The colorful, vibrant, and historically rich city of Albuquerque is one of the best places to travel. From exciting family vacations to romantic honeymoons and even solo adventures, Albuquerque, also known as the Duke City, is one of the best places to put on your bucket list.

An oasis in the high desert, this enchanting city averages a whopping 310 days of sunshine a year and is filled with a myriad of cultural influences from Spanish and Native American history. Calling it unique is an understatement!

With such diverse cultural influences, every traveler can feel at home while simultaneously immersing themselves in one of the warmest and most welcoming places on earth.

From flying over the Rio Grande in a hot air balloon to tasting the finest chile on the planet, here are nine reasons why Albuquerque, New Mexico should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Visit Spanish-settled Old Town

A couple sits on a bench outside a shop in Old Town Albuquerque

Right at the center of Albuquerque is Old Town, the heart of the city – both historically and culturally. The charming area is bursting with life in the form of art galleries, family-owned restaurants serving authentic New Mexican cuisine, and a tree-lined plaza that hosts a multitude of festivals and public celebrations year-round.

Old Town is also where you’ll find the American International Rattlesnake Museum, which can provide a wealth of education on the unique reptile’s cultural and environmental ties to the area.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Old Town on Christmas Eve, you’ll experience the magic of walking among thousands of glowing paper lanterns called luminarias. That’s a night to remember.

Experience the elation of balloon rides

A mom, dad and daughter ride in the basket of a hot air balloon.

Albuquerque is the hot air balloon capital of the world. The gentle air currents that swirl around the Sandia Mountains create the perfect weather conditions for safe hot air ballooning, attracting travelers from all over the world to experience this journey through the clouds.

New Mexico’s wide-open skies make it easy to appreciate the landscape from every angle, giving balloon passengers an incredible perspective of the region.

At the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October, around 600 hot air balloons ascend together daily, drifting dreamily across the blue skies. If you like heights, this is truly an experience you’ve got to add to your bucket list, and if you don’t, it’s a good opportunity to overcome your fears!

Drive down the best parts of Route 66

A view of the intersection at 5th St and Central in Albuquerque. The KiMo Theater is on the corner.

Route 66 is one of the most famous drives in America and around the world – and Albuquerque is home to some of its best-preserved stretches. Some of the most iconic photographs and global memories of Route 66 were captured in New Mexico, making it a must-stop destination for any enthusiast.

Drive past a 1939 Ford Motor Company car dealership, neon-lit motel, a string of legendary bars and miles of beautiful open road on this unique route.

View North America’s largest concave fresco

Mundos de Mestizaje

Photo Credit: National Hispanic Cultural Center

If you like art and art history, a trip to the National Hispanic Cultural Center will allow you to gaze upon North America’s largest and most impressive concave fresco – a 4,000-square-foot artwork painted on the curved ceiling of the Torreón by artist Frederico Vigil.

The painting is called Mundos de Mestizaje, which can be loosely translated to “a fusion of the people"—a nod to the merging of cultures and races in New Mexico’s history.

Using the same technique Michelangelo used at the Sistine Chapel, the painting portrays the rich and complex history of Mesopotamian culture and Spanish explorers, cementing the painting as a staple of regional history.

Explore the ages at local museums

Two dinosaur fossils on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

Albuquerque is a culturally diverse and historically complex city that is worth delving into. From arts and crafts to fossils to New Mexico’s role in helping build the world’s first atomic bomb, there is an endless supply of historical stories and artifacts to explore.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History and the Albuquerque Museum are just a few of the key stops worth making when you travel to this dynamic city.

Discover ABQ Pop Culture

Bryan Cranston being filmed for breaking bad

When it comes to pop culture, Albuquerque is a dream come true. “Breaking Bad” turned Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and the fabulous fictional fast-food restaurant Los Pollos Hermanos into Albuquerque icons. Visit the Breaking Bad Store in ABQ or check out the A1A Car Wash (real name Mister Car Wash) and the Crystal Palace (Crossroads Motel).

Experience world-class New Mexican cuisine

A New Mexican food dish from El Pinto restaurant

If you are a foodie, Albuquerque is an absolute must-visit. The flavors and ingredients found in this region are unlike those found anywhere else, and experiencing them all first-hand will be not only delicious but also deeply educational about the traditions of New Mexico. Taste centuries-old recipes for enchiladas, tamales, chile, carne adovada, burritos and all kinds of beautifully spiced dishes from the local food scene. 

Enjoy authentic flamenco performances

Two flamenco dancers perform while an audience watches

Albuquerque is known as the flamenco capital of North America. This passionate, hypnotic dance style is celebrated throughout New Mexico, and several performance spaces in Albuquerque are dedicated specifically to this special practice.

A range of fun activities for the whole family

A family jumps in front of a wall of signs

Part of what makes Albuquerque such an ideal travel destination is that it has a little bit of something for everyone. Regardless of age, background or heritage, this fruitful and dynamic city is bursting with personality and community, making it a one-of-a-kind location for inspired travelers.

A Bucket List-Worthy Destination

Whether you are seeking an exciting journey as a solo traveler, with a beloved partner or alongside your entire family, Albuquerque’s rich and diverse landscape will not disappoint. There’s something for everyone here, and you need to see it all to check it off your bucket list!