Your kids probably aren't begging to go to Albuquerque on your next family vacation, but maybe they should be. With year-round good weather, lots of activities and informal atmosphere, uncrowded Albuquerque is a good family travel destination where you can enjoy the outdoors, learn about Native American culture, or get involved with nature.
Old Town Albuquerque
Old Town, Albuquerque's historic center, holds an array of kid-friendly activities. Go shopping, have a New Mexico-style meal and sit on the plaza to contemplate the fact that Albuquerque was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock.
- Rattlesnake Museum - If the fake snakes in the gift shop, which you must go through to enter the museum, make you quiver, go no further. For the brave-hearted, the museum offers an eye-to-eye view with a rattler collection from the world over, and an informative film about snakes. Anyone who makes it in (and back out) gets a certificate celebrating their bravery, sure to be a big hit at Show and Tell.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science - Just across the street from Old Town, filled with life-sized dinosaurs, a planetarium and a simulated trip to kill a runaway comet, it will keep you (and the kids, too) busy for hours. There's more hands-on fun across the street at Explora! Science Center where half the exhibits are designed for two- to eight-year-olds.
- New Mexico Ghost Tours - An evening ramble around Old Town's most-haunted spots is more fun than telling ghost stories around the campfire. Cody Polston and Buck McCombs are ghost hunters who have debunked their share of paranormal phenomena, and that makes the things they can't explain even spookier.
Native American Albuquerque
Don't you love it when you teach your kids something and they don't even know you did it? They can learn about Native American culture in Albuquerque, and have fun at the same time.
- Acoma Pueblo - The "Sky City," which the Acoma people claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States, sits atop a mesa west of the city. One of New Mexico's most scenic pueblos (Native American dwellings), it's famous for white pottery with brown-and-black geometric decorations. Feast days offer a special glimpse inside Acoma culture.
- Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - Nothing can replace a visit to pueblo, but customs and beliefs restrict questions and exploration, sometimes hindering learning. At the Cultural Center, curious kids can ask all the questions they want. Best of all, you can learn about the dances here. During ceremonies at the pueblos, the dancer will not discuss their activities, which they consider sacred, but weekend dancers are free to share more information.
- Petroglyph National Monument - Have fun explaining why 2,500-year-old graffiti is good and modern versions aren't as you roam among black basaltic boulders covered with 25,000 images carved by Native Americans and early Spanish explorers.
- Gathering of Nations - Every April, over 3,000 American Indian dancers and artists converge on Albuquerque, creating a unique opportunity to learn about many cultures.