Are you looking for things to do today in Albuquerque? This beautiful New Mexico city beats out Denver as the highest metropolitan city in the U.S. and is towered over by the 10,000-foot peaks of the Sandia Mountains, watermelon-colored at sunset with breathtaking grandeur. Whether you are a native burqueño or just passing through New Mexico, Albuquerque offers a host of fun and interesting things to do any time of year!
The most populous city in New Mexico, Albuquerque is famous for its large annual events such as the Gathering of Nations, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and the New Mexico State Fair. Maybe you’re visiting to attend one of these events and have one more day to explore some of the best Albuquerque has to offer or you’re here for just one day. No matter the circumstances, if you only have a day or two in Albuquerque, we have ideas for you!
What to see in Albuquerque in one day?
You don’t need to wait for the fall balloon fiesta. You can book a ride on a hot air balloon any day of the year or take the tram up to Sandia Peak where you can see nearly 10 percent of New Mexico spread out before you.
For an easy morning, enjoy a leisurely venture around Old Town where Albuquerque’s plaza holds center court. Wander down narrow back alleys where unique arts and crafts shops wait to surprise you. You’ll find vendors of fine art-quality pottery, crafts, paintings, and jewelry. Also, popular museums are located nearby.
Spend the evening relaxing in town, with fine dining and nightlife including multiple venues for live music performances, featuring local musicians and dancers, as well as world-class performers from salsa and samba, to classical and orchestral, from ballet to punk, reggae, and hip hop.
Dining and Nightlife
In a metropolitan area with nearly a million residents, Albuquerque boasts a huge selection of restaurants dedicated to our unique New Mexican cuisine, which emphasizes native Pueblo dishes and local produce, with a hint of South American flavor influence. However, Albuquerque’s dining options specialize in more than New Mexican cuisine.
Restaurant fare in Albuquerque spans from grand American-style roadhouse fare to Brazilian and Argentinian-influenced steakhouses, to upscale restaurants proffering fine culinary dishes inspired by French, Italian, Japanese, Salvadoran, Thai, and Vietnamese styles and flavors, just to mention a few!
If visiting Albuquerque during the winter holidays, you may be enchanted simply by strolling the city streets of old adobe neighborhoods lit up with traditional farolitos, paper bags glowing thanks to small candles inside. Wrap up the evening sipping an authentic añejo from a rooftop bar while taking in the panoramic lights and colors of the city skyline.
If tequila’s not your thing, Albuquerque has several nationally known craft breweries and vintage wineries, as well as multiple tea shops featuring fine and exotic tea samplings and collectibles.
Albuquerque’s restaurants have long built a reputation by catering to travelers of all sorts, including businesspeople, tourists, and road trip enthusiasts. That old song expresses it perfectly, “from Tehachapi to Tonopah” — Albuquerque is your gateway to old Route 66 road trip adventures!
Old Route 66 is famous for its funky old motels and renovated diners, historic B&Bs, antiques, and curiosity shops. Food trucks abound in Albuquerque, offering everything from a quick burrito or taquito to more fine culinary fare.
Green and red chile roasts can be found on street corners in late summer and early autumn. The aroma delightfully leads you to its source. Still, you can find the best deliciously roasted chile here any day of the year, frozen and available in nearly every grocery and convenience store.
A day trip in Albuquerque provides spectacular views no matter where you travel within the city, most notably the cooling greenery of the sprawling cottonwoods towering along the Rio Grande. This land, called the bosque, permeates the heart of the city and forms the spine of the rich Rio Grande Valley. This is a great place to escape the bustle of the city and take yourself, your family, and your pets out for a cooling reprieve.
The unique museums in Albuquerque devote themselves to everything from natural history to science and technology. Some are devoted to “simply” the history of turquoise, for example. Others, to specific military histories including the development of aviation, or to the history and the culture of the tribes native to the Southwest.
Contemporary art museums abound, including those focusing on Chicano culture. In addition, the Duke City and its universities are proud to sponsor street art, and you may be surprised to turn any street corner and find murals and sculptures galore.
Also, Albuquerque offers not only balloon tours but intriguing tours of all sorts, from ghost tours of hotels and historically haunted institutions to the sites where hundreds of film productions have been made over the years, including the famous television series, Breaking Bad.
Nearby and certainly within day trips, are important sites of nuclear and space exploration, as well as old ghost towns and sites of possible alien encounters. From the natural beauty of the bosque along the essential water source of the Rio Grande to a large metropolitan zoo and botanical gardens featuring animals and plants of the Southwest as well as Japanese gardens, you have many choices to spend your day fabulously.
As for sports, nearby day trips can be made for gaming, fishing, and hunting, as well as for white water rafting and kayak river running. Or go catch a game of one of Albuquerque’s popular professional and college sports teams, featuring New Mexico United soccer games, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and even professional indoor football teams. World-level competitions for BMX and auto racing are also popular here year-round.
Sandia Peak Tramway
One of the most popular things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is to ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway to the top of the mountain. This 2.7-mile-long tramway takes visitors to a height of 10,378 feet, where there are unparalleled views of the city and countryside below.
The Sandia Peak Tram is open daily from 9 a.m. with the last tram up the mountain departing at 8 p.m. The departure time for the last tram down differs, so check with an employee at the top of the hill to find out.
As you can see, a day trip in Albuquerque offers you a wide choice of experiences, including petroglyphs, nature walks, rooftop bars and dining, world-class museums, tours of movie filming sites, and eclectic shops of historic memorabilia.
How can you spend one day in Albuquerque? Choose wisely and, well, save the rest for your next one-day in Albuquerque adventure! If you need some help to narrow it down, check out our comprehensive list of things to do in Albuquerque.