New Mexico is a one-of-a-kind blend of culture, history, and adventure where you can touch the sky in a hot air balloon, paddle white waters, or travel through time in the heart of Pueblo country. Soak up the breathtaking landscapes and chili pepper-infused cuisine, and discover firsthand why New Mexican residents are known as the most friendly around. Adventure awaits you at every corner, whether it’s learning about Native American culture, visiting a natural wonder, or tubing down a mountain. You can come just for the weekend or a week, but we have a feeling you’ll want to extend your stay. Browse through plenty of unforgettable vacation rentals in New Mexico and book your stay today. That said, here are the top family-friendly spots to check out in New Mexico during Independence Day.
1. Carlsbad Caverns
Instead of choosing what to do in New Mexico, you should choose to come to New Mexico just to visit Carlsbad Caverns. Hidden by Rocky slopes and canyons, cactus, grass, and thorny shrubs, you’d never guess what’s hiding underground. Carlsbad Cavern is the primary show cave of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a United States National Park in southeastern New Mexico. Hike on your own through the natural cavern entrance, or take the elevator from the visitor center to see the Big Room, the third largest chamber in North America and the seventh largest in the world. This natural limestone chamber is almost 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high at the highest point. We have the feeling that everyone in the family will be saying “wow.”
2. Red River Ski Area
Did you know that New Mexico’s ski areas are open for business during the summer season? Sure, there’s world-class skiing and riding during the winter, but the mountain is a great place to visit during the summer too. Once the snow melts, they’re transformed into giant summer playgrounds that both kids and adults can enjoy. Some of the activities available include a zip line, 18-hole disc golf, summer tubing, scenic chair lift rides, music festivals, mountain biking, hiking. Whatever you choose to do, you absolutely must ride the longest summer tubing lanes in the country on “Gold Rush Hill.”
There’s another world-class ski resort in Taos, but that’s not why it made number 3 on our list. Taos is a place for not only outdoor recreation, but for creative inspiration. This popular art colony is also an ancient community and land of Earthships, making it an amazing place to experience rich spiritual traditions. New Mexico is also a mecca for iconic churches and cathedrals. Located just a few miles south of the Taos Pueblo in Ranchos De Taos is the majestic San Francisco De Asis which dates back somewhere between the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. It’s served as an inspiration to artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams, and Georgia O’Keeffe even described it as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.”
4. La Luz Trail
Alright, this vacation idea isn’t a specific destination, but this 8.9 trail at the north end of the Sandia will absolutely wow you. The trail is gorgeous and challenging as you make your way from the base of the mountain to the peak. It’s not for beginners or young children, but it’s perfect for making some lasting memories before your teens leave the nest. Once you make it to the top, the views are absolutely surreal. Albuquerque is the closest city to look for hotels, but staying at a vacation rental will definitely put you closer to the trail.
We can’t let Albuquerque fly under the radar. This hidden gem is affordable, beautiful and full of a variety of activities to keep everyone in the family entertained. Start by cruising down Historic Route 66. See the buzzing neon signs, historic architecture, and maybe stop for a delicious milkshake. Then, sample the local New Mexican cuisine. It’s not Mexican, or Tex-Mex. It’s a blend of Spanish and Native American flavors that includes dishes like Carne ado vada, green chile chicken enchiladas, chilles relleños and stuffed sopaipillas. Finally, take a walk or bike ride on the Bosque Trail. This trail runs through the cottonwood forest past Tingley Beach and the Nature Center and is a great uninterrupted trail for a long run, bike ride or walk with the family.
6. White Sands National Monument
Come see the largest gypsum dune field in the world, located at White Sands National Monument in south-central New Mexico. The monument ranges in elevation from 3890′ to 4116′ above sea level with the most active dunes moving to the northeast at a rate of up to 30 feet per year. The pure gypsum forms these dunes comes from an ephemeral lake or playa with a very high mineral content. As the water evaporates, minerals are left behind, and the wind eventually forms them into these white sand dunes.
This city is home to the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. This park, set against the sweeping Sacramento Mountains, features a historic ranch house, a unique oasis of pools under the cottonwood trees of Dog Canyon, and plenty of camping opportunities in the Chihuahuan Desert, making it a great alternative to staying at a hotel or vacation rental. Enjoy a short walk on the Riparian Nature Trail or the challenging hike up the Dog Canyon Trail. Definitely stick around for a stunning view of the night sky.
8. Valles Caldera National Preserve
Welcome to New Mexico’s super volcano! This National Preserve clocks in at 89,000 acres and is in the heart of one of three super volcanoes in the United States. Both tourists and locals come to the Preserve for its expansive high mountain valleys, large elk herds, and diverse history. The Preserve also offers the best mountain meadow fly fishing experience in New Mexico, and if you decide you want to stay forever, you can apply to the Valles Caldera National Preserve livestock grazing program.
9. Nambe Pueblo
One of the things that make New Mexico unique is the abundance of Native American communities. There are 23 Indian tribes located in New Mexico – nineteen Pueblos, three Apache tribes, and the Navajo Nation. If you’re lucky, you can time your vacation to coincide with a tribes feast days. Native American feast days allow tribal members to come together in a renewal of their language, culture, and religion. In July, Nambe Pueblo has their Celebration of the Waterfall. The Pueblo of Nambé is located 20 miles north of Santa Fe at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has existed since the 14th century. Nambé is known for a distinctive style of pottery, known as Nambé Polychrome.
10. Santa Rosa
It’s not summer without a dip in the water, and Santa Rosa is known has “The Scuba Diving Capital of the Southwest.” Thanks to the Blue Hole, an 81-foot-deep natural artesian spring, you can go scuba diving year-round. Recognized as one of the “Best Natural Swimming Holes in the US” by Conde Nast Traveler, it’s a great place to relax and take a dip. After you dry off, head into town to enjoy a down-home meal, check out the classic Route 66 cars, or just check out the picturesque stone buildings.