Visitors Guide to Albuquerque
Albuquerque has more than 300 sunny days a year, making it a perfect vacation spot all year round, especially for snowbirds looking to escape the cold during the winter months. Situated in the Rio Grande valley with the Sandia and Manzano mountains to the east and inactive volcanoes and petroglyphs to the west, Albuquerque boasts a beautiful skyline with picturesque southwestern vistas all around.
Albuquerque has something for visitors of all ages and interests. With stunning desert landscapes, intriguing cultural history, landmarks and yes, Breaking Bad film sites, there's no shortage of things to do in Albuquerque.
What to do in Albuquerque: Top 10 Things To Do While Visiting
1. Experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest festival of its kind in the world, attracts visitors to Albuquerque from near and far. Taking place every October, a visit to the festival is a great excuse to spend a long weekend or week-long getaway in Albuquerque. In addition to the traditionally shaped balloons, spectators will see huge, extraordinary balloons in fun shapes like bumblebees, cows, Star Wars characters and much more. Try to go early in the morning to see dawn patrol and mass ascension. Also make sure to attend the Balloon Glow, where all the balloons fire up their burners at once to illuminate the night sky together. No need to bring snacks, as there is great food and hot chocolate available. General admissions costs $12, however, kids 12 and under are free.
2. Explore Old Town Albuquerque
The first Spanish families settled in the Historic Old Town Albuquerque plaza over 300 years ago. Witness the city’s history at the San Felipe de Neri church, an active Catholic church with beautiful stained glass windows surrounding the classic pews, which was built in 1793. There are also many great places to dine and shop in Albuquerque, where visitors can purchase classic turquoise and other New Mexico souvenirs. The mixture of history and modern culture in Old Town Albuquerque is something visitors of all ages can appreciate.
3. Discover New Heights on the Sandia Peak Tramway
The Sandia Peak Tramway holds the title of the longest tram in North America and third longest in the world. This approximately 15 minute ride takes visitors 2.7 miles up the Sandia Mountains, whose peak offers panoramic views of Albuquerque. High Finance Restaurant & Tavern sits at the top of the tram and offers a unique atmosphere, delicious food, and stunning views. Don’t miss Sandia Peak Ski Area if you come during the winter, as the Sandia Peak Tramway takes you right to the slopes where you can ski, snowboard or just enjoy the view. The ride costs $20 for adults and $12 for kids.
4. Check Out Albuquerque Film Sites
Albuquerque is the home of popular TV shows “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” and “The Night Shift.” Movies such as “The Avengers” and “Lone Survivor” have also been filmed here. If you’re a big fan of Breaking Bad or just want bragging rights, there are a ton of Albuquerque areas featured on the show that visitors can explore. Walter White’s house is located in a quaint neighborhood near the Sandia Mountains and restaurants like “The Grove” and “Twisters” (Los Pollos Hermanos) are memorable spots to see. You can take yourself on your own guided tour or opt for The ABQ Trolley Co.’s ‘BaD Tour,’ a 3.5 hour trolley tour of Breaking Bad sites, which costs $65 per ticket.
5. Have a Wild Time at the ABQ BioPark
The ABQ BioPark encompasses a zoo, aquarium, botanic garden, butterfly pavilion and much more. Located near downtown Albuquerque, the BioPark is truly an urban oasis. A variety of large animals and unusual plants can be seen while exploring. Spot elephants, apes, lions and giraffes at the zoo as well as native New Mexican plants and even a Japanese garden with a waterfall at the botanic garden. Adult tickets cost $12.50 and kids tickets cost $4.
6. Take a Ride on the Rail Runner Express
The Rail Runner Express takes you through New Mexico’s beautiful terrain on a scenic ~30 minute ride from Albuquerque to the capitol city, Santa Fe. The train is painted like a roadrunner, the state bird, and costs only $10 roundtrip.
7. Explore Local Wineries
The Albuquerque Wine Festival takes place every May, offering visitors a fantastic opportunity to sample local wine and enjoy New Mexico culture. Casa Rondeña stands out among the many local wineries for its lush gardens and Iberian architecture.
8. Kayak the Majestic Rio Grande
The Rio Grande River extends through Albuquerque on its route from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. Albuquerque visitors can rent a kayak or bring their own to enjoy a relaxing day on the water beneath the sun. Fantastic hiking, biking and horse trails also surround the bosque.
9. Cheer on the Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball Team
The Albuquerque Isotopes Minor League Baseball team is an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Head to Isotopes Park in Albuquerque to watch them play for a fun outing baseball fans of all ages can enjoy. Skip the hotdogs and order Dion’s (green chili) Pizza for a fun, local meal.
10. Tour the Petroglyph National Monument
The Petroglyph National Monument is estimated to have over 20,000 images carved by early Spanish settlers and Ancestral Pueblo Indians from around 500 years ago. There are also five dormant volcano cones in the monument, including the Vulcan Volcano, which last erupted over 150,000 years ago. Fortunately for guests, admission to this fascinating Albuquerque attraction is free.
Where to Stay in Albuquerque: Albuquerque Vacation Rentals
Book an Albuquerque vacation rental to experience the city like a local. When browsing Tripping.com you will see beautiful Southwestern style homes for around the same daily rate as a hotel. There are also luxury homes offering great views and pools where you can cool off.
There are many, many fantastic Albuquerque restaurants. Tapas Y Vino, located within the Hotel Andaluz, is rated one of the best restaurants in the city. Dine al fresco at El Pinto, a popular Mexican style restaurant with large patios, fireplaces and terrific food. Many politicians and celebrities have enjoyed El Pinto including Presidents Obama and Bush and even Katy Perry. You have to try their green chile and guacamole. The best green chile is grown in Hatch, New Mexico, so if you have the opportunity to sample it, go for it!
Trip Tip: When asked, “Red or Green?” (The state question, actually) don’t be confused, it’s about the chile. Some restaurants may even just say “Christmas?” which means both red and green.
It is recommend to rent a car when visiting Albuquerque so that you can best explore all the city has to offer. The Albuquerque International Sunport is easily accessible and the city is laid out in a grid. When navigating your way around Albuquerque, remember that the mountains are to the east.
Trip Tip: Keep your phone down while driving, as talking or texting on the phone while driving is illegal in Albuquerque.
Visiting New Mexico
There is so much to do in Albuquerque, but if you’re here to stay a bit longer, New Mexico has even more to offer. White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, New Mexico is the largest field of gypsum crystals in the world. It’s beautiful white sand and New Mexico landscape make for great pictures and is about a 3.5 hour drive away from Albuquerque. About two hours away from there is Carlsbad Caverns National Park, home to a large cave chamber, the Big Room, and nearly 120 other caves. You will never be bored in the Land of Enchantment!
This article was written by Taylor Bishop and edited by Tripping.com Content Specialist, Lexi Perman.