There are plenty of interesting things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico; a town loaded with profound natural beauty and historic attractions. Here are some places to visit for a Glorious Vino con Vista Weekend in Albuquerque:
1. Historic Old Town Albuquerque has been the heart of the city since its founding in 1706. There are about 10 square blocks in Old Town where you can visit seven museums and more than 100 shops, galleries and restaurants www.albuquerqueoldtown.com. The Albuquerque Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and the Children’s Museum are located just east of Old Town.
The first Spanish settlers in the Old Town area organized their new town settlement in the traditional Spanish Colonial way with a central plaza anchored by a church.
When the original church collapsed after an extremely rainy summer in 1792, they rebuilt and in 1793 the San Felipe de Neri Church was completed.
San Felipe de Neri is the oldest Catholic church in Albuquerque. You will see happy couples posing for their wedding pictures in the Plaza’s gazebo across from the church after their wedding ceremony.
2. The Sandia Peak Aerial Tram www.sandiapeak.com allows you to board one of the most popular tourist attractions in Central New Mexico. When you ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, you will witness deep canyons and lush forests. The Tram has transported more than 9 million passengers to the top of Sandia Peak where you can admire the 2.7 mile sky-view.
The 15 minute flight to the 10,378 foot summit in the Cibola National Forest offers an amazing 11,000 square mile panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley. Sandia Peak is a popular destination for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter and mountain biking and hiking in the summer. Climb the La Luz trail with the Sandia Mountains as a gorgeous backdrop. Witness the rugged and inaccessible rock escarpment of the west face of the Sandia Mountains. Each tramcar is capable of carrying 50 passengers or 10,000 pounds up the mountain at a maximum rate of 200 passengers per hour. On the average, the tram makes 10,500 trips per year.
From the tram station at the top of Sandia Peak, passengers may hike along the forest trails in the Cibola National Forest observing the rock formations, natural vegetation and wildlife. The tram serves Sandia Peak Ski Area, a prime spot for intermediate and beginner skiers from mid December through mid March. During the summer, one of the chairlifts offers a lovely ride down the east side of the mountain through the towering trees. Sandia Peak has more than 26 miles of trails for mountain bikers with easy access via the chairlift for riders and their bicycles.
After you ascend 4000 feet in 15 minutes, take time to visit the High Finance Restaurant for a “Vino con Vista.” This is especially exciting during Ballon Fiesta week from October 1-October 10. The restaurant offers daily specials and has a $36 Prime Rib weekend deal www.sandiapeakrestaurants.com. If you don’t like heights, try or SanDiago’s Mexican Grill at the base of the Tram.
3. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon gathering in the world, held in early October. Founded in 1972 with 13 balloons, today it hosts 700 balloons in a variety of ascensions and activities in a 9-day event that attracts thousands. The new balloon museum is a major attraction. The Fiesta is one of the most photographed events in the world http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aaaZeKY2ac&feature=related.
You may also want to attend the Albuquerque Wine Festival. The event is always held over Memorial Day weekend at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque www.abqwinefestival.com. There are wines from around the state with food, music, arts and crafts and interesting educational programs.
The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuqueque International Balloon Museum contains one of the world’s finest collections of balloons and artifacts with a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains overlooking Balloon Fiesta Park. The International Balloon Fiesta hosts wine festivals and other events year round.
4. The Flamenco Program at the University of New Mexico is the only program in the United States to offer a fully developed curriculum in Flamenco technique and choreography and a minor in Flamenco. Every year in June, the Program’s director, Eva Encinias-Sandoval, organizes the two-week Festival Flamenco Internacional, including master classes with guest artists from Spain and the U.S., a children’s component and a series of performances in venues around Albuquerque.
5. Gathering of Nations Pow Wow is one of the largest in the western hemisphere, attracting over 3,000 dancers, singers and drummers from 500 tribes across Canada, the U.S., Central America and South America. The event includes the Miss Indian World pageant and the Indian Traders’ Market. It is held on the last weekend in April at a University of New Mexico sports arena.
