There’s no shortage of fun things to do in the Duke City, whether you’re flying high over the Rio Grande in a hot air balloon, discovering the history of Native American pueblos, or digging into a delicious New Mexican meal. Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city with a long and rich history, offering plenty to do for residents and visitors alike. Read on for eight great ways to explore the city, its history, culture, and cuisine.
Soar to Fun New Heights
(1) Float Over Albuquerque in a Hot Air Balloon
On any day with little wind, hot air balloons take to the sky over Albuquerque. Your fun adventure can begin at sunrise or sunset, though the weather is usually best at sunrise. Take a dawn balloon tour and watch the sun appear above the rugged Sandia Mountains. Relish the bird’s-eye views of the desert landscape. Many balloon companies book rides for this adventure.
(2) Get a Mile High
Drive up the curving highway or even take a fun hike to get from the valley floor at the northeast edge of Albuquerque to the crest line of the Sandia Mountains. Take in the views from a mile high over the valley and the city. Breathe deeply the fresh mountain air. Be sure to take a jacket, as it is usually cool at higher elevations. Once at the peak, explore hiking trails, birdwatch, or sit back on a rock to observe the changing light of the mountains.
Discover the History of Native American Cultures
(3) Visit the Pueblos
New Mexico is home to 19 Native American pueblos and many of them are an easy drive from Albuquerque, including Sandia, San Felipe, Santo Domingo, and Cochiti. Visit on a feast day to experience special celebrations! Be sure to confirm the pueblo is open for visitors and to follow the pueblo’s protocols for visitors, including for taking pictures. Remember that these pueblos are sovereign nations with long histories, so be respectful of each pueblo’s rules and traditions.
(4) Hike Through a Rock History
Petroglyph National Monument has desert trails through an area marked by more than 15,000 Native American and Hispanic petroglyphs, images carved in rocks centuries ago. It would be hard to miss the volcanoes that populate this site. Go by the visitor center for maps and advice on the best trails and other fun to be had.
(5) Colonial Life in New Mexico
Explore the history of the area —and window shop — at the historic plaza in Old Town. Enter the San Felipe De Neri Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. Visit local museums dedicated to preserving the history of the city and artworks of the American Southwest. Picnic in the park. Discover the sculpture garden.
(6) See a Show
Albuquerque has a vibrant music and theater scene, with many venues offering live performances throughout the year.
(7) Discover New Mexican Cuisine
Food is always fun. There’s Mexican food, Tex-Mex food, and New Mexican food. Each has its own unique flavors, ingredients, and cooking styles. New Mexican food is a fusion of Native American and Spanish styles, featuring chile and the Three Sisters: corn, squash, and beans. Visit Albuquerque restaurants that feature authentic New Mexican cuisine and be sure to ask for your chile Christmas-style so you can try both red and green sauces on the same dish.
(8) Explore Nature
The city leaders of Albuquerque have long focused on preserving open spaces for recreation and supporting wildlife. You can find numerous parks and trails along the Rio Grande, into the foothills, and in the desert. There’s even one open space preserving farmland! Hike, bike, bird, explore, and have fun!