Family activities that are easy on the wallet
By Deborah Busemeyer
Summertime in Santa Fe means tons of extra activities, but the cost of day camps, matinee movies and endless ice cream cones can add up. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend big bucks to have fun with your family.
My kids think it’s an adventure to ride the city bus, which operates 10 routes that travel major arteries like Cerrillos Road, Agua Fría Street, Rodeo Road and Airport Road. The ride is free for children through age 18, and it costs $1 for adults. You can ride to Santa Fe Place (the mall on the Southside), Museum Hill or downtown. We like to hop the bus on Agua Fría and ride to the stop downtown, about two blocks from the Plaza.
I bring sandwiches that we eat on the Plaza, or we get Frito pies and hot dogs from the Five and Dime, definitely the cheapest fare in the area. On some summer days, we dance and listen to music at the Santa Fe Bandstand, which has a regular schedule of performances at noon and 6 p.m. The season begins on July 5 and runs through Aug. 26.
When the weather is calling for an outdoor day, take advantage of one of the city’s 25 parks. Within walking distance of downtown is Fort Marcy Complex and Park (490 Bishops Lodge Road). A paved path loops the playground so kids can bike or scoot in addition to swinging and climbing on the play structures. Covered picnic tables offer shade from the heat, and you can drop into the recreation center if you need a restroom. On the other side of town, the city’s new Southside complex is fun to explore (Jaguar Road and N.M. 599), with sports fields for ball play or running as well as unusual playground features like a giant swing that can hold a few kids.
The Randall Davey Audubon Center is another fun, free place to explore and play with your kids. You can walk the half-mile loop, go farther into the woods or just frolic on the front lawn (one of the best in Santa Fe) watching hummingbirds zip by and checking out signs that identify the center’s flowers and plants. We like to walk the loop and finish with snacks or lunch in the grass.
When you feel like having dinner outside, St. John’s College provides free music from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, weather permitting. (Check St. John’s website for up-to-date information on performances.) Our kids love looking for old friends and making new ones as the adults listen to the featured band of the week. Music on the Hill provides shuttles from Museum Hill, or you can park at Santa Fe Prep, but those lots fill up quickly. Bring blankets, water and food. Food is also available for purchase.
When you need to work or take a break from the kids, the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe School District offer low-cost programs that keep your kids busy and entertained.
Each year the city provides an eight-week Summer Youth Program from June 6 to July 28 for children age 6 to 12 and teens 13 to 18. This program runs 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and serves breakfast and lunch. The cost is based on a sliding-fee scale ranging from $80 to $240 for the entire session, depending on your annual household income.
Registration for kids is 8 a.m. May 14 at the Southside Library, Mary Esther Gonzales Senior Center (1121 Alto St.) and Genoveva Chavez Center (3221 Rodeo Road). Registration for teens starts at 7:30 a.m. May 17 at the Carlos Ortega Teen Center, 737 Agua Fría St. Get there early; registration is limited and on a first come, first served basis.
Santa Fe Public Schools offers free, regular classes through its summer school program. Summer enrichment programs, including music and art, digital design, history and a Native American Enrichment Program, are scheduled throughout the summer, so students in grades 1 through 12 can take more than one. The programs are affordable. Check with your school or the district’s website for more information.
For families that need full-time child care, a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club enables students to participate in school programs part time and Boys & Girls Club activities part time.
Bus routes: http://www.santafenm.gov/route_maps_and_schedules Santa Fe Bandstand: http://santafebandstand.org/ St. Johns College Music on the Hill: http://www.sjc.edu/programs-andevents/santa-fe/music-hill-2015/, 1160 Camino Cruz Blanca Santa Fe Parks: www.santafenm.gov/parks Randall Davey Audubon Center: (hiking trails and picnic area) 505-9834609 or http://nm.audubon.org/randall-davey-audubon-center-sanctuary, 1800 Upper Canyon Road Santa Fe Public Schools summer programs: http://www.sfps.info/