Hot New Mexico

Family Guide to visiting Santa Fe with kids – Where to eat, stay & play

Santa Fe is full of pleasant surprises, from history and art to the psychedelic
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Let me start by saying that we were really excited to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico during our Route 66 family road trip. Santa Fe has been calling my name for quite a while now, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint!

I mean, basically, from the first time I saw Jack Maxwell from the show Booze Traveler visit Meow Wolf, I thought “this is a place we just HAVE to see!”

So after a fantastic time visiting the Grand Canyon, we packed up the family, moved on from Arizona and set out towards New Mexico in search of exciting things to do in Santa Fe with kids.

Disclosure: We would like to thank and acknowledge Best Western Hotels & Resorts for sponsoring our Route 66 family road trip and providing accommodations along the trip, including at the Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe, for review. As always, all content and opinions are genuinely our own.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. FIND OUT MORE IN MY DISCLAIMER

First Impressions of Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe

After a long travel day from Williams, AZ and a stop at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico it was such a relief to arrive at the Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe.

First of all, the earth-colored adobe exterior architecture screamed, “We are in SANTA FE BABY!”

Hot Mama in front of Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe

Happily, the theme continued into the interior of the hotel with a cozy lobby, complete with fireplace and southwestern design. Even our rooms were oozing with Santa Fe décor with bold Native American printed fabrics splashed over the bedding.

Little attentions-to-detail like this really excite us for some reason, and it’s one of the reasons we love about staying at Best Western Hotel and Resorts. Being independently owned and operated, they usually do a great job reflecting the local culture. Check room rates and see more photos HERE

Rooms inside Best Western Plus Santa Fe hotel

Location

Located off the historic Route 66, the Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe makes for a perfect location for most Santa Fe attractions. For instance, it is less than a mile from Meow Wolf and about 10 minutes from Downtown Santa Fe’s historic district and Santa Fe Plaza (which we adored and you can read more about below!).

Amenities We Love

Who doesn’t love a complimentary breakfast? We sure do and I love having a place onsite that the kids can get fed right away. Any traveling parent will attest that hungry kids on the road are no bueno.

At the Best Western Inn of Santa Fe they had a cute little breakfast room that serves a hot breakfast every morning until 10:00AM. I love when the breakfast goes a little later, because travel is exhausting and having that extra time gave us more time in the morning to motivate.

Pool at Best Western Plus Inn Santa Fe New Mexico

Santa Fe is super high in elevation and it gets downright cold. Fun fact: Santa Fe is the highest elevation state capital in the US. Luckily for us they had an Indoor pool, which we put to good use while in town. Pools are a nice way for kids to burn off some energy and swimming is something our kids enjoy a lot, so we were stoked to be able to use the pool even when temps outside were frigid.

Believe it or not, our kids love gyms and were eager to use the fitness center at the Best Western Santa Fe. In fact my daughter used the fitness center each morning during our stay. I am all about a good workout, but this trip I just supervised with my morning coffee instead.

Kids in fitness center at BW Plus Santa Fe

What can I say? Staying at a hotel with guest laundry facilities always makes traveling with kids a little easier. No matter how short the trip or how heavy you pack, something is bound to get dirty when kids are involved. You know what I’m talking about.

See availability and room rates for Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe HERE

Things to do in Santa Fe with Kids

Santa Fe Plaza

The Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. As it has been there nearly 400 years, the Santa Fe Plaza continues to be a popular gathering place for locals as well as visitors.

Santa Fe Plaza

At the plaza you will find a central park surrounded by an historic mix of adobe architecture. The Santa Fe Plaza is a great place for families as it is filled with numerous restaurants, shops, art galleries and Santa Fe museums. It is also the location for many events throughout the year.

Palace of the Governors at the New Mexico History Museum

Visiting the Palace of the Governors is a real chance to step into Santa Fe history. This palace was built in 1610 by the Spanish government. A Registered National Historic Landmark, the Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the country!

