As the largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque has some very exciting places for you to visit. From well-preserved Spanish settlements turned villages like Los Ranchos, to hot air balloon rides and biking trails, there is something here for everyone.
The city also happened to be the location where they shot the series Breaking Bad, which makes it instantly recognizable. Visit all of the different locations of the show or take a short road trip down route 66. It cuts right through the heart of the city leaving you in Nob Hill, one of the most visually distinct locations in the country.
SEE ALSO: 9 Top Things To Do In Santa Fe, New Mexico
So if you are planning your next trip to the heart of New Mexico, here is a bucket list of all the things you have to do, and places you should visit.
Things to Do in Albuquerque
1. Visit Downtown Albuquerque
Travel to the heart of the city where all the real magic happens. This is the main business hub of the city, but it is also particularly famous for its incredible nightlife. The nightlife downtown has plenty of fancy bars and hip dance clubs, all of which contribute to an experience that you will never forget.
As for the food, you can choose between a range of upscale southwestern restaurants, home-cooked meals, and casual noodle shops. There are also plenty of major recognizable brands if you are looking to eat something more familiar. You can even go to the KiMo Theater from Downtown or the civic plaza, for live theater performances.
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2. ABQ Biopark
The ABQ park is just beside the Rio Grande River and is the best place to go if you want to relax for the day. The park features a little something for everyone with a dedicated zoo, aquarium, and even connects to Tingley Beach.
The zoo features polar bears, kangaroos, and snow leopards, along with 200 distinct species in their respective habitats. But if you are more into marine life, then you can check out their massive aquariums with various species of fish. They even have a dedicated shark tank with a height of nine feet, and a width of 38 feet.
3. Rio Grande Botanical Garden
A trip to the ABQ Biopark can be great fun, especially when you visit the zoo and aquariums. But if you’re looking for something a little more laid back, then the 36-acre botanical garden can be a great way to spend your afternoon.
Stroll past the beautiful flowers and exotic plant life that is hard to find anywhere else. Each walkway has meticulously manicured flowers that make for a picturesque garden to walk through.
4. Tingley Beach
The Tingley Beach connects to the ABQ Biopark and is one of its main attractions. Bike through its surrounding trails or build massive sandcastles near the beach as you enjoy the summer sun. It is easily the highlight of your visit to ABQ park.
Visitors suggest buying the full package, which can include access to the botanical garden, aquarium, and zoo. This package is cheaper than buying separate passes, and is available throughout the week, except for Monday. The park also recommends coming early at 9 AM, so you have enough time for all the rides.
5. Albuquerque Museum
Albuquerque is a city with a rich history and lore, thanks to it being the first settlement when the Spanish reached the US. Centuries of Native American and Spanish culture rest throughout this city, which you can learn about from the Albuquerque Museum.
It contains multiple artifacts like 19th-century armor used by Spanish Conquistadors. The museum also features an art gallery with over 7,000 pieces from various times. It even holds art from local artists. In fact, the museum itself was formerly known as the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. You can take a guided tour of the entire museum or you can explore the temporary exhibits.
6. Sandia Peak Tramway
If you wish to go out sightseeing, then you cannot go wrong with the Sandia Peak Tramway. Each cable car carries three passengers that take them to Sandia Peak, the 10,000-foot high summit.
When you reach the top of Sandia Mountain, you can set your sights on the Land of Enchantment and the Rio Grande Valley. On a clear day, you can see as far as 11,000 square miles. You can even travel through various hiking trails during the warmer season. But during the colder months, the mountains also become beautiful ski slopes.
Right outside Old Town Albuquerque is the Explora! Science Center, a fun place for children and adults. All of their exhibits focus on educating people about science in a fun way. Some of their permanent exhibits include the Water Flow Patio, the Paradox Café, and the Shapes of Sound.
If you’re lucky, your visit can align with some of their temporary camps, classes, and exhibits. These events usually last for a week or two, so you should mark out your calendar as they rarely come back.
8. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Before New Mexico became a new settlement for the Spanish conquistadors, it was home to many indigenous tribes of the Pueblo People. Their traditions and culture still live on through the Indian Pueblo cultural center in Albuquerque.
Learn more about the original residents of this land with various exhibits and art galleries, each depicting the life way of life of these people in tribes. One of the exhibits that the museum holds regularly is the Pueblo Dancer’s display. They show how their ancestors lived along with the various dances that they performed during rituals.
9. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Another famous attraction in Albuquerque is their International Balloon Fiesta. The dry climate of the city makes for a great environment for hot air ballooning, which is why it has a dedicated festival every year. On the first week of every October, people gather in the Balloon Fiesta Park for a full week to release hot air balloons into the sky. There’s a really cool balloon simulator too.
During the night, the sky lights up, as people release hundreds of glowing hot air balloons. It is a great place for photographers looking to get that one perfect picture. Spending the night underneath these balloons can also be very romantic, as you stare off into the sky with your significant other by your side.
10. San Felipe De Neri Church
Soon after settling into New Mexico, the Spanish conquistadors built the first Roman Catholic Church in 1706. Today that place of worship stands as the San Felipe de Neri church, which completed construction in 1793, a year after the building tragically collapsed. It has also expanded to include a school, a convent, and a rectory.
You can visit the church with a guided tour that takes you through its different rooms and areas of worship. The church even has its museum, which features a host of ancient artwork the church collected along with other exhibits. When you visit the historic old town, do not miss out on this relic from the past.
11. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
When visiting the Albuquerque museum, you will also notice the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science close by. While the Albuquerque Museum focuses on New Mexico’s history, the Natural History Museum teaches people about the ecological history of the world.
The museum has life-sized models of dinosaurs from the Jurassic era. It also has a Hall of the Stars exhibit, which shows visitors how stars have been mapped out in the sky. There are even temporary exhibits, workshops, and lectures that you should check out during your visit.
12. Hot Air Balloon Ride Rainbow Ryders
If you’re looking to take to the skies for a sightseeing trip to Albuquerque, then Rainbow Ryders is what you are looking for. They offer hot air balloon rides throughout various parts of the city, where you can see everything from a new perspective.
These balloons are completely safe, and Rainbow Ryders also happens to be the only authorized company in the city that can provide these rides. Each hot air balloon can accompany as many as six people, with them offering bigger ones as well for larger groups.
13. Balloon Museum
Hot air balloons while not the fastest way to travel anywhere, do have a certain charm to them. And if you would like to learn more about these flying contraptions, then why not visit the Balloon Museum at Balloon Fiesta Park.
You can learn more about the history of ballooning, and why Albuquerque, specifically, is the ballooning capital of the world. Find out how an air balloon flies, as well as the different residents of the city who continue to innovate on these balloons. Even the name of the museum comes from two Albuquerque resident pilots, Maxie Anderson and Ben Abruzzo. Both of these people perfected the art of flying hot air balloons. Be sure to stop by their gift shop for a memorable keepsake as well.
14. Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
The Rio Grande Nature Center State Park regularly hosts various exhibits for wetlands, ponds, and gardens. They even have bird watching for the different species that fly by the park. The park mainly serves to educate people about the varying landscape of the city.
There are a few hiking trails that you can explore as well. While they are a lot shorter than what other parks offer, this national park’s trail has a very scenic route. It even connects to other parks and locations like the Paseo del Bosque.
15. University of New Mexico
Nestled in the middle of the city, the University of New Mexico boasts impressive greenery throughout its campus, despite the dry weather of the city. Founded in 1889, it is the top educational institute in the state and happens to be a public research university.
The sprawling campus features a multitude of museums for fields like anthropology, geology, art, and southwest biology. Learn more about how the human body developed and evolved over centuries, or see how artistic expression or tools for art have evolved over the years.
16. KiMo Theatre
The KiMoTheater happens to be one of the most recognizable landmarks throughout the city. The classic art deco style stands out from the rest of the modern architecture. The theater also acts as a pseudo museum, as it pays homage to the Pueblo tribes of before with various paintings and images dedicated to them.
