Known for its unique scenery that has inspired numerous artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, as well as an original cuisine that famously uses both red and green chiles, New Mexico provides a vibrant cultural experience to its visitors.
Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, otherwise known as the Land of Enchantment.
Despite its rugged surroundings, Albuquerque provides an array of modern and cultural attractions that appeal to a variety of tastes and preferences.
THE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA
Every fall Albuquerque plays host to the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. Several hundred hot air balloons of varying shapes and sizes with crews from around the world gather to participate in events spread out over several days. Mass ascensions in the mornings involve as many balloons as possible taking off at about the same time.
Visitors can walk among the balloons as they are inflated on the ground, and for a fee can even take a ride in certain balloons. Each night balloons inflate but are anchored to the ground to participate in the balloon glow event. If you plan on attending the Balloon Fiesta, you need to reserve a hotel room early in the year since finding a room at the last minute can be next to impossible.
Located just minutes from Albuquerque’s downtown and within walking distance of the zoo, Tingley Beach is a nature area that centers on a large pond of water. Visitors can feed the ducks as well as float toy boats in the water or enjoy a picnic at one of the numerous pavilion areas.
Anyone can fish in the pond from sunup to sundown with a state fishing license, while kids 12 and under fish for free. With a credit card, visitors can rent a paddle boat and enjoy a quiet ride on the water. Tingley Beach also connects to a 16 mile bicycle path, and the park rents bicycles to visitors who do not have their own.
Albuquerque is home to several large casinos, each of which offers a unique experience. Visitors can play the slots, try their luck at table games, play several rounds of poker or sit in on bingo.
The casinos also offer resort amenities such as luxury hotel rooms, gourmet restaurants, stunning golf courses and full service spas. Performance venues located in the casinos play host to a variety of performing artists to keep visitors entertained both day and night.
Each city has their older sections, and Albuquerque is certainly no exception. The Old Town section of Albuquerque is filled with historic buildings from the era when the city was under Spanish rule, including a large plaza area and the historic San Felipe de Neri Church.
Old Town also offers cultural experiences with several museums that cover different aspects of the state’s vibrant cultural fabric, including the famous Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Visitors can find lodging in one of the many bed and breakfasts that reside in Old Town, and dine in the many unique restaurants for even more local flavor.
To the east of Albuquerque sits the majestic Sandia mountain range. The Crest or the peak of the Sandias offers several activities no matter the time of year.
During the winter, visitors can go to the local ski resort situated just 45 minutes from the city, where both skiers and snowboarders are welcome. Instead of driving, visitors can opt to reach the summit using the famous Tramway, a tram ride that stretches for 2.7 miles over the scenic mountain range.
During the warm months, mountain bikers can ride the ski lift at the resort and go down the dry ski runs, while hikers can explore the many trails in the area. A gift shop located on the peak provides a panoramic view of the entire city.
Aquarium, botanical gardens and the zoo. Albuquerque also is home to a top-notch aquarium, botanical gardens and zoo, which are located near the Rio Grande. Visitors can pay for admission to one or all three attractions and see a wide variety of animals, sea life and plant life that is native to the area. Kids can enjoy a train ride that winds around all three parks, giving them a fun and unique way to see the attractions.
Since Albuquerque is a popular tourist destination, visitors can dine in a wide variety of top-notch restaurants. Large national chain restaurants, local chains and unique one-location restaurants are scattered throughout the city to cater to any diner’s tastes.
Many of the restaurants offer the distinctive New Mexican cuisine, but other ethnic restaurants in the city provide visitors with food from Asia, Italy, France, India, he Middle East and other areas of the world.