14 Best Things to do in Santa Fe with Kids

Fun Things to do in Santa Fe with Kids

Santa Fe is a fun town for families, filled with art, culture, and traditional fun attractions. IF you are looking for fun things to do in Santa Fe with kids, you won’t be disappointed.

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There is a large variety of family activities in Santa Fe, ranging from museums to trains to bugs and reptiles. While Santa Fe has a huge historical aspect to it, it is filled with fun and excitement.

Santa Fe is the oldest capitol city in the US. While the city itself was established in 1607, is was made a capitol in 1610. It underwent various possessions, from Spanish to Mexican to the independent state of New Mexico.

It’s also home to the oldest church in the US (San Miguel in Old Town). The great part about this city is that it’s easy to keep kids’ interest while exploring and learning all about this town full of tradition and history.

So read on for the best Santa Fe kids activities and fun family vacation activities.

pinnable image of "What to do in Santa Fe New Mexico With Kids", 4 image collage includes: brown mountain; adobe style small chapel; park area with cathedral in background; government chamber with long tables/desks with chair seated behind
multi-story hotel from the outside, adobe style with tan colored exterior.  Foreground is a road with artisans selling goods on the right

La Fonda hotel is right in the heart of Old Town Santa Fe


Where to Stay in Santa Fe

One of the best places you can stay in Santa Fe is right in the heart of Old Town at La Fonda. This historic hotel is not only highly rated, but immaculately curated inside for a comfortable and luxurious stay.

Choose from traditional rooms to huge family suites, and enjoy the outdoor pool. It’s all within walking distance to anything in Old Town.

Note: La Fonda books up quickly.

Other Options: If La Fonda is unavailable, check out the beautiful Inn of the Governors. It’s located just on the edge of Old Town, and you’ll get a pool and breakfast included.

And if you want to be right in the middle of Old Town with a great hotel resort, check out The Loretto. This beautiful 4-star hotel has a pool and a spa and the whole family will love it.

Large outdoor plaza in Santa Fe.  Paved walkways around a dry grassy area, a few large bare trees in the grass.  Adobe style buildings in the background behind the plaza

1. Tour Old Town Santa Fe

This is one of the free things to do in Santa Fe with kids. All you need is some walking shoes (or at least comfortable shoes) and a desire for some fresh air.

Old Town Santa Fe is a little similar to Old Town Albuquerque. There are historical areas with large, beautiful churches. The difference is Old Town Santa Fe is a lot larger, so it takes some time to walk through and truly appreciate.

We love getting to know a place by walking around and seeing everything on foot. While Santa Fe has a lot of modern activities and places to go, you’ll be impressed with Old Town Santa Fe.

Old Town feels like a cozy walk into the past. The churches, large central plaza, and locals selling hand crafted products bring a nostalgic feeling of what “old town” should be.

Make sure to visit the St. Francis and Loretto Chapel, the main plaza area, San Miguel chapel, and Palace of the Governors.

You’ll find plenty of local artists displaying their craftsmanship as well, so make sure to support them and bring home an awesome souvenir.

Tip: Old Town is awesome, but the streets can be confusing. Book a walking tour to get a guide to lead you through the area as well as some interesting historical info! This particular tour is more in depth (and more affordable) than other offered tours. Led by a local historian and author, you’ll get all the interesting parts of Santa Fe’s history.

Pro Tip: On a budget? Check out this printable walking tour instead for a fraction of the cost!

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2. Meow Wolf

1352 Rufina Cir

There are a just few Meow Wolfs around the country, so you may not have heard of this before. We have one in Denver and it’s quite popular!

Meow Wolf, in an attempt to explain, is a large building containing immersive art installations for all the senses. In Santa Fe, you’ll follow along as you see art about aliens, portals, and climb around through tunnels.

This kind of experience is very heavy on the senses and can be quite stimulating, so keep that in mind for anyone that doesn’t do well with that.

