25 Best Things to Do in Albuquerque (NM)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Albuquerque is a city in New Mexico that has a population of just over half a million. The city is immersed with many natural beauties, including the Sandia Mountains on the eastern side and the Rio Grande running through it. Each year Albuquerque is home to an international balloon festival that attracts visitors from around the world.

As you travel around the city you cannot help but notice the Spanish culture and influence everywhere you go. Much of the original Spanish culture remains and it makes for excellent viewing. So let’s have a look at the best things to do in Albuquerque!

1. Go Fishing At Tingley Beach

Tingley BeachSource: SagePhotography111 / shutterstock
Tingley Beach

Tingley Beach is a series of ponds that were initially known as Conservancy Beach, the area was built in the 1930’s by diverting water that ran through the Rio Grande.

The area was used for swimming when it first opened and this continued until the 1950’s, this was then closed off and it is now primarily used for fishing.

You can spend several hours at Tingley Beach as the area includes a restaurant, paddle boats, nature trails, a model boating pond and fishing ponds for both adults and children.

2. Get Educated At The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Indian Pueblo Cultural CenterSource: Kit Leong / shutterstock
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center offers visitors a unique chance to discover more about the Pueblo Indian Culture.

The center features a collection of pottery and art as well having a many hands on activities. You can sit back and watch Traditional Native American dances that honor Mother Earth or peruse the gift shop that sell original works of art.

If you like to give things a go yourself you can take a pottery making class or learn about gourd painting. When you have finished you time at the center you can stop of for an award winning Tewa Taco before heading home.

3. Learn About The History Of Albuquerque

Albuquerque Museum Sculpture GardenSource: Ritu Manoj Jethani / shutterstock
Albuquerque Museum Sculpture Garden

In Old Town Albuquerque you will come across the Albuquerque  Museum which is dedicated to preserving the history of this great city and also the art works of the American Southwest.

At the museum you can find over 400 years of Albuquerque history in its permanent exhibitions as well as the ever changing temporary ones.

There are many items that represent colonial life in New Mexico such as armor, maps, weaves and other items.

Outside the museum there is a sculpture garden that is worth walking around, you can even download an app that guides you around the sculptures.

4. Don’t Look Down!

Sandia Peak TramwaySource: JackKPhoto / shutterstock
Sandia Peak Tramway

If you are not fond of heights you might want to give this next attraction a miss. The Sandia Peak Tramway runs from the northeast edge of Albuquerque to the crest line of the Sandia Mountains.

The tramway is the longest aerial tram in the U.S. The Tram travels at 12 mph and it takes about 15 minutes to get from one end to another.

From the highest point you can see all of the city as well as 11,000 square miles of New Mexico.

When you arrive at Sandia Peak you can eat at The High Finance Restaurant or go hiking in the mountains.

5. See Over 15,000 Historic Petroglyphs

Petroglyph National MonumentSource: William Silver / shutterstock
Petroglyph National Monument

The Petroglyph National Monument is home to more than 15,000 prehistoric and historic Native American and Hispanic Petroglyphs.

A petroglyph is an image that has been carved into rock. There are many important sites at this monument that break down the 12,000 year long history of the human life in this area.

There is a visitor center at the monument that has a wealth of information as well as temporary exhibits and educational material.

At its peak the highest elevation is over 5,000 feet and the area is mild throughout most of the year except for a couple of hot and dry summer months.

6. View The Dinosaurs At New Mexico Museum Of Natural History And Science

New Mexico Museum Of Natural History And ScienceSource: Ritu Manoj Jethani / shutterstock
New Mexico Museum Of Natural History And Science

Take a journey through time and discover the creation of the universe some 13.6 billion years ago. There are 8 exhibitions at the museum that start at the beginning of time and finish at the Ice Age. You can learn about the beginnings of the dinosaurs and look at the aging of a volcano.

