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Few southwest towns have as rich of a culture as Albuquerque, which means there’s plenty to see and experience. Between the hiking, horseback riding, gallery walks, epic golf courses and shopping—you’ll need a few days to pack in the city’s highlights. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Albuquerque:
1. Book a balloon ride. It’s worth waking up early to see the city from above at dawn in a hot air balloon—it’s also a great way to get the lay of the land. First time riders are in luck, Albuquerque has particularly balloon-friendly winds and sunny weather year-round. If you’re visiting the city in October, you’ll be hard-pressed to see a segment of the sky not covered in balloons—Albuquerque is the host of the world’s largest hot air balloon festival.
2. Cruise Route 66. Another excellent way to see the city is on an ABQ Trolley tour, which are run by two enthusiastic locals who drive visitors around the city’s oldest neighborhoods. They’ll share entertaining stories and make you sing along to road tunes as you cruise historic Route 66 — you’ll learn some history along the way, too.
3. Absorb the art scene. You can learn more about the city’s make-up at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, which has a permanent collection of art from local artists and artists from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Take a stroll around Old Town — the adobe buildings are the core of the oldest part of the city. While you’re here, be sure to check out The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is here, it covers more than two centuries of city lore.
4. Get cultured. Introduce yourself to the various American Indian communities around New Mexico at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. For an interesting and informative time, try to schedule your visit to coincide with the dances performed by pueblo members in the center’s courtyard.
5. Explore the outdoors. Taking a trip to the scenic Rio Grande Valley is a must when you visit Albuquerque—you can bike or hike the 15-mile trail through the Sandia Mountains; hike the dormant volcanoes or horseback ride along the river.