A small town with a high elevation (6,969′) and somewhat close to the New Mexico-Colorado border, Taos’ local flavor unites a tight-knit, diverse artistic community with the rich history of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain subrange. Its old-time architecture fans out in decreasing density from the center of Taos Plaza toward the fringes of town, flanked by acequia (canals). Taos may be a remote destination in many regards, but its position in Southwest geography makes for wonderful hiking, rafting and unbelievable natural formations.
Families with young children should visit Twirl (inside Taos Plaza), a free, community-run playground and “discovery space” that was recognized by CNN as of 15 best spots for kids, nationally, in 2014. Taos has a handful of art museums, including the University of New Mexico’s Harwood Museum of Art, an elegant collection of contemporary, local photography and experimental pieces as well as historically notable colonial relics. Without question, you should drive 20 minutes north of Taos on Highway 64 and take unforgettable photographs at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which has appeared in films like Natural Born Killers and Twins, to name a few blockbusters.
For a tranquil, yet natural and historic bout of relaxation, take a dip in the pools at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Spa, situated under an hour away from Taos. Well-behaved and quiet kids are welcome at this long-praised getaway, complete with mud baths, massages and the perks of the larger hotel complex, including a restaurant that uses on-site ingredients. Take a fairly long (two to three hours) drive to the Los Alamos/Jemez Springs area to savor the Valles Caldera, a volcanic indentation in the surrounding Jemez Mountains that’s home to all kinds of wildlife and federally protected public land. At $20 a vehicle, many options lie within the national preserve to go hiking, fishing and hunting.
Within a mile’s radius of Taos’ downtown Plaza, book a stay in a Spanish-style adobe casita, condo or cottage, which typically have viga ceilings, desert courtyards and traditional tiling (in the winter, that same material keeps the dwelling insulated). Most houses and other rentals are a sublime mix of culturally-authentic and modern Southwest design. Burch St. Casitas in town is like a hands-off b’n’b—designed for stays of several days.
If you’re flying into New Mexico from somewhere else in the United States, the airports closest to Taos are Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) and Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF)—which are 133 and 70 miles away from Taos, respectively. The closest Amtrak station to town is over in Raton, NM, served by the Southwest Chief train line. Alternatively, take a direct route to Taos from Santa Fe on the New Mexico Rail Runner’s NCRTD Taos Express. In town, use the Chile Line to get from downtown Taos to Taos Ski Valley, and towns in between (El Prado, Valdez, Arroyo Seco). Uber and Lyft do not operate in this part of New Mexico.
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