The museum is also home to a planetarium as well as two floors dedicated to astronomy and space exploration. Microsoft was founded in Albuquerque and a section is dedicated to the history of the personal computer.

7. Take The Kids To Explora

ExploraSource: Kit Leong / shutterstock

Explora is a hands on science museum that kids of all ages will enjoy. The museum is 20,000 square feet in size and is split over two levels. There are 250 exhibits in the museum and all are interactive. They cover a broad range of subjects and are designed to teach kids new things in a fun way.

Over the years Explora has won a number of awards for its continuous efforts in educating children. At certain times the museum also hosts adults only night because even adults like to play.

8. Ride The Rides At Cliff’s Amusement Park

Cliff's Amusement ParkSource: Roller Coaster Philosophy / Flickr | CC BY
Cliff’s Amusement Park

It doesn’t matter what age you are when you are at Cliff’s Amusement Park. There are 23 theme park rides that are split up between Thrill rides, family rides and kiddieland rides.

The most famous attraction is the New Mexico Rattler which has been named one of the top 25 roller coasters in the world.

If you like the idea of getting a soaking then you can move on to Cliff’s Watermania that provides hours of water fun for all the family.

9. Meet The Animals At ABQ BioPark Zoo

ABQ BioPark ZooSource: Erica Johnson / shutterstock
ABQ BioPark Zoo

ABQ BioPark Zoo was founded in 1927 and is home to more than 200 species of animal. To keep things straight forward the zoo has made dedicated sections for each continent. As you enter the zoo you will notice an island that holds the zoo’s collection of Caribbean flamingos.

If you like big cats be sure to check out ‘The Cat Walk’ which houses African lions, mountain lions, leopards, jaguars and many other kinds of cat. One of the most popular exhibits is the one where you get to see polar bears. You can view them through underwater viewing windows or walk over a bridge and watch them lounging about or playing in the water.

10. Explore The ABQ BioPark

ABQ Biopark Botanical GardensSource: KevinCupp / shutterstock
ABQ Biopark Botanical Gardens

ABQ Biopark Botanical Gardens have over one and a half miles of paths to explore that will take you through many different climates and plant species. There is a Mediterranean and desert conservatory, a 1920’s farm, formal gardens and a Japanese garden.

If you like butterfly’s there is a butterfly pavilion that has a beautiful selection of butterfly’s to enjoy. The BioPark is open daily between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. There is also a restaurant on site and the gardens are fully accessible for wheelchairs.

11. Watch Out For The Snakes

American International Rattlesnake MuseumSource: Alizada Studios / shutterstock
American International Rattlesnake Museum

The American International Rattlesnake Museum is not for those with a phobia. The largest collection of live rattlesnakes from different species can be found here. There are species from South, North and Central America all in recreated habitats that are as natural as they can be.

You will learn the myths about rattlesnakes as well as have your phobias cured. The museum is a great day out and has a gift shop with all sorts of snake memorabilia that you can take home and scare your mum with.

12. Cheer On The Albuquerque Isotopes

BaseballSource: noraismail / shutterstock

The Albuquerque Isotopes are a minor league baseball team that play their home games at Isotopes Park, fondly referred to as The Lab. The park has a capacity of 13,279 with 11,154 of them being fixed seats. When you look down on the field you will see there is a small hill which looks rather like the one at the Houston Astros Stadium.

Due to its location (over 5,300 feet above sea level) the balls receive a great lift when hit which in turn means more home runs. The stadium sits on the same spot as the Albuquerque Sports Stadium did before it fell into disrepair and was flattened to make way for a new stadium and a new team.

13. Preserve The Hispanic Culture Of Albuquerque

National Hispanic Cultural CenterSource: AllenS / Wikimedia | Public domain
National Hispanic Cultural Center

The National Hispanic Cultural Center was created with the purpose of promoting and preserving the Spanish Speaking world. The center regularly puts on performing arts shows as well as exhibitions for the public.

