Top 10 Best Things to Do in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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Albuquerque is one of the most interesting cities in New Mexico, with a unique balance of stunning nature, preserved culture, and modern attractions. For such a large city, Albuquerque retains a fascinating charm that draws in curious travelers looking for adventure and exploration. If you’re planning your first trip to Albuquerque, make sure to check out these top 10 things to do.
What Is It? Albuquerque is world-famous for its annual hot air balloon festival, which takes place in October and is truly a sight to see.
Why Do It? Thousands of balloon enthusiasts and interested visitors come to town for the International Balloon Fiesta during a week-long celebration of flight. Balloon Fiesta Park is a huge space that accommodates the balloons and has lots of food and souvenir vendors set up along the sides. You can attend a session in the evening to see the balloons up-close, on the ground, and illuminated. Or get up before dawn to see the mass ascension when the balloons are inflated and take to the sky.
Good to Know: Even if you don’t visit during the festival week, you can still visit the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum to learn about the history of ballooning and its presence in Albuquerque.
What Is It? Old Town Albuquerque has been inhabited for hundreds of years and reflects the shifts from Native American to Spanish and other Latin and European cultures.
Why Do It? There is a central plaza in this neighborhood surrounded by cobblestone streets and colorful buildings that will get you in the mood to shop and dine. This is a great place to find souvenirs and jewelry before checking out a local restaurant for lunch or dinner. You can also see the oldest building in town, the San Felipe de Neri Church.
Good to Know:If you’ve been to Santa Fe, you may draw parallels between the downtowns of these two cities. However, Albuquerque’s Old Town is refreshingly less crowded and less expensive, and you can usually find free or cheap parking nearby.
What Is It? TV and movies often make cities famous, and AMC’s hit show “Breaking Bad” certainly did that for Albuquerque.
Why Do It? Local guide companies offer film location tours of “Breaking Bad” and also its spinoff show, “Better Call Saul.” These are must-dos for fans of the AMC shows because they’ll take you to all the spots you remember from the episodes so you can relive your favorite moments. You can even tour the RV where Walter and Jesse made their famous product and enjoy a meal at the restaurant that served as Los Pollo’s Hermanos in the show.
Good to Know:Alternatively, you can take a DIY “Breaking Bad” tour by driving to the various film locations yourself based on numerous blogs that detail the spots and their relevance.
What Is It? There are lots of these ancient rock carvings in New Mexico, and they’re very prominently displayed at the Petroglyph National Monument just northwest of downtown Albuquerque.
Why Do It? You’ll find thousands of images carved into the rock sides here that tell the stories of the region’s first inhabitants. There are some very accessible and scenic hiking trails here you can explore to see the petroglyphs up close.
Good to Know:Stop at the visitor’s center for recommendations, and plan to spend about two hours at the park.
What Is It? Another excellent way to get outside and active while in Albuquerque is to take a bike ride on the Paseo del Bosque Trail.
Why Do It? This is a 16-mile paved path that is smooth, scenic, and perfect for biking. It’s easy to make a day trip out of this bike path when you hop off the trail to check out other city attractions, such as ABQ BioPark. It’s pretty flat, so the trail is easy for beginner cyclists.
Good to Know:Be aware that it gets crowded on weekends, so you may need to call out “on your left!” a few times while pedaling along.