New Mexico vacation question
July 31, 2010 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Planning a week long vacation with a twenty two month old in tow in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos. Would very much like your feedback/suggestions on my questions and anything else ..

1) What will the weather be like at this time of the year? (The forecasts have the lows at mid-fifties and the highs at the eighties; that's a wide range ....We are a little worried about driving under the sun with a toddler)

2) Does any one have any suggestion for a hotel room with kitchenette for 2 or 3 nights in Santa Fe? Santa Fe hotels on the plaza seem expensive; We would like to have the ability to cook at home for our son - when we can. Is it possible to find something close for $120-130/night?

3) Itinerary - We want to try to keep this trip light and easy, with nap time in the afternoon for the little one. Please let me know if this makes sense and/or if you recommend changes ..

Day 1 - Fly in. Plan to go to a Botanical garden/zoo/miniature rail road in Alb that kids love.
Day 2 - Lazy drive up thru Turquoise trail and Sandia Crest via Madrid etc to Santa fe
Santa Fe
Day 2 - Plaza + (hopefully) a museum or two
Day 3 - Bandelier + Plaza + (may be) a museum
Day 4 - High road to Taos (Espanola to Ranchos de Taos on NM 75, 76 and 518
Day 5 - Enchanted circle - loop from Taos on US 64 and NM 38 and 522 (although may not be practical to do the entire drive with a 2 year old)
Day 6 - Open. Depending on whether we like hanging out more in Santa Fe or Taos ...
Day 7 Drive back to Albuquerque via Jemez'; Old city
Day 8 - fly out.

4) Altitude sickness - Should we worry about this for our son? I am planning to speak with our doctor before we leave, but would love to hear from someone who in the area (It looked like there are a few 10k+ plus areas that we would drive through. But we are not really planning to stay over there for more more than a few hours ....)
posted by justlooking to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you traveling in August? In New Mexico that often means rain in the afternoon. So it will be beautiful and sunny in the morning, and then the clouds descend. So that's where you get that temperature swing. Have a sweater and a mini umbrella, and you should be fine so long as you plan indoor activities for the afternoon.
posted by pickypicky at 2:16 PM on July 31, 2010

The weather definitely tends to be hot in the afternoons in August; more than anything, it is DRY there. Be sure to always have water on hand.

My family stays at the Residence Inn in Santa Fe because of the full kitchen. We have allergy issues and it's just easier to cook than to figure out what's safe at restaurants! There's grocery store not far from that hotel, as well. It's not near the Plaza, but Santa Fe really isn't that big-- so it's not a long drive. I think their prices vary quite a bit, so I'm not sure of the cost.

Your itinerary looks like fun! I would note that while my family has never suffered terribly from altitude sickness, it does tend to slow you down a bit. We're always a bit more tired while hiking around up there.

The Santa Fe Children's Museum has lots of great hands-on stuff for kids to play with and explore. Also, it's not very big -- that can be a good thing with a 22-month-old in tow!
posted by ebee at 2:29 PM on July 31, 2010

I'd worry less about the altitude than about dehydration. It's pretty dry in that area, and a 22 month old isn't liable to be articulate about their needs. Dehydration can compound an altitude-induced headache, turning a minor one into something less minor.

If you're concerned about airborne allergy sources, Albuquerque publishes information about seasonal pollen and daily pollen count.
posted by dws at 3:12 PM on July 31, 2010

When we travel with our daughter, we sometimes settle for a hotel located near a grocery store (like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) that has a hot food bar with nutritious options instead of staying right near the freeway at a hotel with a kitchenette. It seems like most of the time the money ends up a wash, since you can't do real from scratch cooking and taking home left over ingredients is arduous.

The weather should be beautiful, remember to dress in layers. It does get chilly at night quicker than you might think.

Trying to time the driving so that you can get it done during nap time is always helpful, but I'm not sure how manageable that will be with your itinerary.

Have fun!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 5:46 PM on July 31, 2010

Some people are sensitive to altitude (ABQ is about as high as Denver). Everyone who comes from elsewhere seems to be sensitive to the light (blazing sun most of the the time) and the dry air.

As long as your first few days aren't too intense and you cover up/hydrate everybody should be fine.
posted by answergrape at 5:54 PM on July 31, 2010

I live in SF with kid.
- Dont miss the aquarium in alb - in the same place as the botan gardens. Surprisingly good.
- I wouldnt fret about the altitute. weather in sf will be a lot more comfortable than alb. sf is at 7500 feet or so.
- the "cowgirl" restaurant in SF combines pretty good food with a playground on astroturf next to the tables. A great place to chill out with a cocktail while kiddo does their thing.
- of all the museums in SF, our kiddo seems to like the folk-art musuem the best. its on museum hill.
posted by H. Roark at 7:19 PM on July 31, 2010

Another suggestion for Albuquerque would be the Explora museum. It's specifically designed as a hands-on science museum for kids (and adults like it too).

