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There is nothing quite like the mysterious and magical city of Santa Fe, and we are so very excited to share our favorite things to do with kids in this great New Mexico city. There is so much history, art and culture, we couldn't wait to share with you our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out in this gorgeous and breathtaking city!
There are so many fun things to do with kids in Santa Fe, make sure you keep reading this Santa Fe City Guide to see what you might like to include when you next visit this city in southwest USA!
In this Santa Fe City Guide, we'll be sharing with you the best museums for kids, the best parks to spend the day in, and the most fascinating historic attractions. We're in Santa Fe, so there are plenty! We understand everyone's situations are different, so also in this Santa Fe City Guide we share some budget friendly things to do with kids (Yes, FREE!) Even further down this page, we let you know the best ways to get around the city if you don't have a car , plus some great fun facts you can impress all your friends with.
If you want to explore more than just Santa Fe, this city guide shares with you our favorite easy day trip from the city, plus we check out some famous faces that call Santa Fe home. We want to make sure you don’t miss out on anything on your famiily day out to the magical New Mexico capital!
So whether this is your first trip to the city, or maybe you've lived here for years but just never took the time to explore it properly, and perhaps you think "I wonder what is there is to do near me?", then keep reading, because we have the top things to do in Santa Fe with kids, just for you!
You can't help but feel the rich history around you in Santa Fe. The city itself was founded all the way back in 1610 meaning it's the oldest capital city in the USA (don't forget Plymouth Colony wasn't set up until 1620!), with its name meaning holy faith. The city was actually founded on the site of old Pueblo villages.
The 1800s saw Santa Fe become the end of the line on the Santa Fe Trail (which ran between Santa Fe and Independence in Missouri). Because it existed as the last stop (or first, however you want to look at it!) on the trail, it quickly became an incredibly important and large trading stop for travellers.
Today, the city preserves so much of its rich cultural traditions, with mixes of Native American, Mexican, Spanish and American influences it truly is an incredibly intriguing and important city to visit.
Because of the city's dedication to preserve the past yet embrace the future, the list of things to do with kids are incredibly varied. You have places like the New Mexico History Museum and the Musuem of Indian Arts which are a wonderful glimpse into the past. Let's not forget the Palace of the Governors which is the oldest continuously occupied building in the entire USA!
Then, you have places such as the Santa Fe National Forest which is an amazing day out in nature, or the Santa Fe Railyard which is THE place to enjoy the wonderful farmers market! Don't have pre-conceptions about Santa Fe before you visit, because no doubt the city will surprise you in so many ways you didn't expect!
Having been rated one of America's "Top Rated Walking Cities". if you don't have a car, foot is a fantastic way to see the city! The historic districts and Downtown are close together so you'll have no trouble exploring that part of the city.
For those who want to rest their feet, the Santa Fe Pickup Shuttle is another great option that runs counter-clockwise around Downtown.
The Santa Fe Trails Bus Service is yet another great option for seeing the area, and you'll find plenty of bike paths too!
Source and Image Credit: More information here: City of Santa Fe
One of the most iconic buildings in Santa Fe has to the be stunning Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, also known as Saint Francis Cathderal, and it's well worth a photo stop on your trip to this New Mexico capital!
Built between 1869 and 1886 on the site of La Parroquia (a much older 18th century church - and in fact THAT church was built on the site of a 17th century church!), today it's one of the biggest draw cards to the city. Make sure you stop to take in it's magnificence on your family trip to Santa Fe!
Image Credit & Website: Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
New Mexico has a rich and fascinating history, and the New Mexico History Museum is a wonderful way to hear the stories of how the people and the land shaped the state.
The museum and exhibitions introduce visitors to a broad range of the cultures, and communities that have shaped this land for centuries, with acknowlegement of indigenous life pre-contact, through to noteworthy events of the 20th century.
Image Credit: New Mexico History Museum
We always love a great children's museum and the Santa Fe Children's Museum is no different! When parents might gravitate towards the more historic attractions in the city, kids always LOVE a museum that welcomes experimenting, play, and using their imagination.
In addition to the colorful and fun exhibits that encourage learning through play, the museum is a great option for kids to enjoy more learning even when school is out through their various education programs and classes!
Image Credit: Santa Fe Children's Museum
Part of the New Mexico Museum system, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a wonderful museum that tells the story of the people of the Southwest, from pre-history, right through to contemporary art.
Over 65,000 people visit this amazing museum annually, so we highly recommend that it's part of your must-see list when in Santa Fe, with their changing exhibitions, public lectures, artist residences and more.
Image Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Reactions are welcome at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History! This fascinating museum is all about telling the stories and happenings of the Atomic Age, and it's the ONLY museum of its kind in the entire USA, so it really is worth a visit.
The range of exhibits cover everything from the very origins of atomic theory, the incredible complexity of the various political scenarios contributing to WWII, the height of the Cold War, right through to modern-day advances in nuclear medicine
Image Credit: National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
Did you know that the collection housed in the Museum of International Folk Art make this Santa Fe museum is the LARGEST collection of folk art in the entire WORLD? If that isn't enough reason to visit this great museum, we don't know what is!
Over 100 countries are represented across the 130,000 plus items showcased throughout the galleries, with various changing exhibitions too, so there will always be something new to explore and enjoy!
Image Credit: Museum of International Folk Art
Located in the Santa Fe Place Mall, the Harrell House Bug Museum is a unique and very family friendly museum experience (and GREAT for those kids who are fascainted with creepy crawlies of all varieties!)
