Unique Albuquerque Attractions: 15 Great Places to Visit in New Mexico
These distinctive Duke City attractions open a world of Southwestern art and regional history.
From inner-city cultural attractions to rustic mountain venues, these activities will present Southwestern culture and art at its finest. New Mexico's natural splendor and ancestral charm are deeply rooted in each of these activities. Whether you're looking for something to do just for the day or you crave a deeply anthropological experience, this list is bound to uncover an Albuquerque-area diversion that piques your interest.
1) Visit Casa San Ysidro
Casa San Ysidro is a historic house that is part of the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History but is located in Corrales, catalogs the history surrounding settling of the Gutiérrez family in 1870. The house includes a plazuela, corral, and family chapel. The Casa's legacy was preserved by Ward and Shirley Minge during the 1950s, who completed full reconstruction of the property. To this day, the museum takes care of the property. Providing wonderful exhibits to show a sampling of the city's history and art, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History has been a hub for some of the area's most distinctive art collections and historical education pieces since 1967. The Albuquerque community has gone a long way in supporting the museum and its contributions to the preservation of the Duke City's background.
2) Learn About New Mexico's Dinosaurs
New Mexico Natural History Museum
The New Mexico Museum of National History displays a selection of fossils and a gallery of images depicting the dinosaurs that existed in New Mexico many years ago. Starting with a couple of exhibits entitled Origins and Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the presentation outlines the history of dinosaurs' existence in the Land of Enchantment. Dinosaur eggshell fragments found in Sandoval County are also on display in the dinosaur section of the museum. The museum also shows documentaries in its DynaTheater, educates about astronomy in the Planetarium, sells wonderful souvenirs in the gift shop, and offers many educational programs for children.
3) View a Beautiful Fresco at the National Hispanic Cultural Center
Located on 4th street west of I-25, the National Hispanic Cultural Center is a treasure trove of educational resources and artistic works. One such work is the Mundos de Mestizaje, a buon fresco by Frederico Vigil that details historic scenes in an elaborate and creative way. Dedicated to the advancement of Hispanic culture, the center offers many events and houses on its property a museum, a library, and a genealogy center.
Frederico Vigil and his Mundos de Mestizaje
4) Enjoy Original Pueblo Artwork at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is located on 12th Street and features a selection of exhibits outlining the cultural richness of New Mexico's Native American heritage. The center's permanent exhibit is entitled Our Land, Our Culture, Our Story. Presenting original artwork and history from each of the 19 pueblos in the Albuquerque area, the exhibit also shows short films about the potter Maria Martinez from the Pueblo of San Ildefonso and artist Pablita Velarde from Santa Clara. The center's restaurant offers authentic and delicious food offerings that include a burger wrapped in Indian frybread.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
5) Find Interactive Learning at the Rio Grande Nature Center
With its one-mile Riverwalk trail, numerous meadows, and various wooded areas, the Rio Grande Nature Center is the gateway to the bosque's wildlife and nature education opportunities. Containing 270 acres of forest with native grasses and plants right on the Rio Grande River, the center offers descriptions of its wildlife and interactive children's activities in the visitor center. Open since July 2011, the Rio Grande Nature Center educates visitors on such animals as waterfowl, meadowlarks, turtles, butterflies, muskrats, coyotes, and beavers.
Rio Grande Nature Center
6) See Bart Prince Houses
World-famous architect Bart Prince lives and works out of the Duke City. Having built interesting and unique homes throughout the Albuquerque area, the architect creates whimsical designs and is renowned for making home-building an art. His own home near Nob Hill, which has drawn many visitors, renders the look of a futuristic ship from space. Prince's work has been requested and cherished by many, resulting in the building of homes in such places as Los Altos, CA; Colombus, OH; Glorieta, NM; and Jemez Springs, NM.
Bart Prince House in Albuquerque
7) Get Hot at the Fiery Foods Show
The Fiery Foods Show is an annual festival celebrating hot foods in every form, from snacks and spices to beverages. The show invites exhibitors to present their most spicy delights and live entertainment for the enjoyment of the whole Albuquerque area. Previous shows have been hosted at the Balloon Fiesta Park; the 2016 Fiery Foods Show is scheduled to be held at Sandia Resort and Casino from March 4th to 6th.