August is the hottest month around here. The afternoon Thunderstorms are common, as July and August are the rainy season. Do take water with you, as dehydration can be caused by the dry climate, higher altitude, and warm temperatures.

I think the aquarium is doing a shark special week this coming week.

According to WebMD, altitude sickness doesn't usually occur until above 8000 feet. Take it easy, drink plenty of liquids, but not alcohol, and the last paragraph suggests eating lots of carbs, so you have a built-in excuse to have something a bit sinful, if you so desire.

Santa Fe is typically very expensive, as it is a luxury vacation destination. Be careful about which dates you plan to travel there, because Indian market is booked up to a year in advance, even overflowing to Surrounding cities. If you are having trouble booking an affordable room in Santa Fe, you could stay in Albuquerque, and take the rail runner up to SF for the day.
posted by annsunny at 9:15 PM on July 31, 2010

Oh! Wear sunscreen, there is more radiation from the sun at higher altitudes.
posted by annsunny at 9:16 PM on July 31, 2010

The weather in Albuquerque is pretty hot this time of year. I've been keeping my toddler indoors in the afternoons, and doing outdoor things in the morning. Santa Fe is usually 5-10 degrees cooler than Albuquerque. We're also in the monsoon season, so you might want to be prepared for rain. I'd recommend sunscreen and a hat for your son.

Also, while you're making the lazy drive up to Santa Fe, I very highly recommend a stop at the Tinkertown Museum. It's well worth the side trip. I love it, and my toddler has a great time running around and pushing all the buttons.
posted by lexicakes at 10:52 PM on July 31, 2010

First, the altitude in NM doesn't bother me, but the DRYNESS does. I have to drink tons of water. (I live in ever-humid Georgia, so the contrast is striking.)

We were able to rent a condo at El Corazon (just a few blocks from the plaza in Santa Fe) for an off-season rate of $125/night -- two bedrooms/two baths/great kitchen. I think it might have been a lucky find + we were traveling in March.
posted by tmharris65 at 4:27 AM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks a lot every body.

-We moved to Dallas, Tx a year back; so we try to keep plying ourselves with water anyway. We'll make sure that we do plenty of water through out the day in New Mexico.

- El Corazon has no room available at this time. And Residence Inn in $209 + taxes :(. But we'll probably just go with Residency Inn .. we have liked staying there in the past and this kind of rate seems to be the norm in Santa Fe.

Museum/aquarium recommendations all sound like stuff that our son would enjoy! We'll look to make time for all of them. Did want to go to the folk-art musuem anyway; good to hear that kids usually like it.

Will definitely try the cowgirl restaurant. We have not been eating out lately (outside of fast food!) because they tend to be such hit and miss experiences with a toddler. but this one seems like something that we'll all enjoy!
posted by justlooking at 9:10 AM on August 1, 2010

Bring a change of clothes for everybody for when you're in the car. Nothing fun about getting puked on and having to ride all the way back to the hotel sitting in it. Two changes of clothes for the little one. Having the change is also good if you get too hot and find some water to play in.

In fact, if you can get a towel and cut holes in it to make a cover for the little guy's car seat I really recommend it. It's happened where my youngest had a diaper blowout and ended up riding for a while in a car seat with no cover wearing nothing but a diaper. Luckily at that time we were not far from home. The towel cover can also help if you use it to cover up the metal parts on the car seat when the car is parked. It'll keep them from burning your son when you strap him in.

Also, don't be surprised if the little guy sleeps in the car and doesn't want to have an afternoon nap. I find that when this happens it's good to have some quiet time anyway so that their schedule doesn't get all messed up.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:35 PM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: Got back from our NM trip:

The weather in New Mexico was great; it was hot in the afternoons in Alb and Taos, but not specially bad. The altitudes didn't seem to have any impact on our son, but my wife did feel dizzy/lightheaded from time to time in Santa Fe and (less so actually) in Taos. We consumed enormous quantities on water.

We stayed in Las Palomas in Santa Fe; loved it.

We had to drop the "enchanted circle drive" idea; on closer examination, it would have been too much for the kid. But the drive to Taos was great - we ended up spending 2 days in Taos ....over all we had a great time in New Mexico.

Thanks to every one for your suggestions.
posted by justlooking at 10:00 AM on August 15, 2010

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