Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 1
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Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel memoir Get Lost, and welcome to a day of what you must do in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque isn’t always one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. In fact, for many years, tourists to New Mexico would skip the ole ABQ and head straight to Santa Fe and Taos in the north or Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns in the south.

Well, things have changed in Albuquerque, and it’s now a great place to visit. It’s home to the University of New Mexico, where everyone is a Lobo. And as you would expect for a college city and the largest city in New Mexico, there are plenty of cool cultural attractions. I’m going to take you to a few of them today, so let’s not waste any more time!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Must Do in Albuquerque

#1 TOP PICK

Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OLD TOWN GHOST TOUR
✔️ Ghost tours are fun
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#2 PICK

Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 3

HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
✔️ Unique local experience
✔️ Expert guide

#3 PICK

Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 4

ALL OTHER ALBUQUERQUE TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

must do in albuquerque

Must Do in Albuquerque

Morning: Albuquerque Zoo

Albuquerque is quite a spread out city, which means there’s plenty of room for outdoor activities. And one of the nicest outdoor activities in ABQ is the Albuquerque Zoo. This lovely zoo is home to many creatures, from the great to the small.

The weather in Albuquerque is generally pretty mild, so even though the last time I went there was in January, I had an excellent time! That’s why I say it’s one of the things you must do in Albuquerque.

There’s plenty to do at the zoo, but you’ll probably want a little guidance to help you get started. I’ll be happy to oblige with…

Three Fun Facts: Albuquerque Zoo

must do in albuquerque
1) What are the coolest looking animals at the zoo?

That’s a bit subjective, but I am rather fond of the flamingos. Do you know that they aren’t really pink? They are born white and turn that color because of their diet.

must do in albuquerque

And I’ll never say no to getting this close to a penguin. I asked if I could scratch its tummy, but the zookeeper said no. 🙁

If you like the classic zoo animals, I would say that seeing the tigers and elephants are exactly what you must do in Albuquerque.

must do in albuquerque

The section of birds of prey was also pretty sweet. They had everything from eagles to giant vultures that absolutely looked like they wanted to wait for us to die and then eat our corpses. (Hard to blame a vulture for this instinctual behavior. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.)

must do in albuquerque
2) What if the weather is bad?

There’s plenty of indoor exhibits at the Albuquerque Zoo? The penguin exhibit is one, but I also loved seeing the reptile house, especially this blue beauty we spy before us. He is the Grand Cayman blue iguana, and he indeed comes from the Cayman Islands. Apparently he is the largest native vertebrate on the island of Grand Cayman.

I already had so many other reasons for wanting to go to the Cayman Islands, like relaxing on the beach or money laundering, but this lizard has added a very special new reason.

You can also see the red spitting cobra, which I absolutely don’t want to meet in person. But don’t worry! It’s well preserved behind a glass wall. And I’ve never heard of even one visitor to Albuquerque being spat on to death by a snake, so we’re probably all good here.

must do in albuquerque
3) Is there anything to do near the zoo?

Yes! The Albuquerque Zoo is part of a complex called the Biopark, which includes the Botanical Garden. (The Biopark also includes an aquarium and the famous Tingley Beach, which is the world’s silliest beach, since Albuquerque literally could not be more landlocked.)

It’s easy to get from the zoo to the Botanical Garden because the Biopark complex offers a free shuttle that runs when available. You can also buy a combination ticket that will help you save money on the zoo, botanical garden, and aquarium.

The Botanical Garden is lovely any time of year, and I should know because I’ve been several times. However, my favorite time of year is winter, when they cover the garden with Christmas lights, so I wanted to give you a chance to see the beauties you can expect.

must do in albuquerque

We’ve got some gorgeous sea creatures! This is pretty surprising, again, given that Albuquerque is landlocked.

must do in albuquerque

Ah! Some more dinosaurs, just like the ones we saw at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science!

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And what can be more New Mexico than some cacti and a coyote? You’re welcome!

must do in albuquerque

Must Do in Albuquerque

Afternoon: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

New Mexico, you might have heard, is famous for its accomplishments in science. After all, Los Alamos is where the atomic bomb was developed by the most accomplished scientists in the world. There are scientists who work at the University of New Mexico, and Bill Gates even started Microsoft right here in the ABQ.

That’s why we’re spending the afternoon at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. We’re going to learn about geology, astronomy, and so much more. Get ready to join me for…

Approximately Top 5: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

must do in albuquerque
1) Lunch at Vinaigrette

Before we head to the museum, we’re going to need to get some lunch. You have to eat at least three meals a day! That’s just science.

There are plenty of cute places to eat in Albuquerque, near the science museum, but I recommend Vinaigrette for a light and healthy lunch. They have delicious salads and daily soup specials. The soup of the day when I visited was a gratifyingly garlicky French pistou soup.

must do in albuquerque

At a restaurant called Vinaigrette, you’re really going to want to try the salads. That’s why I selected the La Pepita salad, which is like a crunchy, Southwestern twist on a kale Caesar. If you’ve ever wanted your kale Caesar to be a little more surprising, this is the salad to order.

I also got a fun cocktail called That Green Drink, which mixes kale and celery juice with tequila. Hey, being healthy is overrated.

must do in albuquerque
2) Pluto

The science museum has an excellent section on astronomy and the planets, but my favorite part is the section on Pluto. As you know, some fools think that Pluto is no longer a planet, but Gus from Psych and I both know that it is and always will be the planet of our hearts.

Fortunately the natural history museum and the state of New Mexico agree with us! A New Mexico man named Dr. Clyde Tombaugh actually discovered Pluto, a very real planet, back in 1930.

