Though the Harvard Crimson may be the main attraction in Albuquerque this week, the town has plenty of sights to keep you busy when you're not at a basketball game. Albuquerque is a place heavily influenced by Hispanic and Native American cultures, with a fusion of food, art, architecture, and music that can be hard to find in the Northeast. Below are Flyby's top five tourist stops.
Old Town Albuquerque
Old Town is the historical and geographical heart of Albuquerque. Since its founding in 1706, the neighborhood has grown to include five museums and over 100 shops and restaurants. The architectural centerpiece is the San Felipe de Neri church, established in 1706 and rebuilt in 1793. With thick adobe walls and rounded arches, the church is a jewel of Southwestern architecture. Be sure to check out the traditional arts and crafts sold in shops and on sidewalks, and try a traditional dish with green chilies.
American International Rattlesnake Museum
This museum is not for the faint of heart. Located in Old Town, the American International Rattlesnake Museum holds over 30 living species of snakes. The museum's website claims that they "host more different species than the Bronx Zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, the National Zoo, the Denver Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo" combined.
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
Just as skyscrapers comprise the skylines of New York and Boston, the Sandia Mountains are the outstanding feature of the horizon in Albuquerque. The word "sandia," which means "watermelon" in Spanish, describes the color of the mountains at sunset. The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway takes visitors 2.7 miles above canyons and scrub brush to the top of a 10,378-foot mountain. From there, you can hike around or have lunch before your descent.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Run by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, which is one of the largest Native American communities in the American Southwest, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center provides visitors with an overview of Pueblo history and culture. The arts, crafts, and artifacts displayed in the museum span the centuries of Southwestern history, from the pre-Columbian era to today. Given the integral role Native Americans have had in the westward expansion of the United States, this is a learning opportunity specific to the region and not to be missed.
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
The biggest draw for tourists to Albuquerque is the International Balloon Fiesta, held in October. At this event, over 600 balloons climb into the beautiful southwestern fall skies as more than 100,000 spectators look on. You won't be able to attend this spectacle, but you can still visit the museum that takes the Fiesta as its subject. The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuqueruqe International Balloon Museum presents ballooning from a scientific and historical perspective, covering the basics of how balloons worked in the past and how they work today, the use of balloons in times of peace and war, and artifacts including coins, stamps, and artworks celebrating hot air balloons.