Craving for an epic vacation full of pleasurable memories? Then, head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and experience a plethora of colorful and mind-blowing adventures! While it’s often overshadowed by New Mexico’s capital, the city is thriving and fast becoming an irresistible must-visit destination. Not only does it boast a fascinating history and pleasant scenery, but there are also numerous great attractions in Albuquerque. From historic sites to an extraordinary festival, there’s absolutely no shortage of insanely cool and exciting things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Headed to this high desert metropolis, but don’t have a clue on what to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico? We’ve got a detailed list of some of the best things to do in Albuquerque, NM! So, open your travel planner, and start crafting your Albuquerque travel itinerary with these suggestions.
1. Take a breathtaking cable car ride at Sandia Peak Tramway
Want to enjoy a stunning bird’s eye view of the city and the Sandia Mountains? Don’t forget to include a cable car ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway to your list of things to do in Albuquerque, NM. From eastern Albuquerque, cable cars will carry passengers along a suspended cable to Sandia Peak’s 10,378-foot-high summit. Once you arrive at the top, you’ll have a chance to savor views of the Land of Enchantment and Rio Grande Valley. To make things even better, the peak has a host of restaurants offering tasty meals with a side of picture-perfect views.
2. Wander around the Old Town
Exploring the Old Town is, without a doubt, one of the best free things to do in Albuquerque, NM. For over 3 centuries, both Spanish and Native American cultures have been wondrously shaping this historic neighborhood. Anchored perfectly by its central plaza, the cobblestone streets of the Old Town teem with bright and colorful adobe huts that are now housing souvenir shops, house galleries and restaurants in Albuquerque. Plus, a little exploration of the neighborhood may also let you discover the city’s oldest building – the striking San Felipe de Neri Church.
3. Pay homage to San Felipe de Neri Church
Religious or not, one of the best free things to do in Albuquerque, NM is to visit the San Felipe de Neri Church. With its magnificent architecture and well-preserved interiors, it is truly a sight to behold. Even better, the church exudes a fairly peaceful atmosphere.
4. Experience Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Visiting the city in the first week of October? There’s no better way to spend a vacation in Albuquerque in October than to witness this world renowned international festival. Trust me, it’s an otherworldly experience that should be definitely on top of your list of things to do in Albuquerque in October. For nine consecutive days, the city’s skies will be filled with colors, thanks to more than 500 hot air balloons soaring from the sprawling Balloon Fiesta Park.
As you experience this one-of-a-kind festival, you’ll struggle to find the right words to describe the awe-inspiring sight of the gorgeous balloons. As a matter of fact, a lot of travelers call this fiesta a can’t-miss bucket-list worthy travel experience. In addition to the balloons, there some activities and fun things to do in Albuquerque during this festival, like the Dawn Patrol.
5. Drop by New Mexico Museum of Natural History And Science
Traveling with your little ones, and looking for family-friendly things to do in Albuquerque, NM? Wondering what to do in Albuquerque with the kids in tow? Although the museum is not technically a time machine, it will take you to back 13 billion years ago when the universe was created. As you explore the museum, you’ll experience a wondrous journey from the origins of the universe to New Mexico’s Ice Age.
Of course, the museum houses some cool stuff that kids will love, including dinosaur fossils. As an added bonus, the museum showcases an interactive planetarium with daily programs. In addition, there’s a floor of exhibits specifically dedicated to astronomy, and an observation deck with a telescope.
6. Visit Explora
Speaking of things to do in Albuquerque with the kids, you might also want to check out this hands-on science museum. With its spacious complex, you’ll find more than 250 interactive exhibits in this museum, making it one of the coolest attractions in Albuquerque for kids. Furthermore, these exhibits cover a wide range of subjects, built mainly to teach children new lessons in a rather fun way.
7. Learn more about the city’s history at the Albuquerque Museum
In the mood for a little history lesson? For history buffs, no list of the best things to do in Albuquerque is complete without a quick visit to this beautiful treasure trove. Here, you’ll get to dive deeper into the culture, art and history of the city through a fabulous array of relics and exhibits. Our favorite was the Route 66 exhibit, which focuses on New Mexico’s history, from the native American era to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Even though these tales are not exactly uplifting, they nonetheless are a great and fun lesson in history.
8. Snap photos of the city’s Instagram-worthy street art
Looking for fun free things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico? Why not explore the city’s downtown area, and be mesmerized by its fabulous street art? From statues to gigantic wall murals, the downtown area of Albuquerque brims with eye-catching public street art.
9. See the city from a hot air balloon ride
Love balloons, but can’t visit the city in October? Guess what? Rainbow Ryders – a well-known tour operator in the city – have been, for years, offering heart-pumping hot air balloon rides over the city and its surrounding states. The operator has a variety of options for your balloon ride, including the Dawn Patrol Flight, sunset balloon flights and hot air balloon rides. If you love striking views, you’d certainly want this to be on top of your list of things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
10. Hike or bike Paseo del Bosque Trail
A hike or bike escapade on the 16-mile-long trail lets you pass by a bunch of major sites and attractions in Albuquerque, such as ABQ BioPark and Old Town. Moreover, the path features an array of wildlife and public art in Albuquerque. The trail is literally uninterrupted by 4-wheeled vehicles and road crossings, meaning it’s a great way to explore the city without the traffic.
