Albuquerque's Quirks: 15 Fun Things To Do On Your Family Vacation

Albuquerque's Quirks: 15 Fun Things To Do On Your Family Vacation

Straddling the Rio Grande and situated high in the desert of the USA’s state of New Mexico, Albuquerque is a city packed with history, culture, and fun activities. Initially colonised by the Spanish, Albuquerque has a rich culture and heritage that you can explore in various museums and cultural centres. The city also receives near constant sunshine and blue skies, making it perfect for outdoor adventures. From hot air balloon rides to getting up close and personal with sharks, Albuquerque definitely has something fun for everyone! Here are 15 activities in Albuquerque that are perfect for the whole family:

1. Ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

The Sandia Peak Tramway offers breathtaking views of the Sandia Mountains
Source: iStock

The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway soars above the northeast edge of the city and the Sandia Mountains, offering breath-taking views of the rugged mountains. The tramway is the longest aerial tram in North America.

The tram goes to the crest of the western side of the Sandia Mountains. You can enjoy a good meal at one of the restaurants there, or opt to go for a hike along one of the wilderness trails.

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

Address: 30 Tramway Road NE

Price: 25 USD for adults, 20 USD for seniors (above 62), military personnel, and children between 13 and 20 years old, 15 USD for children between 5 and 12 years old

Opening Hours: 9 am - 9 pm (last uphill trip) in summer, 9 am - 8 pm in fall / winter

Contact: +1 505-856-7325

Website: Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

2. Spend a day at the Albuquerque Biological Park

The Albuquerque (ABQ) Biological Park is the perfect place to spend a whole day with the kids. The park is made up of four facilities: Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Zoo, Rio Grande Botanic Gardens, and Tingely Beach.

Rio Grande Zoo is home to over 250 species of animals, many of which are endangered. There’s also an awesome playground for your kids to end the day in. The Botanic Gardens offer a lush environment with butterflies and insects to discover. It also has a majestic glass conservatory with plants from desert climate zones and the Mediterranean.

Albuquerque Biological Park

Address: 903 10th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, United States

Price: Combination tickets (access to zoo, gardens, and aquarium) are 20 USD for adults, 10 USD for seniors and 6 USD for children aged 3 to 12. Children below 3 enter for free

Opening Hours: 9 am - 4.30 pm. Closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. From June to August, the park is open till 6 pm on weekends and in the summer holidays

Contact: +1 505-764-6200

Website: ABQ BioPark

3. Come face-to-face with a shark at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium

The ABQ BioPark Aquarium features a huge viewing tank. You can sit in the dark room and enjoy the peacefulness of watching the marine life in the tank, or stop by the jellyfish tank to watch the enchanting and adorable sight of the sea jellies bobbing in the water. The fearsome sharks are often a big hit with kids.

Although the ABQ aquarium isn’t very big, it’s a great place that is sure to enthral the kids. A plus point about the size is that it’ll fit nicely into a day of visiting the zoo and the botanic gardens.

4. Go fishing at Tingley Beach

Tingley Beach is actually a series of ponds that were built in the 1930s by diverting water from the Rio Grande. Today, it is one of the most popular recreational spots in Albuquerque. You can’t swim at the beach, but fishing enthusiasts can catch trout and catfish there. Otherwise, Tingley Beach offers trails for walking, cycling, and hiking. It’s a nice place to spend a day surrounded by nature. If fishing isn’t your thing, you could always pack a picnic basket, a pack of cards, and play a game of Go Fish by the water.

Tingley Beach

Address: 1800 Tingley Dr SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

Opening Hours: Sunrise to sunset

5. Get goosebumps on a ghost tour through Old Town, Albuquerque

Beneath the surface of modern Albuquerque are stories of hangings, duels, and murders. For a spine-chilling adventure through the paranormal side of Albuquerque, why not join the Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk?

The ghost walk will take you past some of the city’s historic and supposedly haunted sites, such as the KiMo theatre, where a boy is said to have died, and the Wool Warehouse Theater, which is said to be haunted by a previous owner. Your tour guides are experienced paranormal investigators. Along the tour, you can expect to learn about accounts of ghost sightings, how paranormal activity is detected, and the history about some of the sites.

