1. National Parks: Explore a dormant supervolcano or hike among ancient petroglyphs
Celebrate the National Park Service's centennial by walking amidst history at Petroglyph National Monument as you explore more than 20,000 petroglyphs etched in basalt on the city's western edge. Head north to hike, fish and view wildlife at the 13-mile wide Valles Caldera National Preserve, the Southwest's supervolcano. Hike through the natural conical formations that have an otherworldly feel at the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, located less than an hour north of the city. If time allows, be sure to visit additional New Mexico NPS sites, such as Chaco Culture National Historical Park, White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
2. Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World: Float above the high-desert landscape
There are more resident balloonists in the city of Albuquerque than there are in any other state, and Albuquerque-based pilots were the first to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a hot air balloon. The area's cool mornings and stable winds create perfect weather conditions for flying, allowing the city to boast 300 flyable days each year. Balloon rides are offered year-round in Albuquerque, and even those with a fear of heights will enjoy the smooth experience.
3. Ancient Cultures: Visit a Native American Pueblo
With 23 Native American tribes including 19 pueblos, New Mexico is a mecca for rich Native culture. Make sure to visit Acoma Pueblo, located just an hour west of Albuquerque. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the country, this pueblo's rambling adobe structures rest atop a 367-foot-tall sandstone mesa. The Sky City Cultural Center & Haak'u Museum-offering pueblo tours-illuminates its fascinating history. For a truly authentic experience, visit during a time when pueblos are celebrating feast days, which are periodically open to the public. On these sacred days, pueblos honor traditions through food, traditional dance, attire and celebration.
4. All-American: Cruise along historic Route 66
Experience a slice of Americana by cruising the historic stretch of the country's Mother Road, viewing vintage neon signs along the way. Because of a change in alignment of Route 66 in 1937, there is an intersection where the Mother Road crosses herself at Central Avenue and 4th Street in Downtown Albuquerque. Only here can you stand on the corner of Route 66 and Route 66.
5. Film Tourism: Visit the real-life locations of your favorite film or television show
With more than 310 days of sunshine and a stunning, diverse topography, New Mexico has a thriving film industry that spans more than 100 years and more than 600 productions, from Transformers at White Sands National Monument to Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade along the Cumbres Toltec Railroad outside of Chama. Albuquerque is home to critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, as well as top box office hits like The Avengers and Independence Day: Resurgence. Delight the film enthusiast in you by experiencing your favorite filming locations in person.
6. Authentic Cuisine: Discover your chile preference: red, green or Christmas?
The food scene in Albuquerque is truly a microcosm of the city's melting pot of cultures, and the city is home to several James Beard Award nominees. Albuquerque is best known for its famous chile-the basis of traditional New Mexican cuisine. From breakfast to dinner and even dessert, these flavorful red and green spices make their way into nearly every New Mexican dish. Try chile in a breakfast burrito, stew, enchiladas or even fudge. Want your dish smothered in both red and green chile? Tell your server you'll have "Christmas."
7. Abundant Art: Watch a flamenco performance or discover hidden public art gems
Albuquerque is considered the flamenco capital of the United States. This art form is filled with intensity and is fascinating to watch. In addition to the annual Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque held each June, there are events that celebrate flamenco throughout the year, including the recent opening of Tablao Flamenco Alburquerque, an intimate performance space at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town. For a self-guided art excursion, try and find all the brightly colored (some hidden!) murals adorning buildings throughout Downtown and Nob Hill, emphasizing the city's appreciation for public art.
8. Outdoor Adventure: Ride North America's longest aerial tramway
The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway unveiled new tramcars in May 2016 in celebration of its 50th anniversary. This 15-minute ride whisks passengers to the 10,378-foot peak of the Sandia Mountains, where they can enjoy an 11,000 square-mile panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment. If looking for a more challenging adventure, consider hiking the La Luz Trail or biking the steep inclines and unique high desert terrain of the Sandia Mountains.
9. Gateway to Space: Explore Spaceport America
Spaceport is located south of Albuquerque near Elephant Butte Lake, and 30 miles east of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It is also located just west of the vast White Sands Missile Range, which is protected air space. Visitors begin their journey at the Spaceport America Visitor Center, and are treated to a 4-hour tour of the surrounding area, the two-mile long runway, the Astronaut Walk, Gateway Gallery, Spaceport Operations Center, and a walk-through of the Virgin Galactic "Gateway to Space" Hangar Facility.
10. Ancient Architecture: Travel along the Adobe trail
Adobe is a defining feature of New Mexico's unique architecture, and gives our state a look and feel that can't be found anywhere else. The New Mexico True Adobe Trail serves as a road map to 15 of the state's most remarkable landmarks, which can be found on historic plazas, Native lands, and scenic byways around New Mexico. Whether you spend an hour or a week exploring these churches and dwellings, your appreciation for the timelessness of adobe will forever change the way you view modern-day architecture.
Visitors to New Mexico traveling by air are likely to arrive at the Albuquerque International Sunport, which offers nonstop service to 23 cities. Affordable, convenient ground transportation options include airport shuttles, taxis, limos and the ABQ Ride bus system, which connects the airport to many points of interest around town. Downtown, the Alvarado Transportation Center is a major stop for Amtrak and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, which offers north/south service through the metro area and to Santa Fe. Convenient interstates keep city drive time to less than 20 minutes.