Editor’s note: Hopefully you’ve all read Tamara’s full story about her family trip to Las Cruces, New Mexico as a guest of Visit Las Cruces. If not, it links below. When she and I were talking about angles on stories to write from the adventure, we thought it would be fun and meaningful for you all to hear directly from her family, including her three young sons. So here that is, and it is a joy to read the genuine expressions of bliss that accompany children having such incredible experiences. For more of Tamara’s writing, please click here to visit her index page.
Family travel can be challenging at times. When planning activities, as the adult, you cannot pack too much into one day, even though there may be several activities you want to do in one area. We recently visited Las Cruces as a family. (You can read the full details of our trip here.) My children are young, ranging from eight years to two years. While my two-year-old does not take a nap regularly anymore, we still have to make sure to plan substantial lunch and snack breaks and to choose activities that are appropriate for them. Luckily, Las Cruces, New Mexico has great options for families traveling with children.
We had the opportunity to see and experience a variety of museums, historical areas, and nature in and around the city. I worked with the team at Visit Las Cruces to develop an itinerary that would be interesting for my children, my husband (who, let’s face it, has different interests than my kids when it comes to a vacation), and myself. With so many different needs and desires, we all had a great time and look forward to visiting again.
While my last article described the trip from my perspective, nothing beats hearing directly from my three children. After all, my own opinions on whether or not they had fun are only part of the story, and if you are trying to decide if Las Cruces is the right destination for your family, hearing directly from the source means more. So here they are, ages eight, six, and two, all boys. (And my husband, as well, since he didn’t want to be left out.)
My oldest son likes hiking and nature. Accordingly, when I asked him what his favorite thing was that we did on our trip, he emphatically said, “White Sands! First, we got to bring some sand home in our shoes. Second, I liked sliding down the sand dunes.” While visiting White Sands, we learned about the geological history and how the gypsum sand dunes came about. He even recalled, “Did you know that the white sand does not absorb heat?” Of course he had tons of fun sledding down the dunes with his brothers. He also said, “I liked Dripping Springs and our other hikes. I liked seeing the different bushes and plants.” Each hiking location had its own notable native plant and animal life to see, which he thoroughly enjoyed. As he reflected on our trip, he even noted, “We learned a lot. It was like a school field trip except funner!” But this boy is not all about learning; he also like to relax and have fun. He commented on how much he liked the Rad Retrocade, walking around the Farmer’s Market, and swimming at the hotel. He finished off by saying, “We got to play Nintendo Switch at the Rabbi’s house. We got to make friends with the family at Chabad. That was a lot of fun.”
My middle son can be more of a challenge on trips. He does not like hiking, or at least that is what he will tell you. You just have to find the right kind of place to go. When I asked him what he liked about our trip, he said, “White Sands was my favorite thing. Actually, the axolotls (an amphibian). I just love them, and now I know what axolotls look like.” The Nature and Science Museum in downtown Las Cruces had desert turtles, frogs, spiders, and of course, axolotls on exhibit in addition to other interactive exhibits on the natural history of the area. He even asked to go back to the museum again a different day. He commented that he didn’t like the Farmer’s Market on Sunday because “there were a lot of dogs but I couldn’t hold any of them and I just wanted to hold one.” Regardless, he definitely loved the big bag of cinnamon popcorn we got. The Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum gave us the opportunity to see cows, sheep, rams, and a lonely donkey. He commented, “But they (the workers) were nice and put him close to another pen, so he had friends.” My animal loving child still had a great time hiking and sledding at White Sands. He was so proud of himself that he went sledding “down one of the steepest parts and flipped over.” All in all, this was a memorable trip for him and he had fun.
My youngest son is happy to travel as a family. Although he was disappointed we did not go to the airport and fly on a plane, he was still happy to see and experience all that we did in Las Cruces. As we looked through pictures of our trip, he had a lot to say. In true two-year-old fashion, he saw the Recycled Roadrunner and said, “Hey that’s big like me! I’m taller” (okay, he is not really taller, but you probably knew that). He remembered all the animals he saw, and pointed out “I go in the kids’ room and I drive the tractor” at the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. Regarding Mesilla Bosque State Park, he pointed out, “I’m wearing my jacket. It’s windy outside,” which it was. He exclaimed excitedly about our hike on the La Cueva trail at Dripping Springs, “I hike with mommy. We go in there!” After our trip concluded, he told me, “I want to go to White Sands again. I want to lay in the sand. I will slide down the mountain again. White Sands is my favorite.” For him, the whole trip was exciting, and each place we visited had great child-oriented activities.
My husband is the kind of guy who likes to try local cuisine and relax. Of course, he is interested in the history and culture that new places offer as well. My husband, while respecting that our family as a whole keeps strictly kosher (Jewish dietary laws), does not always do so himself. He had the unique opportunity to experience a local eatery, Tacos & Shell-ah’s. He describes this local gem as having the best Mexican food he has had, but aside from the food, the ambiance enhanced his experience. He said, “I enjoyed the in-house art and the many different types of people eating here. It’s always a joy to see folks of all sorts enjoying food together.” He tried a variety of foods and drinks while he relaxed in the restaurant. He said, “I recommend the Agua Fresca. This unique drink is delicious and thirst quenching, made with lemonade, unsweet jicama, and horchata. The fried calamari is fresh, spicy, and delicious, making a perfect side dish. Then comes the main event. Shell-ah’s fish tacos are to die for. The many fresh local ingredients and supple crispy fish create a masterpiece. The whole experience is a Southwestern symphony of wonderful flavors.”
Despite all our different needs for traveling, we all found activities we enjoyed. Whether it was exploring the natural beauty of Las Cruces or kicking back with a good book and soda at the hotel’s heated pool, we all had fun. As we packed up our belonging to return home to Arizona, we all agreed that we want to visit Las Cruces again.
Note: a huge thank you to Visit Las Cruces for arranging our itinerary, and hosting this incredible experience for my entire family.
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