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Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, is located along the Rio Grande in the state’s center. The high desert environment and the diverse, cosmopolitan city offer several fun things to do throughout the year.
A visit to Old Town Plaza, the most historic part of the city, or the defining eastern edge of Sandia Mountains, offers an inviting atmosphere and access to many cultural attractions and outdoor recreations.
Albuquerque was the filming location of the famous TV series Breaking Bad. You can take a tour to visit all the prominent filming locations. You can also attend several tourist-attracting events like the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, held in October for nine days.
Just as the city’s name is fun to say, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has just as many fun things to do. Discover the city’s highlights in this list of attractions and things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
1. Take a Ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway
The Sandia Mountains frame the city edge on the east rise to 10,378 feet above sea level. This rugged summit offers incredible views of the sprawling city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The tramway offers a 2.7-mile suspended cable ride for stunning city views. To add more adventure to the experience, take a 7.5-mile hike along the La Luz Trail to the top and take the tramway back down. Several other types of hiking trails allow you to experience extensive views along the way.
At the top is an observation deck to view the entirety of Albuquerque, which encompasses 11,000 square miles! It is also the best place to experience an enthralling sunset view.
In winter, this tramway takes you on an adventure of skiing.
2. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Attracting people from all over the world, this event takes place for nine days in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tens of thousands of people and hundreds of balloons flock to the city every year during the International Balloon Fiesta.
Ballon rides and many other events liven up the celebration. Colorful hot air balloons from all over the world can be seen here. You can view this event anywhere in the city or visit Balloon Fiesta Park for more events.
If you miss the week of the event, you can visit the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum for a great collection of exhibits and history.
It is open all year round with the permanent installation of a Balloon School, a Weather Lab, and a 4-D theater. The museum also offers varied activities for children focused on creativity and science.
3. ABQ BioPark
You can experience biodiversity from all across the world here. The Butterfly Pavillion and the Bosque Sunset Walks are some of the most attractive places to visit. The ABQ BioPark teaches you a lesson about the beauty of nature and the need for conservation.
3.1. Albuquerque Aquarium
You can find many species of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Pacific. The main attraction is the Jellies: Aliens of the Sea, which is a 285,000-gallon tank.
There are six different species of sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles, along with many brightly colored fish, to keep the children and adults entertained.
3.2. Rio Grande Zoo
Albuquerque Zoo, located in the south valley, includes several attractions in its 64-acre park. It is home to several exotic and endangered animals from all over the world.
There is a dedicated section for each continent and very detailed habitats. Check out ‘The Cat Walk’ to see big cats like African lions, mountain lions, leopards, and jaguars. There is also an island for the Caribbean flamingos and an exhibit for polar bears.
3.3. Rio Grande Botanical Garden
A one-and-a-half-mile pathway leads you through an exploration of different climates and plant species. A Mediterranean and Desert conservatory, a Japanese garden, and a 1920’s farm are fun to view.
There is also a butterfly pavilion with a wide selection of beautiful butterflies to view. There is also a restaurant on the site to enjoy.
3.4. Tingley beach
Initially known as Conservancy Beach, this is a series of ponds. Go fishing at this man-made construction. Fish you can catch include rainbow trout and catfish.
Back in the 1950s, this area was used for swimming. But now, swimming is closed off and is used mainly for fishing.
You can also rent a paddleboat or take a hike around Tingley Beach. There is also a local restaurant where you can enjoy delicious local cuisine.
4. Albuquerque’s Old Town
As the original Spanish settlement, Old Town has been shaped throughout history by Spanish and Mexican cultures and Native Americans. Albuquerque’s Old Town features older cottonwood trees, cobblestone streets, and adobe structures with a large plaza at its heart.
Several exciting attractions include art galleries, souvenir shops, museums, and restaurants. It is perfect for a long lunch and an afternoon stroll.
