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A big hit; With trains, museums, art, Santa Fe scores with kids

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Zander Poltzer, left, and his brother, Benji, take on Robert Mathis, also known as Thomas Winterbourne, at a renaissance fair at El Rancho de las Golondrinas .  (JOURNAL FILE_

Zander Poltzer, left, and his brother, Benji, take on Robert Mathis, also known as Thomas Winterbourne, at a renaissance fair at El Rancho de las Golondrinas . (JOURNAL FILE_

Santa Fe is a family-friendly place to visit. Just ask a kid. “Santa Fe is really small, but it has a lot of fun places for kids,” says 13-year-old Angel Macias, a seventh-grader at De Vargas Middle School. “Overall, Santa Fe is pretty attractive.”

Macias and others in the De Vargas Citizen Schools program created a brochure that lists “things and places that your parents might not know about” and that are fun for kids.

Tops in the students’ eyes are Hyde Park for summer hiking or winter snow play, the Children’s Museum, the Santa Fe Railyard and the Genoveva Chavez Community Center with its swimming pool, yearround ice skating rink and ball courts.

“After you have done all the things adults like to do, you can visit fun places for kids,” they advise in the brochure.

They even made restaurant suggestions: Upper Crust Pizza, Tomasita’s and Bobcat Bite. Another local favorite for kids is the Cowgirl BBQ, which has an outdoor play area.

Jonathan Perea, 13 and in the seventh grade, also worked on the brochure. He says he enjoys the history of Santa Fe and suggests families visit San Miguel Mission Church on Old Santa Fe Trail, considered to be the oldest church in the United States and deemed by Perea to be “pretty cool.”

Parents who have their hearts set on shopping and browsing galleries shouldn’t despair. The kids say going to the Plaza and nearby stores can be fun, too — just don’t miss the ice cream shop.

Not surprisingly, Keith Toler agrees with the middle schoolers. He’s the director of the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau and thinks the City Different is “a great place to go with kids.”

To the kids’ recommendations, he adds El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the Bishop’s Lodge kids’ camp and experiences offered through the Santa Fe Creative Tourism program, which lets families create art together.

Toler also says outdoor recreation, such as hiking, guided four-wheel adventures and other trips, is a big hit with families.

A few to consider

Options for kid-friendly Santa Fe sites and activities include:

Hyde Memorial State Park. Access nearly four miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and connect with other trails in the surrounding Santa Fe National Forest.

740 Hyde Park Road, 983-7175, www.emnrd. state.nm.us/PRD/Hyde. htm

Santa Fe Children’s Museum. Geared for children ages 2 through 12, this hands-on museum offers a variety of activities for little ones as well as a garden area.

1050 Old Pecos Trail, 989-8359, santafechildrensmuseum.org

Santa Fe Railyard. From here, families can hop on the New Mexico Rail Runner for a ride south to Albuquerque or on the 120-year-old Santa Fe Southern Railway for a scenic trip to Lamy and back.

410 S. Guadalupe St., Rail Runner: 866-795-RAIL, nmrailrunner.com; Santa Fe Southern: 989-8600, sfsr.com

Genoveva Chavez Community Center. A definite hit with kids, the center features an ice skating rink, indoor pools (including a kiddie pool with slides) and a gymnasium.

3221 Rodeo Road, 955-4001, chavezcenter.com

El Rancho de Las Golondrinas. This ranch from the early 1700s is now a living museum that preserves Spanish Colonial and Territorial way of life on 200 acres just south of Santa Fe.

334 Los Pinos Road, 471-2261, golondrinas.org

Bishop’s Lodge Camp Appaloosa. This kids’ camp offers an evening or morning of activities ranging from outdoor fun to making and riding derby cars to various crafts and cooking projects. “The adults can go do what they want to do while the kids go horseback riding or learn to make a campfire,” the lodge says. Advance reservations are required in the summer months.

1297 Bishops Lodge Road, 819-4022, bishopslodge.com

The Palace of the Governors. This adobe museum on the Santa Fe Plaza was built by the Spanish in 1610 and is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S. Step inside to learn about the history of Santa Fe, New Mexico and the region.

105 W. Palace Ave., 476-5100, palaceofthegovernors.org

Randall Davey Audubon Center. Families can explore two nature trails and a historic house on acres that also are home to more than 130 species of birds, other wildlife, flowering plants and forests of fir and spruce.

1800 Upper Canyon Road, 983-4609, nm.audubon.org/center

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. A monthly Saturday morning program offers hands-on learning for families to tour the exhibits and then create their own art.

217 Johnson St., 946-1000, okeeffemuseum.org

Museum of International Folk Art. The museum’s free Arts Alive! drop-in workshops for all ages are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Children also enjoy the book and toy lounge featuring books related to current exhibitions.

“Kids can get down into the basement and become a curator for the afternoon,” Toler says, referring to Lloyd’s Treasure Chest, which offers all ages a chance to go behind the scenes.

706 Camino Lejo, on Museum Hill, 476-1203, internationalfolkart.org

Shidoni Bronze Foundry. In Tesuque, five miles north of Santa Fe, the foundry offers the opportunity to watch as molten bronze is poured, or wander through the sculpture garden surrounded by cottonwoods and apple trees. Check for foundry hours.

1508 Bishops Lodge Road, 988-8001, www.shidoni.com

Warehouse 21-Santa Fe Teen Arts Center. This space at the Railyard gives teens a place to create and exhibit art and to hang out in a space where technology, music, arts and design come together.

1614 Paseo de Peralta, 989-4423, warehouse21.org

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