15 Free Things to do in Albuquerque, NM

Free Things to do in Albuquerque, NM
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Albuquerque is located in Bernalillo County, the biggest city in New Mexico.

As one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the United States, Albuquerque is one of the most extraordinary places to spend time with your family and friends.

It’s famous for its hot air balloon festival, unique geography, and watermelon-colored mountains.

Other things that make this city an excellent destination are the notable architectural landmarks, cultural centers, and many museums in the heart of the city.

This city has a variety of gems and experiences for everyone to enjoy, whether you're a history buff or an art enthusiast.

Albuquerque also experiences bright, sunny days most days of the year, making it a must-visit for those who love warm weather.

It also makes for a great vacation destination for any person craving an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors.

Enjoy the city without spending a dime by checking out these 15 free things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

Take Instagrammable Photos at Old Town Albuquerque

Shops at Old Town Albuquerque
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If you're in Albuquerque, one of the best ways to get a feel for the Southwest is by visiting Old Town Albuquerque.

Old Town Albuquerque is a historic area in the city that showcases unique buildings with extraordinary architectural styles.

Founded in 1706, Old Town is the city's first neighborhood and was established by Spanish settlers.

Colorful doors and decors at Old Town Albuquerque
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This spot is full of scenic and historical views, century-old adobe houses, a central plaza, Pueblo Revival architecture, and Territorial-style buildings.

It's also home to giant old cottonwood trees and cobblestone streets.

With all these unique sights, this place has many perfect spots to get awesome photos of you and your family.

Stunning architectures at Old Town Albuquerque
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Strike a pose by the murals, or take snaps by the vibrant arched doors all over the area!

You can also enjoy a stroll and see the lush greeneries.

Narrow streets of Old Town Albuquerque
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See Unique Symbols Carved on Rocks as You Explore the Petroglyph National Monument

Get a glimpse of the culture of the indigenous people in the region when you visit the Petroglyph National Monument.

This destination can be accessed through the Western Trail and features one of the biggest petroglyph sites that can be found in North America.

Explore this outdoor area and inspect the extraordinary designs and unique symbols carved on the volcanic rocks.

These carvings are believed to have been done by Spanish settlers and Native Americans from 400 to 700 years back.

When you look at these carvings, you’ll be able to deepen your appreciation for this unique cultural expression.

You’ll also see a part of history that may have been forgotten if it weren’t for the dedicated individuals who preserve these sites.

Aside from the carvings, you’ll also enjoy picturesque sky and landscape views when you visit this destination.

When you head to Petroglyph National Monument, prepare to explore a trail teeming with historic artifacts!

Visit the Striking and Historic San Felipe de Neri Church

Facade of  San Felipe de Neri Church
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San Felipe de Neri Parish is a well-preserved Roman Catholic Church that functions as Albuquerque's spiritual heart.

This church on North Plaza Northwest is one of the oldest buildings in the city, having been originally built in 1706 during the Spanish period.

Visitors recommend adding the San Felipe de Neri Church to your itinerary when exploring Albuquerque's Old Town area for its unique architectural design.

Interior view of  San Felipe de Neri Church
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Since it was built during the colonial period, this church has a traditional colonial architectural style and reflects decorative elements from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Statue of Mother Mary at  San Felipe de Neri Church
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The church also features a rectory courtyard, convent, museum, and several religious artifacts of historical significance.

The rectory courtyard also has an incredible landscape with trees, green bushes, and roses, with a small fountain in the center where you can take pictures.

Walk around at Bianchetti Park

If you want to take a peaceful stroll or keep active through exercise, Bianchetti Park is a great place to visit.

This park on Granite Avenue features a playground, a basketball court, and a 0.3-mile trail.

Here, you can walk around, jog, shoot hoops on the court, or spend quality time with your kids by bonding with them at the playground.

With its vast grassy areas, you can also bring along your loved ones and catch up while relaxing on the grass.

You can even have a full-blown picnic if you bring some snacks.

Enjoy the breeze as you spend time with your loved ones at Bianchetti Park.

Discover How the City’s History, Culture, and Art Meet at the Albuquerque Museum

Signage of Albuquerque Museum
Chris English, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you're interested in learning about the history and culture of the city and its artistic influences, head to Albuquerque Museum on Mountain Road.

This museum features a wide variety of constantly changing exhibits, so there is always something new to see.

You can roam around and see regional art from the American Southwest, and stories and photos focused on Albuquerque's history and culture.

This place is a must-see with its interactive galleries, easy-to-understand displays, and permanent collections!

The museum has interactive spaces, sculpture gardens, and stores that you can explore.

Visiting this museum is free every Sunday and the first Wednesday of the month, so make sure to mark your calendar to check out what Albuquerque Museum has to offer!

Deepen Your Appreciation for the Environment at Open Space Visitors Center

See various exhibits that will help you learn about the beautiful open spaces around the city at Open Space Visitors Center.

Open Space Visitors Center is a hub that focuses on educating its visitors about the natural assets, as well as the cultural resources of the region.

Here, you can check out exhibits and artworks depicting Albuquerque's wildlife and breathtaking sights.

There are also open fields where you can go birdwatching, wildlife spotting, and even catch a glimpse of the stunning Sandia Mountains.

Roam around and check out the viewing areas for Sandhill cranes and other migratory birds.

Whether you're a nature lover or an outdoor enthusiast, this center is a must-visit!

Travel Back in Time by Visiting the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

Exterior view of Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
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Learn about the lives of Albuquerque's ancestors at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, a public anthropology museum.

You'll enjoy exploring the museum's five exhibit areas if you're interested in learning about and understanding different cultures.

At the People of the Southwest exhibit, you can learn more about the daily lives of those in America's southwest region.

