A Weekend Introduction to Albuquerque

We decided to travel to Albuquerque because of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which happens annually in October. It wasn’t really on our radar otherwise, but we were pleasantly surprised with the city’s unique charm and beauty. Read below for family-friendly things to do in Albuquerque to add to your itinerary.

NOTE: This was a pre-baby trip, but everything we did would be baby-friendly and family-friendly (maybe aside from trying to explain the blue candy).

Where we stayed: 

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Albuquerque

How we got around:

Car rental from National Car

What we did: 

Family-Friendly Things to do in Albuquerque

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The festival started early in the morning, we arrived before sunrise, and it was much colder than I anticipated. I had to buy a scarf to wrap around my head! Like any festival/event there were several stands selling various goods and food. The field was a mass of color and flurry of activity with everyone setting up. As the sun started to rise, only select balloons rose first during “morning glow.” Shortly after, a stunning array of colors filled the sky as all the balloons began to rise. People brought chairs, blankets, and picnic setups for the day, there were other events and music. We wanted to see other parts of Albuquerque though and with our limited time, we had to head out shortly after the mass ascension. 

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Sandia Peak Tramway

I love heights and am always keen to see cities and landscapes from a peak. It was a perfectly clear fall day. The tram ride offered great views of the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque and beyond. It was even colder up top so we didn’t stay long, but it’s definitely worth a trip up for the view. 

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ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

We found the desert exhibit interesting as we don’t normally see so many different cacti. There is a children’s garden and railroad (small toy trains) garden which will appeal to many kids. 

Old Town

We spent a little while wandering around Old Town which feels quintessentially New Mexican. A lively mariachi band played as we walked around various shops, and visited the historic San Felipe de Neri Church

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Steve also had to make a visit to The Candy Lady’s shop. They have all sorts of treats, but we were there for the Breaking Bad Candy. The owner created a special candy for the famous TV show which they sell in the shop.

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KiMo Theatre

We only checked this out quickly, but it’s worth a look if you’re into local architectural design. It’s a unique blend – built in the 1920s – they combined the art deco style with the New Mexican Pueblo Revival style. It is still an operating theatre so you can catch a show if something aligns with your travel dates.

Where we ate: 

Mary’s & Tito’s Cafe

This was a yummy New Mexican lunch. It has a casual atmosphere and reasonable prices. 

Sometimes we research dining options ahead of time, other times we find something last minute whenever we’re hungry. This trip we ate dinner somewhere in Old Town, but I don’t remember where! 

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I love it when a destination surprises me, like Albuquerque and wouldn’t mind returning here someday. What other family-friendly things to do have you experienced in Albuquerque that we should add to our next trip? Add them in comments below, thanks!

This was part of our Year of USA Travels. Steven earned (solely through actual flying, not credit card points!) the Southwest Companion Pass. For a year every time he flew with Southwest, I could also fly for free. Since he’d accumulated so many points we would book his flights using points, then add me for free and only have to spend $5-10 in taxes. It was a pretty sweet deal. Our vacation time was in limited supply, still we knew we had to take advantage of this. So, we did a bunch of weekend trips here and there, sometimes taking 1 day or so extra off of work. We figured we’d introduce ourselves to a bunch of US cities we’d never been to before and if we loved them we’d go back another time. 


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