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After a travel-filled year, we thought we were done for the year after our trip to Nevada for the Polar Express in mid December. But of course that didn’t happen and we decided to go explore New Mexico for the New Year. We visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and I will include them in one post since I feel like your really should do both if you are already in ABQ! The flight there was on Alaska Airlines. Almost every time we fly, we bring chocolates for the flight attendants to say thank you. They truly have one of the hardest jobs, dealing with some of the craziest people in the world! Milana handed a bag of chocolates to the first flight attendant we saw and we went to our seats. Shortly after, he came to get us and upgraded us to first class for free! Such an unexpected but very appreciated gesture. She of course loved it, since they serve snacks and this kid can snack all day!
We split our stay between the Fairfield Inn (Marriott hotel) and the ABQ Marriott. We are loyal to Marriott since we always get upgrades, free breakfast and lots of other perks so we tend to seek them out when we travel. I somehow forgot to take photos of our rooms here, but the ABQ Marriott did have a heated indoor pool that’s great if you’re traveling with kids in colder weather!
THINGS TO DO
As always, we had to visit a local children’s museum and Albuquerque’s Explora was free for us since they are part of the ASTC Passport Program. It’s a really cool facility, with lots of science themed exhibits. The museum is 2 stories, and even has a playground in the back.
Across the street from Explora is the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, also free with your ASTC membership. If you have a dinosaur or planet lover, this place is for you!
A short walk from Explora is Old Town, an area you definitely have to explore! I’d skip eating here since the food is touristy, expensive and not very authentic but definitely visit the shops and see the super cute architecture and colors.
Right near Old Town is Tricentennial Park, which has a playground. It was still warm out, so we stayed for a bit to play.
Before heading to Santa Fe, we visited BioPark. This is a really cute zoo with lots of great exhibits. You can purchase just the zoo admission or add the aquarium and botanical gardens for just a few dollars more. We opted for just the zoo and one train ride, since we didn’t have the entire day to spend here. It was deserted when we came (on a weekend) so we had the entire place to ourselves. Definitely visit if you are in the area!
Right after we landed, we headed to Frontier. This is a huge restaurant and usually has a very long line, but it was nearly 9pm when we went so it wasn’t packed at all. This restaurant serves New Mexican cuisine and is located across from the University of NM, making it popular with local students. If you only eat at one Mexican place, make it this one! The food here was really good and Milana got the tacos she has been asking for on the flight.
Another place we tried was the Backstreet Grill in Old Town. While the food was good, I would skip anything in Old Town as the prices are geared for tourists and tend to be a lot more than any other place in the city. Milana loves guacamole and they make theirs table side which is a nice touch.
The last ABQ restaurant we dined at was a Middle Eastern one called the San Pedro Middle Eastern Restaurant. We love Middle Eastern food and I’ve been craving foul mudammas so when I found out ABQ has a ton of Middle Eastern restaurants, I knew I could find one that serves this dish and I was right! It’s basically fava beans with garlic, cumin and lots of spices with lemon juice added at the end. Milana loved this dish, so we will have to make it at home! Everything we tried here was really good, I highly recommend coming. The restaurant is inside their store and nothing spectacular look wise, but the food is really good!
On our was from ABQ to Santa Fe, we decided to take the scenic Turquoise Trail. Mostly because I found an alpaca farm, halfway between the two cities! The farm is family owned and they do tours every half hour, no appointments necessary. Milana loved visiting the farm and feeding the animals. She had lots of questions about alpacas and their relation to the llamas (they are cousins!).
Madrid is a cute city to stop and walk around on the Turquoise Trail, but we visited last time we went and decided to skip this time since it was super packed.
In Santa Fe, we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott. We got upgraded to a king suite, which had a separate living room. Milana got her own rollaway bed, which was perfect! The hotel also had a very well heated indoor pool, which we used every night.
THINGS TO DO
Santa Fe also has a children’s museum, though it’s much smaller than ABQ. It’s essentially one huge room with the exhibits all in that room. There’s also an outside area, that is probably better in the warmer months!
But the hi-light of our trip was our visit to Meow Wolf. This place is a must see when in Santa Fe! Milana loved exploring the various rooms and finding secret doorways. Her favorite was walking through the fridge to find another hidden room! It’s really something you have to see for yourself. I think our entire family loved this the most!
Here is a video from Meow Wolf:
Another must do in Santa Fe is walking around Santa Fe Plaza. Lots of cute shops and restaurants and the architecture is just adorable! I love the SW style buildings.
One of our favorite restaurants in Santa Fe is the Love Yourself Cafe. We loved it so much, we came two days in a row! Healthy, organic food without added sugars, preservatives, etc. Milana loved her banana bread French toast, topped with fresh fruit and coconut. I loved the Caprese benedict and Dave loved his spinach salad. Before your meal, they bring you a small cup of love juice, which is basically a cucumber water. Milana loved this!
We also tried Cowgirl BBQ. They have a playground in the back, perfect for families with young kids!
Ranch House was down the street from our hotel and super popular, so be sure to add in waiting time! The food was ok, Cowgirl was much better bbq wise.
One night, Milana was really set on eating tacos so we found a local place called Posas. The food here was really good, and she got her taco fix.
When Dave and I came here a few years ago, we went to the Chocolate Maven for some hot chocolate. This place is still great and the hot chocolate is still really good!
New Mexico is perfect for families with young kids!