30 Enchanting Things to Do in Albuquerque with Kids

These fun things to do in Albuquerque with kids will enchant your family. New Mexico’s Official State Nickname is Land of Enchantment and after visiting Albuquerque, you will see why! Travelers often overlook this New Mexican city in favor of fancier, and significantly smaller, Santa Fe. That’s a shame because Albuquerque has so much heart and lots of interesting attractions, too. If you’re looking for a vacation in a unique landscape with a friendly vibe and memorable experiences, then take a look at these 30 enchanting family things to do in Albuquerque!

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world's biggest hot air balloon festival
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s biggest hot air balloon festival (Photo credit: kobbydagan, Depositphotos.com)

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1. Attend a hot air balloon festival.

One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Albuquerque is probably hot air ballooning. The world’s biggest hot air balloon festival takes place here every October over the course of nine days. Over 500 hot air balloons float above the city during Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, much to the awe of spectators below.

If your Albuquerque family vacation takes place during this famous fiesta, then be sure to reserve your Albuquerque hotel far in advance because they do book up!

Soar above Albuquerque in the basket of a hot air balloon
Soar above Albuquerque in the basket of a hot air balloon (Photo credit: kobbydagan, Depositphotos.com)

2. Go hot air ballooning.

For those who want to fly away in a hot air balloon basket like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, there are several ballooning companies in the Albuquerque area. I have been lucky enough to go hot-air ballooning and can attest that it is simultaneously an exciting and peaceful journey.

With Albuquerque’s beautiful natural landscape, it’s one of the best places for a hot air balloon ride. Intrigued? Book your hot air balloon flight in Albuquerque now!

Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum (Photo from Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum Facebook page)

3. Visit the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.

Ballooning enthusiasts may enjoy a visit to Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. Go here to learn the history of hot air ballooning. Even if you don’t embark on a balloon ride, you can snap a photo that looks like you’ve floated above Albuquerque’s southwestern landscape at this museum.

Christmas-style enchiladas at Los Compadres Restaurant
Christmas-style enchiladas at Los Compadres Restaurant in Albuquerque (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Decide: Red or green chile?

Red or green? That’s New Mexico’s Official State Question. This refers to their beloved Hatch chiles, grown in Hatch, New Mexico. The green ones are picked before they ripen. The red ones are roasted or hung to dry and then made into chile powder.

You’ll find Hatch chiles on nearly every menu in Albuquerque. If you want to taste a bit of both, then order your enchiladas “Christmas-style,” which come topped with both red and green chile sauces.

Look for ristras of chiles in New Mexico
Ristras of chiles in New Mexico (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Look for ristras.

See the dried chile peppers above? When hung together like this, they form a ristra. Make a game of it and have your kids count how many ristras they can find while exploring Albuquerque!

You’ll find ristras all across the state. They make a distinctly New Mexican decoration. Along with pinto beans, chiles share the designation of being New Mexico’s Official State Vegetables.

Tablao performance at the National Institute of Flamenco in Albuquerque, the capital of flamenco in the United States
Tablao performance at the National Institute of Flamenco (Photo credit: Dirt Road Travels)

6. Experience flamenco at the National Institute of Flamenco.

New Mexico is considered the center for flamenco in the U.S. In fact, the University of New Mexico is the only school in the country to offer a minor in flamenco. This passionate Spanish art form is made up of three parts that work harmoniously together: guitar playing, song, and dance.

Children performing flamenco at the National Institute of Flamenco
Children performing flamenco at the National Institute of Flamenco (Photo credit: nifnm.org)

Every June the National Institute of Flamenco hosts the Flamenco Festival. It features performances by world-renowned flamenco artists. Festival-goers can also attend beginner, intermediate, and advanced flamenco workshops. Kids get in on the fun with flamenco youth camps for all levels, too.

No matter when you visit Albuquerque, you can experience this fascinating art form. The National Institute of Flamenco offers stage performances and classes year-round.

Casa Flamenca in Albuquerque, NM
Colorful mural at Casa Flamenca (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Take a dance class at Casa Flamenca.

Participating in a flamenco class at Casa Flamenca was the most meaningful and memorable thing I did in New Mexico. I thought I went to this non-profit studio for a dance lesson, but I came away with so much more.

The organization’s director, Valeria Montes’ confident movements and words echo within me still. “It’s about being present. That’s where you get your power. With flamenco and in life, when you make a mistake, forget about it, and move on.”

After our dance class, we asked Montes to perform a flamenco dance for us. Watch the video below to see her impressive impromptu performance.

