Best of Santa Fe

Best of Santa Fe 2023 - Kids

Schools, summer programs, fitness and more for children and young people

Best Children’s Store

1. Doodlet’s

Clearly a favorite amongst readers, Doodlet’s has been crushing it since 1955. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this quirky downtown shop once again took first place. Its large collection of toys and books make it a great reprieve for weary youngsters who have been dragged around the Plaza. If you’re looking for fresh copies of Everybody Poops or The Gas We Pass for your favorite whippersnapper, Doodlet’s has you covered.

120 Don Gaspar Ave., (505) 983-3771

2. Indigo Baby

Parents know the trouble with buying clothes for the little ones online. Does it fit? Will it withstand the rough-and-tumble play? That’s where Indigo Baby comes in. The store makes a point of offering comfortable kid digs that look good and last.

185 Paseo de Peralta, (505) 954-4000

3. Moon Rabbit Toys

Don’t sleep on this one, tucked away in the Plaza Mercado. There’s plenty of fun for kids of all ages (or kids at heart) for endless play with the slew of toys and games Moon Rabbit has on hand.

112 W. San Francisco St., #202, (505) 982-9373

Best Elementary School

1. Wood Gormley

One of six public elementary schools in the downtown area, Wood Gormley offers a whole bunch of afterschool clubs for tykes. Family involvement is another selling point, which school administration credits to the 2017 Blue Ribbon School award Wood Gormley won. Besides basketball, swimming and cheer programs, the school also boasts an outdoor garden to help young ones learn about environmental science and the world around them.

141 E. Booth St., (505) 467-4800

2. Piñon Elementary

All of Santa Fe’s elementary schools should take a bow, but this Southside school offers a whole slew of activities to keep kids engaged and excited to learn, including a long list of after-school programs such as robotics and book clubs.

2921 Camino de Los Caballos, (505) 467-1600

3. Santa Fe School for Arts & Sciences

Small classes and curriculum aimed at creating a cooperative learning environment, with a focus on individual strengths and weaknesses, are just two reasons readers like this school. Kids who go here really know what it means to be part of a community.

5912 Jaguar Drive, (505) 438-8585

Best High School

1. Santa Fe High School

The oldest public high school in the City Different, Santa Fe High offers culinary arts and a hospitality learning academy, which seems fitting for the city. Students can also take classes in the engineering and computer science or arts and humanities academy, not to mention the long list of after-school activities. Santa Fe High counts at least two former mayors and current City Manager John Blair as some of its notable alumni.

2100 Yucca St., (505) 467-2400

2. Academy for Technology and the Classics

One of the early charter schools in Santa Fe, the academy is all about college prep. The school’s hands-on approach aims to create bonds between students and faculty, with everyone eating lunch together in their classrooms.

74 A Van Nu Po, (505) 473-4282

3. St. Michael’s High School

Established more than a century ago, the private Catholic school boasts Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as one of its grads. The school’s mission is to teach students “in the spirit of faith and academic excellence.”

100 Siringo Road, (505) 983-7353

Best Kid’s Clothing

1. Double Take

Let’s face it: Baby and kid gear gets expensive. Luckily, Santa Fe parents have Double Take as an option for good-quality second-hand clothes for both the kiddos and expecting parents. The downtown consignment store makes a great addition to your weekend shopping trip. The double benefit (pun intended) of the consignment store is that they’ll help you sell those maternity clothes in decent condition when you don’t need , them anymore.

320 Aztec St., (505) 989-8886

2. Indigo Baby

Considering readers choose Indigo Baby for all-around kids’ stuff, it shouldn’t come as a surprise folks love it for its clothes offerings. Find organic cottons and other intentional choices with art and comfort in mind.

185 Paseo de Peralta, (505) 954-4000

3. Merry Go Round

This shop right near the Plaza is filled to the brim with cute, Santa Fe-centric shirts that are perfect gifts for the tots close to your heart, but miles away. The store also stocks plenty of just flat-out stylish threads for the little ones.

150 Washington Ave., #104, (505) 988-5422

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

1. Cowgirl BBQ

It’s no wonder this downtown landmark has repeatedly emerged as a reader favorite. The outdoor seating alone makes this a great spot for mess-prone munchkins, but there’s also a cool little designated play area for fidgety small fries. The kids’ menu has offerings to fill the tummies of picky eaters (chicken tenders, corndogs and burgers) and those with more refined palates (salmon strips, brisket and BBQ ribs).

319 S. Guadalupe St., (505) 982-2565

2. Pantry Dos

Carrying on the legacy of the original Pantry, the owners of Pantry Dos plopped the new location close enough to the Genoveva Chavez Community Center to serve as a great stop after a hard swim or a day of ice skating.

