Recently, I made a trip to Albuquerque to try to accomplish something that’s been on my bucket list for quite a while – riding in a hot air balloon. When the opportunity presented itself to take to the skies during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, I couldn’t turn it down. Going up in a hot air balloon was a bucket list item after all, how could I?
I was invited as a guest of the New Mexico Tourism Board; however, all opinions are mine alone.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with my plans, and I wasn’t actually able to take that hot air balloon ride. However, I did get to experience the Balloon Fiesta and see what Albuquerque is all about – and I can’t wait to go back! Aside from the Balloon Fiesta, which is a really cool experience on its own, there are quite a few exciting attractions in Albuquerque and the surrounding area to enjoy while you’re there.
Considering a trip to Albuquerque during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta? Here are just a few things to check out when you’re in town:
CHECK OUT THE ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA
Obviously, you have to check out the Balloon Fiesta! It’s also probably the reason you’re in Albuquerque, to begin with, and touted as one of the largest and best in the world. There’s so much to see and do at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! Aside from watching the colorful balloons take flight throughout the day (weather permitting, of course) and snapping some dazzling pictures, the festival offers a variety of different events and activities for guests of all ages. There are balloon glows (which take place on the ground), live music, carnival games, and evening fireworks shows.
I do suggest checking the weather forecast, and dressing appropriately for the weather as it can be dreadfully cold in the morning. I also recommend leaving earlier than usual as traffic can be brutal. We tried getting there at 5:30 am, and our supposedly 20-minute drive took us over 40 minutes due to traffic and alternate routes. Don’t depend on Waze or Google Maps to get you there on time.
RIDE THE SANDIA PEAK TRAM
Want to soak up some spectacular views without going on a hot air balloon ride? The Sandia Peak Tramway can make it happen! This tram carries passengers up the steep slope of the Sandia Mountains, climbing an impressive 3,800 feet in roughly 15 minutes, so you may want to steer clear if you’re easily afraid of heights. I do have to say that the views are amazing once you do get to the top, so it’s totally worth it.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to incredible views of Albuquerque below. You’ll also find easy access to a number of different hiking trails and spots to enjoy a picnic lunch, as well as a restaurant where you can grab a quick bite to eat. And if you’re in Albuquerque some time other than the Balloon Fiesta, maybe in the midst of winter, there are also ski slopes that you can experience while there.
VISIT THE PUEBLO CULTURAL CENTER
Now while we enjoyed the Balloon Fiesta, this was most undoubtedly the highlight of our trip. The southeastern United States is home to significant Native American populations, and New Mexico is no exception. If you’d like to learn about the local culture and the rich history of the Pueblo people, plan a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. There, you’ll find yourself immersed in the culture and customs of the Pueblo people.
You can take a self-guided tour, but to truly get the most out of your experience, sign up for a guided tour. Explore the permanent and rotating exhibits in the museum, which is home to artifacts like pottery, jewelry, and murals. Another must-see while you’re there? Traditional Native American dance! Check the schedule to make sure your trip aligns with a performance by one of the Pueblo communities.
As you can see, it’s easy to find ways to fill a weekend in Albuquerque during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. If this festival is on your list of events to experience, make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy some of the other attractions Albuquerque has to offer – you won’t want to miss out!