Discover the best things to do in Albuquerque with this guide. Hikes, culture, cuisine and plenty more.

Ready to dive into a world of endless adventure and excitement? Look no further than the amazing experiences that Albuquerque has to offer.

Before I visited ABQ, my only references to the city were from its huge annual Balloon Fiesta and Breaking Bad (not quite the impression it wants to give, I’m sure). Then the check-in staff at my first hotel low-level slammed the city as boring and insipid and I questioned whether it had been worth coming at all. 

I’m here to tell you… the haters are wrong. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or foodie, ABQ is a ridiculously underrated US city. 

Get ready to explore this incredible city with the help of this practical AF guide – and don’t forget to bring your appetite for spice – ‘cos chiles are ABQ’s thing big time.

Want to take a sneak peek? Watch my video on cool things to do in Albuquerque! 

Psst, are you looking for a place to stay in this desert oasis? Book a room at Hotel Chapo for a sleek stay in the heart of Albuquerque.

Top 5 Things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Take Off on a Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Ballooning Albuquerque

In a city notorious for its massive International Balloon Fiesta, it’s a no-brainer to head to the skies. Although the festival usually takes place in October, you can hop on a hot air balloon anytime of the year (weather permitting of course).

Take it from me, there’s no better feeling than gliding above the golden city at sunrise and it was hands down one of the highlights of my time in Albuquerque. 

Not to mention that a balloon flight is the best way to fully appreciate the beauty of the Bosque Forest and Rio Grande. You’ll have a chance to admire the blue waters of Rio Grande as they snake through the lush forest and picturesque city. 

To top off an already luxurious experience, end the trip by popping open a bottle of champers or glugging down a mimosa. I went with Rainbow Ryders and would very much recommend them for your epic aeronautical experience.

Book Your ABQ Balloon Ride Here

Admire the Scenery on the Sandia Peak Tramway

Sandia Peak Tramway 

You might question whether the 20-minute drive from downtown to the Sandia Peak Tramway is worth it, but I’ll answer the question for you –  it very much is. 

This 15-minute scenic tram to Sandia Peak should be on every Albuquerque itinerary – it’s just that unforgettable.

I went up this mesmerising mountain in winter, so it was bitterly cold, but even I stopped whingeing about the cold when the scale of the mountainous winter wonderland revealed itself. That said, visiting in the warmer months is much better for exploring the Cibola National Forest as the trails aren’t hidden under 5 ft of fresh powder.

If you’re looking for hikes, the best of the bunch is the 1.1-mile Scandia Cave Trail. But if you want something more challenging, you can always head back down from the top of Sandia Peak on the 7.5-mile La Luz Trail.

Alternatively, nibble on something tasty at Ten 3 Restaurant before heading down. But remember to reserve a table in advance as it’s always busy.

Top Tip: You must book a tramway ticket online, which you can do on the Sandia Peak website.

Explore the Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument Albuquerque

Situated in the western Mesa, the Petroglyph National Monument is one of the best free things to do in Albuquerque. It’s a goldmine for history, with over 25,000 petroglyphs made by the Spanish Settlers and Native American communities up to 700 years ago.

While the visitor centre is well worth stopping by to get some handy information, none of the trails to the petroglyphs begins here. The trails are fairly far apart (be ready to drive), so it pays to plan ahead.

Here are the three trails you should consider doing:

Rinconada Canyon Trail: If you only have time to enjoy one trail, I recommend doing this 2.2-mile loop trail. It has over 300 unique petroglyphs to discover — which are largely clustered on one half of the trail, so you can either do it as a loop or as an out-and-back.

Boca Negra Canyon: Travel three miles north to this seven-acre region of the park. You’ll find around 100 petroglyphs across an hour’s worth of walking trails.

Piedras Marcadas Canyon: This is the furthest trail from the visitor centre (six miles), and this region has over 400 petroglyphs to discover. You can enjoy a 1.8-mile round trip through the blackened walls of the canyon.

Discover the Sawmill Market

Sawmill Market

Of all the places to visit in Albuquerque, you don’t want to miss the Sawmill Market near Old Town. This bustling market is the city’s culinary heart and, to be quite honest, it’s where I fell in love with ABQ.

And with 32 unique bars and restaurants all under one roof, can you blame me? 

You won’t fall short of options. Indulge in Hawaiian life with a myriad of fresh ingredients at Notorious P.O.K.E (my personal fave), or try some classic American-style ribs at the Mercantile Cafe. 