YouTube video

8. Attend a flamenco tablao.

For an intimate experience, consider attending a class or tablao at Casa Flamenca. During a tablao, there is no stage or separation from the audience. Viewers sit in a circle surrounding the performers and truly feel a part of the action.

As Montes explains, “You become a part of the performance. You feel every note. Every heartbeat. You dance vicariously through the dancer.”

Children are welcome to attend classes or early tablao performances at Casa Flamenca. It’s definitely an experience your family will long remember.

If you are interested in flamenco, then you will want to read about visiting the birthplace of this artform — Seville, Spain with kids.

Old Town Albuquerque is made up of 10 square blocks of old adobe buildings
Albuquerque Old Town architecture (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Shop Old Town Albuquerque.

Old Town Albuquerque was founded in 1706. This walkable area is made up of 10 square blocks of old adobe buildings. It encompasses over 100 shops, a number of restaurants, and five museums. You’re sure to find interesting souvenirs here including Southwestern pottery and paintings, turquoise jewelry, and my kids’ favorite — dreamcatchers.

Albuquerque’s Old Town home to the oldest still-standing building in the city, San Felipe de Neri Church. It’s made from adobe mud bricks.

Look for La Virgen de Guadalupe Tree in Old Town Albuquerque
La Virgen de Guadalupe Tree in Old Town Albuquerque (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Find the Virgen de Guadalupe Tree.

While exploring Old Town Albuquerque, tell your children to be on the lookout for the Virgen de Guadalupe Tree (also known as the Cottonwood Madonna). An image of the Virgin Mary has been carved into the tree trunk and painted.

This unique sculpture is located in front of San Felipe de Neri Church. If you’re not paying close attention, then you could easily miss this somewhat hidden figure.

Downtown Albuquerque
Downtown Albuquerque (Photo credit: sepavone, Depositphotos.com)

11. Sign up for an Albuquerque walking tour.

Get more out of your Albuquerque family vacation with a walking tour of downtown. You’ll learn about the city’s architectural treasures and iconic spots at a pace suitable for the whole family. Tours are offered in English and Spanish.

Sound fun? Sign up for a two-hour Gems of Albuquerque Guided Family Walking Tour with our trusted partner, GetYourGuide.

Old Town Albuquerque
Old Town Albuquerque (Photo credit: sepavone, Depositphotos.com)

12. Go on an Albuquerque Scavenger hunt.

For a fun and unique way to explore historic Old Town, book a three-hour Albuquerque Scavenger Hunt. You’ll explore sculpture gardens, museums, parks, churches, and other interesting sights.

Go at a leisurely pace, or race another team to the finish. It’s up to you!

 
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway (Photo from Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway’s Facebook page)

13. Take the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway.

The Sandia Mountains provide a stunning backdrop in Albuquerque. Sandia means watermelon in Spanish and this mountain range was so-named because the mountain turns a rosy hue at sunset.

You can access the top of Sandia Peak via the Sandia Peak Tramway for epic views of Albuquerque and beyond. The 15-minute journey delivers you to a beautiful new landscape filled with limestone rock, pine trees, and other evergreen plants. There’s also an interesting gift shop at the bottom terminal featuring New Mexican jewelry, decor, and souvenirs.

Kids can take ski lessons on Sandia Peak
Ski lessons on Sandia Peak (Photo credit: Jay Blackwood)

14. Ski or snowboard on Sandia Peak.

Sandia Peak is just a 25-minute drive from Albuquerque. In winter, this snowy wonderland offers exciting winter sports options. Trails for all levels will please skiers and snowboarders.

Group and private lessons are available for ages 4+. Cubby Corner provides lessons specifically for youngsters aged 4-6. Kids younger than 4 can participate in private lessons. Plus, little ones just might be greeted on the slopes by Cubby the Bear mascot.

Snowshoeing on Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, New Mexico
All set to snowshoe Sandia Peak (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

15. Go snowshoeing with MST Adventures.

If snowshoeing is more your speed, then rent gear or book a guided tour through MST Adventures. During my Albuquerque holiday, I embarked on a challenging five-mile trek during which we climbed 1,000 feet over the course of four hours.

This sport is a great way to get your heart pumping on the slopes and burn off some of those delicious chile dishes. Kids are welcome to participate and guides adjust the tour length and difficulty as needed.