The center is located in Barelas which is a traditional Hispanic neighbourhood and a place where many of New Mexico’s people have chosen to settle. When you visit the center you will enjoy not just the programs on offer but also the different styles from Spain, Mesoamerica and early New Mexico.

14. See Albuquerque From A Hot Air Balloon

Rainbow RydersSource: Steve Lagreca / shutterstock
Rainbow Ryders

Rainbow Ryders have been offering hot air balloon rides over Albuquerque and other surrounding states for a long time. They are an established TripAdvisor Hall of Fame member meaning you are in the safest of hands.

There are various choices to choose from including sunrise hot air balloon rides, sunset balloon flights or perhaps you would prefer a private ride on your own. One of the most popular rides is the Dawn Patrol Flight that takes off 30 minutes before sunrise giving you the perfect viewing platform to watch the city come to life and the sun light up the sky.

15. Watch A Show At The Haunted Kimo Theatre

Kimo TheatreSource: Anne Richard / shutterstock
Kimo Theatre

In 1927 the Kimo Theatre opened its door to the public, it was created by a liquor dealer who moved to the United States in 1885. He ran several business in the state and soon became a wealthy business man.

In 1951 a six year old boy was unfortunate enough to be in the lobby during a show at the same time as the boiler in the basement exploded. The boy called Bobby did not survive the accident and it is said that he still haunts the theatre today. The theatre has been restored over the years and still holds regular shows for delighted audiences.

16. Enjoy The San Felipe De Neri Church

San Felipe De Neri ChurchSource: Altrendo Images / shutterstock
San Felipe De Neri Church

The San Felipe de Neri Church is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Albuquerque. It was built in 1793 and was originally called Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, this was later changed to the name you see today.

Throughout the years the church has had many additions including the towers, a local parish school and a convent. The church is undergoing extensive renovations both to the inside of the building as well as the outside.

17. Come Face To Face With A Shark At Albuquerque Aquarium

Albuquerque AquariumSource: Jolanda Aalbers / shutterstock
Albuquerque Aquarium

The Albuquerque Aquarium houses many species of marine life that come from the Gulf of Mexica and the South Pacific. The water tanks are full of saltwater species to enjoy. The main attraction is a 285,000 gallon tank which is named Jellies: Aliens of the Sea.

There are plenty of brightly coloured fish to keep both children and adults entertained as you walk around the aquarium. As you leave the aquarium you will see another huge tank that holds six different species of sharks as well as stingrays and sea turtles.

18. Spend A Night At Hotel Andaluz

Hotel AndaluzSource: Rory Eye / shutterstock
Hotel Andaluz

Hotel Andaluz was the fourth Hilton hotel and the first high-rise hotel in the state. Due to the design and importance of the building it is on the U.S Register of Historical Places, N.M State Register of Cultural Properties and is a listed Albuquerque Historic Landmark.

In 2008 the hotel was renamed as Hotel Andaluz and features a rooftop bar, Mas restaurant and large scale conference facilities. The hotel is also the only full service boutique hotel in Downtown Albuquerque.

 19. See The Thrill Of Motor Racing At The Unser Racing Museum

Unser Racing MuseumSource: Dick Thompson Sandian / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Unser Racing Museum

When you arrive at the Unser Racing Museum you will be taken on a guided tour of the museum and learn all about the history of the Unser Family. The museum starts with the early days of racing that include Pikes Peak and Indianapolis and goes right through to the technology that is used today.

There is a racing simulator that gets you behind the wheel in a racing situation. There are many cars for the visitor to enjoy, these range from antiques to race cars that have won many events. Take a walk around the trophy room and admire many trophies that go through all the different years of racing.

20. Shop Till You Drop At The Coronado Center

ShoppingSource: VGstockstudio / shutterstock

The Coronado Center is the largest shopping mall in the state of New Mexico. It was originally an open air mall when it opened in 1965, ten years later it was remodeled and from then on it became an enclosed mall.

