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Santa Fe, New Mexico: Family Travel Guide

A mix of culture and active adventures makes this city a family-pleasing destination
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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/ Source: TODAY

What to do in Santa Fe

Santa Fe might be known for its many decidedly grown-up experiences like hearty, chile-laden cuisine and intriguing art galleries, but this bustling southwest city has plenty of activities kids will love as well, like climbing gyms, art classes and chocolate shops.

This National Historic Landmark is known as "the heart of Santa Fe."Getty Images

Where to go in Santa Fe

Parents and kids at the Museum of International Folk Art should head right to the whimsical Girard Wing, which is filled with toys, masks, textiles, dolls and figurines. Fun fact: With 100,000-plus items, the collection is so large that only a small percentage of it can be displayed at once. At the Santa Fe Climbing Center, families can begin with a climb in the gym and move on to a guided excursion amid the desert's cliffs and canyons. An easy drive from downtown, the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, a former hydroelectric area, is home to birds, deer, bears and beavers. The loop walk is fairly short (1.5 miles) and flat, and offers views of the nearby foothills as it weaves past wildflowers and the remains of a Victorian-era dam.

The Museum of International Folk Art offers lots to see including masks, figurines, textiles and toys, especially for those kids who usually get bored in museums!Getty Images

Where to stay in Santa Fe

The Old Santa Fe Inn is just four blocks from the plaza and offers several styles of room configurations, including ones with two queen beds as well as deluxe suites, which have a separate bedroom and a sleeper sofa in the living room. The fireplaces in the suites are done in the traditional kiva (beehive-shaped) style, but are gas-powered so they're simple to light. The 500-plus-square-foot suites at the Villas de Santa Fe feel like mini apartments, with kitchens and separate bedrooms. Although the hotel is set in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which gives it a relaxed vibe, downtown is just a short drive away (the hotel has a free shuttle). When they're not out exploring, guests can use the pool, two hot tubs, gym, game room and communal grills.

Only steps away from the plaza, the Old Santa Fe Inn's rooms can comfortably accommodate a family.Jonathan Tercero /Old Santa Fe Inn

Where to eat in Santa Fe

The Shed has been serving Santa Fe diners since 1953 and has won dozens of culinary awards and accolades, including one from the distinguished James Beard Foundation, who named it "an American classic of timeless appeal." Its red chile enchiladas are its claim to fame, and the kids' menu is packed with locally inspired choices like tacos, burritos and quesadillas. At the Plaza Cafe Southside, the menu warns, "We cannot be responsible for chile that is too hot," and offers the chance to taste it first or order it on the side. Burgers (including the plant-based Impossible Burger), salads and sandwiches are available, but it's the breakfast menu that will win kids' hearts, with choices like blue corn pancakes with cinnamon syrup, or challah French toast with maple-mascarpone frosting.

Looking for more of the best vacations with kids? Check out TODAY's Family Travel Guide.

Lexi Dwyer contributed.