Cibola National Forest
Cibola National Forest (Photo credit: US Forest Service, Wikipedia)

16. Cool off on Sandia Peak in summer.

In summer, heading to Sandia Peak is one of the best ways escape the heat of the city of Albuquerque. Temperatures can be 15 to 30 degrees cooler than Albuquerque so dress accordingly. Hiking and mountain biking beckon New Mexicans and visitors to explore the Cibola National Forest. Pack a picnic or enjoy lunch with a magnificent view at Ten 3 Restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak.

My Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals bike in front of the Rio Grande River
Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals bike in front of the Rio Grande River (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

17. Pedal through Albuquerque by bike.

Ride through the city on two wheels with Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals. You’ll learn about Albuquerque while spending some wonderful time outdoors and getting exercise.

Bike riders of all ages and abilities are welcome. They even have bike trailers for tiny tots.

Routes Bicycle Tours and Rentals Options

  • Scenic (along the Rio Grande River or exploring Albuquerque’s urban art scene)
  • Gourmet (exploring breweries, wineries, tacos, or chiles)
  • Specialty (Breaking Bad, Balloon Fiesta, Lights & Luminarias, or Haunted)
  • Self-guided
Street art in Albuquerque
Street art in Albuquerque (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

18. Search for street art.

Albuquerque bursts with colorful street art. In fact, one percent of the city’s construction funds must be put into public artworks.

You’ll see plenty of murals and other public artworks during an ABQ Trolley Tour. For a self-guided tour, MurosABQ.com provides a list of murals with their locations.

Mom and baby giraffe at the ABQ BioPark Zoo
Mom and baby giraffe at the Albuquerque Zoo (Photo from the ABQ BioPark Facebook page)

19. Watch the animals at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.

The Albuquerque Biological Park (ABQ BioPark) includes four great attractions that families love: a zoo, an aquarium, a botanic garden, and a series of ponds at Tingley Beach.

Originally known as the Rio Grande Zoo, the 64-acre ABQ BioPark Zoo features creatures from around the world. View such animals as giraffes, lions, polar bears, koalas, and Mexican gray wolves. An onsite carousel will please young children, too.

If you have a local zoo membership, then be sure to ask about their reciprocity policy for a potential discount on the already affordable entrance fee.

Kids love getting up close to fish...and aquarium staff at the ABQ BioPark
ABQ BioPark Aquarium (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

20. Explore the sea at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium.

Highlights of the Albuquerque Aquarium include shark tanks, a stingray pool, and my favorite — a river otter exhibit. Of course, you’ll see all sorts of other fish and marine life like sea turtles at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium, too. Check the Aquarium Theater marquee to learn which educational movie is showing on the day of your visit.

The ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden is a peaceful place to wander in Albuquerque with kids
The Albuquerque Botanic Garden (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

21. Stop to smell the flowers at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden.

The ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden is replete with plants and flowers. Also known as the Rio Grande Botanic Garden for its location next to the Rio Grande River, these pretty gardens spread across 36 acres.

Enjoy a duck-filled pond, a butterfly and bee exhibit, two greenhouses, and a playful children’s garden. During my winter visit, the outdoor botanical gardens were a little sparse-looking, but two indoor greenhouses are filled with flowers year-round.

Families can find flowers year-round at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden in Albuquerque thanks to two indoor greenhouses
ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden indoor greenhouse (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Young children especially love the Railroad Garden at this botanical garden. It features all sorts of miniature choo choos riding the rails through tiny towns and scenic displays. Ask kids to find Thomas the Tank Engine!

Another favorite with kids is the BUGarium. This exhibit teaches all ages about insects and arachnids. Examine a working bee hive, a tropical tree home to leaf cutter ants, and a nocturnal exhibit displaying tarantulas and scorpions with infrared lights.

Young fishers will enjoy Tingley Beach in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Young fishers will enjoy Tingley Beach (Photo credit: MarbleStreetStudios.com)

22. Connect with the natural world at Tingley Beach.

Head to Tingley Beach for walking and biking paths plus fishing fun. Entrance to Tingley Beach is free to the public. It may look refreshing but there is no swimming at Tingley Beach.

Tingley Beach is a great spot for fishing together as a family. Children’s Pond is just for anglers aged 12 and younger. Be sure to purchase a fishing license in advance!

Kids will definitely want to sail a model-sized yacht on Model Boat Pond. You can bring your own boat or buy tokens inside Tingley Beach Station to borrow one.

Families will see all sorts of ducks and other wild birds at Tingley Beach. You are welcome to feed them, but you should do so away from the water to avoid polluting the ponds. It’s also important to note that bread is not healthy for birds. Instead, try feeding them oats, frozen peas or corn, chopped lettuce, or halved grapes.

