Albuquerque with Teens: A Perfect Family Day
Fly high over the city as the sun rises over the Sandia Mountains.
The first two weeks in October is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The skies above Albuquerque fill with hot air balloons of every shape and color. Get to the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque with teens early and everyone can enjoy hot chocolate and breakfast burritos as the sun begins to rise and the Dawn Patrol takes off.
One of the best things to do in Albuquerque is to let everyone assist in getting the waves of balloons ready for take-off, and you can actually ride when space is available. If you would rather keep both feet on the ground, consider joining a chase-crew to assist with packing the balloon up when it lands.
There are many events throughout the Fiesta. They include key grabs, special shapes rodeos and balloon glows. Most events take place very early in the morning. Be sure to dress in layers, as the mornings are very chilly. By mid-morning, be ready to shed some of your layers as the sun warms up the city.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, 5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE; 505-821-1000, 888-422-7277
If it is not October, you can still charter a ride in a hot air balloon. There are many hot air balloon pilots in the area. Several will take up to eight guests for the ride of a lifetime. Skyspan Adventures offers a pre-dawn flight package where you can enjoy an Albuquerque family adventure as you fly beneath the stars and watch the city slowly come to life as the sun rises beyond the mountains.
Skyspan Adventures, 6390 Coors Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120; 505-250-2300, 877-759-7726
Learn About Balloons
Just north of the Balloon Fiesta Park is the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum where you and your teens can explore the history, science and artistry behind hot air balloons. The museum showcases gondolas from the 1800s and the Double Eagle V that was the first balloon to cross the Pacific Ocean in 1981, flown by none other than Anderson and Abruzzo, who call Albuquerque home.
Exhibits include titles such as "In the Beginning: Triumphs & Tragedies," "How Balloons Fly," and "Space and Science."
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, 9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113; 505-880-0500; Tues-Sun 9AM-5PM; Adults $4, Seniors (65+) $2, Kids (4-12) $1, Free 3 and under
Catch a Flying Burger
For lunch and window shopping, head over to Nob Hill. This area, the first suburb of Albuquerque, dates back to the 1920s and is also a part of Route 66. It is teaming with locally owned specialty shops and dining experiences. Park your car and stroll through the area. There are several patio diners, interesting ethnic restaurants and coffee shops.
Flying Star Cafe features a local favorite with teens in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Burger. This Angus burger is topped with cheddar cheese, chopped green chili and is served on a bakery style bun. A word of warning: New Mexico green chili is unlike anything else in the world. People who have lived in New Mexico for a number of years go through chili withdrawal when they leave the state. If you are nervous about how spicy the green chili is, order it on the side so you can sample it before drenching your burger Albuquerque style.
Flying Star Café, 3416 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106; 505-255-6633; Sun-Thu 6AM-11PM, Fri & Sat 6AM-midnight
Take In the View
Ride the world's longest passenger tram at Sandia Peak Tramway. You will feel like you are standing on top of the world with a view of over 11,000 square miles. The tram travels 2.7 miles up the rugged and steep west slopes of the Sandia Mountain Range. In fact, an airplane fuselage can be seen at one point on the tram ride. The plane crashed back in the 70s and the terrain is too rugged to recover the wreckage.
The tram makes four trips per hour, climbs over 3,000 feet and averages 275,000 passengers a year. Keep your eyes peeled while you cruise up the mountain on this family adventure. There is a wide variety of wildlife to spot including the occasional golden eagle, mule deer and black bear.
At the top of the mountain, you will be amazed at the contrast from the rugged and stark side of the west slopes to the pine forest of the east side, and you'll also find one of the best family vacation ideas in Albuquerque. Sandia Ski Resort, the High Finance Restaurant, and the Cibola Forest Ranger Station await you with an observation deck, hiking trails, ski lifts, and incredible views in all directions. Come for the ride and stay to watch the sunset beyond the Albuquerque valley.
Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway, 38 Tramway Loop NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122; take I-40 to Exit 167, or take I-20 to Exit 234; 505-856-6692; Daily 9AM-8PM, except Tue 5PM-8PM; $12-$20
Come back down to earth
Your tired teens will be ready to enjoy another great meal and discuss the day's adventures. Head back to Nob Hill and let them choose the place.
Raising teens is tricky, no matter where you are. Spending time with your teens is your best chance of keeping them on the straight and narrow of life. A family vacation in Albuquerque with teens can be a real adventure in flying high.