20 White Feather, (505) 365-2859

3. Plaza Cafe Southside

If your little ones are ready to eat like humans, try this Southside spot. They’ve got a menu board with some basic rules for being in public, so you can point to it, shrug your shoulders and tell the kids, “Them’s the rules.”

3466 Zafarano Drive, (505) 424-0755

Best Kid’s Dental Practice

1. Dentistry for Kids

Even adults can dread going to the dentist. But Dentistry for Kids has things down to a science. The arcade games and general kid aesthetic make this place more fun and less scary for the littles. Plus, why not start things off right when it comes to dental health so they don’t become a nervous ball of energy when you mention the dentist?

1439 S. St. Francis Drive, 6640 Cerrillos Rd., Ste. E, (505) 473-5437

2. Just for Grins

The aesthetic of this Midtown office is just right for kids. Docs here offer dental care with little stress or anxiety. “The kids are spoken to directly whenever possible and their comfort is always checked on,” one online reviewer writes.

490B W. Zia Road, (505) 428-7878

3. Adventure Dental

These folks know what it takes to put kids at ease before they’re ready for a check-up. Adventure is not just in the name, but also how they do things. The office even has a list of adventure-themed code words for the usually scary stuff.

2027 Cerrillos Road, (505) 930-7948

Best Middle School

1. Santa Fe School for Arts & Sciences

The School for the Arts & Sciences homes in on the idea that “12-14 year olds are at a pivotal stage,” and the curriculum aims to foster students’ curiosity of the world around them. After-school programs offer activities like tabletop role-playing games (attention: bards, clerics and rangers), live action role playing, chess and art—making that often awkward part of life that much easier.

5912 Jaguar Drive, (505) 438-8585

2. Academy for Technology and the Classics

As we mentioned earlier, the academy focuses on college prep for high schoolers. Those high academic standards are the same for their middle schoolers. Whereas the older kids are required to take advanced placement classes, the pre-teens are expected to take pre-AP classes.

74 A Van Nu Po, (505) 473-4282

3. Turquoise Trail Charter School

This off-the-beaten-path school boasts smaller class sizes and student-led initiatives. Turquoise Trail decided to keep virtual schooling an option after COVID rocked the worlds of, well, everyone, but especially students.

13A San Marcos Loop, (505) 986-4000

Best Nonprofit for Youth

1. Santa Fe Children’s Museum

You better pack a lunch if you’re taking the munchkins here—they’ll want to stay all day. Find masterfully curated exhibits that will interest kids of all ages (and probably their chaperones, too). Check out the water play section, where kids will unwittingly learn while also having a blast. The teensiest of the brood can have a go at the toddler area, while the creative of the group creates a masterpiece with Lego blocks.

1050 Old Pecos Trail, (505) 989-8359

2. Girls Inc.

Who runs the world? This local branch of the national organization has been focused on mentoring young girls in the Santa Fe area since 1956. Its goal is to help them grow into strong, smart and bold individuals.

301 Hillside Ave., (505) 982-2042

3. YouthWorks

YouthWorks helps hundreds of disadvantaged youth succeed, from improved grades at school to job training. The organization’s programs include learning about sustainable agriculture, community stewardship and paths to vocational trades. They’ve even got a teen-staffed food truck!

1505 Llano St., (505) 989-1855

Best Orthodontic Practice

1. Dentistry for Kids

Those of us with kids who need braces know the level of stress that brings the whole family. The folks at Dentistry for Kids know the importance of nipping these things in the bud. They focus on ages under 16 so problems get better before they get worse. Because major dental work can get costly, Dentistry for Kids also offers financing and accepts major insurance. Did we mention the arcade games?

1439 S. St Francis Drive, 6640 Cerrillos Rd., Ste. E, (505) 473-5437

2. Darmitzel Orthodontics

Dr. Stephen Darmitzel’s centrally located practice has been around since 2013. The website has everything you need to ramp up to your first visit, including before-and-after pictures.

125A Siringo Road, (505) 982-6656

3. SUCCESS Smiles

Based in Albuquerque, Dr. Lilly Padilla’s SUCCESS also has a location off St. Michael’s Drive. She knows about dental visit anxiety from a bad experience as a child and now strives to put her young patients at ease.

400 Kiva Court, Ste. A, (505) 569-6639

Best Pediatric Practice

1. CHRISTUS St. Vincent

The extensive services at this Santa Fe mainstay are pretty well known. Its website makes for easy connection with the general practitioner or specialist you need. Pros offer well-rounded services for anxiety treatment, which seems especially important after the past few years. Their goal is to create a trusting relationship with their patients and patients’ parents. Parents trust one of the city’s biggest health care names with their smallest children.