7. Tour the exciting wineries like Anasazi Fields surrounded by orchards that are watered by a spring-fed irrigation system that dates back over 1000 years to a time when the the ancient American Indian people, the Anasazi People farmed the Placitas Valley. There is an annual Placitas Studio Tour for Mother’s Day weekend. Casa Rodena Winery and tasting room has an annual “Lavendar in the Valley Festival” in July and “Festival di Musica Rondena” in August. Corrales Winery, Gruet Winery and St. Clair Winery and Bistro located in the heart of Historic Old Town on Rio Grande are all interesting destinations. www.stclairvineyards.com
The Vineyard Express offers delightfully tasty all inclusive day tours to the wineries and micro breweries of New Mexico on Saturdays April throu October www.thevineexpress.com
8. Albuquerque is loaded with vibrant shopping opportunities. There are charming shops in Old Town where you can buy Native American pottery and jewelry.
There are funky shops and chic nightspots with eclectic architecture with Route 66 signs on Knob Hill.
The Historic Knob Hill district is just east of the University. The Nob Hill Shopping center was designed by the noted architect Louis Hesselden and the design is a mixture of Territorial Revival with modern design elements. The National Register property is one of the best remaining examples of a 1940’s automobile-oriented shopping center in America with several neon signs and deco-inspired towers.
The Uptown area is home to a major business center as well as EXPO NM and two of Albuquerque’s major shopping malls. Coronado Center and ABQ Uptown. ABQ opened in 2006 and boasts national boutique chains with shopping, dining and lodging options. Dine at Marcello’s Chophouse with one of the most impressive wine list’s in Albuquerque; a Wine Spectator pick.
9. Albuquerque is loaded with museums including:
The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology is one of the finest anthropology museums in the country with a special emphasis on the cultural heritage of the southwest located at the University of New Mexico.
The Albuquerque Biological Park is a unique environment comprising four facilities: the Aquarium, Botanical garden, a 64 acre Rio Grande Zoo and Tingley Beach fishing lakes. The Rio Grande Zoo and the Albuquerque Biological Park offers visitors close encounters with more than 250 species of exotic and native animals.
The Rio Grande Botanic Garden celebrates the world of plants in the Mediterranean and desert pavilions located across the plaza from the Aquarium with 36 acres an a 10,000 square foot glass conservatory housing native and exotic plants with a butterfly pavilion.
The Wildlife West Nature Park is a 122 acre wildlife refuge and enhanced rescue wildlife zoo with over 20 species of native New Mexico animals.
The Museum of Archaeology and Biblical History with 3000 years of ancient near-Eastern artifacts relating to biblical history is on Constitution Ave.
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science has the world’s longest dinosaur, Seismosaurus on Mountain Road. In 1991, paleontologist Davis Gillette found the largest of the enormous sauropod dinosaur at about 110 feet. The bones of the Seismosaurus were initially discovered in northwestern New Mexico by hikers in 1979. Seismosaurus is actually an especially large Diplodocus.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory designs, builds and operates the world’s most sophisticated and advanced telescopes 50 miles west of Socorro on HWY 60
The National Atomic Museum is the nation’s only Congress-chartered museum on nuclear science and history near Old Town. It was established in 1969 to chronicle the fascinating story of the Atomic Age and is the only Smithsonian Affiliate in Albuquerque and the exhibits include the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, Radiation in the World Around You and Nuclear Energy.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural center is a gateway to the 19 pueblos of New Mexico and offers educational programming and exhibitions tracing the cultural heritage, history and contemporary expressions of the Pueblo people of New Mexico at 2401 12th St. NW.
10. Jeep Tours allow you to explore ancestral Pueblo Ruins, Ghost Towns, extinct volcanoes, petroglyphs etched in rocks mesas, canyons, “Volcanic Necks” and other geological mountain and dessert locations while learning about the people, history, geology and culture of New Mexico.
New Mexico Jeep Tours @ www.nmjeeptours.com. The tours range from 3 to 8 hours.
If you have time, don’t forget to jump on the New Mexico Rail Runner that travels to Santa Fe New Mexico. The station is located in the heart of the city’s transportation network at the Alvarado Transportation Center with north-south service through the metro area and Sante Fe www.nmrailrunner.com Legendary Route 66 is Central Ave the city’s main street and trolley service connects downtown to Old Town.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com