The large ancient Catholic Church, San Felipe de Neri Church, is an impressive religious artifact. The unique architecture of the Old Town is something to look forward to.
Take an in-depth look into Albuquerque, New Mexico’s past at this museum, which holds an extensive collection of cultural items.
You can explore the history of European settlements throughout the Southwest. The progress of centuries can be viewed at this museum. You can learn about how Albuquerque was built and continues to shine.
The museum hosts temporary exhibits and permanent displays like Spanish armor, Historic wood carvings, and arts like paintings, vintage photos, and classic fashion pieces.
6. Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
The mighty Rio Grande River offers astonishing views and invaluable nature around the place. You can also go camping on the grounds. For camping, you can also look in the southwest at Canyon Vista Campground in Arizona.
There are also outdoor exhibits like gardens, wetlands, ponds, and spots for bird watching along the Rio Grande Flyway. The park also has small hiking trails to explore the whole area.
7. Elena Gallegos Open Space
A 640-acre park, Elena Gallegos Open Space, is set at the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. This is the best place for hiking, biking, and equestrians. It is equipped with multi-use trails throughout the area. Some of these trails connect with the Cibola National Forest.
This park offers the best views of the majestic Sandia mountains. It also has several picnic areas at spots with splendid views. Elena Gallegos also provides one of the most stunning views of a pink sunset in all of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The immense variety of flora is also a must-watch, with soapweed, yucca, and Apache plume. You may also spot animals like coyotes and cougars. You can also enjoy activities like horseback riding, camping, and hiking.
7.1. 11 Years of Outdoor RV Adventures: Unique Insights on Albuquerque’s High Desert Appeal
As an RV living expert, Anthony Smith, the founder of RV Properly, who’s spent the last 11 years traversing the U.S., shares:
“I’ve enjoyed exploring Albuquerque’s high desert environment firsthand. Firstly, the majesty of the geological features at the Sandia Mountains is awe-inspiring.
Their presence shapes the landscape and fundamentally transforms an RV adventure.
As for the Elena Gallegos Open Space, [it] offers a unique palette of flora, which creates a vibrant, dynamic high desert environment that is hard to match anywhere else.
This array of plant life offers RVers a unique chance to connect with nature intensely personally.
Meanwhile, the Sandia Peak Tramway magnifies the recreational opportunities in Albuquerque, offering tourists breathtaking views and an unforgettable journey above the city.
Finally, sustainability is paramount. In my RV living experience, preserving natural beauty is a collective responsibility.
The efforts to sustain Albuquerque’s outdoor spaces reflect a deep-rooted respect for the environment, making it a prime destination for eco-conscious travelers.”
It hosts the area’s ancient geologic history near the Albuquerque Museum of Arts and History. This educational center provides several life-size dinosaur skeletons and models. It also allows a look inside the extracting dinosaur fossils.
Eight exhibits start at the beginning of time and end in the Ice Age. You can see the age of dinosaurs and the formation of volcanoes. A section is also dedicated to Microsoft, founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The facility has a Planetarium with a 55-foot high dome with regular shows. You can explore the world of space with two floors dedicated to astronomy and space exploration.
There are regular shows with classes and events for children and adults of all ages to learn more about the rich history of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The center is within walking distance from ABQ BioPark, and it is notable for its extensive collection of live rattlesnakes. Take an educational tour to learn more about these reptiles.
The museum has 34 different species of rattlesnakes from all around the world. It also hosts snake-related arts, photography, and other memorabilia.
You can also learn about various myths of rattlesnakes and view species from South, North, and Central America in recreated habitats.
If you are afraid of snakes, this museum offers a safe and controlled space to get acquainted with these creatures. It is an excellent education and an adventurous opportunity to learn more about the native animals of the American Southwest.
10. Explora: Science Center and Children’s Museum
Next to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, this museum is a unique place to discover many fun things in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Explora is designed around fun science and education activities.
