Albuquerque is the largest city in the southwestern state of New Mexico, with a metro area poplulation of about 800,000. There are plenty of things to do in Albuquerque. These are my 10 favorites. They aren't listed in any particular order.
- The Balloon Fiesta - Every October for two weeks, around 700 balloonists come to Albuquerque to participate in the largest balloon rally in the world. The balloons take off every morning during mass ascension. They take off in three different waves, about a half hour apart, so that they don't hit each other. It's amazing to see that many balloons in the sky together at once. There is nothing else like it in the world; a truly unique experience.
- The Tram and the Sandia Mountains - The tram whisks you up the mountainside to a small outpost at the top. Along the way, you are treated to stunning views of Albuquerque and the mountainside. At the top, there is a restaurant. Be sure to take advantage of the hiking trails. You can walk all of the way to the Sandia Crest, which has a restaurant and gift shop. It's an easy way to spend a day outside of the city.
- Old Town - Old Town is where Albuquerque started. The area around the plaza is filled with art galleries, shops and restaurants. The old church is also woth a visit. If you're into touristy stuff, take the "ghost tour."
- Albuquerque BioPark - The BioPark encompasses the zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens and Tingley Beach. The zoo has a great selection of animals, and is supposed to be getting penguins soon. The aquarium has giant fish tanks that take up whole rooms and an interesting jellyfish tank. The new Japanese Garden is amazing. The Heritage Farm is great for kids and has farm animals, growing crops and sometimes hay rides. Tingley Beach is a great place to fish since they regularly stock the ponds. There is a train that runs between all three parts of the BioPark. It's a nice way to be able to explore the entire area, without having to drive and re-park your car, but it's very slow.
- Petroglyph National Monument - Petroglyph National Monument features thousands of pictographs and drawings drawn by ancient Native Americans that lived in the area thousands of years ago. The were carved into the mesas on the west side of town. There are a few nice hikes that take you along the mesa bottom past some spectacular petroglyphs.
- Explora - If you have kids, then Explora is a must. It's a large interactive science center, where kids are encouraged to play games and do hands-on experiments. Adults can even have fun here too by riding a bike on a wire thrity feet above the ground!
- Natural History Museum - Directly across the street from Explora and within easy walking distance of Old Town is the Natural History Museum. There's an excellent mineral display and dinosaur exhibit. Plus, don't miss out on the IMAX theater.
- Attending a Basketball Game at The Pit - There's something about Lobo basketball taht distinguishes it from every other team. Fan support is tremendous and it gets tremendously loud in there during games, especially versus New Mexico State and BYU. The decibel during a game was measured a couple of years ago and was found equal to a 747! The Pit has been named one of the 10 best places in the country to see a college basketball game for a reason.
- Central Avenue - Route 66 has lost much of its old time charm, but is still a great place to explore. Along its length, roadside motels with neon signs dot both sides of the road as you make your way towards downtown. Nob Hill is a neighborhood along Central that has many unique shops selling almost everything that you can you imagine, and probably a few things that you can't. Further west is the famous Frontier Restaurant. It's very popular with college students since the university is right across the street and is also a wonderful place to people watch. Be sure to visit the historic KiMo Theater downtown. If possible, buy a ticket to see whatever's playing, so you are able to see the inside.
- Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - If you don't know much about the Native cultures present in New Mexico, this is the place to go. They have live dances, pottery classes, bread making and many more activities. The gift shops and restaurants are great as well.
Albuquerque has many great places to explore. The best method of getting around for tourists is to rent a car, especially if you are planning to go to take the tram or visit the petroglyphs, since these are on the edge of town. The first tour company to operate in Albuquerque opened up a couple of years ago. ABQ Trolley Co. offers trolley tours of the city.