The blue skies and hot sun of New Mexico are like a siren’s call for a unique vacation. This wonderful state offers many opportunities for families traveling with kids, from an abundance of zoos where kids can learn about exotic animals and those they might see in the wild where they live, to children’s museums where they can experiment, ask questions, and explore. New Mexico has some gorgeous natural opportunities as well, like Carlsbad Caverns or White Sands National Monument, where families can race down the sandy dunes in a sled. For families coming from afar, or those who just need a quick day trip to break up the monotony or get the kids out of the house, New Mexico has a plethora of options, each of which is sure to leave kids—and parents—happy.
© Tinkertown Museum
Tinkertown Museum, located in Sandia Park, is a unique destination full of intricate miniature dioramas depicting scenes pertaining to the Old West. Kids will delight in the elaborate and detailed displays, which each feature hand carved buildings, carts, and people. And the best part is that everything moves. All the people, vehicles, and other features are animated and automated, and their movement adds to the unique appeal and historic, classic sideshow appeal of the place. Tinkertown Museum is open seven days a week from April 1st until November 1st, and is closed during the winter season.
121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM 87047, Phone: 505-281-5233
2.Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
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Since it first opened in 1937, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, located in Santa Fe, has been showcasing Native American art, both historic and contemporary, though their focus is on lesser known genres of art by living Native American artists. This massive facility, with almost forty thousand square feet of space, has an incredible collection of sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and more, and they welcome visitors of all ages through their doors. The attached museum shop and art gallery, the Case Trading Post, is a great place to find a unique and memorable souvenir, and kids will love sifting through the collection of items.
704 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-982-4636
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The Albuquerque BioPark has four elements to it, and each one is more fun than the last. There’s Tingley Beach, where families can enjoy paddle boating or fishing on the Rio Grande, or the Botanic Garden, which is full of beautiful plants and flora, many of which are local to New Mexico and others of which are from all over the world. Families will also enjoy the ABQ BioPark Aquarium, where they can see a huge variety of marine life including sharks, tropical fish, and more, and the ABQ BioPark Zoo, where everyone can get up close and personal with some of their favorite animals from all over the world as they learn about them. Each facet of the ABQ BioPark is designed to showcase and teach visitors about a different aspect of nature.
903 10th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, Phone: 505-764-6200
One of the coolest things about the Alameda Zoo is its history. It first opened in the year 1898 as a deer park, and has grown over the years to the full zoo it is today, making it the oldest zoo in the southwest region of United States. The Alameda Zoo works hard to connect its visitors of all ages to the animals they see in the park, through a variety of multimedia experiences that include audio, visual, and tactile exhibits and interactive displays. There are over 300 animals at the Alameda Zoo, and the 12-acre park also offers a number of family friendly amenities, such as a playground, a picnic area, and a gift shop where kids can pick out a toy version of their favorite animal to take home with them.
1021 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-439-4290
5.Billy The Kid Museum
This museum in Fort Sumner is devoted to the history of the American West. The name “Billy the Kid Museum” comes from the famous outlaw, who frequented Fort Sumner when he was alive. Several of his personal possessions are on display in the museum, including his rifle, his chaps and spurs, and the door he backed through on the night he was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett. The museum also contains antique transportation vehicles like buggies and even a horse-drawn hearse, as well as many small, day-to-day items that people once used. The souvenir and gift shop at the Billy the Kid Museum has a wide variety of mugs, toys, t shirts, magnets, and other paraphernalia, both related to Billy the Kid and not.
1435 Sumner Ave, Fort Sumner, NM 88119, Phone: 575-355-2380
6.Bradbury Science Museum
© Bradbury Science Museum
Located in Los Alamos, NM, the Bradbury Science Museum is the public branch of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is most famous for its part in the Manhattan Project, the experiments which revolutionized science and warfare for the modern world. Visitors to the Bradbury Science Museum can explore a variety of fascinating exhibits to learn about the history of the Manhattan Project, the research and testing that went into it, the science behind it, and more. Guests can learn about computing, weapons science, health studies, and a world of fascinating scientific discovery, all through a series of interesting and interactive displays and exhibits.