Kids can check out the arts and crafts room at the end.

a blue and white trail on the tracks through a barren area, brown grasses and a few dry bushes, blue skies

Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Southern Railway, used with permission

3. Santa Fe Southern Railway

430 W Manhattan Ave

For one of the best activities for kids in Santa Fe, climb aboard with the kids onto a train that not only takes you on a fun ride, but provides music and entertainment along the way.

The Santa Fe Southern Railroad has plenty of themed rides to choose from. Whether you want a sunset ride filled with music, a stargazing trip, or a journey filled with the history of New Mexico, there is a perfect ride for you.

Families will love riding a couple hours while being serenaded with opera, dueling guitars or even Native American buffalo dancing.

There is fun and culture on these rides, making perfect for families in Santa Fe.

4. El Rancho de Las Golondrinas

334 Los Pinos Rd

El Rancho de Las Golondrinas is a living history museum where kids can see history come to life. You’ll walk among hundreds of acres of history, and if you get there early you can even join a tour.

El Rancho has its place is history as one of the stop along the Camino Real. This road began in Mexico City and stopped through Santa Fe at El Rancho as a rest stop and place to get goods or trade.

Kids will love seeing the ranch come alive from the 18th and 19th centuries as volunteers wear clothing of the culture and era. Some of the buildings are even original, while some have been rebuilt.

While there is an included public tour once per day, you can also schedule a private tour. Families with American Girl dolls may like the Josefina tour, which is what inspired the Josefina doll!

Open Wednesdays-Sundays from June-October.

exterior of the New Mexico History Museum, tan stucco building with glass doors that are framed in turquoise color.

5. New Mexico History Museum

113 Lincoln Ave

For a great family activity in Santa Fe, head to Old Town where you’ll find the New Mexico History Museum near the Plaza.

Visitors can learn about the historic printshop at the Laughing Horse Press and other aspects of New Mexico history over the past 400 years.

See exhibits from the indigenous people of New Mexico to the history of the Santa Fe Trail.

You’ll also have access to the Palace of Governors, which served as a home to the various governors of various countries through hundreds of years.

This is one of those activities in Santa Fe for kids that brings both a historical and cultural enjoyment among plenty of artifacts and exhibits.

6. LiggettVille

4250 Cerrillos Rd

For a little more active, hands-on time, head to the Santa Fe Place Mall where you’ll find LiggettVille. This indoor play center has kicked it up a notch to be fun for the whole family!

At LiggettVille you’ll find an indoor ropes course (the largest of its kind in New Mexico), ZipRails at 35 feet above the ground, or even a toddlers ropes course which is just above the ground for the youngest in your family.

Kids looking over a rail into the middle of a building that is open in the middle, flags hanging on the far side across from the middle opening

7. New Mexico Capitol Building

411 S Capitol St

For another great, educational adventure, head to the New Mexico State Capitol. Locally called The Roundhouse (apparent by its shape and architecture), the capitol is a free way to get a taste of New Mexico history, culture, and innovation.

Visitors are free to roam through the 3 stories and halls of the capitol. Take a peek inside the house and senate chambers, head to the third floor and look over to the beautiful insignia on the ground below, and take note of all the art on display.

Toward the governor’s office you’ll find science-based exhibits where kids can play and build a rover. Adults will appreciate the displayed outfits worn in Passengers or Star Wars movie artifacts.

8. Museum of International Folk Art

706 Camino Lejo

The Museum of International Folk Art remains one of New Mexico’s most popular museums. The museum takes artifacts from over 100 countries of the world in order to create cross cultural understanding.

The result is an educational and fun was to appreciate art around the world.

Take a journey around the world as you enjoy African metalwork, Japanese wood block prints, Swedish textiles, Mexican pottery and jewelry, and so much more. At over 100,000 items, this is the largest collection of folk art in the world.

Younger kids will also enjoy the Tree of Life area, filled with toys and books.

