Are you planning a trip to Albuquerque? Well, get ready for an adventure-packed journey through the heart of New Mexico! Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie looking for some spicy flavors, Albuquerque has something for everyone. So, fasten your seatbelts and let’s explore the top travel ideas for your trip to the Land of Enchantment.
In case you are coming on a road trip going over I-40, be sure to check out our New Mexico Route-66 guide for some inspiration as well! If you are driving north or south on I-25, we also have plenty of ideas for your I-25 road trip too! For those of you who are flying, the Albuquerque International Sunport has a shuttle to rental car companies running 24/7.
1. Sandia Peak Tramway: Soar to New Heights
For those who love the great outdoors, a visit to the Sandia Peak Tramway is a must. Take a hike up the La Luz Trail and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Then, hop on the tramway for a thrilling ride back down. It’s an experience that will leave you feeling on top of the world! The Tramway also sells round trip tickets for people who don’t have the time or energy for a multiple hour hike. I recommend riding up around sunset, and enjoying the city lights once the sun goes down. Bring a jacket, as the peak is quite a bit colder than the foothills of the mountain. As of now, round trip tickets are $33 for adults and $22 for those under 20, military, and seniors.
2. Balloon Fiesta: Reach for the Skies
Have you ever dreamed of floating in a colorful hot air balloon? Well, in Albuquerque, you can make that dream come true. Plan your visit during the annual Balloon Fiesta in early October and witness hundreds of vibrant balloons taking flight. It’s a sight that will leave you in awe and make your Instagram followers green with envy. During the colder months, a balloon ride is a great travel idea too! Budget about $50 a person for the Balloon Fiesta to buy food and drinks along with souvenirs. Be sure to leave a lot of time to get in, as it frequently takes an hour or longer to get into the park due to traffic.
3. River of Lights: A Dazzling Display
If you’re visiting Albuquerque during the holiday season, don’t miss the River of Lights. This magical event transforms the ABQ BioPark into a winter wonderland, with millions of twinkling lights illuminating the night sky. Stroll through the enchanting displays, sip on hot cocoa, and feel the holiday spirit come alive. Budget about $20 a person for this event, and be sure to take advantage of the free Park& Ride service.
4. Old Town: Step Back in Time
Immerse yourself in Albuquerque’s rich history by visiting Old Town. Wander through the narrow streets lined with adobe buildings, browse the unique shops, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Don’t forget to grab a bite of authentic New Mexican cuisine at one of the charming local restaurants. The plaza here is a nice spot to rest and soak in the centuries old architecture. It is not quite as impressive as Santa Fe’s, but is still a very historically significant spot in the Duke City!
5. The Bosque: Nature’s Oasis
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the Bosque, a beautiful riverside forest. Take a leisurely bike ride along the trails, have a picnic by the river, or simply enjoy the serene surroundings. It’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature and recharge your batteries.
6. Nob Hill: Shop ’til You Drop
For a trendy shopping and dining experience, head to Nob Hill. This hip neighborhood is filled with unique boutiques, art galleries, and delicious eateries. Grab a cup of locally roasted coffee, browse the eclectic shops, and soak in the vibrant energy of this lively district. It’s also one of the two main bar areas of Albuquerque, so definitely consider it if you are looking for a fun night out!
7. Frontier: Get a Taste of College Life
The Frontier is arguably the most famous restaurant in Albuquerque. It has been a landmark in the Nob Hill area across from the Main Entrance of UNM for more than 50 years. I highly recommend the green chile stew and breakfast burritos, but the cinnamon rolls are a cult classic too!
8. Downtown Albuquerque: Where Culture Meets Creativity
Discover the heart of the city in Downtown Albuquerque. Explore the vibrant art scene, visit the many galleries and museums, and indulge in the local cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to catch a live performance at one of the theaters or enjoy a night out on the town at the lively bars and clubs. Parking can be difficult on Friday and Saturday night, so consider taking an Uber or taxi. It is a much safer option when going out for a night on the town!
9. The State Fair: Fun for All Ages
If you’re lucky enough to visit during the State Fair, you’re in for a treat. Experience the thrill of the rides, indulge in delicious fair food, and enjoy live entertainment. From the Ferris wheel to the livestock exhibits, there’s something for everyone at this annual event. This is typically the best time to catch a rodeo too. New Mexico is often not thought of as a cowboy state, but many areas are, as we are a Wild West state! For this, expect to spend around $50 a person including tickets, parking, food, and entertainment.
10. Weekend Flea Market: Treasure Hunting at Its Finest
Get your bargain-hunting game on at the Weekend Flea Market at Expo New Mexico. Browse through a wide array of unique items, from vintage clothing to handmade crafts. You never know what hidden gems you might find! The flea market is in the same spot as the State Fair, so keep in mind that it won’t be available if the fair is in town.
11. Hinkle Family Fun Center: Fun for the Whole Family
Looking for a place to entertain the kids or have a fun date? Look no further than the Hinkle Family Fun Center. With go-karts, mini-golf, arcade games, and more, it’s a guaranteed good time for all ages. Challenge your friends to a game of laser tag or test your skills on the rock climbing wall.
12. Explora: Where Learning Meets Fun
For an educational yet entertaining experience, visit Explora. This interactive science center offers hands-on exhibits that will spark curiosity and ignite your imagination. From the physics of motion to the wonders of chemistry, there’s a world of discovery waiting for you and your family.
13. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: Dive into Native American Culture
Take a deep dive into the rich heritage of New Mexico’s Native American tribes at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Explore the fascinating exhibits, watch traditional dances, and sample delicious Native American cuisine. It’s a cultural experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the history and traditions of the Southwest.
14. Visit a Chile Roaster: Taste the local flavor of New Mexico
Before you leave Albuquerque, make sure to visit a local chile roaster like Farmers Chile Market. Fill your senses with the aroma of freshly roasted chiles and take home a taste of New Mexico. Indulge in the local restaurants first to build your understanding of New Mexican food, and let your taste buds dance with delight. Before you leave, be sure to stock up on various fresh and dried chile products to take back with you! We carry plenty of different chile products at many different price points, so you can be sure to get whatever you are looking for at the right price. The best time to visit a chile roaster in 2024 is during chile season, which runs the months of August, September, and October.
Enjoy Your Trip in Albuquerque!
So, whether you’re soaring above the mountains, exploring the vibrant city streets, or savoring the flavors of New Mexico, Albuquerque promises an unforgettable journey. Pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. Albuquerque is waiting to welcome you with open arms and a heart full of adventure. If you have time, a day trip to Santa Fe is also a great idea, as it is only an hour drive away!