If you grew up in Albuquerque, I imagine you took a school field trip to El Rancho de Las Golondrinas in fifth grade. But for those of us who are transplants, a trip to Las Golondrinas is well worth the 45-minute drive up Interstate 25. If the last time you visited included a ride on a school bus and brown bag lunch complete with smashed PB&J, you could stand to take a second look yourself. This time you can bring your own kids with you.
El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, or The Ranch of the Swallows, is a historic ranch dating from the 1700s. It now serves as a living history museum complete with authentically costumed villagers showing life on the frontier in early New Mexico.
Many festivals occur on the ranch during the summer, fall, and spring. But any day could prove to be a fun outing for you and your children.
My kids and I happened to visit on a weekday, and we completely avoided the crowds. We practically had the place to ourselves. That guaranteed my boys front row viewing to their favorite spot: the blacksmith shop. There they watched as the blacksmith heated, pounded, and cooled metal into horseshoes and other items for use on the ranch.
Other favorite spots included the sheep pen. We watched a sheep get shorn. Then we saw ladies washing and dying the wool to prepare it for weaving. The weavers created beautiful art and were more than happy to demonstrate their craft to visitors.
We also helped prepare bread to cook in an adobe oven. Most importantly, we got to sample the bread after it was baked. Another favorite for little ones is the one-room schoolhouse located on the property.
Fans of American Girl dolls will be happy to know that El Rancho de Las Golondrinas inspired the writers of the Josefina books. Josefina’s story takes place on this ranch. The ranch even offers special Josefina tours for an additional fee.
After our day bounding through restored adobe buildings, we picnicked under the cottonwoods. Putting our feet in the creek that runs through the ranch was a refreshing treat for little piggy toes. For my family, the whole day was a nice change from our normal zoo or park outings. And hey, maybe somebody learned something along the way.
Interested in exploring New Mexico even further? Check out our Guide to New Mexico Travel.