If you are like me the first thing you did when you saw the title of this blog post was say, "Wait. where is Ruidoso, New Mexico?" I think I spent an entire two weeks before our trip Googling everything I could find about Ruidoso because I had never heard of it and didn't want to miss anything! Ruidoso is in the Sierra Blanca Mountain range in New Mexico — and it is exactly as beautiful as it sounds. With hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, skiing in the winter, and really interesting historical sites, there was no way we would run out of things to do. The easiest way to get to Ruidoso is to fly in to one of the closest airports. For us, it was Albuquerque, though El Paso, Texas is another one that isn't far away. It was about a 55-minute direct flight from Denver and then a three-hour drive to Ruidoso, which is southeast of Albuquerque.
The one... okay, actually, two things I will say about the drive is DO stop in Albuquerque for coffee or tea and snacks because there is really nothing until you hit Ruidoso — except for really interesting scenery. This leads us to the second thing: We drove through the Valley of Fire Recreation Area on our way, and oh, my gosh, it was so interesting. You can see twisted basalt lava from the road, which I had never seen before and thought was just completely fascinating. Enough about the drive. Let’s talk about everything you need to know about going to Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Where to Stay:
There are hotels, BUT I would recommend booking a cabin rental. We stayed in the most adorable cabin through Hummingbird Cabin Rentals and I think that is seriously the best way to go. The cabin was back in the woods nestled between other really adorable cabins and Aframes, making for just was the perfect getaway spot. Our cabin had two bedrooms and a beautiful deck that wrapped around most of the cabin and gave us such a beautiful view. The girls could scream and giggle and run around without bothering anyone, and we had some really awesome deer for neighbors who regularly stopped by and basically just made the whole stay so magical. Oh, and it had a kitchen so if you didn't want to eat out you could totally cook in and just relax. The second night we went on a walk down the road near our cabin. With all the other cabins lit up and the stars so bright, it was so quiet and peaceful and just perfect.
Where to Eat-
Sacred Grounds Coffee & Tea House: The first morning we were in Ruidoso, we planned on stopping at Sacred Grounds for breakfast because they actually have a full breakfast menu that looks amazing, but I didn't get moving as fast as I should have and we were running late. While we did stop, it was only for coffee and scones (which were amazing). Ben got coffee, I got green tea and kombucha which was really good, and Jessamyn got a white chocolate raspberry scone which I might still be craving it was so good. Even if you only have time for a quick coffee stop, this is your place.
Cornerstone Bakery & Cafe: This is where we ate the second morning and it was also amazing. Sorry, I know that is all I have to say, but, I mean, when something is genuinely good... amazing really is the best way to describe it.). Cornerstone Bakery has some of the best pancakes I have ever had — fluffy and delicious and just, yeah, heaven. Also, their eggs were really good and the environment was super kid friendly. They even brought out dough and cookie cutters for Jessamyn to play with while we waited for our meal.
Burger Trolley: On the first day we stopped here for burgers and wished we had time to stay and play. Not only do they serve burgers, but they also have pony rides, a playground across the street, and a path that follows the stream. It was so cute. There were kids running around everywhere and, again, the burgers were good. A quick note on that: We got ours with green chili on them and I nearly died. I thought I could handle spice, but these were maybe a bit above my spice level. Order the green chili with caution!
The Village Buttery: I have to confess we didn't actually eat here, and I am so brokenhearted about that. We tried and the day we went they were closed. As we were walking around town, everyone recommended this spot for lunch and, after looking at the reviews online, this is the place to go! Make sure they are actually open when you try to go (be smarter than us and check their hours online) and then tell me how it was because I seriously want to try this place!!!
Hunt & Harvest: If you eat at one place on your trip, eat here. I am not joking this may be the best food I have ever had in my life. The owner is amazing, passionate, driven, and doing such amazing things, and the overall vibe of this place is just good. I was a little nervous that it wouldn't be kid friendly while looking online but I was totally wrong. Hunt & Harvest has an atmosphere that is so warm and inviting. When we went, there was live music, kids playing, and just really good energy. The food was like out of one of those travel cooking shows — every bite was so good and I don't think you could go wrong no matter what you order. The drinks... I need to take a moment for those. The wine cocktails were so unique and inventive. Ben got something that had blueberry and cilantro (and I can't even remember what else) that was such a good drink. Oh! Underneath Hunt & Harvest is The Hidden Tap, which is a much more bar-like atmosphere (still super kid friendly and fun). They share the same kitchen and have some amazing New Mexico beers if that is more your style.
Cafe Rio: We actually tried to go here twice but the first time it was packed so we decided to go somewhere else because we were in a hurry BUT came back the next day. This place was recommended to us by multiple people for good pizza and they were not wrong. It is cash only so do keep that in mind. Seriously though, if you are a fan of pizza, definitely go check this Cafe Rio out.
What to do:
- Hiking: That first night we drove out into the national forest to Monjeau Lookout and went on a little hike. This spot might be my new favorite ever, which is saying something. There were wild flowers, fog covering the mountains, and the most beautiful trees sticking up between the flowers and the fog. This wasn't a hard drive (we didn't have a 4-wheel drive car) and was a pretty easy hike, so I would definitely say you could do it with kids! Another option would be hiking around Grindstone Lake, which was a fairly easy trail that had good views and wouldn't be hard to do with kids either.
-Canoeing: This was so fun to do with the girls. If you have never been canoeing (or even if you have), you need to go to Grindstone Lake and canoe through Backcountry Attitudes. While they offer other rentals besides canoes, this was such a relaxing and beautiful activity. The girls saw deer and birds, there were people out on a trail ride... it was just really fun and really beautiful and totally worth it.
- Wine Tasting: Put this at the top of your list because Noisy Water Winery is amazing and totally worth the visit. If you are worried about visiting a winery with kids... don't be! They had juice tasting. Yes, Jessamyn was swirling and tasting right alongside us and it was so much fun. Noisy Water Winery has a tasting room downtown as well as an actual venue space where they host parties and weddings. It was truly beautiful. While we were there, they were talking about an upcoming Halloween party that sounds amazing, so if you are looking for an excuse to go to Ruidoso... umm October would be a beautiful time (and that party sounds really good). ALSO I learned I like red wine! I didn't think I did, but after tasting a few at Noisy Water Winery, I am officially converted to drinking not just white wine.
- Visit a historical site: We went to the Lincoln Historical Site and it was so interesting. You can take a walking tour and actually go into some of the buildings as you learn about the history of Lincoln and the surrounding areas. One thing I would mention is Jessamyn really had a hard time with it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this if you have a spirited three-year-old who won’t stand still for a tour or may talk over the tour guide every chance she gets. However, I would recommend it to other families because it was so interesting, and it was really cool to see the buildings and culture so well preserved.
A few Thoughts: I have never felt the need to randomly put a few thoughts in about a town we have visited but Ruidoso is different. The whole weekend we were blown away by the spirit of the town. If you go talk to the shop owners, learn their stories, spend a moment hearing their passion and drive. This town is different, we left feeling driven and with a passion to pursue our own goals and I think that is because there is a contagious atmosphere in this town that you can't help but pick up on. A lot of times I look back on a trip and remember an activity or restaurant but I think I will look back at Ruidoso and remember the people and how much the love their town and how dedicated they are to creating an place worth living in and visiting.
Okay so that was our trip/a guide if you want to go yourself! We fell in love with Ruidoso and will be headed back! If you have any questions, thoughts, or recommendations for things we should have done in RUidoso please please please leave them below!