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- Fun, Free Things to Do in Albuquerque New Mexico
- 1. Hang with the Locals
- 2. Open Space Visitors Center
- 3. Paseo del Bosque Trail
- 4. Petroglyph National Monument
- 5. Tingley Beach
- 6. Historic Old Town and Tiquex Park
- 7. Art Installations for Kids
- 8. Looking for Outside the Box Free Things to Do in Albuquerque New Mexico? Check out the Farmer’s Market
- 9. City Parks
- Almost Free Things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico
- 10. Albuquerque Biopark and Zoo
- 11. Albuquerque Museum
- 12. Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
- 13. University of New Mexico Museums and More
- 14. Albuquerque Flea Market
- 15. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
- 16. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
- More Ways to Save Money in Albuquerque New Mexico
- Consider the New Mexico Culture Pass
Albuquerque may be your vacation destination. The city’s Balloon Fiesta is a bucket list event for many families. Or, perhaps, you’ve penciled in a pit stop on your great American road trip. Whatever the reason for your trip to Albuquerque, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do. And the best part? Many of them are free or cheap.
Fun, Free Things to Do in Albuquerque New Mexico
The American Southwest has so many fantastic cities to explore, so if Albuquerque isn’t on your “must visit” list, consider adding it. From historic Route 66 to the fun things to do in downtown Albuquerque, there is so much to discover, including these fun free things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico.
My family and I spent two days in Albuquerque. Long story short, my kids and I drove through West Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. One of our planned stops was Albuquerque, mostly because they learned a song in kindergarten called Albuquerque is a Turkey. They were fascinated that Albuquerque was actually a real place. We only got a taste of Albuquerque but we loved the city and can’t wait to go back one day.
One of my rules when traveling is to research more activities than I think we’ll need to keep us busy. That rule has served me well over years of traveling with my kids. Even though I’m a planner versus a let’s wing it-er, it never hurts to have info on things to do in a particular locale in your back pocket, especially free or cheap things.
Read More: 15 Best New Mexico Resorts for Families
1. Hang with the Locals
If you’re planning a trip to Albuquerque, check out the ABQ To Do page. It’s a great resource where you can learn about pop-ups, live music concerts, classes, community projects and more.
Although a small percentage of these activities may have a small fee associated with them, most are totally free. If you’re looking to mingle and do something un-touristy, definitely check this out.
2. Open Space Visitors Center
The Open Space Visitor’s Center has exhibits interpreting the natural and cultural resources of the Open Space Division protects. The organziation’s goal is to acquire, protect, maintain and manage significant natural landscapes and cultural resources for present and future generation. The Visitor Center and Gallery are a hub for Albuquerque’s many Open Space properties. Check out this page for info on the latest events.
3. Paseo del Bosque Trail
Looking for a kid-friendly hike? Paseo del Bosque is Albuquerque’s premiere, multi-use trail. It goes from the north to the south edges of the metro area through the Rio Grande’s cottonwood forest. Checking out the view is one of the best free things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico. Don’t miss it!
Check out maps and access points here.
4. Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument, operated by the National Parks Service, offers four different hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderately strenuous. Maps and petroglyph viewing info available at the visitor’s center.
While there is a small parking fee, admission to the monument is free. Check the website for more information or to plan your visit.
5. Tingley Beach
Located adjacent to the Rio Grande Bosque, Tingley Beach consists of three fishing lakes that are open to the public, free of charge. All anglers 12+ are required to have a New Mexico fishing license.
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Tingley Beach also offers wildlife watching as well as walking and running trails. Totally free. Check out the events page on the city’s website in advance of your visit.
6. Historic Old Town and Tiquex Park
Strolling through Historic Old Town is another slow way to experience the culture of the area. You will get a feel for what life has been like in the American southwest for hundreds of years. There are often sidewalk vendors selling handmade crafts and the gazebo in the central square is a fun place to check out. Nearby Tiquex Park across the street from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, offers a large playground which is a great place for the kids to burn off energy. Checking out a local playground is never a bad decision when traveling with young kids.
7. Art Installations for Kids
Have you ever thought about doing an arts crawl with your kids? Downtown Albuquerque has much to discover. There are a ton of art installations around the city that are fun to look and and explore. If you’re looking for a fun, unique, and “Insta Worthy” spot for your vacation photos, check out one of these.
8. Looking for Outside the Box Free Things to Do in Albuquerque New Mexico? Check out the Farmer’s Market
A stop at a local farmer’s market is always a fun way to explore a city. You can talk to the locals, find out about other events in the area and stock up on snacks.
Interacting with local merchants is also a great way to teach kids lessons about math and economics. I think one of the best parts about traveling with my kids is getting to meet new people and showing them how tourism and travel impact local businesses.
9. City Parks
As a mom traveling with two bouncy kids, I’m always on the watch for a park or playground. They’re free, my kids like them and it gives me a chance to sit down and relax while my kids burn some of their endless energy.
