Things to Do in Albuquerque

We are excited to be heading to the Southwest for our 34th Annual Conference on October 25-27! We’re excited to be heading to one of the oldest cities in the US - Albuquerque, New Mexico. Keep reading to see why this city brings together the past and the present against the backdrop of desert, mountains, and blue sky. To learn more about this vibrant city, go here.

Places to See: Old Town

The conference will be held at the Hotel Albuquerque, in the heart of historic Old Town. This part of the city was founded by the Spanish governor of New Mexico, Francisco Cuervo y Valdés. Laws that were in effect at the time required a plaza be built at the center of any villa. Fast forward to today, centered around the original plaza, Albuquerque's Old Town is made up of about ten blocks of historic adobe buildings. Early settlers built their homes and shops around the local church. Now, many of those buildings have been converted into restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. There are over 100 stores and galleries that feature a variety of Southwestern artwork, jewelry, and pottery, just to name a few.

The façade of Old Town looks much like it did centuries ago. There still is Pueblo-Spanish style architecture that features flat-roofed buildings that reflect the Southwestern landscape. To beat the desert heat, some buildings have long portals (porches) and bancos (benches) are often found built into the back walls of these portals, encouraging walkers to take respite from the sun.

Old Town’s plaza is still bustling with activity, just as it was 300 years ago!

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain Rd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104

See world-class exhibitions, enjoy the sculpture garden, or take a walking guided tour of Old Town to learn about its history and its people.

American International Rattlesnake Museum
202 San Felipe St. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104

Those with ophidiophobia may want to steer clear of this destination. This museum has the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the world. Explore the myths and mysteries of creatures that are found in the Southwest.

Explora Science Center and Children's Museum
1701 Mountain Rd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104

Families and kids of all ages will enjoy New Mexico's premier hands-on innovative learning center. Enjoy exhibits, programs, theater performances, and events in science, technology, and art.

Ghost Tour of Old Town Presented by History & Ghost Tours of Old Town
303 Romero St. NW, Plaza Don Luis - Space # N-120
Albuquerque, NM 87104

Hear stories about those who have made Old Town Albuquerque their final resting place. This 105-minute lantern-lit adventure will be led by a professional tour guide. Don’t forget to bring a camera – many guests have captured unexplained images on their photos during their tour.

Places to See: The Outdoors

Albuquerque boasts, on average, 310 days of sunshine. Take advantage of the weather and head outdoors. The desert conditions mean that it may be sunny in the afternoon, but on the cool side in the evening. The average high for October in Albuquerque is around 72°F and then drops to an overnight temperature of about 44°F.

Explore trails that crisscross the Sandia and Manzano Mountains that are adjacent to Albuquerque, making them the ideal place for hiking and biking.

ABQ BioPark
903 10th St. SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

ABQ BioPark is comprised of the Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Rio Grande Zoo, and Tingley Beach (fishing lakes). The park welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors per year, making it a top place to visit for those in New Mexico. Its vision is to connect people, plants, and animals.

Petroglyph National Monument
6510 Western Trail NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120

Petroglyph National Monument gives the opportunity for visitors to see petroglyphs (rock carvings) that were carved onto volcanic rocks 400 to 700 years ago. Archaeologists estimate that there are over 25,000 images within the monument boundary.

Public Works of Art

In 1978, the City of Albuquerque began an initiative to set aside 1% of the city’s construction funds for the purchase or commission of works of arts. As a result, fine works of art are found all around the city.  On walls across the city, murals express the diverse culture of the city. See some examples on this site:

Sandia Peak Tramway
30 Tramway Rd. NE
Albuquerque, NM

For an amazing view, this is a must! Head out to the world’s longest tramway to the top of the observation deck, 10,378 feet above sea level. On a clear day, the view encompasses 11,000 square miles!

New Mexico is home to 19 Pueblo tribes, each of which are a sovereign nation. Pueblo people have preserved their identity and traditional culture, but at the same time, live in modern houses and work and live both on and off their reservations. Their beliefs and actions are guided by their core values of love, respect, compassion, faith, understanding, spirituality, balance, peace, and empathy. They still participate in traditional celebrations throughout the year.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12th St. NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104

This word-class museum and cultural center was created so the Pueblo people could tell their story. This is a great first stop as an introduction to New Mexico’s landscape, legacy, and people. The center hosts traditional Native American dances every weekend and offers a schedule of cultural and educational events. Pueblo communities welcome visitors, but ask that visitors read the guidelines on their website. It is recommended to call the Pueblo directly at least two days before visiting to ensure the community is open to visitors.

Food and Drink

Of course, one of the standouts of visiting New Mexico is the food! Many dishes include native ingredients like corn and squash and incorporates Mexican, Native American, and Spanish flavors. The local cuisine usually features chilies. It’s no wonder that New Mexico designated the chile, along with frijoles (pinto beans), as the state's official vegetables.

For the over 21 crowd, there are plenty of options to enjoy the craft beer scene. Albuquerque was named a Top 10 beer destination from Travelocity and Beer & Brewing magazine named the city one of the nation’s “best beercation” spots. While breweries can be found across the city, many are clustered in the Brewery District (off Candelaria Road and I-25). More info can be found here.

Those looking for a caffeine fix might want to check out the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company. The coffee is made from the piñon nut, which comes from the piñon pine trees that are found in the Southwestern US. The coffee is roasted in small batches with beans from Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, and then combined with the piñon nuts. The result is a cup of nut-flavored coffee that does not have any artificial flavorings. Want to try this unique cup of joe? Go here to find a location:

Unique to Albuquerque

The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum
9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

While we will just miss the International Balloon Fiesta that brings thousands of visitors to the area, the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum is a must see to learn about hot air ballooning. Learn about early ballooning history, see actual gondolas (the basket underneath the balloon), and replicas of balloons that made transatlantic flights. The museum also has a theater that plays an overview of the Balloon Fiesta.

Breaking Bad RV Tours
1919 Old Town Rd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104

Miss the award-winning show Breaking Bad? Take a three-hour tour in an RV just like the one found on the show. The tour includes spots from the TV show like Jessie's house, the Car Wash, Superlab, and others. Locations from Breaking Bad’s prequel, Better Call Saul, and a light lunch at Los Pollo's Hermano's or Blakes Lotaburger are included. After the tour, hop on over to The Candy Lady, 424 San Felipe St. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, which offers blue ice candy that was inspired by the hit TV show.

Local tip: Albuquerque is considered “high desert” due to it’s is surprisingly high altitude. Be sure to drink a lot of water and to take it easy to avoid altitude sickness.

Top image by Amber Avalona from Pixabay.