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

While visiting the Santa Fe Plaza, be sure to check out the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. It was built around 1880’s on the site of an older adobe church that was built in 1626, but destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Kids in Santa Fe at Saint Francis de Assisi

The architectural style of Romanesque Revival is in vast contrast to the surrounding adobe buildings in downtown, making it really stand out.

San Miguel Chapel

Located in the Barrio de Analco Historic District, it is the oldest church structure in the United States. Yes, you read that right – it is the oldest church in the US! The San Miguel Chapel was built in 1610 by the Tlaxcala Indians.

San Miguel Historic Church in New Mexico

Over the years it has gone through some things that have caused some damage, including an attack by a provincial governor, Luis de Rojas, in 1640 and the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. However, the city of Santa Fe has continued to fund renovations of this historic structure since the 1700’s, leaving the beautiful chapel we can still visit today.

It is great place to visit to bask in the distinct history of Santa Fe. The huge San Jose Bell, which fell during a storm in the 1872, is on display inside the San Miguel Chapel and the kids were given a chance to ring it! How cool is that?

Family friendly Santa Fe New Mexico San Miguel Church

What I found interesting was the beautiful altar screen. When you go up to the Communion rail, you can view the original dirt floor and 400 year old sanctuary steps below!

The New Mexico State Capital Building

The New Mexico State Capital Building, located in Santa Fe is the only circular shaped capital building in the United States, lending to its nickname as the Roundhouse. It is designed after the Zia Pueblo sun sign, which also happens to be the state symbol.

Santa Fe Capitol Building with kids

What is super cool about the Roundhouse it that not only is it the capital building, but it is also an art gallery.  Inside you can wander the halls and admire the local New Mexican art. Outside there is a 6 ½ acre garden with over 100 varieties of plants.

This is a free attraction with self-guided tours available daily.

Meow Wolf

If you are looking for a truly unique experience, go check out Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. It is mysterious, exciting and will 100% blow your mind.

What is Meow Wolf exactly? It is the result when a group of artists come together to create a one-of-a-kind interactive and immersive experience.

Kids playing at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe NM

The permanent installation, the House of Eternal Return, is a multidimensional house of mystery filled with magic portals to secret worlds beyond your imagination. Nothing is what it seems and it is awesome!

We only intended to spend a couple hours at Meow Wolf, but ended up playing and exploring for the whole day. Sure, it is easy to say that the kids were having too much fun and didn’t want to leave, but that isn’t the whole truth. The adults were having just as much fun. There was just so much to explore.

Meow Wolf family portrait

Meow Wolf is about challenging norms, embracing weirdness and exercising the power of creativity to change the world.  This is an initiative I can totally get behind.

Where to Eat, Drink and Party in Santa Fe with kids

It is no secret that when we go out with our without kids, we are on the hunt for three things: good food, cold drinks and live music. If we can find all three in a historic building, then we’ve hit the HotMama Jackpot.

View from Santa Fe Plaza New Mexico

There is ton of great food in Santa Fe, but I am just going to share the ones that have it all. If you are going out on the town with your kids, why not make it the best time you can in Santa Fe.

El Farol

El Farol is not only the oldest bar and restaurant in Santa Fe, it’s a party.  In addition to serving up traditional Spanish cuisine like hot and cold tapas, paella and more, every night there is some sort of live entertainment, such as Flamenco music and dancers as well as various styles of live music.

La Fonda On The Plaza

Located off the Santa Fe Plaza on the site of the city’s first inn in 1607, is the historic La Fonda on the Plaza, built in 1922.  Not only, this a beautiful site to visit, there are also several dining options we recommend enjoying while in town.

La Fonda on the Plaza Santa Fe Hotel

La Plazuela

The massive rod iron chandelier and surrounding courtyard façade gives you the bright feeling of dining al fresco without having to subject to the elements.

La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza Santa Fe

Dining in this colorful space, beneath twinkling trees gives such a warm and cozy feeling that is difficult to find anywhere else. Not to mention, the food was incredible. I rarely eat my whole meal and I killed my beef burrito.

