Five Top ABQ Attractions for Family Fun
Albuquerque, NM, is a fantastic destination for a family vacation. Not only does the city offer ample attractions for children that are fun for parents too, but it caters to visitors of all different interests, from outdoorsy types to animal lovers and energetic toddlers to culture-loving teens, even when they're all in the same family. Pleasant weather means you have itinerary options nearly year-round, but Albuquerque also presents enticing places to go on those inevitable too-hot or too-wet days as well. Here are five of the best places in the city for family fun:
Five-for-One Fun at Albuquerque BioPark
Albuquerque BioPark (903 10th St. SW, Albuquerque, NM) is the top tourist destination in New Mexico, welcoming more than 1.5 million visitors per year to its five attractions: the Rio Grande Zoo, Tingley Beach, the Aquarium, Botanic Garden and Rio Line Train. The park is open year-round except for some major holidays, with extended opening hours from June to August.
Choose single or combination tickets to fit your family's preferred attractions. Embark upon an animal-filled day admiring lions, elephants, polar bears and their creature friends at the zoo, followed by a trip to the aquarium to see sharks, jellyfish, stingrays and colorful tropical fish. Or, enjoy the beauty of nature while strolling through the botanical gardens, then taking to the calm waters of Central Pond with pedal boat and fishing gear rentals from Tingley Beach.
Feel the Spirit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (2401 12th St. NW, Albuquerque, NM) is the only place in North America to present traditional Native American dances year-round. Take a seat around the outdoor courtyard at the scheduled time—twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays (plus Fridays, June through August)—and watch a vibrant performance by a dance group representing one of New Mexico's 19 Pueblos. Most include drumming and narration about the history and significance of the dance and the dancers' clothing. Also stroll through the small museum to learn more about New Mexico's Native American heritage and to see exhibits including pottery, baskets and jewelry.
Experience "Ideas You Can Touch" at Explora
Explora, the Science Center and Children’s Museum of Albuquerque (1701 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque, NM), is open year-round and is an ideal place to take the kids on a rainy or very hot day. Its interactive exhibits are entertaining and educational for all ages, but specifically designed to immerse kids in real-life applications of science, math, technology and engineering. Watch as they figure out how to make a paper cup fly, turn on a lightbulb with two wires or create their own animated character. Small children love the bubble exhibit, and there's also a special baby and toddler area inside the museum.
Rattle Their Tails at the American International Rattlesnake Museum
Whether you're intrigued by snakes or have a healthy level of fear at their sight, a visit to the American International Rattlesnake Museum (202 San Felipe NW, Suite A, Albuquerque, NM) promises to be unforgettable. The museum houses the world's largest collection of live rattlesnakes representing many different species from all over the Americas. View the live creatures in recreated habitats, each with informative signage at both adults' and kids' eye levels. Learn all about the feared and admired creatures' rattles, fangs and venom, as well as myths about snake bites, as you explore the small museum's other exhibits. Scavenger hunts add to the fun for children.
Soar into the Sky on the Sandia Peak Tramway
Climb aboard the Sandia Peak Tramway (30 Tramway Road NE, Albuquerque, NM) for a 2.7-mile ride up and over the rugged canyons and forested mountainsides of Cibola National Forest. Remind the kids to keep an eye out for eagles, black bear and mule deer among the dense pines, firs and spruces that cover the rocks below your feet. From the observation deck at the 10,378-foot Sandia Peak, see some 11,000 square miles over the Rio Grande Valley. In spring, summer and fall you might hit a section or two of the 26 miles of trails around the forest-covered mountaintop. During ski season, generally December to mid-March, you can pursue snow sports. Be aware that there are no fences around the edges of the mountain and that temperatures are up to 30 degrees cooler than at the valley floor.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.