The Inspiration: At Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, parents can indulge their kids’ curiosities at Santa Fe’s 70-room immersive art experience. Step into the refrigerator, duck under the mantel, slide into the washing machine, touch an art exhibit with your bare hands, and stare at every angle of yourself in wall-to-wall hexagonal mirrors. Plus: The installations are wondrous feats of art and engineering, tied together through a mysterious narrative.
Day 2: Spring makes a great time to take Sky Railway’s two-hour Santa Fe Scenic ride to Lamy, because it’s warm enough to enjoy the open-air flatbed car—the most popular spot for families. “Kids just want to stay out there and take in the views,” says Bryan Deutsch, Sky Railway director of onboard operations. “The engineer will give kids a full tour of the engine and let them sit in the conductor seat.”
Side Trip: Bask in the 95-degree pools of Spence Hot Springs in the Jemez Mountains.
The Inspiration: Depending on when the large colony of Brazilian free-tailed bats return to Carlsbad Caverns National Park from their southern migration, visitors can watch as the speedy fliers (some reach up to 99 mph) soar from the mouth of the park’s namesake cavern each evening to hunt.
Day 2: The New Mexico Museum of Space History, in Alamogordo, is your launchpad to rockets, astronauts, moon rocks, Star Trek, and more. (Shhh, that means video games!) “Spring break visitors are very interested in the films and live shows at our New Horizons Dome Theater and Planetarium,” says museum spokesperson Cathy Harper. The photo ops—think of your kiddos dressed as astronauts—alone are worth a visit.
Side Trip: Older kids can let their imaginations soar with virtual reality simulations at Spaceport Roswell, near the legendary UFO crash of 1947.
Bonus Points: Roswell’s International UFO Museum and flying saucer–shaped McDonald’s.
The Inspiration: In addition to sledding and climbing White Sands National Park’s gypsum dunes, families can join guided once-a-month full-moon hikes and ranger-led tours of the dry bed of Lake Lucero, where selenite crystals contribute to the dunes’ formation. Don’t miss the family-friendly Dune Life Nature Trail, where 14 interpretive signs teach you about the animals and plants living here.
Day 2: Even toddlers can go snow tubing at Ruidoso Winter Park, which offers gradually longer chutes for anyone at least three feet tall. “Tubing is a family activity that requires no special equipment or skills,” says owner Tom Dorgan. Want even bigger thrills? The park’s new, 5,100-foot-long Screaming Eagle Mountain Coaster is slated to open in March.
Side Trip: Hit the slopes of Ski Apache with lessons for beginners, or just take in the views with a scenic gondola ride.
Bonus Points: The 30-foot-tall pistachio marking McGinn’s PistachioLand, in Alamogordo.
The Inspiration: Ancestral Puebloans chose the landscape now called Chaco Culture National Historic Park as their society’s hub. Walk among the great houses—multistory stone structures oriented to take advantage of the sun’s power and to mark yearly astronomical events. In the spirit of the theory that Chaco Canyon drew people of all clans together, mingle with travelers from near and far.
Day 2: A textbook example of a melted cinder cone and a 12-foot wall of 3,400-year-old ice sit on the same property at the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, near El Malpais National Monument, which reopens March 1. “The ice formations are beautiful,” says Debbie Reinschmidt, the fifth-generation owner. Seventy-two steps lead to a platform over the ice floor. Another path takes hikers around and into the volcano, which is nearly 1,000 feet deep and 14 feet across.
Side Trip: Romp and play among the fascinating sandstone formations of the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, once an ancient inland sea.
Bonus Points: Book a 4x4 off-road excursion with Black Bear Unlimited, based in Farmington.
The Inspiration: Floating over the Río Grande del Norte National Monument at sunrise, your family will feel the pull of the Land of Enchantment even while defying gravity. “With mountains on either side, we have one of the most unique flights in the country,” says Rio Grande Balloons owner and pilot Sol Lothe.
Day 2: While the chairlifts might be crowded now, the trout streams are not. “In March, fishing gets good,” says Nick Streit, who owns Taos Fly Shop. “Our guides are well versed in teaching people how to fly-fish.”
Side Trip: Tackle the snowy terrain on a guided snowmobile tour by A.A. Taos Ski Valley Adventures.
Bonus Points: Get cozy by the built-in fireplaces at the Eis Haus Skating Rink at Taos Ski Valley.