The massive Albuquerque Biological Park is actually several wonderful attractions in one: The Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden, The Rio Grande Zoo, and Tingley Beach, all linked by a train that’s included in the price of your ticket. The Zoo has a good collection of the popular large animals that you’d expect to find. The Aquarium focuses on species from the Gulf of Mexico, with jellyfish, seahorses, eels, sharks, turtles, and rays. The Botanic Garden has a wide variety of vegetation with a special focus on desert plants. It also includes an indoor butterfly garden. Tingley Beach is a nice place to relax by a pond. You can even go fishing!
The Balloon Museum is one of Albuquerque’s quirkier attractions, but it’s a fascinating place to explore. Exhibits detail the science and history of ballooning and showcase collections from famous balloonists. This is definitely a place to stop if you’ve come to Albuquerque during the International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place during the first week of October every year.
A uniquely New Mexican institution reflecting the character and spirit of this unique state, former NM Symphony Orchestra; the state's largest year-round performing arts organization. This year's season runs from October 12, 2013 through spring 2014 with most concerts at Popejoy Hall, the University of New Mexico. In addition to these concerts, the Popejoy hosts touring Broadway shows, musical soloists and artists of international caliber, world-renowned ballet and modern dance companies, and noted speakers.
New Mexico’s Pueblo people formed very sophisticated societies before European contact. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center houses a collection of artifacts from the culture, art, and history of the Pueblo people. There are also frequent Indian dances.
For a fascinating look at the region’s ancient Native culture, visit Petroglyph National Monument on the west side of town. The Petroglyphs are a series of pictorial carvings into the rock face of a 10-kilometer/17-mile escarpment. Some of the carvings date back as far as 2000 BC, but most are believed to have been carved by Pueblo people between 1300 and 1680.
The nearby Sandia Mountains provide lots of opportunities for outdoor activity, including hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and in the winter, skiing! The foothills have well-maintained trails to explore.
You can also take the fast way up the mountain, the Sandia Peak Tramway, one of the longest aerial tramways in the world. The Tramway brings you up 3169 meters/10,400 feet to the top of Sandia Peak, where the views over the city are enchanting. Stay to watch the sunset and the city lights blink on and grab dinner in the peak’s restaurant. It’s open year-round except for maintenance closures in April and October.
The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is a great resource for understanding the art and culture of the region. Art and artifacts from the history of New Mexico (yes, you’ll see conquistador armor!) and an outdoor sculpture garden are supplemented with guided walking tours of Albuquerque’s historic Old Town and the Casa San Ysidro.
The humble Turquoise Museum celebrates the region’s most famous (some might say tacky) gemstone. Stone lovers will enjoy this boutique/museum, which explains the history and manufacture of turquoise.
A drier experience can be had at the Meteorite and Geology Museum located in the pleasant University of New Mexico. While there, it’s worth a stroll through the campus’ Pueblo-revival adobe buildings and attractive landscaping.