If flying in a hot air balloon sounds like fun, I would recommend you book your flight in advance online with either World Balloon or Rainbow Riders. They have been flying over Albuquerque on a daily basis for over forty years (weather permitting).
Take a ride up the Sandia Peak Tramway for spectacular views and hikes atop the Sandia Mountains, or play a game of golf or Blackjack at the Sandia Resort and Casino (at the base of the mountain).
Farther into town, museums and culture abound. New Mexico was part of Mexico for over 300 years until the territory was ceded in 1846 by General Kearny during the Mexican-American war. It was officially signed over to the U.S. in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and eventually made a state in 1912. This Mexican heritage is proudly displayed in the architecture, food, and culture of the city today.
Just west of downtown Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Zoo is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon with a wide variety of animals and plenty of large trees for shade. A short drive away is the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center where you can learn all about the unique culture of the people who made this land their home for thousands of years prior to Spanish settlement. Stay and eat lunch at the Pueblo Harvest Restaurant if you’re not able to make it out to a regional Pueblo feast day and make sure you try some sopapillas with honey.
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Explora hands-on learning center are tons of fun for kiddos, conveniently located right across the street from one another in the heart of Albuquerque. Plan on spending the whole day with your family exploring these two museums.
Just a couple blocks away from the museums is the historic Plaza de Albuquerque (known as ‘Albuquerque Old Town’ to locals). The original 300-plus-year-old charming town square is host to several quaint shops and amazing restaurants. I like to visit here on Christmas Eve to see the thousands of luminarias lining the streets, walls, and roofs. Visiting in the winter? Stop by Taqueria Alondra’s Mexican Food and order a bowl of hot New Mexican Pork Posole stew to warm the hands and heart from the chilly air. Looking for something romantic any time of year? Make reservations at the Antiquity Restaurant and try the Scallops Jalapeno, Ribeye steak, and crepe for dessert. All their salads are amazing too.
A visit to Albuquerque isn’t complete until you’ve had a slice of pizza at a local Dion’s Pizza restaurant. There are several locations in town as well as a few peppered throughout the state. It’s not Mexican food, but it’s the best pizza you’ll ever eat west of the Mississippi. Order “the special” pizza (green chile, olives, onion, sausage, mushroom, pepperoni, ground beef, ham) and dip your slice in their famous ranch sauce. It’s simply the best.