Albuquerque Fiery Foods Show
8) Swing a Club at Paa-ko Ridge
Paa-ko Ridge Golf Club, a green oasis in the midst of high-desert terrain, is located on the east side of the Sandias just north of San Antonito on Highway 337. With mountain views and plenty of amenities including a restaurant, golf shop, and practice facilities, the award-winning course is praised as one of the best in the country. Known for its hosting tournaments and availing its facility for weddings and events, Paa-ko Ridge Golf Club is a premiere course for beginning as well as seasoned golfers.
9) Take a Day Trip Down the Turquoise Trail
Between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the Turquoise Trail is a National Scenic Byway that starts in Tijeras and moves through Cedar Crest, Golden, Madrid, Cerillos, and San Marcos. With stops for dining and shopping along the way, this scenic route affords numerous New Mexico views. Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site is a great stop to take in some of the area's history, and Ribs BBQ is an ideal spot for a beer and some smoked ribs. Madrid, a tiny tourism town located just a little further north, offers an Old Coal Mine Museum and many quaint shops. Perfect for a day trip, the Turquoise Trail delivers snippets of culture and art wherever you look.
10) Watch a Game at The Pit
Albuquerque's famous sports venue, The Pit, is considered one of the best basketball arenas in the nation. Home to the University of New Mexico's (UNM) Lobos, the arena has an underground design and is a multipurpose venue that is also used for concerts. Located on UNM's South Campus, The Pit has seen much success in the history of the Lobos basketball team and has been adored by Albuquerque locals as an ideal venue for entertainment.
11) Go Hiking at Sandia Peak
One of the many natural wonders of the Duke City area, Sandia Peak delivers incredible views and gorgeous scenery. Providing a ski slope for winter recreation and plenty of hiking opportunities for summer fun, Sandia Peak can be accessed from the highway that leads up from Cedar Crest or using the tramway. The peak's restaurant, High Finance, offers gourmet food and drink options for relaxation at the day's end.
12) Go Jewelry Shopping at Palm's and Bien Mur
Genuine Native-American jewelry is a fixture of the area's charm. Several Albuquerque stores sell the unadulterated, quality jewelry that can otherwise be obtained by trading with with artists themselves. Two of these stores include Palm's and Bien Mur. Palms Trading Co., located on Lomas near Rio Grande Boulevard, sells incredible concho belts and exquisite jewelry, as well as pottery and souvenirs. Bien Mur Gift Shop, situated just across from Sandia Resort and Casino on Tramway Boulevard, delivers an assortment of jewelry pieces as well as Navajo rugs, moccasins, and storytellers. The offerings yielded by these two stores are key to the region's cultural beauty and magnetism.
13) Get Hot Chocolate at the Balloon Fiesta
The Balloon Fiesta is one of the city's most well-attended attractions. When the hundreds of gorgeous hot-air balloons are lifted into the sky, a tapestry of color is created for the enjoyment of residents and visitors. The origin of this lift-off is the Balloon Fiesta Park, which offers hot chocolate, breakfast burritos, and plenty of souvenirs.
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
14) Stop into the Shops in Old Town
Old Town is the city's birthplace and a historic area that offers plenty of art, culture, and quaint restaurant. Founded in 1706, Old Town delivers hidden gardens and cafes, a lovely plaza, and a selection of bed and breakfasts. Bottger Mansion located on San Felipe Street, is a 1910 home converted into a bed and breakfast that sports original architecture and offers free WiFi and complimentary parking. Have a bite to eat on the plaza at La Placita Dining Rooms or go down Rio Grande to St. Clair Winery and Bistro. As the largest winery in New Mexico, St. Clair delivers a lavish tasting room, patio, and dining room with live jazz. The Courtesy Shuttle affords a convenient option to travel from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to Old Town.
Old Town Albuquerque
15) Take a Ride on the Tram
The Tramway ride to Sandia Peak is an attraction bursting with scenic opulence. The 15-minute ride has been charming residents and tourists for 48 years. Spanning 2.7 miles from bottom to top, the Tram delivers unique views of the city, as well as the valleys and canyons behind the Sandia Mountains. Over 26 miles of hiking trails await passengers at the top of the peak, providing a wonderful way to end a lovely ride.
Sandia Peak Tramway
From the plaza at Old Town to the East Mountain trails, Albuquerque's offerings are brimming with historical intrigue and natural beauty. For many, the allure of the area is accented by the many outdoor activities available due to open spaces, but completed by the rich cultural background and distinctive artistry found in every corner of the city and its surrounding region. You're sure to find an enlightening and interesting experience in the Duke City, whether you're looking for a quick dip into the Southwestern heritage or a complete immersion into New Mexico's natural history.
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