Fall Break Road Trip To Santa Fe and Bandalier National Monument

by Jenna Lee

Fall Break in Santa Fe

Every year for Fall Break, we pick somewhere to go as a family. Last year we went to the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg and the year before that was Breckenridge. This year we decided to road trip to spend fall break in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Read more about Breckenridge and Oktoberfest 2017!

First Stop: Amarillo

Instead of leaving Thursday and arriving late afternoon, we decided to leave Wednesday and stay overnight in Amarillo. What better way to have a little road trip fun that to eat at The Big Texan?

Fall Break Big Texan


You couldn’t miss this old Route 66 joint if you tried. Billboards start hundreds of miles out and even if you weren’t paying attention, these ole’ boys are a solid reason to stop! I’m pretty sure the kids thought we were pulling into some kind of amusement park. I was just excited that the whole car was in agreement on where to eat for dinner. I know all you moms out there can here me. Holla!

Big Texan

I have to give The Big Texan their credit. All of our meals were really good! In fact, if I find myself in Amarillo around dinner again, I will totally go back and order one of their Chicken Fried Steaks. Big Sis ordered one and I tried a bite… Oh man! Let’s just say it disappeared before I could even think about asking for a second bite. I had a darn good ribeye though (The Duke’s Cut!) so it’s not like I left hungry!

On The Road Again

I just can’t wait to be on the… ok, sorry. I got a little carried away. It is looking like we might become the next family in a sequel for The Hills Have Eyes and listening to me sing Willy Nelson isn’t how anybody needs to go out.

On the way up, we decided to take the route up through Las Vegas and Pecos. Let me tell you about what is between Tucumcari and Las Vegas. Nothing. There is nothing. I swear, the only life form we saw in that two hour stretch were two tarantulas crossing the deserted highway. We passed maybe two or three cars coming from the other direction. Aside from that, nada. Of course there was no cell service either. Seriously, if we had broken down, we might still be there.

Santa Fe!

Finally, we made it! We rented a little two bedroom casa situated off of Canyon Rd that was about a 15 minute walk from the plaza. We headed out pretty quickly. After about 4 hours in the car, it was definitely nice to be on our feet! One of our first stops in town was the Santa Fe Tourism Office. They kindly provided our family tickets to several museums in town to help us get the most out of our visit. All of us enjoy visiting museums and Santa Fe definitely has a lot to offer! We ended up visiting three museums around town over the weekend and the kids had fun learning a bit about New Mexico and Native heritage.

Santa Fe


Santa Fe


Santa Fe

We spent another good portion of our time around the Plaza. This is the main area in town and is both peaceful and busy. You can relax on a park bench and read a book or chat, but you can also walk in and out of all the local shops, visit some of the local artisans set up outside the Palace of the Governors. There are so many unique and beautiful things you can find in Santa Fe!

When you are worn out from shopping, you can grab a bite at one of the many popular eateries. New Mexican cooking is delicious and my personal favorite meal was at The Shed. Spicy, but SO good.

Fall Break Santa Fe

Pin Me!

Bandelier National Monument

Saturday was our last full day and we decided to drive out to Bandalier National Monument. You might recall my mentioning that we took a road trip to Gatlinburg last year. While there, we visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (BEAUTIFUL, by the way). That was the first time the kids had visited a National Park and they commemorated it by getting their first National Park Passport stamps. Since we were near (about 45 minutes away) another National Park, we obviously had to visit!

Order your own National Parks Passport here.

I hesitated on this because it is a little ways away from Santa Fe and we were only going to be in town for a couple of days. However, the kids really wanted to go and we were interested too so we decided to check it out. I am so glad we went! Let me tell you, this park was STUNNING, especially with the fall colors! The kids had a ton of fun climbing the ladders into the caves and my youngest decided to earn herself a Junior Ranger badge. Bandelier is definitely a “Must Do” whether you are visiting the area solo or as a family.

Viewing the Mountains...
Bandelier National Monument
They loved the caves!
She was so proud!!!

Choosing Your Fall Break Vacation

Deciding where to go in the fall can be challenging when there are so many amazing places to choose from. Where you head off to can also depend on whether or not you will have children coming along. For our family, Fall Break is opportunity to enjoy a few days with the kids in a place that isW just far enough away to relax and disconnect. We are fortunate enough to have kids that aren’t too hard to please and who enjoy the outdoors.

Santa Fe is a great choice for a quick Fall get-away whether you just want to hang out or if you want to get outdoors for some hiking or cycling. Shopping, museums and other family-friendly activities make it easy to take your kids to enjoy some pretty incredible scenery. It is also a fantastic place to go to spend a romantic weekend. There are some beautiful hotels and amazing restaurants to enjoy! Check out booking.com for some great deals on lodging.

Where is your favorite Fall destination?!

To read about more USA and International destinations that I have visited, click here.


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