The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New MexicoExperience The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico, and check The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta off your bucket list!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico
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About a year ago, Lt. Dan and I were watching our children as they teased each other, laughing on the sofa. It was one of those nondescript lazy weekend moments when our family just stopped all the business of life to sit around and enjoy being together.

I looked over at Dan and watched his adoring smile slowly drop, as it suddenly dawned on us both that we (potentially) had only four years left with our daughter at home, and 6 years left with our son.

Where had the time gone?!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

MY OTHER RECIPES

Later that evening after the kids had gone to bed, we talked through our hopes for family vacations over the next few years. What adventures would have the most impact on our family? What were the top must-see destinations we wanted our children to experience before heading off to college?

Along with whole family trips we decided it would be a good idea for each of us to take one child on a special weekend getaway each year, to have some focused one-on-one time. This would allow unique memory-making opportunities, and time to talk through some of the tougher topics of adolescence.

The plan was set. In 2017 I took Ava on a girl’s getaway, and Dan took Carson on a boy’s trip. So last fall I set off to plan a special mother-daughter weekend, my big little girl would never forget!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Through a series of events, I decided Albuquerque, New Mexico was the perfect destination. Although Albuquerque is not the most known New Mexican tourist location, it does have a lot to offer.

And it just so happened, that the weekend my daughter had an extra day off of school last fall, was the very same weekend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicked off!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

So last October, Ava and I set off on The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

There are so many fun things to do in Albuquerque! It’s a large city, yet is very easy to navigate. With our rental car and google maps, Ava and I were able to explore seemingly every corner of Albuquerque, without any trouble. Here are our suggestions of what to do…

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been an Albuquerque tradition for over forty years. Each fall, ballooners and balloon enthusiasts come together for the world’s largest hot air balloon launch. The “Mass Ascension” launches take place every morning for nine days in a row, with midday races and night glow events each evening.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Ava and I were lucky enough to go up in a hot air balloon on opening day. What an epic experience!

A hot air balloon ride is a breath-taking adventure on its own. Yet a hot air balloon ride rising in a cloud of 600 hot air balloons is another thing entirely. It was an absolute dream to gently float over the city, with a bevy of brightly colored balloons around us in every direction.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Each step of the process took our breath away…

We watched a field of massive orbs fill with hot air and rise to upright positions. We launched off the ground in a line of enormous balloons, as others waited their turn to be released into the sky.

Hugging my sweet daughter as we ascended above buildings and trees, we circled the balloon basket to take in the fairytale scene before us. Later as we landed and watched other balloons land around us, we felt overwhelmed in the very best sense.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an experience Ava and I will never forget.

It is an absolute “bucket list” travel opportunity, I feel everyone should enjoy at least once it their lifetime. And it’s attainable! Not everyone will make it to Fiji or Mount Everest. Yet, the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is an affordable road trip (or flight) most of us can plan for and experience.

However, if you can’t make the Balloon Fiesta, there are plenty of companies in Albuquerque that offer balloon rides all year long. It’s still worthwhile to fly the skies in the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World, no matter when you visit!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Historic Old Town

Old Town is the original pueblo establishment of Albuquerque, founded in 1706. Nowadays, it’s a lively shopping and restaurant district, with engaging cultural street performances that seem to pop up out of nowhere.

Ava and I loved Historic Old Town so much we made a special effort to visit three times in three days. The charming side streets with vibrant banners and dried red chiles swaying in the breeze make it the perfect place for a mommy-daughter lazy afternoon.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Old Town is filled with historic buildings, fun boutiques, and tons of places to get a bite or a beverage.

Take a trolley tour of Old Town to learn the history, or go on a spooky walking ghost tour to hear the terrifying tales of Albuquerque’s wild west days.

You can even visit a rattle snake museum with the world’s largest collection of live rattle snakes!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico - Check the International Balloon Fiesta off your bucket list! Things to do, travel tips,

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

Along with ballooning and visits to Historic Old Town, a ride up the Sandia Peak Tram is a MUST when visiting Albuquerque!

