Up, Up And Away In Albuquerque
Thanks to 310 days of sunshine, perpetually blue skies and low humidity, any time of the year is a good time to visit Albuquerque, NM.
Albuquerque — also referred to as Burque, The Duke City or The Q — lies in the heart of America’s Southwest and is positioned along historic Route 66. Straddling the Rio Grande in Central New Mexico, this desert oasis offers exceptional cultural experiences, exciting outdoor activities and spectacular scenery.
Fly into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) and pick up a Hyundai Santa Fe from Advantage Rent A Car at the Sunport Car Rental Center, then head off for an unforgettable adventure in the high desert.
Hot-Air Fiesta, Forever
Try to catch the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October, when nearly 600 colorful hot-air balloons decorate the beautiful New Mexico desert sky.
The fiesta began in 1972 with a small gathering of only 13 balloons. Over more than four decades, it has continued to grow — one year seeing 1,000 registered balloons! — and repeatedly earns the title of “the world’s most photographed event.”
This year’s festivities take place Oct. 7-15 and feature the awe-inspiring mass ascension, balloon glows, Special Shape Rodeo, competitions, fireworks, chainsaw carving, a film fest, music fiesta, balloon rides and so much more.
Don’t worry — even if you miss the fiesta, Albuquerque’s great year-round weather makes it the perfect place to experience the thrill of a hot-air balloon flight anytime. Plus, be sure to stop by the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, where you can learn about the culture, history, art, science, spectacle and sport of ballooning.
Let Nature Take Its Course
In addition to its annual balloon fiesta, Albuquerque offers lots of other fun, family-friendly activities.
Start with a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway, which travels nearly 3 miles above breathtaking terrain and deep canyons. From the observation deck atop Sandia Peak, you’ll get a stellar panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley and much of the state of New Mexico.
Then explore a zoo, botanic garden, beach and aquarium all in the same complex at the ABQ BioPark.
If your family enjoys the outdoors, try high-altitude hiking or biking. If heights aren’t your thing, Albuquerque’s interconnected trails system offers a 16-mile route for walking, running, cycling and even horseback riding.
The city’s golf courses, ranked as some of the best in the country, are one of Albuquerque’s best-kept secrets. Mile-high elevations combined with stunning backdrops, such as rocky mountain peaks and the Rio Grande, make New Mexico one of the most diverse environments in which to hit the links.
Prefer to hit the slopes instead? Go skiing or snowboarding at the Sandia Peak Ski Area, which also offers a beginner’s area and certified ski school.
Or trade in your ski poles for oars and enjoy a scenic float down the Rio Grande. If that’s not enough, hit the whitewater for an exhilarating rafting adventure.
Stay And Play In Santa Fe
While you’re in town, take advantage of the short drive to Santa Fe, the nation’s oldest capital city, which is about an hour northeast of downtown Albuquerque.
Situated between the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains, Santa Fe offers countless historic sites, Indian pueblos, cultural experiences and museums — which include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art and more than 250 other galleries. The city is also home to San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the U.S., originally built in 1610.
Not only is Santa Fe the nation’s oldest capital city, but it’s the highest too. Thanks to its 7,000-foot altitude in the southernmost Rocky Mountains, the city enjoys 320 days of sunshine and is surrounded by more than a million acres of unspoiled natural forest, which makes it an outdoor lover’s dream! Biking, skiing, golfing, hiking, rafting, fishing, horseback riding… The activities are never-ending.
After an action-packed day, allow Santa Fe’s legendary restorative powers to relieve your sore muscles — or simply rejuvenate your mind and body at one of the city’s many spas staffed by body workers and master healers.
But if tequila is your master healer, be sure to check out the Santa Fe Margarita Trail, which allows you to enjoy a variety of the specially crafted cocktails and collect stamps for fun swag. (Just remember to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.)
Whether you want to soak up Southwestern culture, explore your artsy side, get back to nature or renew your spirit, the opportunities are endless in the Land of Enchantment.
For more info about everything our 47th state has to offer, visit NewMexico.org.
Written by: Angie Lewis