Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

AB-Tram-Tall2In July, my kids and I had the opportunity to explore Albuquerque, NM as part of our cross-country road trip. This was our first time in New Mexico and we were excited to explore a landscape far different from where we live in Virginia. From petroglyphs and volcanic rocks to mountains and shrubby bushes, it was like a whole new world.

Whether you have just a day or two, or even a week, you’ll find much to do as a family in Albuquerque. Here’s the scoop on where to stay, what to do and where to eat. Have fun. 🙂

Where to Stay 

We stayed at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town. It’s in a great location for exploring Albuquerque as a family. It’s just a short walk from the Albuquerque Museum, as well as the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. It was nice to be able to just walk out of the hotel and begin taking in the town.

We stayed two nights and my kids loved splashing in the fantastic outdoor pool, which was so refreshing at the end of a warm summer day. There’s also a lovely courtyard adjacent to the pool, which was perfect for relaxing with an evening drink and looking out at the Sandia mountains before dinner.

Our first night in town, we ate at Garduno’s Restaurant & Cantina inside the hotel. The food was delicious (as were the margaritas). This was not a typical hotel restaurant. In fact, Garduno’s is highly regarded in Albuquerque as one of the best restaurants in town. Even better, just for staying at the Hotel Albuquerque, we saved 15% on our bill thanks to the Local Treasures Discount Coupon Card we received at check-in.

Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

The Local Treasures Discount Coupon Card enables hotel guests to save at locally-owned and operated restaurants, museums and attractions in Old Town Albuquerque. Definitely a nice bonus for staying at the hotel and a great way to encourage guests to patronize local merchants and restaurants.

If you are at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town on a Saturday morning, be sure to take the guided walking tour of historic Old Town Albuquerque. It’s free to hotel guests and is a great way to learn more about Old Town past and present.

Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

What to Do

The Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town is within easy driving (even walking) distance of a number of kid-friendly attractions, including the Sandia Peak Tramway and the Albuquerque Museum. If you go, here are a few of my top things to do in the Albuquerque area.

ABQ BioPark. There’s a lot to see and do at the ABQ BioPark so you’ll want to schedule an entire day to explore the zoo, aquarium and botanic garden, as well as Tingley Beach, where you can hike, boat and fish. Be sure to hop on the Rio Line to take the train that connects the aquarium and botanic garden with the zoo.

Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

Albuquerque Museum. Start your visit to the Albuquerque Museum with a Sculpture Garden Tour to learn about the 13 different sculptures that surround the museum. Inside, check out the “Only in Albuquerque” exhibit before joining an Old Town Walking Tour to see and learn about historic Old Town Albuquerque.

Petroglyph National Monument. Hike along the Mesa Point Trail in search of symbols carved into the volcanic rock at Petroglyph National Monument. Bring your national parks passport to get it stamped at the visitors center before or after you go out on your quest for ancient petroglyphs.

Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

American International Rattlesnake Museum. While in Old Town Albuquerque, it’s a must to stop in the American International Rattlesnake Museum. Kids will enjoy learning all about different types of rattlesnakes through artwork, memorabilia, and of course, through live snakes on display at the museum.

Sandia Peak Tramway. Take in the views during the 10-minute tram ride to the observation deck at the top of Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest. While on the Sandia Peak Tramway, enjoy the 360-degree panoramic views. You’ll also enjoy noticeably cooler temps at the top (refreshing on a hot day).

Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

Explora. Little ones will love making a stop at Explora, the hands-on science museum in Albuquerque. Blow bubbles, create digital sea creatures, explore gravity and work with recyclables to create new works of art. Check out the Experiment Bar daily at 10 am for vibrating forks and oboes made from straws.

Where to Eat

There are a number of restaurants in the Albuquerque area that are perfect for kids and families. Here are a few to check out during your visit.

Garduno’s Restaurant & Cantina. Located inside the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, Garduno’s Restaurant & Cantina is the perfect spot to settle in for Mexican food. Try the Shrimp Tacos. Yum.

Exploring with Kids: 36 Hours in Albuquerque

Monroe’s. For authentic New Mexican food, head to Monroe’s. Look for Red Chile Dogs, Enchilada Plates and Tamale Platters. They even have meals just for “gringos,” like chicken fingers and pork chops.

Sadie’s of New Mexico. There are four Sadie’s locations in Albuquerque to satisfy your needs for salsa and chiles. Look for enchiladas, burritos and carne adovada. For little ones, there are tacos and chalupas.

66 Diner. If you want to skip Mexican food for at least one night, then head to 66 Diner. They’ve got chili dogs, meat loaf and tasty milkshakes. They also have southwest favorites, like breakfast burritos.