Construction for the original KiMo Theater finished in 1927, but fell into neglect and was demolished in the 1970s. However, renovation for the building in 2000 made it an icon of the city and gave it a unique flair. Not only did it embody old-school design elements, but it also embodied its native American heritage. Even if there is no show that you would like to see, the theater is still worth a trip for its design elements alone.
17. Unser racing museum
The Unser racing museum is dedicated to a family of incredible racers in the city of Albuquerque. The museum recaps the history of the racing family that broke all odds. It also dedicates itself to the many vehicles that have come about in the last century. In fact, many of the vehicles that you will see in this museum originally belonged to the Unser family. This can be a very exciting experience for people who are racing fans as well as people who are fans of automobiles.
18. National Museum of Nuclear Science
While this museum is not necessarily in the city, it does have an Albuquerque postal address so it technically counts. The museum acts as a national repository for all the information about nuclear science available to the public.
It features the atom project, which is a free club for students in high school, focusing on various aspects of nuclear science. It will also be educating students about nuclear power plants with its many after-school programs. The national museum of nuclear science lies on just the outskirts of the city.
19. Cliff’s Amusement Park
Are you looking to get your adrenaline pumping? In that case, Cliff’s Amusement Park is the place to be, with its multitude of rides that are fun for the whole family. You can find plenty of kiddy rides for younger children along with a water park in the same area. Blow off steam in the summer by hopping on one of their fun water slides, or experience the thrills of incredible speeds with their fast roller coasters.
They even feature plenty of delicious food for when you want to take a break from the action. The park even operates during memorial day and labor day weekends.
20. National Hispanic Cultural Center
The national Hispanic cultural center is one such institute dedicated to studying and better appreciating Hispanic culture. They host a multitude of local programs dedicated to teaching people about various aspects of Hispanic culture through performing arts and book readings. You can even find them hosting lectures and exhibitions on how to preserve and promote Hispanic culture.
The massive 20-acre plaza is home to a library, restaurant, three theaters, and an education center, among other things. You can learn about how they have tried to preserve their culture along with how they are working on promoting it.
21. Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque is a small village on the outskirts of the Rio Grande, which was originally a municipality focused on agriculture. With a small population of just over 6,000 people, the village is a closely-knit community, which has also added more land over the years.
You can take a guided tour of the village to see the many historic sites throughout the area and to learn more about its historic relevance.
22. Nob Hill
Nob Hill is a bustling neighborhood in Central Avenue that features a wealth of eccentric shops and hip dining areas, all of which have a very fun Route 66 aesthetic. In fact, the aesthetic of the entire neighborhood is one that both new and old businesses are looking to uphold.
During the early years of this small township, the community grew around the single Nob Hill Shopping Center. During the neon splashed the 50s and 60s, the town came to life with a unique aesthetic, one that it still holds today. When visiting Nob Hill be sure to visit as many businesses as you can, since they are all locals of the area set up shop.
23. Petroglyph National Monument
By traveling west from the Rio Grande River, you can stumble on the Petroglyph National Monument. The park features over 7,000 acres of land, with carvings and symbols from Native Americans scattered throughout the area. There are a total of 24,000 symbols and messages around the park for you to explore.
You should first go to the visitor’s center when going to the park for the first time, where you can find out more information about their hiking trails. The shortest hiking trail in their park is about a mile walk through various markings. And the longest one can be 6 ½ miles, which even includes a drive through the park. The scenic views throughout each of these trails make for a beautiful sightseeing experience.
24. American International Rattlesnake Museum
Just a short distance off the ABQ Biopark is the massive animal conservation museum, which has 34 species of rattlesnakes. These are some of the least desirable reptiles in the country and are especially abundant in the surrounding area of Albuquerque. The museum makes an effort to teach people how to handle these snakes, with 34 different species of snakes in their respective enclosures.