1350 Central Ave, Los Alamos, NM 87544, Phone: 505-667-4444
There are over one hundred caves in this famous system in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The flowering desert plants and unique rock formations on the ground look beautiful and completely normal, and no one would guess that beneath them is a fascinating system of limestone caverns. Visitors of all ages will be astounded by the eerie beauty of Carlsbad Caverns, which can be explored on a self-guided tour or with the assistance of a ranger. The caves are open for people of any age, but due to the uneven floor and steep grade of the caves, strollers are prohibited and wheelchairs are only permitted in certain portions of the caves.
Carlsbad, NM 88220
8.Carson National Forest
There are five national forests in New Mexico, and Carson National Forest is a big one, covering over 1.5 million acres of land. Inside its bounds are some gorgeous natural sights, including Mount Wheeler, which, at over 13 thousand feet elevation, is the tallest peak in New Mexico. Families looking to get a taste of the great outdoors will find a world of adventure and fun at their fingertips in Carson National Forest. There, everyone can enjoy a scenic hike, go for an exhilarating bike ride, or enjoy a night under the stars as they camp in their tent and roast marshmallows over a fire.
9.E3 Children’s Museum and Science Center
The E3 Children’s Museum and Science Center knows it’s never too early to start learning, but they also know that kids learn best when they’re having fun. This innovative children’s museum combines the world of science with the world of play, through a plethora of interactive games, stations, and exhibits designed to help kids learn about scientific concepts like how sound and light travel, how magnets work, and where shadows come from, as well as more creative skills like art and inventive thinking. Very young children under the age of five will even find an entire section of the museum, called Tots’ Turf, dedicated specifically to them.
302 N Orchard Ave, Farmington, NM 87401, Phone: 505-599-1425
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10.Explora Science Center
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This Albuquerque science center challenges its young guests to ask questions, try new things, and explore the world around them. Inside the colorful dome that houses Explora Science Center, families and children will find exhibits to help kids learn about math, science, art, engineering, and more. Exhibits are small and sized for young kids, so they can experiment, play, and learn on their own, though of course parents are encouraged to join in on the fun. Kids can play with balls and ramps to learn about gravity, or visit the Experiment Bar for a constantly rotating activity that might involve microscopes, chemistry, or other fascinating aspects of science.
1701 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, Phone: 505-224-8300
11.International Balloon Museum
Every year, the International Hot Air Balloon Festival is held near Albuquerque and Santa Fe. This amazing spectacle is attended by people from all over the world, and is a ton of fun for kids to see all the bright balloons in the air. Whether your family is in town for the balloon festival or you’ve missed it and want to get a feel for it off-season, the International Balloon Museum is there to help. This incredible museum explores the history and science behind balloon aviation, and the way that hot air balloons become lighter than air. Kids can watch a film, explore a weather lab, and see real hot air balloons in the museum.
9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113
12.International UFO Museum
Roswell, New Mexico is a town whose reputation precedes it as the location of the famous UFO incident during the 1940s. The legends and stories that grew from this event paved the way for the International UFO Museum, which calls Roswell its home. Here, visitors can learn about the Roswell Incident of 1947, as well as all sorts of other phenomena that have taken place in history and modern times. The museum documents UFO sightings and events all over the world, and speculates the origins of these unexplained events. Kids will love the alien-themed museum, as well as the gift shop, which has some out-of-this-world souvenirs.
On Museum Hill, 706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-476-1200
13.Kit Carson Home and Museum
Kit Carson was a famous frontiersman, known for guiding people through the mountains and the wilderness, for interacting and serving as an intermediary with Nativa American populations, and for serving as an officer in the U.S. Army. Kit Carson lived and died in the 19th century, and his home in Taos, New Mexico, was declared a national landmark during the 1960s. Guests can explore and tour the stucco house where he once lived and learn about Carson as well as the history of the American Southwest region. The collection includes many of Carson’s possessions and furnishings.
113 Kit Carson Rd, Taos, NM 87571, Phone: 575-758-4082
14.Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science
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Nature and science are all around us, and kids who visit Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science will leave it with a better understanding of their world. The museum pushes kids to look at their daily lives for an understanding of nature and science, whether that means looking up at the stars at night or looking at the desert habitat that is so common in New Mexico. The museum has three permanent exhibits, as well as a number of rotating and traveling ones. There are also many programs and events at the museum, including regular animal encounters, hands-on family science experiments, and story tellings.