11. Experience the other festivals in Albuquerque
Albuquerque has a heap of interesting festivals. Yep, the people here are madly crazy in love with festivals. Besides the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, you should also check out the Rio Grande Arts and Crafts festival, and Mountain West Brew Fest.
12. Spend a night or two at Hotel Andaluz
Are you a history junkie who’s still on the lookout for amazing things to do in Albuquerque? Hotel Andaluz is unlike any of the Albuquerque hotels. Thanks to its historic importance and design, the hotel has rightfully landed a spot of the NM State Register of Cultural Properties and US Register of Historical Places. And, did I mention that it’s also officially listed as an Albuquerque Historic Landmark?
13. Check out the booming craft beer scene
Did you know that the city has some delightful craft beer? Yep, beer connoisseurs won’t surely miss the city’s craft beer, and may even make it numero uno on their list of things to do in Albuquerque. The truth is, you can fill your vacation days in Albuquerque hitting the craft beer areas and sampling its awesome offering. If, however, your Albuquerque travel itinerary is already jam-packed, I suggest that you swing by Red Door Brewing Company and Marble Brewery.
14. Go on a shopping spree at The Coronado Center
One of the best things to do in Albuquerque, for shopaholics, is to get their fix at New Mexico’s largest shopping mall – Coronado Center. Established in 1965 originally as an open air mall, the center flaunts dozens of stalls and stores, including Sears and Macy’s. Not to mention, it is home to some of the finest restaurants in Albuquerque.
15. Visit The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
A vacation in Albuquerque is an opportunity to visit one of the country’s finest anthropology museums – the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. Known as one of the best things to do in Albuquerque, the museum showcases the different cultures across the world, focusing on the Southwest. Inside the walls of Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, you’ll learn more about human life’s richness and its diversity in expression.
16. Spend a couple of hours at Albuquerque Zoo
A visit to this zoo is simply a can’t-miss experience and one of the most fun things to do in Albuquerque, especially for animal lovers. Here, you’ll find more than 200 species of animals, such as polar bears, kangaroos and snow leopards. And, the best part is, the zoo’s animals are so loved and well cared. And, by the way, the zoo is nestled inside ABQ BioPark, which is filled with incredibly fun things to do in Albuquerque.
17. Wander around ABQ BioPark
There’s more to ABQ BioPark than its lovely wildlife refuge. Aside from the zoo, it houses three other remarkable attractions in Albuquerque – the Tingley Beach, botanic garden and an aquarium. The aquarium wows visitors with its massive shark tank, while the 36-acre botanic garden features countless of exotic plants, serene walking paths and manicured grounds. The beach, meanwhile, is a great spot to fish, bike and hike during summer.
18. Learn more about the Indian Pueblo Culture
Itching to uncover the secrets and mysteries of the Pueblo people before the Spanish invasion? Way before the Spanish invaders went to NM, the region was already home to a ton of Pueblo tribe. Today, the cultures of these tribes are preserved wonderfully at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. As far as I’m concerned, it’s totally one of the best things to do in Albuquerque for historians. More than just a museum, this educational hub of Pueblo history and art also hosts a mishmash of cultural events, such as workshops and lectures.
19. Experience the mind-blowing thrill rides at Cliff’s Amusement Park
Still looking for heart-pumping things to do in Albuquerque? I suggest that you visit Cliff’s Amusement Park, and experience some of its amazingly exciting 23 rides. From kid and family rides to exciting thrills, the park offers a special adventure for all ages. The most sought-after attraction here, though, is the New Mexico Rattler, billed as one of the world’s top 25 roller coasters.
20. Go on an adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventure
Up for some outdoorsy things to do in Albuquerque, NM? The mountains in Sandia offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, ranging from hiking to hard-core, multi-day rock climbing. Additionally, mountain biking is really popular in these mountains, and there are even excellent trails in the foothills.
21. See the Petroglyph National Monument
Interested in delving into the early American history? Can’t get enough of the historic attractions and things to do in Albuquerque? Take a trip to Rio Grande River’s west side, to discover the historic Petroglyph National Monument. At this sprawling park, you’ll find over 20,000 carved images left behind by the first settlers in New Mexico. But, before you try to decipher these images on your own, make a stop at the visitor center to gain a better understanding of these historic wonders.
22. Hit University of New Mexico Art Museum
The University of New Mexico Art Museum is, hands down, one of the best-kept secrets and the top things to do in Albuquerque, NM. An enthralling visual powerhouse, this museum dazzles with an extensive collection of photography and the creations of modernist Raymond Jonson. There are also revolving exhibits featuring paintings, photographs, and contemporary sculptures.
23. Eat like a king
The restaurant scene in Albuquerque is booming. Whether you’re into Asian cuisine or Mexican treats, there are a number of great restaurants in Albuquerque to please your palate. Our top picks include Budai Gourmet Chinese, Vinaigrette, Flying Star Café, and Farm & Table.
24. Sightseeing in Albuquerque via an open-air trolley
Operated by Mike Silva and Jesse Herron, ABQ Trolley Co is an extraordinary tour service that lets you go sightseeing in Albuquerque on a wondrous open-air trolley. These sightseeing tips are lead by Mike and Jesse who are so knowledgeable, when it comes to the history and heritage of Albuquerque. I personally would recommend their “Best of ABQ City Tour” package. Normally, this 18-mile tour lasts about 85 minutes and includes stop to the Rio Grande Zoo, Old Town, Nob Hill and other cool Albuquerque landmarks.
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