There are 150 stores within the mall including a Macy’s and a Sears. Visitors can spend their time perusing the shops before settling in one of the many restaurants and enjoying something to eat before heading home.

21. Learn About Culture At The Maxwell Museum Of Anthropology

Maxwell Museum Of AnthropologySource: Underawesternsky / shutterstock
Maxwell Museum Of Anthropology

The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology has been labelled as one of the finest anthropology museums in the country. It focuses its efforts on different cultures around the world with a strong focus on the Southwest.

When you visit the museum you will learn about the richness of human life as well and its diverse expression. The museum was initially founded in 1932 and was the first public museum in Albuquerque.

22. Watch An Outdoor Show At The Isleta Amphitheater

ConcertSource: Twinsterphoto / shutterstock

Since its opening in February 2000 the Isleta amphitheater has proved to be a popular place for people to visit for outdoor entertainment. It was originally known as the Mesa del Sol Amphitheatre.

Throughout the years various companies have purchased the naming rights and the capacity of the theatre has increased to 15,000. National artists regularly perform to sell out crowds during the summer months and a constantly changing line up of entertainers keeps the locals coming back for more.

23. Watch A Live Performance At The Sunshine Theater

Live MusicSource: XanderSt / shutterstock
Live Music

In downtown Albuquerque is the historic Sunshine Building. It is a six story building that originally housed a 920 seat movie theatre and some offices. The theatre was the first movie theatre in the city and when it opened it showed Scaramouche as its first film and it was accompanied by an orchestra.

The theatre closed in the 1980s but now it is a popular music venue that has seen the likes of Snoop Dogg and The Smashing Pumpkins perform in front of sell out audiences.

24. The Holocaust And Intolerance Museum Of New Mexico

Holocaust And Intolerance Museum Of New MexicoSource: Quick fix / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Holocaust And Intolerance Museum Of New Mexico

The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico was set up with the purpose of educating visitors about the various genocides that have occurred around the world as well as different forms of bullying throughout various cultures.

The museum takes a serious look at the history of genocide and has a mixture of permanent as well as travelling exhibitions. The museum does a fantastic job of looking at a serious issue without skimming over any details.

25.  Ski Near The Sandia Peak Tramway

Sandia Peak Ski AreaSource: PICTOR PICTURES / shutterstock
Sandia Peak Ski Area

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a tramway that stretches from Albuquerque to the Sandia Mountains. The tram has been active since 1966 and it makes an average 10,500 trips each year.

There are two trams that operate back and forward between the two locations and when you arrive at Sandia Peak you can take advantage of hiking, backpacking and Skiing. The skiing is only available during the winter months.

25 Best Things to Do in Albuquerque (NM):

  • Go Fishing At Tingley Beach
  • Get Educated At The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
  • Learn About The History Of Albuquerque
  • Don't Look Down!
  • See Over 15,000 Historic Petroglyphs
  • View The Dinosaurs At New Mexico Museum Of Natural History And Science
  • Take The Kids To Explora
  • Ride The Rides At Cliff's Amusement Park
  • Meet The Animals At ABQ BioPark Zoo
  • Explore The ABQ BioPark
  • Watch Out For The Snakes
  • Cheer On The Albuquerque Isotopes
  • Preserve The Hispanic Culture Of Albuquerque
  • See Albuquerque From A Hot Air Balloon
  • Watch A Show At The Haunted Kimo Theatre
  • Enjoy The San Felipe De Neri Church
  • Come Face To Face With A Shark At Albuquerque Aquarium
  • Spend A Night At Hotel Andaluz
  • See The Thrill Of Motor Racing At The Unser Racing Museum
  • Shop Till You Drop At The Coronado Center
  • Learn About Culture At The Maxwell Museum Of Anthropology
  • Watch An Outdoor Show At The Isleta Amphitheater
  • Watch A Live Performance At The Sunshine Theater
  • The Holocaust And Intolerance Museum Of New Mexico
  •  Ski Near The Sandia Peak Tramway