Family friendly southwest, where experiences are endless, vast landscapes beg to be explored, and the International Balloon Fiesta take to the skies! This is True Albuquerque.
A place unlike any other, known for its rich history, culture and chilis of course! It is here a thousand moments become a lifetime of memories. New Mexico at its finest and why kids of all ages will enjoy the adventure.
This vacation envelopes thinking outside the box. And as all adventures have their challenges, this one requires early mornings, which may need additional planning.
Not all travelers come seeking hot air balloons, however October was made for just that, and during the week of the International Balloon Fiesta chances are you will see one.
As a week long attendee to the world’s largest and most photographed event I will say, this my friends is an EXPERIENCE not to be missed! Our first stop is the Balloon Fiesta, so grab your camera and get ready for an insider’s look at all things hot air.
BALLOON FIESTA WITH KIDS
- FREE admission for kids 12 and under, with any paying adult.
- Schedule a few days, as the winds can change quickly causing balloon delays or flight cancellations. Mass ascensions generally happen on the weekends, as well as Glowdeo’s lighting up the night sky.
- Food is carnival style, and pricey, so plan accordingly with little ones. My recommendation is to bring along shelf stable snacks high in protein to avoid ‘hangry’ moments.
- Clothing, layering is a must for warmth, as the dry air is MUCH colder before the sun comes up. Blankets, hand warmers, hats, scarves, as well as comfortable walking shoes are necessary for avoiding loss of body heat. There are very little inside shelters and no warming stations for general admission. And when the weather becomes ‘biting’ staying warm is key!
- Wagons or strollers are needed to avoid tiredness. Renting both of these are optional on fiesta premises if needed, yet there is a limited amount and once rented.
- Altitude sickness may be an issue. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after landing at 5,312 feet. It may not be noticeable at first, yet the difference in elevation can result in headaches, lightheadedness and fatigue.
- Bathrooms are located quite a distance apart. The portable potties are well maintained with toilet paper and hand sanitizer only.
Every Thursday during the week long event is KIDS DAY. Be prepared for crowds, as ABQ schools are closed Thursday and Friday increasing car and foot traffic.
If you get there early the Fiesta gives away, to KIDS ONLY, drawstring backpacks with activities and a light breakfast. Bringing blankets and chairs is beneficial for this morning event, as seating is extremely limited.
Discovery Center is a MUST! This hands-on approach will teach everyone the art of hot air ballooning. A Passport activity book keeps kids engaged and creates involvement at each station they stop at.
Plan to attend a few events during the week. The wind is sometimes less cooperative keeping the balloons grounded.
ABQ DAY TRIPS WORTH SEEING
- Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway– a 10,378 elevation change to the top, not for visitors who are afraid of heights. Experience a whole new way of seeing Albuquerque with an amazing 360° view. Wait times can be lengthy (2 hours +) so plan accordingly with children. Highly recommended for lunch is the Upper Mountain Restaurant. Foods prepared are sourced from local growers, farmers, and ranchers bringing about the freshness in taste.
- Petroglyph– 20 minutes from ABQ is Boca Negra Canyon, a moderate hike, offers the best ways to see 100 ancient hieroglyphics. Length is about a 45-minute hike to the top. Not suitable without proper walking shoes or those who have leg/knee/feet problems. Two other hiking options: Rinconada Canyon and Piedras Marcadas Canyon suitable for more serious hikers.
- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument– Located in north-central New Mexico about an hour from ABQ. Kids will enjoy the challenge of walking through crevices, climbing up rocks and climbing to an elevation of 6,760 feet. Plan on an 1 to 1 1/2 hours to the top. Wear proper walking shoes and take plenty of water. Panoramic views from the top are stunning.
- Bandelier National Monument– 1 hour 45 minutes from ABQ. This is definitely worth the drive. Plan on spending 4+ hours as you step back in time and immerse yourself in a Pueblo culture. What makes this hike exciting for children of all ages is the petroglyphs, rock cliffs, cave dwellings, and climbing the ladders to the Alcove House (not suitable for anyone under 6 years old). Playing in nature takes on a whole new meaning at Bandelier.
- Acoma Pueblo Sky City– 1 hour from ABQ, this living history site is well preserved by the Acoma Pueblo people today. Begin at the visitor center and Haaku Museum. Scheduled tram times take you to the top of the mesa, as driving personal vehicles is not allowed. A 1 hour guided tour will engage your senses for learning the ways of this ancient people. Kids will enjoy taking the less traveled route by climbing down the ancient path back to the visitors center. NOTE: Winds are strong on top of the mesa causing sand storms to stir up continuously.
Whatever time your family has, plan on making the most memories possible. New Mexico’s playground is waiting to be explored by young and old alike. And whichever activities are chosen your senses will engage in the most epic adventure of a lifetime.
Plan your next destination to the family friendly southwest, and find out why Albuquerque will be an experience unlike any other!