New Mexico’s largest city is famous for its balloon festival, but there’s more to Albuquerque than the colorful helium tents that graze its skies every fall. The city makes for a good base to explore nearby pueblos. And because it’s one of the major cities along the famed Route 66, the display of Americana around town is full on. When planning your itinerary for what to see and do in Albuquerque, be sure to check these places out.
Downtown and Old Town Albuquerque
Begin your sightseeing in downtown Albuquerque, where the old Route 66 passes through. You’ll come across historical buildings, such as the Kimo Theatre and the Hotel Andaluz. There are see neon signs lining the main street, now called Central Avenue. Downtown is the city’s hub for entertainment and nightlife; be sure to come back at night to experience everything it has to offer.
Old Town Albuquerque, a mere five-minute drive from the downtown area, cannot be more different. Here you’ll find some of the best-preserved and oldest pueblo-style structures in New Mexico. Make sure to stop by and check out the adobe church of San Felipe de Neri. Built in 1793, it’s one of the oldest colonial churches still standing in the United States and a must on what to see and do in Albuquerque.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
If you’re interested in the history and culture of the various Native American tribes that call New Mexico home, stop by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This nondescript adobe building sits north of Old Town and contains a comprehensive compilation of information and cultural artifacts tied to the 19 New Mexican pueblos. In addition, this place has a decent café that serves traditional southwestern cuisine with lovely views of the Sandia mountain range.
Petroglyph National Monument
For the outdoor travel enthusiasts, I suggest adding the Petroglyph National Monument on your itinerary of what to see and do in Albuquerque. This national park contains one of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America. Native Americans and early Spanish settlers carved these petroglyphs some 400-700 years back. There are also picnic tables and parking available for your rental camper van. If you plan to hike, note that trails are unguided. Stop by the visitor center prior to entering the park.
Sandia Peak and Ski Tramway
The Sandia Peak and Ski Tramway is a 2.7-mile vertical tram ride with unparalleled views of the Rio Grande valley. Upon reaching the summit, there are guided hiking trails in summer and ski runs in winter; or you can simply enjoy the breathtaking views. Adult tickets are $25 for a round trip ride or $15 for one-way.