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a 2.7 mile ride up to a 10,000+ foot mountain top, overlooking New Mexico in every direction. Once at the top you can hike, mountain bike, ski at certain times of year, or just stare in wonder at the vast beauty below you.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Ava and I hiked around for about an hour before heading back down the mountain. Yet, it would be easy to spend an entire day picnicking or hiking to a remote mountain top pueblo.

Tram ride lines get heavy throughout the day, so it’s best to go first thing in the morning. Tickets must be purchased on location, as weather conditions can cause tram rides to be canceled on any given day.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

One of our most surprisedly and beloved adventures in Albuquerque was a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This museum is packed with exhibits to demonstrate the history, culture, struggles, and evolution of Native American life in New Mexico.

The building circles around an outdoor space, in which singers and dancers perform each day.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

For another fun educational experience, visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. Ava and I loved perusing the dinosaur fossils found in New Mexico.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Albuquerque BioPark Zoo

The BioPark Zoo, Aquarium, and Botanical Gardens are a fabulous way to spend a day in Albuquerque. Located near downtown, all three parks are easy to find, and can be explored in one day.

Ava and I were surprised at the variety of animals and exhibits found at the zoo. We especially loved watching the orangutans and monkeys play, and visiting the (big) cat walk!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Downtown Albuquerque

Downtown Albuquerque is another fun area to explore. Close to Old Town, it is an urban oasis packed with entertainment, restaurants, and nightlife. Here you can experience the old and the new. In fact, Historic Route 66 runs straight through Downtown Albuquerque as Central Avenue!

Check seasonal calendars for downtown events and festivals before you visit.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Dining In Albuquerque, New Mexico

Along with endless entertainment opportunities, we discovered Albuquerque has a lot to offer in the culinary department. The blend of Mexican, Native American, and modern American cooking has created a New Mexican cuisine that is utterly unique.

You’ve probably heard the New Mexico state question… “Red or Green?”

(As in, “Would you rather have red or green chile on whatever you ordered?”)

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Yet, I didn’t realize just how serious New Mexicans are about chile farming, roasting, drying, and saucing, for lack of a better word. Ava and I learned that red chiles are air dried, then reconstituted and made into a red chile sauce. While green chiles are always roasted, then peeled and chopped.

If you are served red or green chile that is prepared any other way, it is not considered to be true New Mexican food… It may be tasty, but it’s not New Mexican.

However, real New Mexican red and green chile can be found doused on nearly everything! We found chilaquiles made with New Mexican red chile sauce, and Huevos Rancheros with “Christmas” red and green chile instead of Rancheros Sauce.

One of our favorite finds in several popular restaurants were the Green Chile Burgers and Pizza!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

We did not have a single bad meal our entire trip. However, here is a list of our favorite food stops…

El Pinto Restaurant & Cantina

This Albuquerque landmark has served traditional New Mexican cuisine for decades. El Pinto not only offers a killer menu, with award-winning ribs and some of the best tortilla chips I’ve ever tasted, it also consists of a: wedding venue, massive tequila bar, salsa company, yoga events, greenhouse, chicken farm, and a worm-based compost fertilizing ecosystem to sustain the farm.

Both the grounds and tantalizing restaurant dishes are worth the trip!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Campo at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm

Los Poblanos is another Albuquerque landmark you’ve just got to experience for yourself. The lavender farm draws visitors throughout the summer, yet it’s a popular place to stay, shop, and eat all year long!

We had Breakfast at Campo, an elegant restaurant, serving modern New Mexican fusion food. Ava ordered Cardamom Aebleskivers, a european-style donuts, that look like hushpuppies, but taste like pancakes. Heaven!

We also enjoyed the best ice cream we found in New Mexico in the Los Poblanos farm shop, Lavender Lemon Chiffon Gelato. I’ve been craving it ever since we left.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Pueblo Harvest Cafe

Tucked inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is an amazing casual restaurant with tasty Native American inspired dishes. We loved the blue corn onions rings, and the Tewa Taco, an enormous bubbly flat bread topped with taco filings.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Backstreet Grill

This is a great place to stop when roaming Old Town Albuquerque. The outdoor seating area is lovely! We enjoyed the Green Chile Burger, the Street Tacos, and most of all the Tequila Shrimp and Avocado Cocktail.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Zacatecas Tacos + Tequila + Bourbon

Close to the University of New Mexico, this casual spot offers killers tacos and cocktails. We loved the duck confit chile relleno and the fish tacos.