Albuquerque Parks and Recreation maintains more than 300 parks, including dog parks and skate parks. Check out this list or open Google maps and search for “park near me.”
Are you looking for more tips on how to travel for free? Here are some hacks using credit cards that can knock money off your travels.
Almost Free Things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico
The following activities are not 100 percent free. However, all of these offer some combination of free admission for kids, dedicated free general admission days or reciprocal memberships, meaning if you have a membership at your home museum, admission may be free. Even if a family outing isn’t completely free, I love having a list of things that offer free admission to kids. This is especially helpful for larger families. There are lots of great free things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico but there are also lots of great things to do that won’t smash your travel budget.
10. Albuquerque Biopark and Zoo
While the admission to the Biopark and Zoo is not free, there are some substantial discounts. Kids under 2 are always free and there are generous discounts for children, seniors, military and New Mexico residents. If you are a member of another zoo or aquarium, the Albuquerque Biopark and Zoo also offers reciprocal discounts. Additionally, the venue offers half-price weekends in January, April, July and October.
Check the website for more details.
11. Albuquerque Museum
Formerly known as the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the Albuquerque Museum is not free but with a little planning, your family can have a very cheap outing. Regular general admission ranges from $3 to $6 per person, however children under 12 are always free.
Additionally, there’s a generous free admission schedule: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month (except December) and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday.
12. Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
Hot air ballooning is synonymous with Albuquerque NM. While a ride in a hot air balloon is definitely not free (although in my opinion, worth the splurge) learning about hot air ballooning can be free.
While there is an admission fee, the balloon museum has a generous free admission schedule: every Saturday between 9:00 – 1:00 and all day on the first Friday of each month.
13. University of New Mexico Museums and More
The University of New Mexico has several different museums, ranging from art to meteors. Most of these are completely free although some charge a nominal adult admission. There are also galleries, free movies, and other activities that may pique the interest of older kids and adults. See the list here.
14. Albuquerque Flea Market
This one isn’t totally free but it’s very affordable – admission is $1. There are some free parking locations but the nearby parking is $5, so plan for that.
I love a good flea market and my kids get a kick out of just walking around and browsing the wares. Our challenge is not adding to the collection of stuff we’re already carting around on our trip, but this is a fun, free activity that gets you mingling with the locals. Check out this website for hours and information.
15. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is free for kids under 5. Regular adult admission is $8.40 with discounts offered to New Mexico residents, seniors, military, students and kids. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is also a Blue Star Museum, which means military personnel (active, guard and reserve) and their families receive free admission from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a great place to learn about the local culture and Native American history. Kids (and adults, too!) will gain a lot of perspective by learning about the culture of the people in the place they’re visiting.
16. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
While this is not free for everyone, it is free for New Mexico residents (with ID) on the first Sunday of every month. Additionally, New Mexico seniors age 60 and older receive free Museum admission every Wednesday. Consider adding this in a splurge. There’s a lot to keep kids entertained and interested here. If you are visiting during the hot summer, odds are you’re going to want at least one solidly indoor air-conditioned activity.
The basic admission price is pretty reasonable and there’s some generous pricing in a combo pass that includes some extras, such as admission into the planetarium and Dynatheater. Children under 3 are always free. Check the website for more info.
More Ways to Save Money in Albuquerque New Mexico
There are a lot of great free things to do in Albuquerque New Mexico as well as a lot of great activities that offer free or discounted admissions. However, we know spending money on travel is inevitable. Here are a few more tips on how to make the most of your vacation dollars.
Consider the New Mexico Culture Pass
Is a New Mexico road trip on your bucket list? If your visit to New Mexico Includes other cities besides Albuquerque, check out the New Mexico CulturePass. The CulturePass runs about $30 per person and is good for admission at 15 different museums and cultural sites across the state.
You have one year to use the pass and the clock starts ticking as soon as you use it for the first admission. There are also some awesome museums in nearby Santa Fe. If you plan on visiting Santa Fe as well, the New Mexico CulturePass is definitely worth your money.
Scope out discounts in advance
Check out the Visit Albuquerque website before you go. There is an entire page dedicated to downloadable coupons and discounts
You can also check out Groupon and set Albuquerque New Mexico as your location. I’ve focused on free and cheap activities but pricier Albuquerque attractions include ABQ Biopark, the terrific Explora children’s museum and of course, hot air ballooning. If you want to plan a splurge, why not get the best price you can? I’m a big fan of Groupon and I never book activities for my family without checking here first. Most of the time, I find deals and discounts on things I was planning to do anyway.
And don’t forget – if you’re military, a teacher, student or first responder, ask about discounts that might not be posted.
Albuquerque is a beautiful city and the number of free (or cheap) things to do makes it an ideal spot for families. It is definitely on my “must return” list.