That’s why Pluto is still officially a planet in New Mexico. February 18, 2010 was even declared “Pluto is Still a Planet in New Mexico Day”. (I know that sounds like it’s a joke, but it’s very real.)

So remember, when you’re in New Mexico, don’t forget to give proper respect to Pluto’s name.

must do in albuquerque
3) Gems and Minerals

This is the best section of any Natural History Museum: the Gems and Minerals Section. It’s the best part of the Natural History Museum in my hometown of New York City, and it’s one of the best parts of the New Mexico Natural History Museum. (Not the absolute best part. We’ll get to that soon.)

This mineral in my photo above was named Smithsonite, after the founder of the Smithsonian Institute. Sadly, he was not New Mexican. This mineral is zinc carbonate, and you mine it in New Mexico.

That’s why some people want to call it the official state mineral. I think if they’re going to call it that, they should change the name to something more New Mexican, like Loboite or Green Chileite.

must do in albuquerque

Also, say hello to this lapis lazuli turtle because she is so pretty. I can’t always be full of deep thoughts.

must do in albuquerque
4) Planetarium Show

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is one of the more affordable and fun cultural attractions in the city. That’s why I call it a must do in Albuquerque. So if you want to splurge and add just a few dollars on to your ticket, you’ll get to see the fantastic planetarium show.

I’m from New York City, where we famously can’t see the stars at night. So when I go to New Mexico to visit family, I’m always excited to experience the gorgeous New Mexico sky, along with all the stars in the heavens.

You can experience all that beauty at the planetarium as well. The show will point out the position of different constellations, the movement of the planets, and other amazing celestial features. If you ask nicely, the planetarium guide will even show you where the planets and constellations will be a million years into the future.

We’ll probably be dead by then, but it’s still nice to know.

must do in albuquerque
5) Dinosaurs

Aha! Here we have the best part of any Natural History Museum, at least if you ask most kids. It’s the dinosaur and other prehistoric life section. Do you have a favorite dinosaur? Mine was always the stegosaurus because my name is Stella and they begin with the same sound. (We studied dinosaurs when I was five and quite self-centered.)

One cool fact I learned about stegos at this museum is that they used their plates to control their body temperature. If they moved the plates one way, it would absorb heat, and if they moved them another way, it would cool them off. Elephants’ ears work in the same way today!

Also, don’t miss the chance to see the massive Seismosaurus, which, like the planet Pluto, can only be found in New Mexico.

must do in albuquerque

24 Hour Treat: Marble Brewery

I mentioned that Albuquerque is a college city, and if there’s one thing every college city needs, it’s a quality brewery! That’s why I suggest heading over to the excellent craft brewery known as Marble. Don’t worry if you need a designated driver here because the ABQ is full of Ubers.

I tried two beers here. The first was a light and drinkable Mexican style lager known as Cerveza. They even served it with a cute little slice of lime, just like I had it in Mexico City. If you want to try one of their more “normal” beers, go with this one.

You can also try something more adventurous like one of their fruity sour beers. I liked them equally, so it’s all up to you!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Must Do in Albuquerque

#1 TOP PICK

Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OLD TOWN GHOST TOUR
✔️ Ghost tours are fun
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#2 PICK

Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 3

HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
✔️ Unique local experience
✔️ Expert guide

#3 PICK

Best Must Do in Albuquerque 2024 4

ALL OTHER ALBUQUERQUE TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

must do in albuquerque

Must Do in Albuquerque

Evening: Dinner at Range Cafe Downtown

I think New Mexican food is some of the most delicious in the world. And one of the nice things about it is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. That’s why I suggest visiting an Albuquerque classic like the Range Cafe. Pour yourself a green chile margarita and get ready for a spicy, yet surprisingly cozy meal.

Well, fine. It’s the bartender who will pour you the margarita. But you know what I mean.

must do in albuquerque

I strongly suggest getting the combination plate, which is a real must do in Albuquerque. Each restaurant has a different kind of combination plate, but at the Range Cafe, you’ll get a blue corn chile relleno, which is a chile pepper that has been stuffed with a decadent amount of melted cheese.

This will be paired with two rolled beef blue corn enchiladas, which is a total New Mexican classic. Just in case this isn’t enough, you get a side plate with one chicken taco, a heaping mound of arroz verde with pinto beans. And since this is New Mexico, you sweet summer child, you get your choice of chile.

They’ll ask you if you want red or green chile, but this is a trick question! The correct answer is Christmas, which is red and green chile mixed together. You can thank me later!

must do in albuquerque

I hope you saved room for dessert because the Range Cafe has some excellent baked goods. I loved this classic Key Lime pie, which went perfectly with my margarita. And I hope you’ll agree that I showed you exactly what you must do in Albuquerque today!

must do in albuquerque

Must do in Albuquerque

Where to Stay?

I chose to stay in the SpringHill Suites by Marriott when I last enjoyed a day of what you must do in Albuquerque. It has a great location, massive comfortable rooms with a coffeemaker, a huge bathtub, and an ice machine conveniently down the hall. Plus there was a 24 hour staff and a good breakfast included every morning.

If you want to book a room in this great hotel, you can check it out right here!

And if you’d rather explore great deals on tons of other hotels in Albuquerque just click here! This search engine will help you find the most convenient and affordable hotels available during your time with what you Must do in Albuquerque.

That’s What You must do in Albuquerque!

What would you say is a must do in Albuquerque? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Albuquerque right now? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Albuquerque.

Catch the best things to do Los Alamos NM. You can also add 24 hours in Albuquerque. Get going on a one day in Albuquerque itinerary. Check out 24 hours in Santa Fe. We’ve also got a great one day in Santa Fe itinerary. Get ready for the best things to do in Santa Fe NM.

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