Being New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque has a lot going for it! With oodles of history, gorgeous cafes and some stunning natural spots just outside the city itself, it’s the kind of place that’s amazing for a city break. In fact, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Albuquerque that are perfect to include as part of a wider trip to explore New Mexico’s best spots.
We totally loved our road trip through New Mexico and had the best time exploring the state! From taking a gander at all the aliens in Roswell to visiting Santa Fe and the great outdoors, it’s the kind of state that’s got a little something for every type of traveller.
This is exactly why I wanted to share some totally epic places to visit in Albuquerque that you really shouldn’t miss.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Albuquerque. Have a great time!
1.) Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Taking place annually, the International Balloon Fiesta is one of the best things to do in Albuquerque if you’re visiting in early October. You see, it’s the largest hot air balloon festival in North America (if not, the world) with hundreds of balloons taking to the skies above the city.
During the 9-day festival, you’ll be able to ride the balloons, see the most amazing firework displays and watch the mass ascension (which is incredible).
Though don’t fret if you’re not visiting in October, you can still get your ballon fix by heading to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum. Inside you can learn everything there is to know about ballooning, from its history to its development as a modern-day sport. There is even a balloon flight simulator that you can fly and test your balloon flying prowess.
Though, if at all possible, try to schedule your trip around the annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, you won’t be disappointed!
2.) Petroglyph National Monument
Around a 15-minute drive from the centre of Albuquerque, the Petroglyph National Monument is the iconic site of New Mexico’s famous petroglyphs that you really can’t miss.
Created by carving designs into the rock walls of Albuquerque’s West Mesa, a volcanic escarpment on the city’s west side, the centuries-old petroglyphs can be explored by hiking up the trails that criss-cross this national monument.
Though, be warned, that some of the trails can be pretty long. Make sure to do your research and choose the right trail (and intensity) that’s perfect for you; we loved the Rinconada Canyon Trail.
Oh, and pack lots of water and sunblock; there’s little shade!
With around 15,000 prehistoric petroglyphs to see, you’re gonna be spoilt for choice!
3.) Sandia Peak
For some of the best views across the region, head up Sandia Peak!
Of course, there are lots of routes (like the Sandia Man Cave Trail and the Domingo Baca Canyon Trail) to see some epic views of the region but the tramway is our total favourite.
Without any arduous climbs, the Sandia Peak Tramway will take you up over ten thousand feet looking out over Albuquerque and beyond. The views are stunning.
Also, if you’re something of a winter sports lover, then make sure to visit when the ski runs on Sandia Peak are open. Plus, they have a rental service so you don’t need to cart all your ski gear to Albuquerque!
4.) American International Rattlesnake Museum
Located in Albuquerque’s Old Town, the Rattlesnake Museum is an animal conservation museum dedicated to educating the public on, and raising awareness about, rattlesnakes in the US.
Not for everyone, this is a more quirky museum spot where you can learn more about rattlesnakes and their habitats, the different species and the ecosystems they support.
Afterwards, take a trip over to The Candy Lady for their homemade fudge that’s too delicious to miss. With caramels, chocolate, liquorice, toffee and brittle, The Candy Lady is an Albuquerque gem!
5.) Albuquerque Museum
One of the best things to do in Albuquerque, the Museum is a must-visit whilst exploring the city. Housing thousands of exhibits, it focuses on the rich history of the American Southwest and the wider region around Albuquerque itself.
You might even get to see some of their exhibitions featuring works of art from the greats like; Frida Khalo and modernist art that’s so incredible to see.
Honestly, you can easily spend a whole day here so plan your timing wisely. You won’t want to rush a visit here.
6.) Rio Grande Nature Centre
The Rio Grande Nature Center is within easy reach of downtown Albuquerque and totally easy to visit for a few hours away from the streets.
Once here, you’ll get to explore the park and learn more about the ecosystem and ecology of this really special place.
Now, although the park might seem quite small (something like 40-acres), it’s got a heap of trails that pass by and are easily explored by foot or bike. For instance, the Paseo del Bosque Trail is totally easy to jump on from the nature centre that stretches for over fifteen miles.
Plus, it’s really easy to partner with a trip to the Petroglyph National Monument that’s just a stone’s throw away!
7.) Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre
Operated by New Mexico’s 19 Indian Pueblos, visiting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre is one of the best things to do in Albuquerque.
Drop-in for the mural tour, learn about Pueblo Indian history as well as New Mexico history, soak in Native American pottery and ancient art, and watch traditional dance performances. It’s such a great way to learn more about Native American history and its importance.
Perched right on the fringes of Old Town Albuquerque, it’s totally easy to visit.
8.) San Felipe de Neri Church
Possibly Alberquerue’s oldest (still standing) buildings, the San Felipe de Neri is a must-visit spot if you’re interested in the centuries of history within the city.
You see, the San Felipe de Neri was built back in the 1700s and was the first Catholic Church erected in the city.
To this day, the church is still used to hold daily Mass, but also holds tours to take a gander inside. It’s stunning to see and well worth exploring whilst in the Old Town.
9.) Taos Pueblo
Okay, so Taos Pueblo might not be within Albuquerque but it’s well worth a day trip to this historic city!
Nestled around 2.5-hours from downtown Albuquerque, Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 1-millennia of history to see.
Today, it’s a Native American community that’s still present and active in maintaining the history and culture of Taos Pueblo and a great place to learn more about the vast and long Native American history in New Mexico.
Once here, be sure to wander around the city, visit the independent stalls and businesses and learn more through the morning footraces. It’s incredible.
Afterwards, don’t forget to take a gander to the San Francisco de Asis Church that’s stood for centuries. It’s around a 15-minute drive from the Hlauuma and Hlaukwima Houses of Taos Pueblo and really easy to spot.
10.) Poco A Poco Plaza
Situated right in the heart of Old Town Albuquerque, Poco A Poco Plaza is a great little place for a gander whilst strolling the streets of the historic centre.
Here, you’ll find a mix of galleries, cafes and little trinket spots that are too good to miss.
Plus, you can easily partner this up with a wider trip to the Natural History Museum or the nearby Explora Museum.