New Mexico's Best
By Richard Mahler
of "New Mexico's Best"
Here's the "Totally Awesome 10,"
according to a random selection of New Mexicans under the
age of 16. Like, check it out, dude.
- Outdoor sports and nature stuff-Whitewater
rafting on the Rio Grande (summer), skiing and snowboarding
in the mountains (winter), mountain-biking and hiking anywhere
(anytime), visiting the Rio Grande Zoo and Nature Center (in
Albuquerque), collecting cool rocks (Rock Hound State Park in
southern New Mexico) and exploring the old Indian caves at Bandelier
National Monument (near Los Alamos) or Puye Cliffs (Santa Clara
Pueblo, north of Santa Fe).
- Kid-friendly museums-The
Children's Museum (Santa Fe), the Museum of International Folk
Art (Santa Fe), the Wheelwright Museum's summer storytelling
by SFAOL contributor Joe Hayes (Santa Fe), the Museum of Natural
History (Albuquerque), the Rattlesnake Museum (Albuquerque's
Old Town), the Space Museum (Alamogordo), the Tinkertown Museum
(Sandia Park), the Smokey Bear Museum (Capitan) and the International
UFO Museum (Roswell).
Kid-friendly stores-Jackalope (Santa Fe and Bernalillo),
Albuquerque Rock Gym (Albuquerque), Merry-Go-Round (Santa Fe),
Doodlet's (Santa Fe), Cheri Cherie (Santa Fe), Horizons (Santa
Fe), Cardrageous (Santa Fe), Toyopolis (Santa Fe), Kay-Bee Toy
and Hobby Shop (Santa Fe) and Cottonwood Mall (the state's largest,
Carlsbad Caverns National Park-Older kids especially
like the ranger-led tours of the King's Palace and Slaughter Canyon
Cave, as well as the majestic main section of the Caverns. Also
available to teens are even more adventurous "wild cave" tours,
including exotic Spider Cave.
Railroads-Take a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow-Gauge
Railroad through the high mountains above Chama, the Santa Fe
Southern in Santa Fe or the Alameda Park Miniature Railway in
Burning of Zozobra-What child can resist the sight
of a 50-foot-tall, moaning-in-agony puppet named Zozobra (Old
Man Gloom) going up in flames, while kids dressed in fairy costumes
dance joyfully at its feet and swing sparklers in the night? The
burning starts the first night of the Santa Fe Fiesta, which runs
from the Thursday after Labor Day through the following Sunday
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta-This 10-day
spectacle in early October features hundreds of soaring hot-air
balloons of every shape and size imaginable. It's an event children
will happily get out of bed early for.
Rodeos-This is the West, and everybody should go to
a rodeo at least once, especially if he or she loves horses, Brahma
bulls, clowns and cowboys. They are held on weekends in communities
throughout New Mexico during summer and fall; one of the biggest
takes place in Santa Fe in July. Check local newspapers or chambers
of commerce for details.
New Mexico State Fair-Scary rides, junk food, arcade
games, farm animals, giant pumpkins, cheap trinkets, loud music
and the passing human parade. Need we say more? The state fair
is held in Albuquerque for 10 days in mid-September.
Cliff's Amusement Park-Cheap, safe thrills that will
make kids scream, moms nervous, and dads act 12 years old again.
It's in Albuquerque at 4800 Osuna NE (505-881-6066), and open
year-round. Runner-up: The Beach Waterpark, 3 Desert
Surf Circle NE in Albuquerque (505-345-6066), which brings surfing
and water-skiing to the desert.
Richard Mahler is author of "New
Mexico's Best" and several other books. A journalist and photographer
as well, he specializes in travel writing, among other subjects.
He has contributed to National Public Radio since 1973 and to
the Los Angeles Times since 1979. He has written thousands
of articles for more than 100 magazines and newspapers, including
The New Mexican, New Mexico magazine, and Santa Fean
magazine. A longtime resident of New Mexico, he lives in Santa
For a full listing of Richard Mahler's
books, and to place orders for them, visit Amazon.com.
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