La Fiesta Lounge

Serving up classic Southwestern cuisine, this is a great spot to grab a casual dinner or evening drink. Why? Because there is live music seven nights a week! Whoohoo.

We took the family for a fun night out enjoying dinner right in front of the dance floor. There was a group of regulars that were all out for a night of fun and we enjoyed watching them cheerfully mingle and dance the night away. We even got out there a bit ourselves for a few dances.

Float Café-Meow Wolf Santa Fe

Float Café is located inside Meow Wolf, but you don’t have to purchase admission or enter the Eternal Return to enjoy a drink. During the day you can grab various non-alcoholic beverages, but after 4:00PM is when it gets really fun.

Their cocktail list is as wacky as the exhibits, like MeowGarita topped with a cotton candy cloud or the Petricor that contains tequila, elderflower liqueur, prickly pear puree, and Prosecco, served over dry ice!

Meowgarita cocktail at Meow Wolf

It is definitely a bar to check out if you are looking for something a little funky fresh.

That’s a Wrap!

So what did we learn from our time in Santa Fe with kids? That we need to go back to see more, do more and eat more. Two full days just wasn’t enough to quench our thirst, but it was a great sampler plate.

Santa Fe has such a cool and artsy laid back style mixed with rich history and culture. Just the architecture alone is enough visual interest to keep everyone in awe. We also really enjoyed our stay at the Best Western Plus Inn of Santa Fe, which was not located downtown, but was not too far away and it was actually right next to Meow Wolf in a nice part of town with lots of stores and restaurants. See lots more reviews and photos HERE.

All in all the kids had fun, we had fun and we are definitely going back. Soon, very soon.

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Hot Tips for visiting Santa Fe with Kids - from historic and artsy to the psychedelic

Author

I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

20 Comments

  1. Love the look of the Best Western and swimming pools are very important too. I’d love to visit Santa Fe. Maybe soon actually. There’s a travel writing conference there some time this Fall. You definitely make it look fun.

  2. You’re right. Nothing says Santa Fe like Santa Fe architecture. Long long time ago, I wanted to escape Ohio. My ex wanted to go to Santa Fe but we matriculated in Tucson AZ. When it was time for our first custom built home we insisted on that Santa Fe style with the exposed logs and adobe.

  3. Santa Fe is beautiful, I love the architecture the adobe style design, really interesting and sounds like the Best Western took care of you. Looks like there is alot to do there – and the dining looks fab. Definitely have to check out the Meow Wolf show – you piqued my curiosity.

  4. We loved visiting Santa Fe. But I did not know it was the highest elevation state capital in the U.S. We did love to visit the churches in Santa Fe. But we missed the Capital Building. A round building would be very cool to see. We have done a few escape rooms. So Meow Wolf might be something fun for us to try. We definitely need to go back!

  5. I love seeing this perspective of Santa Fe and that Meow place is a hoot. Glad you got to see the State Capital and had a fine indoor pool when the weather was cooler. Fun times.

  6. I’ve always wanted to visit Santa Fe, and this got me even more excited to go! Meow Wolf especially looks like so much fun! I could totally see hanging out in there for several hours. I like how the Best Western reflected the local culture in the room decor. I didn’t realize each property is independently owned. That makes me want to check more of them out now!

    • Yes, Meow Wolf is definitely a must! Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize that BW are individual proprietors and all are unique…definitely not cookie cutters.

  7. Nicole LaBarge Reply

    Looks like a very nice hotel especially the pool area. I’m visiting NM this summer so I hope to check it out~! I love the decor there.

  8. I love places where kids and adults both enjoy. Santa Fe seems to be an ideal holiday destination for families with kids. Love how Santa Fe has such a cool and artsy laid back style mixed with rich history and culture, very rarely we find such a good mix.

  9. I love the way they hotel room kind of matches the vibe you’d expect in Santa Fe. I’ve never been to New Mexico but this looks like such a fun trip! The cathedral reminds me of the ones you see in italy!

  10. BW hotel loos pretty decent. Looks like Santa Fe has something for everyone. Especially Meow Wolf. I am sure I would end up spending a whole day there .

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