Get hands-on experience learning science through an interactive variety of activities. It is a good science playground for both adults and children. You will be encouraged to explore anything, from creating model planes to making giant soap bubbles.
Explora also offers several camps, classes, and events to foster collaboration between scientific learners. There are 250 interactive exhibits in the museum with a broad range of subjects designed to teach children new things in a fun way.
11. KiMo Theater
It is one of the best architectural landmarks in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Built in 1927, this Art Deco style incorporated with Adobe architectural style is a beautiful structure with a creepy little history.
This Art Deco structure is haunted by a little boy named Bobby, who did not survive a basement boiler explosion in 1951. The theater fell into neglect in the 1970s and has barely survived demolition.
In 2000, the theater was renovated and reopened as one of the city’s premier venues. Watch a good movie or a live music concert at KiMo Theater.
You may also catch a classic film or an acclaimed musical act at this theater. You can also attend exciting conversations with great authors.
Located west of the city, this 7,236-acre national monument is home to ancient images etched on a volcanic rock by some of the continent’s earliest inhabitants.
Most images can be accessed with the numerous hiking trails running through the area. There are more than 15,000 prehistoric Native American and Hispanic Petroglyphs.
An image carved into a rock is termed a petroglyph. This area signifies the long history of human life extending through 12,000 years. A little over 5,000 feet of elevation is reached at its peak, and the atmosphere is generally mild throughout most of the year, except for a few summer months that can be hot and dry.
The Boca Negra Canyon day-use area hosts restroom facilities and drinking water access. It also has three guided trails to explore over 100 petroglyphs. The visitor center offers interactive exhibits with a wide range of educational programs.
13. Cliff’s Amusement Park
A visit to Cliff’s Amusement Park is fun for all ages. The park has 23 rides, including thrill, family, and children’s rides.
The New Mexico Rattler is the most famous ride, and it has been named one of the top 25 roller coasters in the world. You can also enjoy fun activities in the water with the whole family at Cliff’s Watermania.
The Demolition Disco and Cliff Hanger Freefall are rides you must check out. Enjoy the resoundingly endorsed fun of the Cliff’s Amusement Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
14. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
While dozens of Pueblo disappeared with the entry of the Spanish, you can still find traces in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Located on the north side of Old Town, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center celebrates Pueblo culture.
Enjoy Native American groups‘ traditional dance performances, take a pottery class, and learn about gourd painting. This center in the North Valley also hosts an outstanding museum, cultural events, tours, and workshops.
Enjoy delicious Native American Cuisine at the on-site restaurant and bakery Pueblo Harvest Cafe. You might want to try the award-winning Tewa Taco before heading home for some Mexican cuisine and maybe stop at the gift shop to buy original art and souvenirs.
15. Taste the Craft Beer
Explore the thriving beer scene of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The city has many types of microbreweries with several distinctive flavors to make you swoon in their tasting room.
Taste the award-winning brews at the rooftop bar in Marble Brewery, like the delicious sour ale Passionate Gose. Or, drive down to the Rio Bravo Brewing Company for big TV entertainment and a few bar games. You may also take a beer bike tour at the sawmill district in the
Running for ten days in September, this State Fair is a cultural experience. In addition to art and animal exhibits at the Fair, live entertainment will be performed, and of course, there will be rides. You can enjoy serious thrills with your family and friends at the Fair.
Look at the rodeo event to taste the essence of the Albuquerque, New Mexico culture. It is a fun atmosphere to enjoy during your visit to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
17. Sandia Peak Ski Resort
Sandia Peak Ski Resort is the oldest ski resort in New Mexico and the only one with a tram. Albuquerque, New Mexico, is not popularly known as a skiing destination, but this city has a great downhill skiing experience.
The Sandia Peak gets about 10 feet of snow every season. If snow is curtailed, a snowmaking machine compensates for the loss by supplementing an operation spread over 30 acres.