The "Ancestors" exhibit is a must-see for anyone interested in human evolution, with galleries dating back more than four million years.

Meanwhile, the "People of the Southwest" exhibit is about the 12,000 years of human inhabitation in present-day America.

This display also boasts a pottery collection with pieces from the Colorado Plateau, Sonoran desert, and other areas near the Rio Grande and Casas Grande.

Plan your visit to the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at University Boulevard and learn about history and culture!

Relax under the Shade of the Trees at Altura Park

Altura Park is a great place to enjoy tranquility in one of the quieter neighborhoods in central Albuquerque.

You can enjoy strolling in the quiet half-mile walking path in the park, which is lined with gorgeous tall trees.

If you want a break from strolling around the area, you can sit by the grass under the trees and rest while enjoying the shade.

The park also features tennis courts and a playground with swings and slides.

Altura Park also has open fields that allow kids to play tag or run in the green grass.

Picnic tables are also available where you can have small gatherings with your family.

Hike with Your Kids at Paseo Del Bosque Trail

Picnic area at Paseo Del Bosque Trail
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One of Albuquerque's gems, the Paseo del Bosque Trail is a premier multi-use trail that goes from the city's north to the southern edges of the metro area.

This trail also passes through the Rio Grande’s cottonwood bosque, which makes for a scenic view.

The network of trails for wildlife-viewing opportunities makes this place unique.

Due to its paved walkway, this trail is considered easy, so you can bring your kids and hike with them here!

You can also take a stroll, go for an invigorating run, or explore trails on your bike.

Landscape of Paseo Del Bosque Trail
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You can also try in-line skating, horseback riding, and nature photography to complete your Paseo del Bosque Trail adventure.

The Paseo del Bosque Trail is renowned for its gorgeous scenery, with Rio Grande's riverfront view, towering trees, and lush vegetation.

Joshua Tree at Paseo Del Bosque Trail
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Be One With Nature at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

The Tiwa People have long inhabited the more than 570 acres of land now recognized as the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.

They have taken care of these grounds for centuries and still play a significant role in preserving this place today.

The refuge is home to various animals, including coyotes, snakes, lizards, dragonflies, and birds.

The sanctuary also features many plants, including cacti, yucca, and sagebrush.

There are also engaging instructional displays where you can learn about the importance of preserving wildlife and plants in the refuge.

Visitors can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking in the refuge.

Explore this sanctuary and spot all the species local to the area!

Hike with your loved ones at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge on 2nd Street and observe wildlife in their natural habitat as you connect with nature.

Enjoy a Relaxing Day at Tingley Beach

Sunset at Tingley Beach
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If you want to de-stress, Tingley Beach is a great place to relax and unwind.

Tingley Beach is a popular recreational area of the Albuquerque Biological Park complex.

It consists of three fishing ponds that are open to the public, free of charge.

Spend much-needed time with family at Tingley Beach and go paddle boating.

Geese swimming in Tingley Beach
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The beach is also home to many geese and ducks.

Grilling facilities are also available except during the fire season.

Bring your loved ones and enjoy recreational activities at Tingley Beach!

Feast Your Eyes on Stunning Artworks at the University of New Mexico Art Museum

Entrance to University of New Mexico Art Museum
John Phelan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The University of New Mexico Art Museum on Cornell Drive isn't your typical art museum.

This museum showcases contemporary artists and provides free public art events.

It also features creative artwork from students at the university and local artists in Albuquerque.

The exhibits range from photographs, paintings, abstracts, sculptures,  mono-printing, lithography, photogravure,  letterpress, screen printing, and more.

You can also check out photographs that reflect significant events in the city's history.

Make sure to stop by the University of New Mexico Art Museum on your trip!

Take in the Scenic View of the Landscape at Pat Hurley Park

Enjoy one of the city's best views when you visit Pat Hurley Park.

This park features a total 1.1-mile-long trail with two loops and a climbing hill.

The two loops are connected by a paved path going uphill, and the third one is for climbing the hill in the park.

The lower loop circles the community center and playground, while the upper loop goes around grass playfields and another small playground for kids.

You can rest after a long walk in the upper loop, which offers amazing views of the park.

The lower loop also offers resting areas, courts, and a playground.

If you want to enjoy breathtaking views of the city, climb up the last loop to see the cityscape and the mountains behind it.

Browse through Car Collections at Wheels Museum

The Wheels Museum on 2nd Street is a must-see for any car enthusiast.

The museum houses an impressive collection of classic and vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles displayed in its 2,000 square feet of exhibits.

The museum's name, ‘Wheels, ’ stands for ‘We Have Everything Everyone Loves Spinning.’

Your kids will enjoy the fantastic collections of children's model cars, trains, trucks, and more.

You'll also be amazed at how well this museum has preserved the mode of transportation from the earliest years in Albuquerque.

Tour the Wheels Museum and dive into the history of automobiles, trains, and anything with wheels!

Imagine Albuquerque History With La Jornada

Bronze sculpture of La Jornada
JRJfin / Shutterstock.com

If you go to the Albuquerque Museum of Art & Culture, you won't miss the sculptures outside of it.

This sculpture is called La Jornada or "The Journey," created by Reynaldo "Sonny" Rivera and Betty Sabo.

Sculptures of La Jornada
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La Jornada is an art piece commemorating 400 years since the Spanish settlers arrived in New Mexico as part of the Cuarto Centenario project.

It features 400 men, 83 wagons and carts, and livestock arriving with their families in 1598.

View of La Jornada sculptures
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Final Thoughts

With Albuquerque's rich history, a fun-filled adventure full of learning experiences awaits you in the city.

Albuquerque will amaze you with its cultural sites, historical landmarks, and natural wonders.

Make sure to add these 15 free things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to your travel itinerary so you can enjoy your trip with family or friends!

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