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Much more than ballooning is on offer in Albuquerque
The largest city in the state of New Mexico is often overlooked as a tourist destination, particularly on a national scale in the USA. Most well-known for the annual balloon festival that takes place outside of the city, there are also dozens of reasons to visit Albuquerque at any time of the year. The city is placed along the former Route 66 that ran from Los Angeles to Chicago and a result many travellers come through to see the historic side of the city, but it is also has modern aspects which keep it fresh for newcomers.
A historical downtown
The central Old Town area of the city holds the most history and it is here where visitors can find the oldest buildings dating back to the eighteenth century. San Felipe de Neri Church is the oldest of these and is a well-known destination for visitors. The district is also home to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, as well as many other history and art themed museums. As a result of these popular tourist destinations there are also many independent shops selling cultural souvenirs and artworks in the New Mexico style, reflecting the city’s multicultural heritage. Visitors can also find a range of the smaller and independent hotels in Albuquerque, NM situated in the Old Town area, allowing guests to explore the city on foot. Route 66 used to run right through the centre of Albuquerque, predominantly through the neighbourhood of Nob Hill. The district contains many visual reminders of those former glory days with neon signage, classic diners and boutique stores. Indeed, art is a theme repeated throughout the city and there are many theatres and live music venues scattered throughout, providing visitors another cultural dimension of Albuquerque.
A sport focused city
Although there are no major league teams based in the city, sport is still a relevant sector of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico is an example of this. The university football team, The New Mexico Lobos, are renowned for their passionate fans and huge local stadium. As a consequence, going to see a home game here is regularly listed as one of the must-do things for visitors to the city. The university also houses several museums and impressive campus buildings, allowing travellers to easily fill entire day just on the campus. Several of the chain hotels in Albuquerque can be found in this area as it is close to the cross section of the two interstate highways that flow through the city. In further regards to sports, watching the minor league baseball team, the Isotopes, is also a popular family activity with locals and travellers alike. Albuquerque is known as a sport focused city in general and this can be shown by the multiple parks in and around the city. Sandia Peak is the biggest example of this, located around twenty-five kilometres to the northeast, this large natural area is favoured by visitors for its variety of hikes and outdoor activities.
Nature attractions along the Rio Grande River
The city is shaped by the Rio Grande River which flows through from north to south, offering a picturesque backdrop to downtown Albuquerque. Alongside the river are a range of popular tourist attractions, focused around the Albuquerque Biological Park which offers guests a variety of nature based activities. The complex includes an aquarium, botanical garden and Rio Grande Zoo, representing many contrasting elements of the natural world, very much appreciated by visiting families. Similarly, Tingley Beach on the banks of the river provides another outdoor area, known for its fishing opportunities available in a series of ponds or the river itself. Furthermore the Rio Grande Valley State Park, a free entry area which extends further along the river, is home to dozens of trails and a host of wild animals. The river area is within walking distance of many of the hotels Albuquerque houses, particularly those close to the Old Town and Nob Hill districts.
Albuquerque surroundings, balloons and beyond.
Of course one of the most known aspects of Albuquerque is its annual balloon fiesta which attracts visitors and participants from all corners of the globe. Each October the city is in the international spotlight as thousands enjoy the sky filled with hot air balloons, creating one of the most photographed events on the planet. During this time Albuquerque hotels fill up across the city with enthusiastic fiesta attendants looking to float far above the city on one of the many tours available. The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum offers a year-round attraction for visitors outside of the fortnight in October, with exhibitions and memorabilia explaining all aspects of ballooning. A trip to the city would not be complete however without venturing to Petroglyph National Monument, a fascinating collection of carved images which constitutes an important part of the area’s cultural heritage. Easily doable as a day trip, the monuments are found just ten kilometres northwest of the downtown, also accessible via the public bus system.