There’s much more to Albuquerque than the annual Balloon Fiesta. While this spectacular event is full of affordable family fun, the New Mexican city that hosts it has plenty to offer family travelers. The city is full of fabulous food—green chile being the local favorite on any and all dishes—and historical sites, but a day museum hopping with the littles is most definitely a day well spent. Not every museum appeals to every child, but there are a few favorites that are ideal for each age group.
Babies: Explora Children’s Museum
Yes, you can find a children’s museum in just about every big city in the United States, but Explora is uniquely positioned as a very sciency kind of place. Babies will be captivated from the moment you walk in, with exhibits hands-on exhibits they can watch and touch with a parent’s supervision. One of the first things you will find is an engineering exhibit that allows the littles to turn handles and set up ramps for golf balls. Just a bit further down there is a fountain where kids of all ages will enjoy pushing the buttons and controlling the water that is flying about. Upstairs, a giant bubble table is messy and entrancing and a sketch aquarium will give older siblings the opportunity to watch their sea creature creations come to life in a huge digital aquarium while the babies explore the vibrant moving colors in awe. This place has the biggest elevator that you’ve ever seen, complete with a piano to keep little minds engaged on the ride between the two floors. The crawler’s area is ideal for moving, climbing and exploring after a morning sitting still in the stroller or baby carrier at the Balloon Fiesta.
Toddlers: ABQ Biopark
With a plethora of different parks to choose from, the Albuquerque Biopark will keep busy toddlers busy for an entire day—or longer. A combo admission will get you into the Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Zoo, Rio Grande Botanic Garden and Tingley Beach where everyone can play in the sand and fish in the lakes. Go from one park to the other easily with a train ride, which only adds to the allure of this place for curious, adventurous toddlers. Whether you and your littles ones love to watch animals, follow fish around a tank or are simply enthralled by the color and beauty of plant life, the ABQ Biopark in Albuquerque is for you.
Kids: International Rattlesnake Museum
Plenty of places have reptiles to look at, but nowhere will you find so much information about the fascinating, scary creature that is the rattlesnake. This animal is a venomous creature that lives in a great variety of habitats, but is particularly well-known as a predator in the southwestern United States. For the inquisitive kiddo, the Rattlesnake Museum displays more than just snakes. It teaches all about their body types, habitats, bites and everything else you could ever possibly want to know.
Nothing says nerdy like an entry way with a massive periodic table on the floor, and for the scientific minded teen, this is the place you want to be. The museum has a few interactive exhibits that allow you to estimate your radiation exposure, learn about nanoscience and explore other important concepts related to nuclear science, in addition to displaying many unique items and pop culture items from the World War II and Cold War periods. The Back to the Future Delorean lives here. What more could you want? Head out back to Heritage Park where teens will discover planes, missiles, rockets and other large real life artifacts to make any plane lover or history buff go weak at the knees. Albert Einstein is clearly the mascot of this interesting little museum, and you can grab about a zillion Albert-themed souvenir items on your way out.
A Museum For Everyone: Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
If you are in town for Albuquerque’s annual Balloon Fiesta, you simply have to stop in at the museum across the way dedicated solely to the history and science of ballooning. After an exceptional morning of watching the feast for the eyes that is the Fiesta itself, all members of the family will love learning about how and why these balloons fly.