Flying Star Cafe

Across the street from Zacateca’s, you’ll find one of the best dessert counters in Albuquerque. Splurge on a giant eclair or a piece of creamy key lime pie.

Range Cafe

This local favorite offers classic New Mexican diner dishes, with flair! Ava’s peach pancakes were out-of-the-park fantastic. We both were crazy over the dessert case and coffee drinks.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

High Noon Restaurant & Saloon

High Noon is located in Old Town, in one of the oldest buildings in Albuquerque. The building’s history includes ranching, a gambling parlor, a well-known brothel, and even three alleged ghosts!

Nowadays it’s a popular dining establishment, with classic New Mexican cuisine, as well as some intriguing fusion dishes.

We loved the Wagyu Green Chile Burger, The Green Chile Stew, and the Chocolate Torte!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Golden Crown Panaderia

What a great find! This old school bakery serves fabulous New Mexican style cookies and pastries, plus unique pizzas. I only wish we had room to try them all.

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

To sum up our girl’s trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico…

  • Colorful cultural experiences
  • Close-up encounters with natural beauty
  • Power-packed eats and treats
  • And an aerial balloon flight that came straight out of a fairytale!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Albuquerque vacations are marvelous for mommy-daughter trips, for couples, and for the entire family! To learn more about Albuquerque, check out VisitAlbuquerque.org.

Also find @VisitABQ on Facebook and Instagram!

The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

Disclosure: Our trip was sponsored by VisitABQ. All opinions are our own.

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6 comments on “The Ultimate Mother-Daughter Trip to Albuquerque New Mexico

  1. Carolynposted March 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm Reply

    Your trip looks fantastic! I’m feeling the same way about my kids. We only have a few more years!

    I love the idea of solo trips with a parent. Alburquerque seems like a great choice. Thanks so much for the great ideas!

  2. Saraposted March 15, 2018 at 9:01 pm Reply

    I have always wanted to visit New Mexico and always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. I can’t get over your photos! You’ve convinced me. This fall I’m going to work towards getting my daughter to that balloon festival.

  3. Billie Sue Patrickposted March 25, 2018 at 12:19 pm Reply

    Thanks for the lovely article on my home town. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay. Your photos are amazing. You really got off the beaten path if you discovered Golden Crown. It isn’t well known even among locals. Overall your descriptions and info are spot on, but you made one fairly innocuous mistake. There is no pueblo at the top of the Sandia Mountains. Sandia Pueblo is on the valley floor. Acoma Pueblo is on a mesa top, but it is about 65 miles west of Albuquerque.

    One tip about riding the tram is that the crest is typically about 20 degrees cooler than the base and can be quite windy. Always take a jacket. Also, you can reach the crest by car from the back side of the mountain. Riding the tram is a wonderful experience, but at $25 per person it could be too pricey for a lot of people.

    Another restaurant to consider is Sadie’s. Although it is not my favorite, most locals consider it the Holy Graille of authentic New Mexican food. To learn a little bit about the ecology of the area, visit the Rio Grande Nature Center. A must see in my book is Petroglyphs Park where visitors can hike among the ancient grafitti. I’ve seen better petroglyphs elsewhere, but these are easily accessible to anyone who is even minimally fit.

    Thanks again for highlighting my city. It really does have a lot to offer travelers.

    • Sommerposted March 26, 2018 at 6:06 pm Reply

      Hi Billie Sue,

      Thanks so much for the tips! We saw some sort of dwelling at the top of the mountain and our guide said you can hike up to it. Though maybe it’s not officially a pueblo.

      Next time we visit Albuquerque we will definitely put Petroglyphs Park at the top of the list. We meant to visit on this trip, but just ran out of time. Also adding Sadie’s to future trip notes. :)

  4. Sandyposted April 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm Reply

    This is my home! It’s lovely to read that you had so much fun here and your pictures are gorgeous and really represent the things I love about my home! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure!

    • Sommerposted April 10, 2018 at 9:50 pm Reply

      Hi Sandy,

      We had a fantastic time in Albuquerque. You live in a special place! :)