You can even find various art for snakes, along with photographs. Even if snakes give you the chills, it can be fun interacting with them in a controlled environment. Day trips are an especially fun time to go, as you get a better look at the other exhibits they have to offer.
25. Casa Rondena Winery
Are you looking to visit a fancy winery on your little trip to Albuquerque? Well, then the Casa Rondena Winery might just be what you are looking for. Their love for music, art, architecture, and of course, wine, is sure to leave you with a warm feeling.
Visit the winery on a guided tour to learn more about how they make their delicious wines, and the process they prefer. They will even take you to the tasting room, where you can taste some of their award-winning wines. And depending on which one you like most, you can head to the wine shop at the end and buy one for later.
26. Paseo Del Bosque Trail
Set out on an adventure on the city’s flagship trail which connects its north and south areas. The trail will take you through the cottonwood Bosque forest, where you will be walking 16 miles of paved multi-use trails that do not have any roadways cutting through them.
You can even bike through the trail if you are looking to make a quick sprint through the city. It also connects to Central Avenue and Tingley Beach, where you can then rest or go out for a bite to eat. The trail also happens to cross by the Rio Grande Valley State Park. You can look up also plenty of access points and restrooms before heading out on the Paseo Del Bosque Trail.
27. Walter White House
The iconic Walter White house from Breaking Bad is located in Albuquerque at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane.
Best Restaurants in Albuquerque
28. Sawmill Market
All of that exploring the city can make you hungry. So why not stop by a massive food court to end the day with a hearty meal. It is a warehouse repurposed into a food court that accompanies various foods under a single roof, including New Mexican cuisine.
You can find plenty of bars and restaurants with beer from a local brewery and an extended courtyard to enjoy your meal outside. The best part is that all of the restaurants here are local ones, so you will be getting the authentic Albuquerque culinary experience possible.
1909 Bellamah Ave NW, Albuquerque, sawmillmarket.com
29. Little Bear Coffee
When visiting a city, you usually want to keep going to the next place and explore as much as you can in a single visit. And for those nights out into the city a nice cup of Joe can be a real lifesaver. Little bear coffee offers fresh blends or single-origin quality coffees for everyone looking for the best.
The best part about visiting a little bear coffee shop is that they take a lot of pride in teaching people about the coffee-making process. They can explain how they’re making your blend and even offer tutorials on how you can create new ones.
2632 Pennsylvania St NE, Albuquerque, NM, littlebearcoffeeco.com
Where to Stay in Albuquerque
30. Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
Looking for a place to stay in the heart of New Mexico, then why not stay in a lavish and historically rich inn like Los Poblanos. The Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm features a host of options like excellent bedding arrangements and a spa to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
John Gaw Meem, also known as the “Father of Santa Fey Style,” designed the property back in 1935. The lot combines the 45 guest rooms, along with an organic farm. You can take a guided tour throughout the farm and can even see the area designated for weddings and other events.
4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, NM, lospoblanos.com
31. Hotel Chaco
Do you want something a little more luxurious and upstate for your stay in Albuquerque? Then you cannot go wrong with Hotel Chaco’s rentals. Each room is a modern work of art, that combines a beautiful aesthetic along with very beddings. Each room features a full-size mirror, that lets you peak out into the city.
Cool off in their rooftop pool, or treat yourself to some fine dining in one of their excellent restaurants. Regardless of what you want from your experience, you can easily find it in Hotel Chaco.
2000 Bellamah Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM, hotelchaco.com
32. Hotel Andaluz
Hotel Andaluz is another historically relevant hotel that offers visitors the best experience. Visit one of their luxurious rooms or take out into the hotel for some live entertainment and good food. Each room comes with all of your essentials, and excellent room service for anything else you could need.
Visit one of their many shopping plazas or check out some of the other attractions that they have in store for you. So if you want to make your next trip to Albuquerque more special, staying in Hotel Andaluz is the way to go.
Other things to do in Albuquerque
- The Turquoise Museum
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science – houses a planetarium and Dynatheater
- Albuquerque Museum – focuses on the history of the American Southwest
- road trip to Taos, New Mexico