Some guests have said that they felt ‘experiences’ along the tour … the only way to find out if they’re telling the truth is to experience it for yourself!

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk

Price: 22 USD for adults, 18 USD for those aged 18 and under

Contact: +1 505-200-2642

Albucreepy Downtown Ghost Walk

6. Explore the trails at the Petroglyph National Monument

The Petroglyph National Monument is one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America.
Source: iStock

The petroglyphs of Albuquerque are designs that were carved into the area’s volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish Settlers around 400 to 700 years ago. The Petroglyph National Monument is one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America.

You can take a trek through history with the trails that wind through the park. The trails differ in terms of difficulty and length, so be sure to check out the park’s website before you go! Remember that the petroglyphs hold spiritual and cultural importance to Native Americans and descendants of the Spanish settlers, so be respectful and take care of the park while you’re there.

Petroglyph National Monument

Address: 6510 Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States

Price: There is no admission fee, but there is a 1 USD parking fee on weekdays, 2 USD on weekends

Opening Hours: 8 am - 5 pm year-round

Contact: +1 (505) 899-0205 x335

Website: Petroglyph National Monument

7. Play and learn at the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum

Touching the exhibits isn’t frowned on in Explora. In fact, it’s highly encouraged. Explora Science Centre and Children’s Museum offers an interactive way of learning about science, maths, and art. It boasts 250 hands-on learning exhibits and displays.

For an afternoon of curious fun and exploration, definitely brings the little ones here!

Explora Science Center and Children's Museum

Address: 1701 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

Price: Admission ranges from 4 USD to 8 USD

Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm from Mondays to Saturdays. 12 noon - 6 pm on Sundays

Contact: +1 505-224-8300

Website: Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum

8. Spot wildlife along Paseo del Bosque

Paso del Bosque
Source: Pixabay

Paseo del Bosque is the king of trails in Albuquerque. It traces the Rio de Grande and goes right through the centre of town, but you’ll never guess that from the forests and greenery surrounding the Bosque. The entire trail is 16 miles (25.7 kilometres) long, and will you take past picnic areas and wetlands. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot wildlife like roadrunners, coyotes, or deer.

You can rent a bike and cycle along the Bosque, or just go for a stroll and enjoy an escape from the cityscape.

9. Scream your lungs out at Cliff’s Amusement Park

Cliff’s Amusement Park offers a whole range of adrenaline-pumping activities for everyone in the family. A famous ride is the Fireball, a coaster that takes you 80 feet (24 metres) into the air and spins 13 times a minute. If you prefer a slightly tamer ride, Cliff’s Amusement Park is divided into Thrill Rides, Family Rides, and Kiddyland. So, you can be assured that everyone will get their dose of adrenaline and fun. In the summer months, you can head over to Cliff’s Watermania and get soaked too.

Cliff's Amusement Park

Address: 4800 Osuna Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, United States

Price: General Admission is 8.95 USD. General admission for children under three is free

Opening Hours: Park hours are generally 11 am - 5 pm. Exact timings can be found here.

Duration: around 3 hours required

Contact: +65-88888888

Website: Cliff’s Amusement Park

10. Rattle your nerves at the American International Rattlesnake Museum

This definitely isn’t for those who are scared of snakes! If you haven’t already guessed, the American International Rattlesnake Museum is a living museum that focuses on rattlesnakes and educating the public about these reptiles.

The museum has the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the world. They also have a Gila monster, one of the few venomous lizards in the world. The snakes are presented in enclosures that recreate their natural habitat as much as possible. The exhibits and staff are highly informative, and you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the rattlesnake.

American International Rattlesnake Museum

Address: 202 San Felipe St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

Price: Admission for adults is 5 USD, admission for kids is 3 USD, and admission for seniors, military personnel, and students is 4 USD

Opening Hours: September to May Monday - Friday: 11.30 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm, Sunday: 1 pm - 5 pm, summer months Monday - Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm, Sunday: 1 pm - 5 pm

Duration: 1 - 2 hours

Contact: +1 505-242-6569

Website: American International Rattlesnake Museum

11. Soar above the city in a hot air balloon

The annual Balloon Fiesta is something that cannot be missed
Source: iStock

Albuquerque claims to be the hot air ballooning capital of the world. The state’s calm, clear skies and moderate temperatures are extremely conducive to ballooning. There are over 300 resident balloonists in the state, and it isn’t uncommon to see balloons in the sky. You can approach any local ballooning company to go on a hot air balloon ride above the city.