Not only does their incredible collection house nearly 5,000 bugs from all over the world, they are also home over 150 LIVE animals! From spiders, to scorpions, insects, reptiles, fish, amphibians and more, it's a bug's life on your next family day out in Santa Fe!
Image Credit: Harrell House Bug Museum
History comes to LIFE at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. What was once a working ranch back in the early 1700s and an important stopping place along the famous Camino Real (the Royal Road from Santa Fe to Mexico City), is now a historic living history museum!
Here, kids can experince life in another time, and as well as exploring the rich history of this once working ranch, you can also enjoy a number of fun seasonal events across the year, from wine festivals (one for the parents!) and harvest festivals!
Image Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas
Are you ready for some FUN in Santa Fe? Well, get excited because you now can visit Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return - a mind-bending, explorable art experience for the whole family!
The whole idea of Meow Wolf is to inspire creativity through art, play, and exploration, so that imagination transforms the world! It's colorful, it's fun, it's immersive, and it's great for all ages! Are you excited yet?
Image Credit: Meow Wolf
Whilst the Santa Fe Botanical Garden merges the natural with the man-made (it was designed by W Gary Smith), it's a wonderdul opportunity to get the kids out in nature, breathing in that wonderful fresh air and learning all about the amazing plants that live in the region!
The orchard gardens are always a hightlight, as are Arroyo Trails which cover 8 acres within the gardens. Bonus points kids, for spotting the century old bridge! Can you spot it? Where does it lead? It's all there to be discovered at Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill!
Image Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden
Adrian Grenier is an American actor, director, producer and musician best known for his role as Vince Chase in the popular TV series Entourage. He is also very involved in numerous charities including The Lonely Whale Foundation.
Image Copyright: Eva Rinaldi
Lori Nelson was an American actress and model, with the heigh of her career during the 1950s and 1960s. Her notable films include Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Revenge of the Creature, and the TV series How to Marry a Millionaire
Image Copyright: Public Domain
Whilst you will be LOVING the museum experiences in Santa Fe, let's not forget about nature too! The Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary is 135 stunning acres of landscapes and beautiful wildlife. Even those acres are surrounded by National Forest and Watershed land, so it really is a breathtaking experience.
You can just enjoy your day on foot exploring this area that provides a peaceful sanctuary for animals and plants alike (and of course all the families who visit!). Don't miss the chance to spot as many of the 190 species of birds (both rare and common!) that call the sanctuary home. They do have $5 tours of the historic house available
Image Credit: Audubon New Mexico
Part of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society is the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art! This society was founded to promote and preserve the traditional arts of the Southwest region (and the Spanish Colonial world in general!)
All of the five pillars of the society ( Museum Campus, Spanish Markets, Permanent Collections, Educational Programs, and Reference Library) were all put in place to collectively reflect New Mexico as the historic birthplace of Hispanic art in the United States Whilst it's free to enjoy, they do really benefit from donations of all sizes.
Image Credit: Spanish Colonial Arts Society
The New Mexico Military Museum was created to allow visitors just like you to discover and learn all about about New Mexico’s military history. Opened by actual members of the National Guard, it's a wonderful way to preserve the history, and a great stop on any trip to Santa Fe.
The collection includes a host of archives, artifacts and artwork, with changing exhibits covering a host of fascinating topics such as the Civil War, and personal experiences of those who fought in the war, as examples. Don't miss the outdoor transport yard and garden. Donations welcome.
Image Credit: New Mexico Military Museum
Farmer's Markets are always so much fun, and Santa Fe Farmers Market is no different! Enjoy the year round Saturday markets, or May to November Tuesday markets and really embrace the flavors and local artisans of Santa Fe. In fact, it's one of the oldes farmers markets in the country!
And it's not just delicious foods either! The market features a number of vendors that sell local art, crafts, body products and even flowers!
Image Credit: Santa Fe Farmers Market
Did you know, that along the mesa right above the Santa Fe River are hundreds of petroglyphs! This early form of rock art dates from pre-contact time and the Spanish colonial era. Most of the petroglyphs were created by Keresan-speaking puebloan people who lived in the region between the 13th and 17th centuries.
In fact, (fun fact kids), the descendants of these people STILL live down the Santa Fe River, along the Rio Grande at the Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos! You'll see plenty of art in Santa Fe, but this COULD possibly be the oldest you'll experience - and in nature!
Image Credit: La Cienequilla Petroglyphs
Located in the foothills of the stunning Sange de Christo Mountains is the beautiful village of Chimayó, and it's only a 40 minute drive! Not only is it located in stunning scenery, but if you love New Mexico history, especially it's iconic churches (and delicious food!), Chimayó is a great day out from Santa Fe.
There are of course great things to do and see in Chimayó, but really you go to embrace the history, and the culture, to eat the delicious food and experience the arts and crafts - and the traditions - of the area. Blanket weaving has been a Chimayó tradition for over 400 years! Can you believe it?
The name Chimayó was derived from a Tewa name for a local landmark, "the hill of Tsi Mayoh".
As well as the weaving, other traditional crafts still practiced in the area include wood carving, tin smything, and religious painting. It's these traditional crafts, as well as incredible rich history that continues to draw visitors to the village today.
Located near Santa Cruz, just 25 miles north of Santa Fe, Chimayó is also known for it's healing powers, and the El Santuario de Chimayó is actually one of the most important pilgramiges for Catholics in the entire USA!
Image Credit: New Mexico
Here’s our top 3 Chimayó attractions to visit:
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Let's get the family adventure started!