New Museum of Natural History and Science
New Museum of Natural History and Science (Photo from the New Museum of Natural History and Science’s Facebook page)

23. Visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Looking for the best things to do in Albuquerque with kids on a hot or rainy day? Parents will be pleased to find several kid-friendly museums.

Dinosaur lovers and would-be astronauts will love the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Explore interactive exhibits in paleontology, geoscience and the volcanoes of New Mexico, bioscience, and space science as well as special temporary exhibits at this Albuquerque institution. A full-dome planetarium is not to be missed.

Explora Center and Children's Museum
Explora Center and Children’s Museum (Photo from the Explora Center and Children’s Museum Facebook page)

24. Learn through play at Explora Center and Children’s Museum.

Through interactive experiments and play, Explora Science Center is where to go to learn about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Find over 250 hands-on permanent exhibits and fun activities for the entire family. All ages will enjoy learning through play about such phenomena as gravity, water, electricity, and bubbles!

American National Rattlesnake Museum
American National Rattlesnake Museum (Photo from the American National Rattlesnake Museum Facebook page)

25. See rattlesnakes at the American National Rattlesnake Museum.

Do your kids love all things scaly and slithery? Take them to the American National Rattlesnake Museum, where they’ll see the world’s largest collection of live rattlesnakes. In fact, this small museum located in Old Town Albuquerque is home to more than 30 different kinds of rattlers plus other creatures like scorpions, turtles, and lizards.

Mundos de Mestizaje fresco at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mundos de Mestizaje fresco at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

26. Discover Hispanic folklore at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Families interested in Hispanic art, culture, and humanities should head to the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The permanent collection includes over 3,000 pieces of art from around the world. The center’s 20-acre campus features three theaters, a geneology center, a library, and more focused on presenting the works of Hispanic, Chicano and Latinx communities.

Even if you don’t want to explore the whole center, swing by to take a look at Mundos de Mestizaje. This dramatic 4,000-foot concave fresco is painted within the Torreón (a circular building). Entrance is free on Saturdays to see the fresco that depicts thousands of years of Hispanic history.

Kids will appreciate a trip to Cliff's Amusement Park in Albuquerque
The Big Flush log ride at Cliff’s Amusement Park in Albuquerque (Photo credit: Cliff’s Amusement Park)

27. Enjoy rides and games at Cliff’s Amusement Park.

Please the kids with a day at Cliff’s Amusement Park. It’s open April through September with varying hours. This theme park features thrill rides, a Kiddyland for young children, and carnival games.

For adrenaline junkies, Cliff’s New Mexico Rattler roller coaster is almost 3,000 feet long and includes a 100-foot underground tunnel. The spinning Falling Star is another favorite among thrill seekers. Classic rides like bumper cars, a Tilt-A-Whirl, and The Big Flush log ride also please parkgoers. In total, there are more than 50 rides at Cliff’s Amusement Park.

Watermania water park at Cliff's Amusement Park in Albuquerque with kids
Watermania water park at Cliff’s Amusement Park (Photo credit: Cliff’s Amusement Park)

Watermania

With high temperatures in the low 90’s Fahrenheit in summer in Albuquerque, families love to cool off at the affordable and fun Watermania. Cliff Amusement Park’s on-site waterpark includes exciting waterslides and fountains for big kids and teenagers. Meanwhile, a mellow Lil’ Squirts splash pad with shallow waters entertains toddlers and young children.

Hinkle Family Fun Center in Albquerque with kids and teens
Hinkle Family Fun Center (Photo from Hinkle Fun Center Facebook page)

28. Play at Hinkle Fun Center.

For a year-round great time with kids and teens, head to Hinkle Fun Center. Attractions include go-karts, miniature golf, bumper cars, laser tag, rock climbing, an XD Dark Ride, and a bungee trampoline. Arcade lovers will appreciate over 125 games including classic and state-of-the-art games as well as redemption games with carnival prizes. Bumper boats are a hit in the summertime, too.

Farm to Table Albuquerque cuisine
The Grove’s farm-to-table fruit-topped pancakes (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

29. Eat farm-to-table cuisine.

Albuquerque’s farm-to-table food and restaurant scene might surprise you. From trendy restaurants to craft breweries and organic chocolatiers — you’ll find it all in this New Mexican city. Learn about freshly baked pastries, homemade honey, pasture-raised eggs and other goodies in my article all about Albuquerque’s farm-to-table cuisine.