9. Santa Fe Botanical Gardens

715 Camino Lejo

Enjoy 19 acres of beauty along the walking paths that run through the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens.

Walk among the fruit orchards, meadow gardens, and raised crop areas. Then head over to the woodland area for a short nature walk that delivers great views and beautiful trees.

The gardens are open year round, but with varying hours, so check ahead.

close up of a bearded dragon, from the neck up. a greenish brown lizard looking animal with its head lifted

10. Santa Fe Reptile and Bug Museum

At the Outlets: 8380 Cerrillos Road, Unit 108

You can explore artifacts and fossils here, but the real draw for kids is the ability to actually hold some (friendly) bugs in their hands!

Formerly called the Harrell House, the Santa Fe Reptile and Bug Museum changed names in 2022 when it became a non-profit. It now hosts tens of thousands of people each year, as well as over 100 live bug exhibits.

The attraction also showcases amphibians, reptiles, and fish. Experience lizards and frogs, or stand in front of a beautiful and colorful butterfly wall.

11. Play at SWAN Park

With state of the art playgrounds, ballfields, basketball courts and more, SWAN Park is a newer park in the area already loved by locals. This park is great for families of all ages and even has shades in the playground area to keep little legs from burning on the slides. Find it at 5300 Jaguar Dr.

yellow background, a hand holding an ice cream come with a scoop of pink ice cream

12. Find Some Sweets

End your days by finding something sweet.

La Lecheria is a great ice cream shop made with only the best ingredients! Enjoy a treat made from organic dairy, organic eggs, and organic sugar. Stick to traditional flavors, or test out your palette with some bold and adventurous (and often, seasonal) flavors like Butterscotch Miso, Red Chile Honey, or Habenero Vanilla. You can find La Lecheria at 500 Market St.

If you’re more in the mood for chocolate, head to Kakawa Chocolate House. This chocolatier makes chocolate from scratch, in-house, every day. You won’t find boxes sitting on the shelves for weeks waiting to be sold. Its high quality reputation has earned it acknowledgement as one of the most exciting chocolate shops in the world. Find it at 1050 Paseo De Peralta.

13. Tent Rocks (under 1 hour from Santa Fe)

If you’d like to take a little day trip, head to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument where you can view the famous Tent Rocks formations.

They remind me a bit of the coke oven rocks at Colorado National Monument, but a bit taller and skinnier. These cone shaped formations are the result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.

Today, they are part of a national monument about 45 minutes from Santa Fe.

When you arrive, you can take the family to hike the short Cave Loop Trail, which will take you along the base of the mountains. It’s just over a mile and easy enough for little kids!

Things to do in Santa Fe with kids include going to Bandelier National Monument; here is a brown mountain view with a few trees lining the bottom of the picture.  The mountain is mostly bare with a few dry shrubs scattered on it

14. Bandelier National Monument

Another great national monument to visit while visiting Santa Fe with kids is the Bandelier National Monument.

The monument protects lands that belong to 23 tribes. Visitors are welcome to visit and enjoy what the park has to offer.

Families will love the Pueblo Loop Trail which takes you 1.4 miles through archaeological sites.

Santa Fe Activities for Kids and Families

From national monuments to walking with those from hundred of years ago on a ranch, Santa Fe is filled with fun family activities for all ages. Take a few days to really explore all that the town offers, and enjoy all the fabulous things to do in Santa Fe with kids.

We made a full-day stop in Santa Fe on our trip after we visited White Sands National Park and Carlsbad Caverns. It was a great stop on the way from Albuquerque and heading into Taos. If you need a place worth stopping, I highly recommend Santa Fe. I would especially recommend staying the night if you can to really experience as much as you can!

Have more time? Consider a day trip to Taos! Take the High Road for a scenic trip with small towns along the way.

pinnable image of "What to do in Santa Fe New Mexico With Kids", 4 image collage includes: brown mountain; adobe style small chapel; park area with cathedral in background; government chamber with long tables/desks with chair seated behind

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