Albuquerque’s love for ballooning is so strong, in fact, that they host the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The fiesta brings together ballooning enthusiasts from all over the world to celebrate their love of ballooning. The fiesta involves over 500 balloons filling the New Mexico sky. The Balloon Fiesta takes place in early October, and if you’re going to New Mexico then it is something that can’t be missed.

12. Go on a high-flying adventure at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum

In line with Albuquerque’s obsession with ballooning, the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to the history of balloon flight.

The displays in the museum are exciting and informative. They combine state-of-the-art technology with historic artefacts to create a fun and educational experience. You can learn about the science behind how balloons fly, how balloons were used in war, and all about recreational ballooning today. The exhibits also cover the history of ballooning, detailing how the balloon has been used in exploratory missions, experiments, and sports.

Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

Address: 9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States

Price: Children 3 and under enter for free. Children 4 - 12: 2 USD. Adults: 4 USD. Seniors 65+: 2 USD

Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on public holidays

Duration: 2 - 3 hours

Contact: +1 505-768-6020

Website: Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

13. Cycle around the city on the Duke City Pedaler

This is one for the adults! If travelling as a group take turns to mind the kids for a couple of evenings and let each other go for a kid-free night out. For a fun and fresh take on a city tour, grab some friends and hop on the Duke City Pedaler. It’s a 14-passenger ‘party-bike’, where the passengers cycle their way through the city, with the help of an electrical motor. Basically, it’s a party on wheels.

The tour takes you through various sights in the city, and stops at different restaurants, pubs, and bars. Only 10 passengers pedal at any time, so if you get tired you can always swap out. You can book a group ride with your friends, or opt for a single ride and meet some new people.

Duke City Pedaler

Address: The Factory, 219 Central Ave NW, STE. 102, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Price: from 30 USD per person

Duration: 2 hours

Contact: +1 505-200-2642

Website: Duke City Pedaler

14. Watch a traditional dance at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center celebrates the living culture and history of the Native American Pueblo peoples. The cultures of the Pueblo are varied and diverse, and for thousands of years the southwestern part of the United States of America was their home.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center displays and celebrates the culture and achievements of the Pueblo peoples. It features historical artefacts, sculptures, and artwork. It also has an exhibit that features the work of contemporary Pueblo artists. Seasonal cycles are celebrated with prayers, song, and dance in Pueblo culture, and the center showcases dances every week, all year round. Dances take place on weekends, and timings vary according to the season.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Address: 2401 12th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

Price: Children (under 5): Free. Children (5 - 17): 5.40 USD. Adults: 8.40 USD. Seniors: 6.40 USD

Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm, closed on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day

Contact: +1 505-843-7270

Website: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

15. Count birds at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

Located on the east bank of the Rio Grande, the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park is popular amongst birdwatchers. There are various viewing areas that are both outdoor and indoor, with some overlooking ponds and thus offering a good chance of seeing some aquatic birds. It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon surrounded by nature. The hummingbird feeders attract plenty of hummingbirds, geese and wood ducks frequent the ponds, and the occasional roadrunner can be found in the vegetation.

You can also opt to go for a hike along Paseo del Bosque or stop by the visitor centre to learn more about the park and the birds in it.

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

Address: 2901 Candelaria Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107, United States

Opening Hours: 8 am - 5 pm

Contact: +1 505-344-7240

Website: Rio Grande Nature Center State Park

Southwestern USA awaits you!

Albuquerque might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a family vacation, but going somewhere different makes the trip all the more special! Whether you’re soaring above the city in a hot air balloon or exploring living museums, Albuquerque will leave you and your family with wonderful memories.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Belicia is a clueless child in between polytechnic and university. She loves playing with words and cameras, and in her free time tries to stay curious and keep exploring the world. To her, the...Read more

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