7 Elating Things to Do in Albuquerque

With its unique history of a combined Native American and Spanish history, there are many fun things to do in Albuquerque that you cannot find anywhere else in the United States. Stop at the city’s oldest building, the Church of San Felipe de Neri, or spend a few hours strolling through the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.

Nestled in the ancient adobe structures built by the early settlers, you will find immersive museums, excellent restaurants, and outdoor adventures waiting for you, your family, and your friends. No matter your interests, you will find plenty of things to do in Albuquerque, and you can begin with a few of these options.

1. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The dry climate of New Mexico makes it ideal for hot air ballooning, and Albuquerque offers the chance for you to attend its International Balloon Fiesta during the first week of every October. You will see about 600 bright balloons filling the sky above you, launched en masse just before sunrise from the Balloon Fiesta Park on the northern edge of the city.

Seeing this many balloons flying over your head is certainly an item for your bucket list, but you should remember to wear layers to combat the chilly morning air before the dry heat of the later afternoon. Costs are $10 per person over the age of 12 years for a one-day admission.

  • Best for: Families and couples.
  • Season: Annually during the first week of October.
  • Address: 4401 Alameda Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87113.

2. Stroll Through Albuquerque Old Town

The Old Town district of Albuquerque is home to many different cafes, shops, hotels, and historic churches, all designed with beautifully preserved architecture from the early years of the city. You will find many different things to do in Albuquerque Old Town, including several small galleries housed in adobe buildings.

Covering just ten blocks, Old Town includes the San Felipe de Neri church on the north side of the main Plaza. In addition, you can visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the iExplora! Science Center and Children’s Museum, and the Albuquerque Museum in this historic neighborhood. There are guided walking tours available from local leaders as well.

  • Best for: Families and couples.
  • Season: Year-round, but it is especially beautiful around Christmas when there are thousands of luminaries lighting the sidewalks.
  • Address: 303 Romero Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.

3. Explore the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

If you want things to do in Albuquerque that explore the culture of the Native American Pueblo people, you should check out the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. From historic artifacts to beautifully crafted sculptures, the center displays ancient works as well as more contemporary offerings from the native Pueblo people of New Mexico. You can also attend the mini-theater presentations and workshops to get a better sense of the artistic sensibilities of these indigenous people.

Watch traditional Indian dances and live artist demonstrations each Saturday and Sunday. For a fully immersive experience in the culture, visit during the summer for the Pueblo House Summer Camp, featuring the work and teachings of world-renowned Pueblo artists and storytellers. Tickets cost $8.40 for adults and $5.40 for children ages 5 to 17 years.

  • Best for: Couples, families, children.
  • Season: Open year-round, daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Address: 2401 12th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.

4. Soar Over the Foothills with the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

On the eastern edge of Albuquerque, you will find the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. This is the longest aerial tram in the country. Stretching across the northeast edge of the city, this tramway is one of the most popular things to do in Albuquerque each year.

The tram ride lasts around 15 minutes and covers 2.7 miles. There are about four trips each hour from the base and from the top of the mountain. At sunset, you will see a spectacularly colored sky all around you. Once you reach the top of the foothills, you can enjoy backpacking, hiking, and looking for birds and other wildlife during the summer months. In the winter, you can ski from the top as well. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students ages 13 to 20 years, and $15 for children ages 5 to 12 years.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Open from Labor Day to Memorial Day from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Address: 30 Tramway Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122.

5. Visit the Unser Racing Museum

The most famous racing family in New Mexico is the Unser family, and this museum honors that household’s legacy. It also honors the future of racing. You will enjoy an interactive and multidimensional experience. It puts you directly in the driver’s seat of race cars ranging from the early days of the sport to the present models.

If looking at racing memorabilia is one of the things to do in Albuquerque that gets you the most excited, you will want to visit the Unser Racing Museum. Here you will be able to see the antique cars, the trophy room, and the library that documents the changes in racing technology through the decades. There is even a racing simulator that allows you to try your hand at driving in real time. Costs are $10 for adults and free for children under 16 years old with a paying adult.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Address: 1776 Montano Road NW Los Ranches de, Albuquerque, NM 87107.

6. Gaze at Petroglyph National Monument

One of the most unique things to do in Albuquerque is to visit the 17-mile stretch along the West Mesa. Known as Petroglyph National Monument, it is the home of one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. This weathered landscape of volcanic rock features carved drawings and symbols, that are both spiritually and culturally important.

These designs document the history and evolving culture of the people who once lived in this area of New Mexico. And you will find many self-guided walking trails throughout the protected monument. There are shady resting points, drinking fountains, and restroom facilities throughout the region for your convenience. And you can take your time exploring the unusual rock formations. Visiting the monument is free, but there is a $1 parking fee on weekdays or $2 on weekends.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Address: 6001 Unser Boulevard NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120.

7. Enjoy Locally Produced Dishes at Vinaigrette

The original Vinaigrette in Santa Fe led to the creation of this restaurant as one of the most delicious things to do in Albuquerque. Since its opening in November 2012, the Albuquerque Vinaigrette has been serving up award-winning salads, soups, sandwiches, and sides. They are all made from fresh and healthy ingredients grown locally in New Mexico. In fact, much of the produce is grown at owner Erin Wade’s personal organic farm outside of Nambe. Food waste is often returned to this farm to feed her animals or to be made into compost.

Try the salacho, a taco salad, or a Cuba torta, two of the house favorites. There are also a number of homemade soups, including Cajun gumbo and the mushroom stew. Make sure that you save room to enjoy one of the carefully crafted desserts. That are made with the freshest of fruits, such as the lemon cheesecake or the house-made fruit pie. Prices range from an average of $12 for a specialty salad to $6 for a bowl of soup or a dessert.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round. Daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Address: 1828 Central Avenue SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.

If historic and native culture is part of your interests, there are plenty of things to do in Albuquerque that are sure to get you out of bed in the morning. Whether you are exploring the ancient adobe buildings or the petroglyph-covered rocks of the national monument, the Big Al is a city of beauty and adventure.

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