Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bienvenidos a Albuquerque

Jamie, the author of this post,
gives her suggestions for a visit to NM!
New Mexico has a flair for chile, turquoise, sunsets, and balloons.  Living in Albuquerque for almost a decade now myself, along with my native New Mexican husband and 2 kiddos, we get to enjoy beautiful weather and unique culture all the time!  If you find yourself traveling to the southwest, here are some things to do:

Enjoy the weather and scenery!  It is dry, sunny, and gorgeous!  The Sandia Mountains are fun to hike and you can take North America’s longest aerial tram ride to the top of the mountain!  It really is worth the ticket price.  (There are children, teen and senior discounts, making it a great deal!) Note that in winter this would still be a lovely view, but quite freezing at the top.  (If we actually have enough snow, you can ski down the back of the mountain.) The best time to hit the tram is fall or summer, especially if you want to hike around.  Also remember we are a mile high in altitude at the base of the mountain, so drink lots of water to prevent dehydration and slather on that sunscreen! If you want a leisurely walk, head to the Bosque, an area where the cottonwoods grow all along the Rio Grande River. Locals love it, and some even have fun geocaching here. (Just don’t expect lots of lush greens and overflowing water—we are in a drought here in the southwest!) In the fall, all the leaves turn beautiful yellow and it is a sight to see.

Albuquerque’s top event and claim to fame is the Balloon Fiesta!  This amazing event runs during the first two weekends in October every year.  It is hard to describe the true wonder and awe of hundreds of hot air balloons launching from Balloon Fiesta Park.  It really is a sight to see that outweighs the traffic, loss of sleep and prices. We go every year and it does not get old. Last year our kids convinced us to go twice: once for the morning Mass Ascension and then back another afternoon/evening for the gas balloon race launch and Balloon Glow. We had a blast!  

Tips on going to Balloon Fiesta:  Get discounted entrance tickets at the Albuquerque Costco, and get an extra early start to beat the traffic. We prefer to drive and pay to park rather than using the crowded bus system that limits the timing of your visit. Always have cash on hand to avoid ATM fees at the park. We bring our own blanket, hot cocoa, and snacks. Remember your camera and an extra battery because you will want to take a lot of pictures. We usually splurge on Tom Thumb mini doughnuts and breakfast burritos and then find a less crowded spot toward the back of the field where you can spread out a blanket and actually watch the whole process of inflation and lift-off of a few balloons. You can even talk to the balloon crews. We also enjoy collecting Balloon Fiesta Trading Cards and Pins, which you can buy in the pin trading tent. Many pilots and their crew hand out cards (they are just like baseball cards) about their balloon. The museum also is worth a look after the crowds die down. Be sure to pick your favorite special shape balloon too. Last year Snow White made her debut appearance.  One last thing: Locals don’t call it a festival, it’s a FIESTA!

Check out Old Town Plaza!  Enjoy the southwest architecture; peruse the shops full of chile ristras, Native American jewelry and art, and plenty of other southwestern souvenir items. Tiguex Park is right nearby, as well as 3 small museums. If you have kids, definitely check out Explora and plan to have 1-3 hours of hands-on fun. If you like Dinosaurs and history, check out the natural history museum. If you like art, check out the art museum. You could spend about an hour at each, depending on how in depth you like to study exhibits.

Check back next week when Jamie describes some of her favorite places to eat in and around Albuquerque! 


  1. Wow!! Albuquerque sounds wonderful. I also heard they have an international airport--is that true? Thanks!!!!!!!

  2. I've always wanted to go to Albuquerque. This gives me a push. Thanks.

  3. Albuquerque does have an international airport (ABQ), with regular flights to gateway cities to get you on to wherever your international destination might be!

  4. I went to Albuquerque once and I liked it. I'm considering retiring there, and I have two questions that I hope you can answer!! If the drought continues, where will they get their water from (or where do they get it now)? Also, what types of pests do they have? Scorpions? Tarantulas? Helo Monsters? Lizards? Thanks!!

    1. I believe ABQ currently gets its water from the Rio Grande (which is then diverted, treated, etc.).

  5. Great Blog!!!! This is like an Insider's Secret thing!!!!! I'm so glad I happened to discover it.