The hill has about 35 runs at beginner and intermediate levels. An old-school style double chair takes you to the top, and there is a surface lift in the lessons and children’s areas.
The Ten Three restaurant is situated at 10,378 feet and offers spectacular views over Albuquerque, New Mexico and the surrounding mountains. Lunch at the restaurant is among the highlights of a trip to the resort.
18. Experienced Travel Blogger Provides Unique Perspective on Albuquerque’s Outdoor Attractions
“Despite not being a geologist, my travel experience has equipped me with rich knowledge about stunning geological features worldwide.
The Sandia Mountains’ magnificent rugged terrain enhances the [overall] visitor experience, and the ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway substantially highlights this natural beauty.
Regarding the Elena Gallegos Open Space, the unique flora gives the high desert its distinctive appeal.
Reserve spaces such as these are valuable for preserving diverse species and offering visitors an exclusive glance at Albuquerque’s ecological treasures.
On the tourism front, these outdoor attractions are Albuquerque’s pivotal drawcards.
While Sandia Peak Tramway offers unparalleled panoramic views, parks like Elena Gallegos Open Space provide abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation, greatly enhancing the region’s tourism appeal.
Lastly, from a conservationist’s viewpoint, mentioning the commendable efforts undertaken to retain Albuquerque’s enchanting natural charm is noteworthy.
These outdoor spaces [are preserved] meticulously, ensuring future visitors can continue appreciating their allure.”
19. Where to Stay
Many of the attractions in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can be found around the downtown area in the city proper, which makes it an ideal place to stay, especially for first-time visitors. This is the place with the quaint clobber stone streets, unique restaurants, shops, and the Old Town.
There is no shortage of places to stay in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Except for The Ballon Fiesta season, when accommodation becomes more expensive and hard to find. Here are a few highly-rated hotels in the area:
Hotel Andaluz: the historic landmark is a fully serviced boutique hotel with a rooftop bar.
Parq Central: a former hospital converted to a 4-star boutique hotel that offers complimentary luxury SUV service within a 3-mile radius.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm: a short drive from the city center, this 4-star hotel offers a range of room types.
DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque is perfect for convention and trade show attendees of the convention center across the street.
El Vado Motel: a refurbished Route 66 era motel is a lovely accommodation with various food options local businesses provide.
Sandia Peak Inn Motel: about 1.5 miles from the Old Town, this motel is a standout for its location.
20. Best Tours in Albuquerque, New Mexico
20.1. Breaking Bad Tours
If you are a fan of the TV series, the Breaking Bad RV Tour is a must. On tour, guests visit several filming locations, including Walter White’s house, Jesse’s house, Saul’s office, and others. The time includes an RV ride and lunch at the Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant that appeared in the episode.
20.2. Hot Air Balloon Rides
You can watch the sunrise in the clouds on tour with the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Ride at dawn. This one-hour flight will allow you to enjoy the stunning vista below.
21. Day Trips From Albuquerque, New Mexico
There are many things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but you can head out of the city and explore the surrounding areas. Here are a few places to visit on a one-day trip.
Santa Fe: Just an hour’s drive from the city, Santa Fe in northern New Mexico is an artistic community with many dining places and lovely old buildings to explore.
The Turquoise Trail: A driving route between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, it passes through old mining towns and numerous attractions. Ranging from historical attractions to craft stores, this drive is scenic and fun.
Acoma Pueblo: It is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in North America, situated atop a large mesa and inhabited by the Acoma tribe. This pueblo can be visited on your own or by taking a guided tour.
22. Start planning your Trip Now!
Visiting and living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides visitors and residents much fun and enrichment. There is no better place to spend a weekend or longer than the United States.
Whether you want to learn more about history with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, visit nature with Arroyo del Oso Park or trails like the Paseo del Bosque trail, or even see the National Wildlife Animal Conservation Museum.
The many fun things to do and the scenic places to visit make downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, one of the most beautiful U.S.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar
Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty