An hour and a quarter north of Santa Fe, Taos New Mexico has been marching to its own drummer for decades, with a unique mix of anglo-hispanic-and native cultures, and art galleries on every lane.
Things to Do in Taos
So where's the fun in all this, for kids? Well, there's tubing and white-water rafting, in summer; skiing, in winter; an amazing Native American Pueblo to visit; the Kit Carson Museum (left); and --for a splurge --hot-air ballooning.
With the right wind, your balloon will swoop right down into a deep river gorge.
Hot-air ballooning, by the way, turns out to be one of those activities that make everyone feel like a kid again: something about climbing into that little basket, and the moment of lift-off... Whee!!! It's even fun packing up the big, beautiful balloon at the end of the ride.
Hot-air ballooning near Taos is an especially amazing experience because your ride will typically go both over, and into, the dramatic Rio Grande Gorge. (See Taos ballooning info.)Rafting can be easy or challenging according to your preferences. Most rafting is done in groups using inflatable rafts on the Rio Grande, starting at Pilar just south of Taos: you can choose calm water or whitewater. On any whitewater outing, be prepared to get soaked and to participate in paddling under the instructions of your guide. Teens who want more adventure may prefer to go solo in "funyaks": canoe-shaped inflatable rafts paddled like a kayak.
Also fun for families: you can hike, horse-back ride, soak in natural hot springs, or go on a llama trek. Llamas carry your gear while you hike in the scenic Sangre de Cristo mountains with a naturalist guide. Llamas are gentle, and one company has even trained llamas to can carry kids too small to hike.
Try a half-day hike, or go all out for multi-day family camp-out.
Where to Stay in Taos
For lodgings, casitas ("little houses"), are a good choice for families, with kitchens and other conveniences that matter so much. Other options include the Ramada Inn, Best Western Kachina Lodge, and many more hotels and motels, all built adobe-style with the attractive southwestern look that characterizes this unique town.
Finally, everyone should visit the unique Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest in North America, and a World Heritage site. This pueblo has been continually inhabited for hundreds of years, and is unique in its multi-level construction--click at the Taos Pueblo site for a look.
When to Visit
Plan your visit to coincide with native dances at the pueblo.A big date on the calendar is the multi-tribe annual Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow in July, with dancers and drummers from across the continent. Visitors are welcome to this three-day event, and the price is family-friendly at $5/day, free for kids under 12, and seniors. Bring extra money to buy native crafts and to feed the kids their first Navajo fry bread. Other Taos events include a Storytelling Festival in September, and Kite Festival in June, and a Balloon Rally in the fall.
More about Taos: