Things to Do in Albuquerque: Zoos, Museums, and Rio Grande Adventures

Albuquerque’s calling and it’s whispering adventure! Hike the stunning Sandia Mountains, lose yourself in Old Town Albuquerque, or sip sunset cocktails aboard a hot air balloon. Your perfect itinerary starts here.

Ready to dive into all Albuquerque, New Mexico has to offer? Hold your horses! Before rushing to pull together your travel itinerary, why not peek at our curated assembly of top things to do in Albuquerque? Chock-full with enriching experiences and rip-roaring adventures, it offers diverse options that promise a memorable trip.

As a bonus, we’ve even slotted in savvy tips for you to score the best savings on your Albuquerque adventure. So, don your explorer’s hat and uncover the treasures awaiting you down the list. Your journey to Albuquerque just got a whole lot easier and more economical.

Fun Things to Do in Albuquerque New Mexico

Hot Air Balloon

On our list of fun things to do in Albuquerque for adults is—you guessed it—embarking on a hot air balloon ride! Hot air ballooning is not only popular in New Mexico, it’s practically synonymous with the state. The vast, open skies, consistent winds, and stunning landscapes make it a dream destination for balloon enthusiasts.

The state boasts stunning scenery at every turn, from the colorful canyons of the Gila National Forest to the snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Cruising above these breathtaking panoramas in a colorful balloon is an experience that’s hard to match.

But beyond the natural beauty, there’s a deep-rooted cultural connection to ballooning in New Mexico. The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s largest hot air balloon event, drawing over 700 balloons and millions of visitors annually. It’s a spectacle like no other, with hundreds of vibrant balloons lighting up the dawn sky and painting the desert landscape in a kaleidoscope of colors.

The International Balloon Fiesta:

  • Takes place in early October (October 5-13, 2024) in Albuquerque.
  • Features nine days of balloon launches, competitions, and special events!
  • Boasts a mesmerizing mass ascension every morning, where hundreds of balloons inflate and take off in unison, creating a truly awe-inspiring sight.
  • Offers diverse experiences, from tethered balloon rides to champagne balloon flights over the city.

Hot Tip: Save big on Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co tickets with the Unbelievable Pass! And Lucky you, the Unbelievable Pass is offered at the lowest price on Tripster, too.

Several colorful hot air balloons in the sky over a river and green treesOld Town Albuquerque

Immersing yourself in the magic of Old Town Albuquerque is a top priority this week. It’s a treasure trove of history and culture waiting to be explored.

In the morning, visit the iconic San Felipe de Neri Church, the beating heart of Old Town since 1706. This adobe masterpiece, the oldest church in Albuquerque, is full of tales of Spanish missionaries and colonial life. Even if you don’t book a historical tour, it’s worth visiting to appreciate the infrastructure’s simple elegance and historical facts on display.

Next, delve into the world of Native American artistry at the many shops and galleries lining the streets. You’ll find intricate pottery, colorful weavings, handcrafted jewelry, and more! You can even watch skilled artisans demonstrate their craft in shop windows. Learn the ancient art of Pueblo pottery creation and marvel at the delicate beadwork on Navajo jewelry.

For lunch or dinner, savor the delectable flavors of New Mexican cuisine at one of the many cozy restaurants. Dig into fiery green chile cheeseburgers, warm sopaipillas with honey, and traditional blue corn enchiladas – a feast for your senses!

Hike Sandia Mountains

Looking for things to do in Albuquerque this weekend? Outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts will love hiking the stunning Sandia Mountains. Hike above the city and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Valley, and the vast New Mexico landscape. The views from the summit are truly breathtaking, especially during sunsets with the golden hues painting the mountains.

The Sandia Mountains offer a variety of trails for all skill levels, from gentle nature walks to challenging climbs. North Sandia Peak Trail is one of the most popular trails for beginners. It’s a 3.7-mile roundtrip and offers incredible views of the city and valley.

Wide shot of desert mountains in the background with cactuses and trees in the foreground

Route 66 Historic District

Prepare yourself for a journey filled with nostalgia as you explore the iconic Route 66. This legendary Albuquerque roadway is a vibrant stretch adorned with vintage neon signs, reminiscent of the golden era of road trips. Get a taste of the past at classic diners serving mouthwatering green chili cheeseburgers. Take a stroll past quirky and retro motels proudly aligned in this historic district. Start unraveling stories engraved in these landmarks, and capture each delightful moment through your camera lens.

Want a savvy tip? The best way to explore Route 66 is on foot in the evening, while the neon lights dazzle amidst the night sky.

Petroglyph National Monument

A visit to Albuquerque wouldn’t be complete without exploring the mesmerizing Petroglyph National Monument. Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the region by viewing ancient petroglyphs, some dating back as far as 700 years! These carvings etched into the volcanic rock tell stories of ancient hunting practices, spiritual beliefs, and everyday life of the Pueblo people.

Walk through awe-inspiring volcanic mesas and canyons, formed by ancient eruptions that shaped the landscape into dramatic natural sculptures. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for diverse wildlife! You might catch glimpses of lizards, snakes, coyotes, and even majestic mule deer grazing in the canyons.

Access to the petroglyphs and most trails is completely free, making it an accessible and budget-friendly activity for all. You can spend as little or as much time as you like, wandering the canyons at your own pace and absorbing the historical and natural wonder.