Replenish your taste buds with a Margarita from the All-American Flora Restaurant. And if local brews are more your vibe, you’ll find plenty at the Paxton Taproom.

Are you drooling at the sound of this, or is it just me? 

Discover the Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre is an absolute must when it comes to places to go in Albuquerque.  This relatively small museum packs a big cultural punch, showcasing the history and lives of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.

Discover everything about the local Native American tribes through the museum’s expansive collection of jewellery, art, clothing and cultural artefacts. They even have an ever-changing array of contemporary exhibitions to keep things fresh.

During my time at the museum, there was a vibrant display of Native American skateboard art. Pretty cool, right? 

While you’re here, you really should pop into the Indian Pueblo Kitchen, for a taste of authentic Native American cuisine. You can even get in on the action and join a cooking class

Brilliant Things to See & Do in Albuquerque 

Visit the Best Albuquerque Breweries

There are plenty of fantastic things to do at night in Albuquerque. But nothing comes close to a little bar-hopping experience of the best breweries in town. With 40-plus breweries along the Albuquerque-Sante Fe strip, picking your ideal brewery isn’t easy.

To help you out, here are the top joints to visit: 

Bow and Arrow Brewing Co: Spend time at this fantastic native-women-owned taproom on McKnight Ave. Enjoy eclectic brews, like the smooth Malt Forward and the unique cactus fruit seltzer.

Bosque Brewing Co: If it’s a fruity punch you seek, grab a pint or two at the Bosque Brewing Co’s taproom on Girard Blvd. Sip on something sweet like banana-inspired Peel Out or classic Bavarian style lager.

La Cumbre Brewing Co: Another Girard Blvd special, this trendy taproom has served unique blends since 2010. Enjoy something refreshing like the tangerine-infused Spring Runoff or earthy like a dry Irish stout.

Book Yourself a Feast at Campos by Los Poblanos

Campo at Los Poblanos 

If you’re planning a romantic evening in Albuquerque, you must book a table at Campos by Los Poblanos. It’s a fine dining masterpiece set on a classic southwestern organic farm.

Get ready for a fusion of contemporary southwestern flare and Mexican bite. As all the ingredients are from farm to table, Campos celebrates indigenous, American and Mexican cuisine.

You can also expect new flavours no matter when you go, as they change the menu seasonally. I don’t think I’ll ever have a better braised lamb birria and tortilla again.

Its unassuming timber interior and moody lighting make this a dining experience you’ll always remember. You may as well book your table at Campos now.

Visit the Gruet Winery and Tasting Room

Many people will take a day trip from Albuquerque for a wine-tasting experience. But why not stay in town and sample the best wine in New Mexico at the Gruet Winery and Tasting Room?

They may specialise in Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines, but that’s not all they offer. Allow the genius of resident winemaker Cyril Tanazacq to take you on a bubbly adventure, from a vintage Sauvage to a smooth Pinot Noir.

While their three vineyards all produce stellar grapes within New Mexico, you don’t need to venture beyond Albuquerque to experience these wines. Head to the Tasting Room along the Pan American Fwy, then sit back and enjoy delicious caviar and wine pairings.

Explore the Rio Grande Nature Centre

Rio Grande Gorge 

Find plenty of outdoorsy things to do in Albuquerque at the Rio Grande Nature Centre in the city’s heart. You can expect walking and biking trails here, but there are also a few hidden gems.

Start on the Aldo Leopold Trail system, which meanders the park alongside the Rio Grande. You can admire the scenery at first, but it’ll quickly become evident that this riverside park is a bird lover’s haven.

If you head south, the maze-like trail will eventually lead you to the Laberinto del Bosque. It’s the perfect place to realign yourself with stunning views of Rio Grande. Need I say more?

Discover the Best Kept Secrets in Old Town

You didn’t think I forgot about all the quirky things to do in Old Town Albuquerque, did you? Well, let me put your mind at ease and take you on a journey through the narrow streets of this unique neighbourhood.

Take in the sculptural masterpieces at La Jornada and discover why many want to remove these works showing Spanish settler histories. Discover how Old Town is the perfect example of a mixture of cultures at the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

You can also learn about the city’s origins at Old Town Plaza. And why not finish off the experience at the Antiquity Restaurant? Alternatively, get an inside scoop on the region on this Old Town walking tour.

