Santa Fe, New Mexico is a center for cultural, artistic and outdoor exploration. Set at the base of the Southern Rockies, Santa Fe is the West’s original outpost and a city of unexpected discovery for any family. And while New Mexico has ski resorts where you can spend some serious dough, Santa Fe is loaded with free family friendly activities.
1. From 5 – 8 pm every Friday, the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, and the New Mexico Museum of Art, open their doors for free admission. These two popular museums are across the street from one another, in the heart of the city, on the Santa Fe Plaza. The Palace of the Governors is the oldest public building in the country. The New Mexico Museum of Art’s rotating exhibitions always have something engaging for everyone in the family.
2. Take a free Bird Walk every Saturday morning at the Randall Davey Audubon Center at 8:30 am. The easy walk covers the rolling hills and forests in the 135-acre sanctuary and is led by an experienced birder.
3. Friday evenings are always filled with exhibition openings, artist receptions and special events at Santa Fe’s galleries. These are free and a wonderful way to see new art and meet Santa Fe’s community of artists and art lovers in person.
4. For outdoor enthusiasts, the nearby Santa Fe National Forest offers free access to endless hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and unbridled nature in more than 1.6 million acres. The forest is seven miles from the Santa Fe Plaza and provides a four-season playground.
5. Admission to SITE Santa Fe, located in the Santa Fe Railyard, is free all day on Fridays and on Saturday mornings from 10am – noon. SITE is a contemporary museum without a permanent collection. The sprawling museum features exhibitions of fascinating art created by some of the world’s best contemporary artists.
6. Every Saturday morning from 8am – 1pm the Santa Fe Farmers Market is open at its permanent location at the Santa Fe Railyard. Besides offering the freshest produce, foods and artisanal goods, the market is one of the most popular Saturday morning events in town, filled with music and performers and perfect for wandering.
7. The Santa Fe Railyard offers an expansive 10-acre park, xeric gardens and a designated children’s play area. This is a lovely place to stroll or sit and let the kids burn off some energy.
8. The sculpture garden at Shidoni Foundry and Galleries has colorful and impressive monumental sculptures scattered throughout an eight-acre lawn. An easy place to walk – or run – Shidoni is guaranteed to make the whole family smile.
9. The Santa Fe Bandstand program is one of the summer’s most popular events, showcasing local and national musical acts performing under the gazebo on the Santa Fe Plaza. Dance, sing along or just sit and enjoy the music, four nights a week during the program’s six-week run.
10. La Tierra Trails provide 1,500 acres of single-track mountain biking trails, hiking trails, a bike skills park and an ATV/Moto-Cross park. Located on the edge of town, this newly developed trail system has clear maps and signage with rated trails appropriate for all level of enthusiasts.
11. The Dale Ball Trail System is a 30+ mile track of inter-connected hiking and biking trails in the Rocky Mountain foothills. It’s easy to choose a hike or ride for just the right distance because of the abundant maps at intersections and looped nature of the system. Multiple trailheads are found in and out of town as the trails course through pinon and juniper covered terrain.
12. Santa Fe’s stunning landscapes, clear night skies and clean air are always free and worth stopping to enjoy.