Planning a trip to the Southwest? Albuquerque, the most populous city in New Mexico, has plenty of family activities to choose from. Not only is Albuquerque the hot air ballooning capital of the world, it also has many museums; water and amusement parks; a zoo; and other attractions. Here are some attractions truly unique to Albuquerque:
Move to the Pueblo Dance
The city of Albuquerque maintains a rich Pueblo Indian culture. From Noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, visitors to The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center can catch live dance performances and storytelling from Pueblo Indians. The dancers hail from the 19 different Pueblos throughout New Mexico, as do the hundreds of Pueblo artifacts throughout the center’s museum. But don’t take photos during the performances— it’s Pueblo Etiquette. A regular stop for many locals, the center’s Pueblo Harvest Café offers a modern spin on traditional Pueblo dishes, with unique menu items such as blue corn pancakes, and pueblo pies with cherry, peach, or pumpkin filling.
Eat Like a True New Mexican
Sadie’s of New Mexico and El Pinto have been serving up authentic New Mexican dishes to families in Albuquerque for decades. The two restaurants’ homemade chili sauces are quite popular even outside of Albuquerque, which is why they can be found in grocery stores throughout the country. Local tasting advice: ask a server for ‘Christmas,’ and they’ll bring you red chili sauce and green chili sauce side by side.
Pet an Alpaca, Leave Wearing Alpaca
Long-necked, fury alpacas gallop around daily at Albuquerque Alpacas, where ranchers Skip and Stacie host visitors throughout the year for ranch tours, live alpaca birthings, and private events. Families who venture into the ranch store will find a wide variety of apparel and home décor items, including socks, sweaters and rugs, all hand-dyed and handmade from alpaca fleece gathered on site. Insider tip: an alpaca named Belle will let you take a selfie with her if you’re lucky.
Take a Ride up the Watermelon Mountains
Bordering the eastern edge of Albuquerque, the Sandia Mountains glow pink at sundown – which is fitting as Sandia means “watermelon” in Spanish. Not only are the mountains beautiful, they offer skiing in the winter and plenty of other outdoor activities during the summer months. The tramway transports adventurers 10,378 feet up to the Sandia Peak observation deck where they can experience an 11,000-square-mile panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley. For hours of operation, visit the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway website.
Explore Rattlesnakes and Turquoise
Visitors to the American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque may be surprised to learn there are 34 kinds of rattlesnakes in the world, and they all come from North, Central and South America. Shockingly, museum director Bob Myers has only been bitten once since he opened the museum in 1990. The museum calls rattlesnakes a misunderstood corner of the animal kingdom, and invites families to venture inside, cure their phobias and learn a thing or two.
But if snakes aren’t appealing, try The Turquoise Museum. The Turquoise Museum, which features the bluish green mineral known as turquoise, has been located in Old Town for more than 40 years. Some turquoise samples are as large as pancakes, and many come from the historic mines of the Southwest. The museum is open Monday through Saturday and offers a store filled with authentic and rare turquoise jewelry.