Mouse the orange cat zipping past this tractor at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm
Can you spy with your little eye Mouse the orange cat zipping past this tractor at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm? (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin

30. Spend the night somewhere unique in Albuquerque.

Sure, you could book a stay in a standard hotel. But why not choose a great place that’s as unique as Albuquerque itself? Each of the following three interesting accommodation options offers its own vibe, sure to please different families’ tastes.

Families will love a stay at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Families will love a stay at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm

The darling Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm is set on 25 acres. This hotel consists of 50 guest rooms, two of which are “family” rooms with bunk beds for kids. Plus, the heated outdoor saltwater pool will please kids in summertime.

The farm is home to chickens, peacocks, guinea hens, three alpacas, and a friendly orange cat named Mouse. Plus, their farm-to-table restaurant draws foodie travelers and locals.

Dig the retro vibes at El Vado Motel in Albuquerque with children
Dig the retro vibes at El Vado Motel (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

El Vado Motel

I’m not usually a motel fan, but the history, convivial vibe, and hip decor at El Vado Motel make it the exception. Opened in 1937, El Vado was one of the first motels on the legendary Route 66. It was closed for 13 years but has been totally refurbished and reopened. El Vado Motel is located right across the street from the ABQ BioPark Aquarium and Zoo and offers an outdoor pool open during warmer months.

The on-site El Vado Tap Room boasts craft beers to entice travelers and locals alike. There are a handful of independently owned casual eateries and boutique shops here that lure crowds, too, especially on weekend evenings. For breakfast, head to the on-site Zendo Coffee for a hot beverage and baked treat. (Their gluten-free Butter Beer Donut will delight any Harry Potter fan!)

Hotel Andaluz Hotel
Hotel Andaluz (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Hotel Andaluz

The aesthetic at Hotel Andaluz is an intriguing blend of Southwestern and Moroccan. This Gold Leed Certified property was built in 1939 in downtown Albuquerque and was Conrad Hilton’s fourth hotel. In fact, he stayed here with his second wife, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the night before their wedding.

Appreciate local artwork hung on the second level, which is for sale and changed out quarterly. Two original permanent murals remain as well — a map of New Mexico and an impressive painting of Native American dancers.

The location in downtown Albuquerque is super convenient for a family vacation. And although there is no pool onsite, guest have access to an indoor pool at a healthclub next door.

Even if you’re not staying at Hotel Andaluz, be sure to stop by for drinks or a meal. Parents will be impressed by views of the Sandia Mountains from the swanky rooftop bar, Ibiza. Meanwhile, MÁS – Tapas and Vino is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every tapa I tried (and I tried many!) made my tastebuds do a happy dance.

Ibiza rooftop bar at Hotel Andaluz
Ibiza rooftop bar at Hotel Andaluz (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Why Visit Albuquerque with Kids

Every time I visit a destination, I consider whether I could live there. Truly, I could see myself moving to New Mexico’s largest city. Albuquerque is very affordable and New Mexican cuisine is crazy delicious. There are obviously lots of fun things to do in Albuquerque, too.

The high desert climate suits my taste. It’s not too hot and not too cold. And it’s easy to escape to the Sandia Mountains for a change of scenery.

Most impressive is the New Mexican sense of culture and pride. Albuquerque definitely does not feel like every other city in the U.S. I might dare to say, it’s enchanting.

The darling Farm and Table Restaurant
The darling Farm and Table Restaurant in Albuquerque (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More of the American Southwest

For more Southwestern travel tips, take a look at these fun things to do in Cañon City and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Nature lovers will appreciate this list of the best outdoor activities in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Adventurous families will also enjoy discovering America’s biggest ghost town — Jerome, Arizona.

Learn what there is to do in Park City, Utah with kids beyond the slopes.

Take off on an amazing Southwest road trip to Las Vegas and national parks in Utah and Arizona.

Family Things to Do in Albuquerque with Kids

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Which of these top things to do in Albuquerque with kids appeals most to you? Let us know your questions and comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Visit Albuquerque hosted my visit. I did not receive any monetary compensation related to this blog post. All opinions are mine, as always.

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55 Comments

  1. Thanks, Colleen for such an awesome guide on New Mexico. Loved it…Your article has been really helpful as I did not have much idea about it.

    Regards,
    AlHadi India

  2. Nnnniiiicccceeeee….I would love to visit the balloon festival! I only see it in the movies and tv shows. I wanna be a part of it.