technology to art and culture. Children can delve into the mysteries of the universe at the bubble-making station, unearth ancient fossils in the outdoor archaeological sandpit, or cultivate their green thumbs in the community garden. The museum’s philosophy of learning through play is evident in every corner, encouraging kids to explore, imagine, and create in a welcoming environment. Special workshops and events, such as storytelling sessions and craft-making classes, further enrich the experience, making the Santa Fe Children’s Museum a cherished destination for families seeking a mix of educational and entertaining activities in the heart of Santa Fe.

Sky RailwaySky Railway

The Sky Railway, a gem in the heart of New Mexico, offers families an enchanting journey through the stunning landscapes surrounding Santa Fe. This magical train ride, designed to delight passengers of all ages, weaves through the scenic beauty of the Southwest, from the rolling hills to the breathtaking vistas that define this region.  This one is fun but not necessarily for kids, they were pushing adult drinks quite a bit. We had a good time. They have non-alcoholic drinks and they give you some snacks. We brought a deck of cards with us and played a bunch of card games. 

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Santa Fe Botanical Garden

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden offers a serene and educational outing for families visiting the area, presenting a lush oasis amid the desert landscape. This enchanting garden, located on Museum Hill, is a celebration of New Mexico’s rich botanical diversity, featuring native plants, sustainable landscaping practices, and beautifully designed outdoor spaces that encourage exploration and discovery at every turn. Children and adults alike can wander through various garden areas, including the Orchard Gardens, the Meadow Garden, and the Arroyo Trails, each offering unique plantings, sculptures, and interactive elements that engage the senses. The garden not only provides a peaceful retreat into nature but also serves as a living classroom where kids can learn about local flora, pollinators, and the importance of environmental stewardship. Seasonal events, workshops, and guided tours further enrich the experience, making the Santa Fe Botanical Garden a must-visit destination for families seeking to connect with nature and learn about the ecological beauty of the Southwest.

Fly FishingFly fishing lesson at Bishops Lodge

If your child isn’t ready for the real thing you can get lessons at Land of Enchantment Guides, over at Bishop’s Lodge. They offer short intro lessons as well as full-blown excursions out to the rivers. You can attend the complimentary introduction to the art of Fly-fishing on Saturdays at 10:30 AM. Jonah was in a boot due to a track injury so we skipped fly fishing in a river and opted for the lesson where you didn’t have to get into the water. 

Bike Riding

The city’s extensive network of bike trails caters to riders of all ages and skill levels, making it an ideal destination for a cycling adventure with kids. The Dale Ball Trails, for instance, offer more than 30 miles of interconnected routes that weave through the stunning foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, with options ranging from easy to challenging. For a more leisurely experience, the Santa Fe Rail Trail provides a flat and scenic path that follows the historic railroad line from downtown Santa Fe to the artsy village of Lamy, offering families a gentle ride through the high desert landscape. Along the way, numerous picnic spots and points of interest invite families to pause, enjoy the surroundings, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of local wildlife.

HikingHiking in Santa Fe

Santa Fe, with its enchanting landscapes and rich cultural tapestry, offers a plethora of hiking trails that are perfect for families traveling with kids. Among the easiest and most rewarding hikes is the Dale Ball Trails, a network that caters to all levels with clearly marked paths and stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Another family favorite is the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary, where the short, flat trails are not only easy for little legs but also brimming with wildlife sightings and educational opportunities about the local ecosystem.

For those willing to venture a bit further, the Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument presents a unique adventure with ancient petroglyphs, historical cave dwellings, and a relatively easy trail that loops through the rugged volcanic landscape. These hikes, with their minimal elevation gain and engaging natural features, promise an enjoyable outdoor experience for families looking to explore the beauty of Santa Fe and its surroundings.

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Horseback Riding

The area boasts several ranches and stables offering guided horseback riding tours tailored to all ages and experience levels, providing a unique perspective of New Mexico’s breathtaking landscapes. At Bishop’s Lodge, for instance, families can embark on scenic rides through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where the vast trails meander through aspen forests and along high desert terrain, offering spectacular views and a chance to connect with nature.

Just a short 35-minute drive from Santa Fe, the Broken Saddle Riding Company in Cerrillos Hills State Park specializes in rides that take you through historic mining areas, offering both educational insights and panoramic views. These horseback riding experiences not only immerse families in the natural beauty of the Santa Fe area but also offer a fun and engaging way to learn about the region’s history and ecology, making for an unforgettable part of any Santa Fe vacation with kids.

Farmer’s MarketSanta Fe Farmers' Market

Santa Fe has a handful of markets. While you shop your kiddo can enjoy ice cream or some other treat. It’s always interesting to see what is offered locally and Santa Fe has so much talent that their markets are quite good. I liked looking at all the hats. 

Dinner with a Flamenco showEl Farol Restaurant

Head to El Farol Restaurant where you and the kids can split a bunch of tapas and enjoy a traditional flamenco show. The show is fun, kids will get a kick out of all the noise and the food is SO good!

Canyon RoadCanyon Road Santa Fe New Mexico

Canyon Road is a beautiful street lined with art galleries, restaurants, and shops. Kids will love looking at the colorful artwork in the galleries and supposedly street performers. There were zero performers every time we were down there, so not sure if that part is true. All the art makes the street super interesting and there are good spots to take photos. 

Santa Fe PlazaSanta Fe Plaza

Santa Fe Plaza is the perfect place to people-watch and soak up the local culture. There are often musicians playing in the plaza, and there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. Lining the sidewalks will be local Native Americans selling their jewelry. We had lunch at Rooftop Pizza and loved it. 

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is a great place to hike and explore with kids from what I could tell The monument has cliff dwellings that were built by the ancient Pueblo people, as well as petroglyphs and hiking trails. I was so disappointed we didn’t end up getting to go here, but with Jonah in a boot, we just couldn’t do the activity. 

Conclusion

Santa Fe, with its blend of cultural richness, natural beauty, and artistic flair, offers a treasure trove of experiences that families can enjoy together. From the enchanting trails of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the immersive and imaginative world of Meow Wolf, the city caters to the adventurous spirit in every child and adult alike. Whether it’s learning about local wildlife, expressing creativity through pottery, or exploring the botanical wonders of the region, Santa Fe ensures that every moment is filled with discovery and delight. These activities not only provide fun and entertainment but also foster a deeper connection with the environment, culture, and history of this unique area. As families leave Santa Fe, they carry with them not just souvenirs, but memories of shared adventures and newfound knowledge that will last a lifetime, making Santa Fe an unforgettable destination for visitors of all ages.

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14-unique-things-to-do-in Santa Fe with Kids
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Get Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex or Safety Wing (often cheaper).

Book Flights

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Book a Place to Stay

I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.

If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.

Rent Clothes

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Choose Activities and Tours

To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available. Groupon also tends to have a lot of local travel deals.

When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals. If I am going somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean I use Apple Vacations.

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