Large stone with Petroglyph markings on a rocky hillIndian Pueblo Cultural Center

As the gateway to 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center deserves a top spot on your Albuquerque itinerary this week! It’s home to a collection of artifacts, all a living testament to the vibrant cultures, traditions, and artistic expressions of these ancient communities.

Beyond the artistic displays, a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center also provides opportunities to witness traditional dances and listen to captivating storytelling. You can also participate in hands-on workshops where you can learn pottery, textiles, or even Puebloan cooking!

Plus, visiting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a way to directly support the Pueblo communities. Your ticket fees and purchases contribute to preserving their heritage and empowering their future.

Are you a foodie? Savor the flavors of New Mexico at its finest at Pueblo Harvest, the critically acclaimed restaurant within the center. Enjoy dishes created with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, celebrating Pueblo culinary traditions in every bite.

Rattlesnake Museum

Looking for unique things to do in Albuquerque today? A visit to Albuquerque is incomplete without a trip to the fascinating Rattlesnake Museum. Immerse yourself into this quirky attraction to learn about the ecological significance of these astounding yet undervalued reptiles.

From viewing an incredible collection of live rattlesnakes to deep-diving into their intriguing world, your museum trip is bound to be thrilling. Beyond the captivating sight of rattlesnakes, you’ll also explore the age-old uses of rattlesnake venom in medicine and cultural practices. Don’t pass up the opportunity to experience something new!

Rattlesnake curled up amongst dirt and barkRio Grande Nature Center

The Rio Grande Nature Center is indeed one of the crown jewels of Albuquerque for a variety of reasons. It’s home to some of the best things to do in Albuquerque NM, like wildlife watching and embarking on educational adventures with kids!

This lush cottonwood forest lining the Rio Grande River is the place to be if you’re hoping to spot majestic birds like roadrunners and wood ducks, shy turtles basking on logs, and even playful raccoons foraging in the undergrowth. The nature center offers excellent birdwatching opportunities throughout the year, with observation blinds overlooking ponds and the river.

Planning a family-friendly educational adventure? Learn about the Rio Grande’s unique ecosystem through interactive exhibits at the visitor center! Discover the vital role the Rio Grande plays in the region and the fascinating flora and fauna that call it home. You can also participate in scheduled guided walks to deepen your understanding and appreciation for this special environment.

Sandia Peak Tramway

The Sandia Peak Tramway may be labeled as a transportation system, but it’s a destination in and of itself! Within 15 minutes, you’ll be whisked away on a dramatic cable car ride, ascending 3,500 feet to the summit of Sandia Peak. During the ride, prepare to be awestruck by panoramic vistas stretching across the Rio Grande Valley, the Albuquerque metropolitan area, and the distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The ever-changing views, especially during sunrise or sunset, are simply breathtaking.

Once at the summit, a world of possibilities awaits. Hike or bike on scenic trails, ranging from beginner-friendly walks to challenging climbs, all offering stunning panoramas. Enjoy a delicious meal at Ten3 restaurant with its panoramic windows, or sip a cup of coffee with the clouds at your feet.

Simply put, the Sandia Peak Tramway is an iconic landmark and a thrilling experience that shouldn’t be missed during your visit.

Aerial tram moving down cables over a wooded mountain under a cloudy blue sky
Photo Credit: Sandia Peak Tramway via Facebook

Del Sol Aviation

Are you seeking adventures and unique experiences in Albuquerque? Not many visitors get to try piloting a plane during their travels, but with Del Sol Aviation’s introductory flyer packages, you can!

This is a chance to step into the cockpit, feel the wind in your hair, and get a unique, bird’s-eye view of Albuquerque and its surrounding landscapes. Consider booking a “Discovery Flight” package to test the waters – it’s a short, exhilarating journey that hits all the right adrenaline points. Or, if you’re up for a longer, more captivating experience, the “Scenic Experience” package awaits, offering spectacular views of the awe-inspiring landscapes. Get ready, adventurer – the sky is calling!

ABQ BioPark

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Albuquerque with kids, a visit to ABQ BioPark has you sorted. This extensive and diverse complex proudly offers the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, home to over 32 acres of gardens showcasing plants from the American Southwest and around the world, including a 10,000-square-foot conservatory and the fascinating BUGarium dedicated to bugs and arthropods.

Don’t forget to drop by the ABQ BioPark Zoo, where kids can feed giraffes, view polar bears from a distance, and create lasting memories learning from interactive experiences and educational programs.

Finally, don’t forget to visit Tingley Beach! Complete with a splash pad, carousel, and a miniature train ride, this hotspot is perfect for a family day out.

Downtown views at duskSave with the Unbelievable Pass

If you’re seeking the ultimate Albuquerque experience, you need to snag the Unbelievable Pass. Consider it your VIP passport to the city, unlocking access to the best sites at one unbeatable price. Perfect for weekend escapes, day excursions, and mini-vacations, this pass truly transforms your visit. On Tripster, you can select from a 3-month or 6-month duration, packing even more value into each day with special offers and discounts. An absolute blast is guaranteed!

Remember, joy multiplies when shared! So, why not invite your friends to bag these passes, too? That way, you can unveil the charms of Albuquerque, together. Ensuring a memorable shared journey has never been this easy, so don’t miss out!

What Did We Miss?

Do you have anything to add to our guide? Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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