Set in the heart of the state, Albuquerque is New Mexico’s biggest city, and gateway to this striking region along the Río Grande. Here you’ll find abundant Native culture, a lively entertainment scene, filmmaking hotspots, dining, shopping, and the world’s largest balloon fiesta.
Central Regional Bucket List
Float the Fiesta Skies: Albuquerque is renowned as a destination for hot-air ballooning. Some 500 baskets lift off each October during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Open year-round at Balloon Fiesta Park, Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum showcases the sport’s history and pays homage to locals who have reached its greatest heights.
Get Out of Town: For a leisurely Sunday drive any day of the week, explore the communities that dot the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, along the east side of the Sandía Mountains; the Salt Missions Trail Byway, which traces the Manzano Mountains; or the Jemez Mountain Trail, which wends past red-rock cliffs.
Root, Root, Root for the Home Team: The state’s top professional sports team, the Albuquerque Isotopes, claims the home dugout in the Duke City. The Triple-A Rockies affiliate takes to the diamond April through September.
Shop Where It All Started: In 1706, Spanish colonists established Albuquerque’s first villa in what is now Old Town. Today the adobe plaza is home to more than 100 galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Quaff a Local Brew: Albuquerque is home to over a dozen microbrew-eries, including several international award-winners. In 2014, the city established the Albuquerque Brewery District, the first such designation in the state. “Our cerveza will blow your cabeza.”
Rise High at Sunset: Sunsets in Albuquerque are spectacular on all sides. To the west, the sinking sun paints the horizon, while to the east the Sandía Mountains turn their namesake watermelon hue.
For the best seat in town, take it all in as you glide to the crest along the 2.7-mile Sandia Peak Tramway, North America’s longest aerial tram.