With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and a variety of museums, parks and outdoor activities, Albuquerque is a destination that children and adults can enjoy together.
“Albuquerque offers families a tremendous array of affordable cultural and educational activities,” says Tania Armenta, vice president of Tourism and Communications with the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The wonderful climate allows families to visit indoor attractions, but also to spend time outdoors.”
For a $2.50 admission fee at the American International Rattlesnake Museum, children can test their bravery by holding pythons and tortoises while their parents view exhibits of beer bottles named after rattlesnakes.
For 18 years, museum director Bob Myers has hosted hundreds of school groups and families, as well as Hollywood stars like Richard Gere, who visited the museum during film shoots in Albuquerque.
“Kids have a natural fascination, a wide-eyed curiosity, with reptiles,” Myers says.
The Rio Grande Zoo in the Albuquerque Biological Park offers close encounters with bigger and furrier animals, such as kangaroos and camels.
A narrow gauge passenger train connects the zoo with Tingley Beach, an aquarium and a botanic garden, where children can walk among butterflies and visit the award-winning Rio Grande Heritage Farm. A ticket for all the attractions plus the train costs $5 for children under 13.
Children with inquisitive minds won’t want to miss the Explora, a hands-on science discovery center, or the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, home of rare dinosaur exhibits and the state-of-the-art Lodestar planetarium.
“Families can come and spend the whole day traveling from the dawn of time to outer space all in one museum,” says Tim Aydelott, public relations manager for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. “You can see the whole history of dinosaurs, grab something to eat in our café and then take in a show in the planetarium.”
Since establishing itself as the biggest natural history museum between Houston and Los Angeles, the museum opened an exhibit in 2007 highlighting Albuquerque’s history as the birthplace of the personal computer revolution.
Funded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who founded Microsoft in Albuquerque, STARTUP follows the development of personal computers using interactive exhibits.
In 2008, the museum also plans to open the Triassic Hall, where children can look at fossils under microscopes to learn about the dinosaurs’ predecessors.
Of course, no trip to the hot air balloon capital of the world would be complete without visiting the Balloon Museum at the Balloon Fiesta Park, home of the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Families can learn about the history of ballooning before booking a ride with one of several local operators in the area, weather permitting.
For families who prefer to stay closer to the ground, the Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail provides 16 miles of paved bike paths alongside the Rio Grande. For a more rugged experience, take the Sandia Peak Tramway to access 30 miles of mountain trails, but be sure to check ahead to make sure your littlest hikers are up to the task.
At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, New Mexico’s rich American Indian culture comes alive inside a replica of an adobe pueblo home. On weekends, volunteers perform traditional Native American dances and demonstrate how to make bread in an outdoor oven.
“Families get to experience life in the pueblos as it was hundreds of years ago,” says museum director Brian Vallo. “In many communities, that way of life has not changed very much.”
Check out more fun activities in Albuquerque, NM.