5501 Herrera Drive, (505) 946-3233, 465 St. Michael’s Drive, Ste. 200, (505) 913-4901, 2590 Camino Entrada, (505) 946-3233

2. Presbyterian Health Services

Presbyterian’s growing presence in Santa Fe is particularly noticeable on the Southside, where its pediatric care center treats both physical and behavioral symptoms. The primary care physicians at Presbyterian offer wellness checks, as well as physicals required for school and sports.

4801 Beckner Road, Ste. 1600, (505) 772-2000

3. Southwest Care

Started almost 30 years ago as a treatment center for HIV/AIDS, Southwest Care has since expanded its services. A small, bilingual team takes a “whole-person approach” to make sure everyone gets the specific care they need.

901 W. Alameda St., (505) 955-9454

Best Preschool

1. Garcia Street Club

Garcia Street Club, near downtown, boasts that it’s the oldest one of its kind in Santa Fe—and it’s been in the same location for 75 years. The school uses play-based learning to prepare for elementary school. Its philosophy that a child’s environment is a “third teacher” means the kids get outside and get dirty whenever they have a chance. Those outside trips sometimes also include exploring the neighborhood and nearby acequias.

569 Garcia St., (505) 983-9512

2. Santa Fe School for Arts & Sciences

Readers seem to like the School for the Arts & Sciences’ elementary and middle school programs, so it makes sense the preschool gets high marks too. Teachers use a curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia approach, which focuses on student-led learning and building relationships.

5912 Jaguar Drive, (505) 438-8585

3. Nye Early Childhood Center

As part of the Santa Fe Public School system, Nye focuses on preparing kids for elementary school and makes special education a priority. The school strives to make sure kids of all learning abilities are on equal footing when they start kindergarten.

3160 Agua Fría St., (505) 467-4600

Best Summer Program for Youth

1. Reunity Resources

This community farm offers ample learning opportunities for grown-ups but also starts ‘em young over there. Kids who participate in Reunity’s Farm Camp get some true hands-on experience with sustainable farming. The kiddos have a chance to learn about pollination, fermentation and composting through their daily activities. Older kids can take part in counselor training too. The camp also offers scholarships for families that need them.

1829 San Ysidro Crossing, (505) 393-1196

2. Santa Fe School for Arts & Sciences

For those keeping score: Santa Feans like the School for the Arts & Sciences preschool, elementary and middle school programs. Rounding out the list are the school’s summer programs.

5912 Jaguar Drive, (505) 438-8585

3. Candyman Strings & Things

Sure, Candyman Strings & Things has private and group music lessons. But the store also has a bunch of other activities to keep young minds active. How about the free, all-ages continuous drum circle each day in the summer? Where was that when we were kids?

851 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 983-5906

Best Youth Arts Program

1. NDI - New Mexico

We challenge readers to name anything that’s more wholesome than kids truly dancing like no one’s watching. The overused cliche aside, NDI offers dance programs for ages 3-18. NDI also reaches kids in schools to do what would enrage that town in Footloose—get kids dancing. Summer break is nearly over at this point, but keep NDI’s summer classes in mind for next year.

1140 Alto St., (505) 983-7646

2. Wise Fool New Mexico

Were we the only ones who dreamed of running away and joining the circus as children? You don’t have to worry about Wise Fool pulling up stakes with your , kids in tow, but the littles will probably come away with some pretty wicked circus skills.

1131 Siler Road, Ste. B, (505) 992-2588

3. Santa Fe Youth Symphony

The youth symphony actually offers so much more than classical music. Think mariachi and jazz programs and more. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere, so the youth symphony also offers classes for beginners in 4th grade and up.

422 Medico Lane, (505) 672-5565

Best Youth Fitness Program

1. NDI - New Mexico

Work hard, do your best, never give up and be healthy. Those philosophies from the National Dance Institute of New Mexico would serve everyone well. You have to be in decent shape to get your groove on, after all. The institute’s HIP to be Fit program is part of all dance classes as a way to improve stamina and thus improve performances. The organization also helps train classroom teachers to encourage movement in their daily lessons.

1140 Alto St., (505) 983-7646

2. Santa Fe Climbing Center

Many parents know what it’s like when it seems like their antsy kids are climbing up the walls. The Santa Fe Climbing Center encourages kids to climb walls through its after-school and summer programs. Experienced climbers can also join the competitive youth team.

3008 Cielo Court, (505) 986-8944

3. Wise Fool New Mexico

It makes sense that fitness is an important part of circus arts. Classes offer fitness for those kids who might not be as keen on competitive sports.

1131 Siler Road, Suite B, (505) 992-2588

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