411 N Downtown Mall, Las Cruces, NM 88001, Phone: 575-522-3120
15.Las Cruces Railroad Museum
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What kid has never been fascinated by trains? These unique forms of transportation may not be quite as common now as they once were, but they are without a doubt a really fascinating part of American history. At Las Cruces Railroad Museum, visitors can explore the history of the railroad in the American Southwest, and the impact that it had on southern New Mexico when it first arrived in the region. The museum is located in a building that was originally a train depot for the Santa Fe Railroad, and contains exhibits that are great for guests of all ages.
351 N Mesilla St #2567, Las Cruces, NM 88005, Phone: 575-528-3444
16.National Solar Observatory
It’s appropriate that the National Solar Observatory would be located in a town called “Sunspot,” isn’t it? This unique research facility studies the Sun—its patterns and composition, the effects it has on the planets in the solar system, and more specifically, the effects it has on us here on Earth. Visitors can take a tour of the National Solar Observatory to learn about the important work they do there, or enjoy a self-guided wander around the facilities to learn at their own pace. Much of the observatory museum’s collection is outdoors, so families will have an opportunity to go for a nice walk under the sun and stretch their legs as they learn about space, weather, the solar system, and the massive star at the center of it.
3004 Telescope Loop, Sunspot, NM 88349, Phone: 575-434-7000
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17.New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
At the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, located in Albuquerque, visitors of all ages can enjoy a huge variety of interactive exhibits that pertain to fields such as dinosaurs and fossilization, space and the stars in the night sky, and microscopic organisms. The exhibits at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science are designed to help kids learn in a fun way, and there are specific exhibits that are best suited for children, like the Naturalist Center, which has plenty of specimens that visitors can touch and interact with directly, or the Fossilworks Lab, where visitors can watch real scientists at work as they extract dinosaur fossils from the rock where they have lain for millions of years.
1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, Phone: 505-841-2800
18.New Mexico Museum of Space History
This museum and planetarium is located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The New Mexico Museum of Space History is dedicated to preserving the history of the Space Age, including the Space Race, the science and technology behind space flight, and more. The museum’s exhibitions include a Space Hall of Fame, collections of space equipment and even a real moon rock, displays about the environment in space and how astronauts adapt to those challenges, and the development of rockets. The museum also has several outdoor exhibits, like a Daisy Track which was used to study acceleration and deceleration, and the Air and Space Park, which features real rockets and spacecraft.
3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2840
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19.Petroglyph National Monument
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Hundreds of years ago, before the US was settled by Europeans, Native Americans carved images and symbols into the rocks near Albuquerque. Hundreds of years later (though still centuries ago), early Spanish settlers added their own images to the carvings, and the result today is Petroglyph National Monument, one of the largest and best preserved sites of petroglyphs on the entire continent of North America. Visitors can take a hike on some of the trails at Petroglyph National Monument, and guests of all ages will enjoy spotting and interpreting the rock carvings as they explore the park.
Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, Phone: 505-899-0205
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20.Santa Fe Children’s Museum
At the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, kids can get messy with face paint and finger painting, create giant soap bubbles that are larger than them, put on a spectacular puppet show or live performance for their parents and other museum guests, and experiment with a wide variety of subjects to learn and draw conclusions about the world around them. The Santa Fe Children’s Museum is a lovely destination for a cold winter afternoon or to escape the hot Santa Fe sun in the height of summer, with exhibits that are designed to let kids be creative, active, and curious.
1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-989-8359
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21.Santa Fe Southern Railway
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The Santa Fe Southern Railway invites visitors of all ages to sit back and relax for a fun and scenic ride from Santa Fe to Lamy, an 18 mile ride with multiple class service options, snacks, drinks, and meal options, and an incredible view that will have kids pressing their noses against the window in awe. The train cars are vintage, and are originally from the 1920s, and the round trip from Santa Fe to Lamy and back again takes about four hours. Along the way, passengers will be able to look out and see some beautiful scenery of the high-desert variety, and the experience of enjoying that view on a train is an unbeatable one that kids and parents will remember for a lifetime.