Admire Albuquerque’s Public Art

You’re not short of things to do in ABQ, but my favourite way to explore the city is by hunting out all its public art. 

Like many American cities, Albuquerque has a thriving street art scene, and you’ll find most of these iconic murals in the Reynolds Addition and lower downtown.

Admire Mauricio Ramirez’s The Kiss that adorns Lot 4 and the ultra colourful work by Cloudface on the Copper Building. Discover a neon classical fusion by Jody Herrera at 5th North, and remember to see the culmination of several artists in the alley behind El Rey Theatre.

Top Tip: Learn about all 155 public art murals in Albuquerque on the Muros ABQ website.

Unique Things to See & Do in Albuquerque: Hidden Gems That are Off the Beaten Track

Enjoy Brunch at The Grove Cafe

Now, into the realm of the unknown — okay, not quite, but it is a lesser-known activity. Enjoy lunch at The Grove Cafe. This is a classic Albuquerque place to visit with a relaxing country vibe and down-to-earth food.

Try their organic egg white frittata or house granola bowl for something light. If it’s something more authentic you seek, look no further than their Mexican-inspired Chilaquiles.

The food sounds divine, right? Wait until you sip on a classic house brew cappuccino or a golden milk latte. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Visit the Turquoise Museum

Did you ever think visiting a museum about stones would be on the cards? Probably not, but it’s one of the most unique things to do in Albuquerque. So why not grab a Turquoise Museum entry ticket?

Nestled within what appears to be a castle in the middle of downtown Albuquerque (I know, it’s crazy), you’ll find the largest collection of turquoise minerals in the US. I recommend spending around an hour admiring these green and blue beauties, ranging from polished jewellery to massive raw stones.

Explore the National Museum of Nuclear Science

National Museum of Nuclear Science

It’s interesting for some and not so much for others, but whatever the case, popping into the Nuclear Museum is worth a thought. 

America has a complex history with nuclear science. Think of the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants, to name a few examples. But possibly the most unique part of the museum is the permanent exhibit of the famous series, Breaking Bad

So, when you’re not learning about the dark cube or pioneers of the atom bomb, pop over and see Walter White in his classic yellow overalls.

Ride the Paseo del Bosque Trail

You could call the 17.7-mile Paseo del Bosque Trail the Garden Route of Albuquerque. This glorious path passes through some of the city’s most picturesque streets and gardens, from Old Town to the North Valley.

You’ll ride past some lovely spots along the Rio Grande, such as the Train Depot, Albuquerque Botanical Gardens and Aquarium, and the zoo. As it’s a relatively long trail, you can stop off at certain points and rejoin after a snack at a local cafe.

Visit the San Felipe de Neri Church

Old Town has many hidden gems within its colourful streets, and one such sneaky find is this terracotta-coloured church. You can explore the museum to learn more about Spanish Catholicism.

Discover unique artefacts such as the original Cristo from the Good Friday celebrations of El Descendimiento and some spectacular religious paintings. It’s also one of the oldest buildings in Albuquerque, so its historical significance is second to none.

Note: It’s a good idea to schedule your museum visit in advance as they rely on volunteer docents and aren’t always open.

Things to Do Albuquerque: Practical Tips for Your Trip

First of all, be sure to drink plenty of water. The city is located at a high altitude, and it can be easy to get dehydrated, especially if you’re doing a lot of outdoor activities.

Secondly, be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat. The sun can be intense in Albuquerque, and you don’t want to get sunburned during your visit.

Lastly, if you’re a fan of spicy food, you’re in luck! Albuquerque is known for its green and red chile, and you’ll find it on just about every menu in town. Be sure to try it, but be warned – it can be quite spicy!

Where Should I Stay in Albuquerque? 

Hotel Chaco (Mid-Range) 

Of all the hotels in Albuquerque, Chaco provides 4-star comfort and ticks all the boxes for a luxury stay. Enjoy everything from relaxing in your sleek room and cooling down in the crystal clear pool to watching a mesmerising sunset from the rooftop bar.

Check Rates and Availability

Los Poblanos Hotel and Inn (Luxury) 

Los Poblanos is slightly outside the city centre, but it has the best restaurant in Albuquerque for some late-night dining. With private gardens branching off every gorgeous room, you can also enjoy a true farm-style stay in southwest America.

Check Rates and Availability

Recommended Tours in Albuquerque

Things to Do in New Mexico Albuquerque: Map

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