Founded as a Spanish settlement on the banks for the Rio Grande river in 1706, the desert city of Albuquerque is the sixth fastest-growing city in the United States and very heavily planned. As such, it’s relatively easy to navigate and filled with a plethora of informative and fun attractions for visiting kids and their families. If you’re in search of a family vacation destination that’s a bit less common than the old-faithful amusement park and touristy standby cities, Albuquerque may be just what you’re looking for.
- Rio Grande Zoo (Albuquerque, NM 87102) – The Rio Grande Zoo is like visiting three attractions at once, as it’s housed in the Albuquerque BioPark which also features the Albuquerque Aquarium and the Rio Grande Botanic Garden. Home to more than two hundred and fifty species in carefully designed habitats, the Rio Grande Zoo also offers a variety of interactive opportunities, demonstrations and educational programs for young visitors.
- The Box Performance Space (Albuquerque, NM 87102) – Kids with an affection for the performing arts are sure to get a major kick out of The Box Performance Space, which hosts a variety of improv performances, children’s shows and even improv classes for youngsters. Make sure you don’t miss this gem if you have a budding thespian in the family!
- American International Rattlesnake Museum (Albuquerque, NM 87104) – Kids that have an interest in all things slithery and reptilian will be awed by the impressive collections of rattlesnakes at the American International Rattlesnake Museum, which provides plenty of information for each snake on the premises, including the history, origin, genus and species of each reptilian inhabitant.
- Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum (Albuquerque, NM 87104) – Learning about technology, science and art in a hands-on environment that encourages plenty of interaction, exploration and experimentation helps kids retain those lessons, which is why the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum is a must-see attraction while you’re visiting Albuquerque.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (Albuquerque, NM 87104) – Walk through a volcano, explore the ice age and navigate a cave at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which also features eight Timetracks exhibits showcasing the history of New Mexico from the present, all the way back to the Paleozoic era. Don’t miss the IMAX theater, planetarium and the hands-on experience of The Naturalist Center!
- National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque, NM 87102) – The architecture of the National Hispanic Cultural center alone is worth seeing, making it an ideal setting for the artifacts and exhibits showcasing Hispanic culture and art. On the premises is also the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts, La Tiendita Gift Shop and a Research & Literary Arts Complex.
- Sandia Peak Tramway (Albuquerque, NM 87122) – The world’s longest tramway, Sandia Peak Tramway, stretches over 2.7 miles and offers breathtaking views of the Sandia Mountains, the city of Albuquerque, hiking and mountain biking trails. There are also dining options at both the base and peak of the Tramway.
- Albuquerque International Balloon Museum (Albuquerque, NM 87113) – If you can’t make it to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta, a stop at the Albuquerque International balloon Museum is the next best thing. Dedicated to the science, art and history of ballooning, all of your kids’ questions about balloon flight are answered through the exhibits and artifacts on display.
- The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (Albuquerque, NM 87123) – The Congressionally chartered National Museum of Nuclear Science & History offers kids the chance to explore the atomic age from the earliest research to modern use. Albert Einstein, Madame Curie and the Manhattan Project are among the many subjects of permanent exhibits, and the on-site store offers plenty of nuclear physics and atomic energy-related merchandise.
- Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM 87102) – While the horrors of the Holocaust may seem a bit heavy for very young children, there’s no doubt of the importance of teaching kids about tolerance. Talking points on everything from genocide to schoolyard bullying are offered at the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum, which is not dedicated to any specific time, area, culture or religious affiliation.
While Albuquerque has a variety of year-round offerings for visitors, there are also a number of annual festivals and celebrations held within the city. From the Native American Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, there are plenty of unique cultural festivals that can make your visit even more exciting for the whole family.