430 W Manhattan Ave A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 505-989-8600
22.Spring River Park and Zoo
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This lovely small zoo in Roswell, NM offers a personal experience for every guest who walks through its gates. At Spring River Zoo, there is a special children’s area where exotic and unique animals like lemurs, pygmy goats, and several large birds wait to meet young guests as ambassadors of their kind. Zookeepers will guide children in their encounters with these animals, many of whom are friendly. Other exhibits include the Capitan Trail, which showcases animals that are found in New Mexico and the surrounding states, like prairie dogs, foxes, raccoons, and bison. There’s also a ranch area with mini horses and Texas Longhorns, and a carousel for kids to ride.
1306 E College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201, Phone: 575-624-6760
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23.The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Native Americans have been creating unique, beautiful art for centuries. From pottery to beaded jewelry to intricate textiles, the style of Native American art is widely varied and incredibly beautiful. At the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the history of this art is on full display, with frequent events that enrich the experience, like classes about the art of basket weaving, demonstrations about the creation of Pueblo pottery, or even craft sales where visitors can take home a piece of unique and authentic Native American pottery or jewelry with them.
710 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-476-1269
24.Toy Train Depot
For as long as trains have been a part of human history, kids have been playing with miniature versions of them. At the Toy Train Depot, visitors can catch a ride on the small-scale train to take a lovely scenic ride around Alameda Parks. Inside the depot, kids and adults alike will delight in the small-scale reproductions of locomotives, passenger, and freight train cars, each recreated to an astonishing level of accurate detail. There’s also a large model train set designed to look like Alamogordo in the 1940s, and the smallest working train in the world.
1991 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2855
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25.White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is a section of the northern Chihuahuan Desert in the southern region of the state. This incredibly beautiful desert is a true wonder of the world, with 275 square miles of pristine, snow-white sand. The sand is formed from gypsum, which is where it gets its unique color, and standing in the middle of this massive desert of white sand is like standing in hot snow, a sensation that is both fascinating and a little unnerving. Families can visit the dunes and even bring a sled, which they can use to ride back down to the bottom in an exhilarating rush of fun.
25 Fun Things to Do in New Mexico with Kids of All Ages
- Tinkertown Museum, Photo: Tinkertown Museum
- Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Photo: Reid Dalland/stock.adobe.com
- ABQ BioPark, Photo: ASP Inc/stock.adobe.com
- Alameda Zoo, Photo: RbbrDckyBK/stock.adobe.com
- Billy The Kid Museum, Photo: fotoak80/stock.adobe.com
- Bradbury Science Museum, Photo: Bradbury Science Museum
- Carlsbad Caverns, Photo: reisegraf/stock.adobe.com
- Carson National Forest, Photo: Brian/stock.adobe.com
- E3 Children’s Museum and Science Center, Photo: davit85/stock.adobe.com
- Explora Science Center, Photo: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
- International Balloon Museum, Photo: Sir_Eagle/stock.adobe.com
- International UFO Museum, Photo: adimas/stock.adobe.com
- Kit Carson Home and Museum, Photo: Shelley/stock.adobe.com
- Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science, Photo: Arkady Chubykin/stock.adobe.com
- Las Cruces Railroad Museum, Photo: Kelly Mercer/stock.adobe.com
- National Solar Observatory, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Photo: atm2003/stock.adobe.com
- New Mexico Museum of Space History, Photo: roostler/stock.adobe.com
- Petroglyph National Monument, Photo: Daniel Meunier/stock.adobe.com
- Santa Fe Children’s Museum, Photo: HP_Photo/stock.adobe.com
- Santa Fe Southern Railway, Photo: robert cicchetti/stock.adobe.com
- Spring River Park and Zoo, Photo: Mary Lynn Strand/stock.adobe.com
- The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Photo: South12th/stock.adobe.com
- Toy Train Depot, Photo: milkovasa/stock.adobe.com
- White Sands National Monument, Photo: traveller70/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Kristina/stock.adobe.com