Easy adventure in New Mexico’s largest city.

By Travel & Leisure
September 04, 2012
Credit: Kim Ashley

The Duke City has the perfect climate and breathtaking mountain scenery for hot-air ballooning. Float high into the piñon-scented air for a birds-eye-view of the Rio Grande, the Sandia Mountains, and more. If you’re more into spectacle than solitude, take part in the city’s international balloon fiesta, held each early October, when the sky is filled with more than 700 balloons of all shapes (some cartoonish), sizes, and colors.

Rainbow Ryders

Take an early-morning hot-air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders, whose tours traverse the Rio Grande and then soar high above the city and cloud-scraping Sandia Mountains.

Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum

The building adjoins the grounds of the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

High Finance

For a lofty post-balloon-ride meal, dine at the High Finance Restaurant and Tavern, which serves southwestern-spiced seafood and chops high atop Sandia Peak (reachable via the 2.7-mile-long Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway).

Sandia Resort & Casino

Midway between the balloon museum and tramway, the swanky Sandia Resort & Casino has handsomely appointed rooms with deep soaking tubs and panoramic views of the mountains and Rio Grande Valley.

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

The tram ascends a 10,350-foot Sandia Mountain peak for breathtaking views over the city.

Yaak'a Cafe

Inside Acoma’s light-filled cultural center, Yaak’a Cafe serves hearty regional fare like elk burgers and traditional Acoma lamb stew.