10 Things To Do In Albuquerque, New Mexico

10 Things To Do In Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Most people believe that Albuquerque is a place they will pass through on the way to somewhere better. What they will never know, unless they take the time to find out, is that Albuquerque has a charm and vibrancy all its own.

Albuquerque holds over half the population of the state of New Mexico and is home to one of the premier research universities in the country. Home to an Air Force base, Intel, and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque also boasts its fair share of creative minds with a vibrant art, music and performance scene.

Things To Do In Albuquerque

Albuquerque turns 320 years old in 2026. Its history encompasses a Native American culture with Hispanic and Anglo influences. This conglomeration of cultures provides a wide variety of historical sites to visit.

Things To Do In Albuquerque, New Mexico

Old Town

The only place to start your visit is by viewing the area where it all began. Old Town was the centre of early Albuquerque. The main plaza is now a four-block radius of charm and history complete with an original mission church, the San Felipe de Neri Church, at its north end, and high drama western shoot-outs performed by local actors.

Old Town is chock full of restaurants, curio shops, and art galleries. Many of these shops are filled with the works of local pueblo artists and local contemporary visual artists, weavers and potters. Local Native wares are available directly from the artists via a policy that allows only Native Americans to set up on the sidewalks of the main square.

National Atomic Museum

The National Atomic Museum is just north of Old Town and is a collection of atomic weaponry and its history. Some people like this museum and others are opposed to it, either way, it is a part of our country’s history and especially a part of New Mexico’s history. Included in the museum collection is a replica of Fat Man and Little Boy both of the bombs that were dropped on Japan during World War II. Along with the weaponry are parts and replicas of the aircraft used to deliver atomic bombs and other missiles and rockets that were part of the development process.

Downtown Albuquerque

Once you are finished with the Old Town area, the next logical step is to head for downtown Albuquerque and Old Route 66. Much of the downtown main street has been restored and is experiencing a renaissance in the nightlife and lifestyle departments. New construction blended with the old provides great visual interest and an opportunity to see progress in action. Be aware that you are driving on the old Route 66, which today is known as Central Ave.

Things To Do In Albuquerque, New Mexico

Route 66

Continue east on Central Ave. and you will be driving old Route 66. Eventually, Central Ave. will connect with I-40, the new Route 66, but for now, take in the sights. Scattered along the route are remnants of days gone by neon motel signs, restaurants and period architecture that are still part of every Albuquerquean’s daily life.

The University Of New Mexico And Nob Hill

Travelling up Central Ave. you will move through The University of New Mexico campus. It is filled with interesting architecture, an art gallery or two and several museums.

One of the museums is the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, which houses a permanent People of the Southwest exhibit. This exhibit is a fascinating journey that traces human history in the region through pottery.

Keep moving east up Central Ave. and you will come upon Nob Hill Shopping District where the original flavour of Route 66 has been retained. This area was designed and built as one of the first urban subdivisions in Albuquerque. It has kept its friendly walking atmosphere and is a popular haunt for all residents of the city.

Sandia Peak Tramway

How about a great view of the city? Follow Central Ave. to Tramway and head north. The Sandia Peak Tramway is at the far north end of Tramway Road. One of the World’s longest aerial tramways, the ride up is 2.7 miles. Your understanding of the foliage and terrain of the area will broaden with this great ride.

Starting at the base of the mountain in desert cactus you continue through an ever-changing variety of vegetation that includes pinon pine, Rocky Mountain juniper and Douglas fur before you reach the top at 10,300 feet. The best ride would be sunset but if you can’t manage that one then takes it up for dinner (yes there is a restaurant at the summit) and view the sunset and the city by night. It is a magical experience for locals and visitors.

The peak is home to skiers in the winter months, the slopes are located on the backside of the mountain, and filled with hikers and bikers in the summer months. Just because it is a warm winter day at the base, dress for a cooler and possible snowy experience up top.

Balloon Fiesta Park

Head north of town during Balloon Fiesta season, early October and you will not believe what you are seeing – hot air balloons as far as the eye can see! Albuquerque has a climate and terrain ideal for ballooning.

In the offseason, the Balloon Fiesta committee has placed the park on the tourist map with a Hot Air Balloon Museum along with a restaurant that looks out over the balloon launching area. The view of the Sandia Mountains is great from this part of the city.

Things To Do In Albuquerque, New Mexico

Petroglyph Park

West Albuquerque has one of the most unique attractions in the city, Petroglyph Park. The prehistoric rock etchings have been dated as far back as 1300 AD and were created by Indians living and hunting in the area at that time. Nestled in and around the lava flow from inactive volcanoes the petroglyphs are viewed by hiking four different trails, one of which leads to the top of the lava flow. The park is about nine miles northwest of downtown. Bring your sunscreen as you will be out in the open desert and exposed to the sun the whole time you are there.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

New Mexico is filled with Indian pueblos and since Albuquerque is the hub of New Mexico, what better place to create an Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The museum presents the development of the Pueblo cultures from prehistory to the present and compares the varying cultures through language, customs and crafts. The building includes an art gallery, a children’s museum, a gift shop and a restaurant all featuring Pueblo crafts and foods.

National Hispanic Cultural Center

The newest addition to a tour of Albuquerque is the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Created to support the understanding of Hispanic culture in this country, the centre provides glimpses into contemporary and historic Hispanic culture through theatre, visual arts, dance, music, film, literature and genealogy. Check the local listings for exhibits and performances available. There is a restaurant on site serving authentic New Mexican cuisine as well as an open plaza area, a gift shop and a view of the Sandia Mountains from the top of the building.

Image Credit: Depositphotos

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