Nestled in the Rio Grande Valley at the foot of the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque is a high desert metropolis that welcomes millions of visitors a year. From stunning landscapes made familiar to many by the popular television series Breaking Bad, to museums that highlight the city’s American Indian and Southwestern heritages, Albuquerque offers an abundance of activities and sights for every traveler.
Petroglyph National Monument is a natural monument that stretches along Albuquerque’s West Mesa, a volcanic rock slope that dominates the city’s western horizon. One of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, the boulders feature more than 20,000 prehistoric images carved by Ancestral Pueblo peoples and early Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. The stone relics allow those visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico to share the cultural heritage of those who lived and traveled through the Rio Grande Valley.
Located in the heart of Old Town, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is dedicated to preserving the art of the American Southwest and the rich heritage of Albuquerque. The museum has three permanent exhibits that portray the artifacts of colonial life in New Mexico, including conquistador armor, early maps, and weavings. The museum also hosts a range of special exhibits that depict art from around the world.
Sandia Peak Tramway, the longest aerial tramway in the United States, stretches from the northeast edge Albuquerque to the crestline of the Sandia Mountains. A trip on the 2.7 mile-long tramway offers breathtaking views of Albuquerque and the New Mexico countryside, including deep canyons and stunning terrain of the Sandia Mountains within the Cibola National Forest. Atop the Sandia Peak, sightseers have the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley from an observation deck as well as to explore miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Owned and operated by the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center showcases the artifacts and history of traditional Pueblo cultures and their contemporary art. The center is best known for its collection of Pueblo pottery and murals, and houses more than 20 murals and 2,500 pieces pottery, jewelry, baskets, textiles, archeological artifacts, paintings, photographs, and prints. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center also offers traditional Native American dances every Saturday and Sunday, where visitors can experience dance groups from the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico as well as Plains Style, Apache, Hopi, and Navajo dancers.
Hidden away in a quiet corner of historic Old Town is the world’s largest collection of different rattlesnake species. The animal conservation museum boasts live displays of 34 species, from albino snakes to a Gila Monster. The museum is also home to a unique array of snake-related artwork, artifacts, and memorabilia, including ceramics, jewelry, snakebite kits, and more. It’s a must-see museum for anyone charmed or thrilled by snakes.
Built in 1927 to show both motion pictures and stage productions, KiMo Theatre is a historic landmark and theatre on the corner of Albuquerque’s Central Avenue and Fifth Street. The three-story, light brown stucco building, was designed in the Art Deco-Pueblo Revival Style of architecture. It blends adobe building styles with the decorative motifs of ancient American Indian cultures and the sleek and linear verticals common to Art Deco architecture. Ornamental details include chandeliers shaped like war drums and rows of buffalo skulls. Seven brilliant murals inside the theatre depict the Seven Cities of Cibola.
The United States Air Force established the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in 1969. It is a national repository of information about the Atomic Age. The museum showcases exhibits and educational programs about nuclear history and science. This includes the historic, scientific, and cultural aspects of the Atomic Age. Permanent exhibits focus on early pioneers of the atom, World War II, the world of espionage, and the design and testing of the world’s first atomic bomb.
There’s nothing like the sight of hundreds of balloons soaring across blue skies over a desert landscape. Each October, balloon pilots and spectators from all over the world visit Albuquerque to witness exactly this at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. For nine days, over 500 colorful hot air balloons ascend above the city each morning. The spectacular event is the largest balloon festival in the world. It is truly a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico in the fall.
Looming over the north side of Old Town Plaza is San Felipe de Neri Church. It is a historic Catholic Church that dates back to 1793. It is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Albuquerque and the only building in Old Town built during the Spanish colonial period. The structure includes a rectory, a convent, and a school. There is also a small museum that displays religious art and artifacts. Visitors admire the well-preserved character of the church and peaceful atmosphere.
Visitors to Albuquerque love the city’s Old Town for its charming architecture and walkability. Spanish settlers in 1706 founded old Town. Old Town is organized with a central plaza anchored by San Felipe de Neri Church. The historic neighborhood is known as a center for art and culture and is home to several museums, including:
Most of Old Town’s architecture is adobe, in the Pueblo-Spanish style, although numerous Victorian buildings pepper the streets. During the holiday season, residents and tourists flock to Old Town to view its luminaria displays. The Spanish colonial neighborhood also offers an array of restaurants, shops, boutiques, and galleries.