I know that it is really difficult to travel to a new place with children. Once you get there they usually want to run around and they are starving. So you start driving around town trying to find a place where your kids can burn off some steam before you drag them into a restaurant to sit.
I wanted to include a few of our favorite places to eat and some things that we like to do in Albuquerque. I will include phone numbers and links when available than you can call and get directions from where you are staying.
A great local restaurant is the Frontier
http://www.frontierrestaurant.com/ It is across the street from UNM. They serve local New Mexican style food as well as burgers and fries. They are open 24hrs and are very informal and inexpensive. You order at the counter and then take your food to the table. They have fresh squeezed orange juice that we all love. If you are looking for a nice dining experience this is NOT it but the food is good and you don’t have to worry about your kids disturbing anyone.
Another restaurant is Flying Star 505-275-8311 (http://www.virtualalbuquerque.com/VirtualABQ/FlyingStarJuanTabo/) The Flying Star is a local hangout that used to be Double Rainbow. All walks of life hangout here. You order at the counter and then the food is brought to you. They have a huge variety of food from Asian to American to Mexican. They have fabulous baked goods that are made locally. They are open 6am to 11pm so you can have an early breakfast if your kids are still on another time zone. It is a bit pricey but the food is really yummy and casual enough to enjoy a meal with the kids.
Dions Restaurant (http://www.dionspizza.com/history.htm) is a pizza and sub restaurant. You order at the counter and take your food to the table. Or you can call ahead of time and have it ready when you get there. They have fresh pizzas, subs, and salads. It is casual and moderately priced.
Sweet Tomatoes 505-888-6131 (http://www.souplantation.com/) is a buffet restaurant that serves soup, salad, bread, pasta, and desserts. The kids can eat right away which is always a bonus. The food is great plus it is casual and moderately priced.
Nothing But Noodles 505-837-2695 (http://www.nothingbutnoodles.com/concept.php) is a casual Italian restaurant with pastas and salads. You order at the counter and they bring you your food. (Notice a pattern here?) It is moderately priced and a very relaxed atmosphere. The food can be really good but sometimes not so it is kind of hit and miss but the kids always love it.
ITZ Family Food and Fun 505-883-3677 (http://www.itzusa.com/) This is a pizza, pasta, taco buffet restaurant placed inside a video arcade. There are several themed rooms that you can eat in. After you are full there are some small amusement rides and tons of video games. Make sure you allow time to cash in your tickets and pick a prize.
The Albuquerque Biological Park 505-764-6200 (http://www.bioparksociety.org/biopark.php) This includes the Zoo, the Aquarium , and the Rio Grande Botanic Garden. You can receive discount passes if you do all three in one day but I would not recommend it. The zoo is at a separate location than the others and the kids would be way overloaded. We have an excellent zoo. There is a large variety of animals and for the most part they have excellent living conditions. The snack bar is over priced and the food is not so great so I would recommend bringing a picnic (take-out or home made) and eating it on the large grassy area in front of the duck pond. The Aquarium is fairly small so it can be done at the same time as the botanic garden. These are in the same place and there is one admission fee for both. Make sure you visit the children’s fantasy garden it is nicely done. Then the kids can run off some steam on their way to the heritage farm that is in the back of the gardens.
Explora Children’s Museum 505-224-8300 (http://www.explora.mus.nm.us/) is located in Albuquerque’s Old Town. There are activities available for children who are toddling all the way up to the curious adult. We visit weekly and my kids never get bored. Make sure that you check out the elevator while you are there.
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History 505-841-2800 (http://museums.state.nm.us/nmmnh/nmmnh.html) My kids love coming here but we are usually in and out pretty quick. It just depends on your child’s interest. This is more for the older ones but the young ones have fun as long as we don’t stay too long. There are some great dinosaur bones and a fun volcano. There is an excellent hands on discovery area.
Sandia Peak Tramway (http://www.sandiapeak.com/) This is a fun afternoon trip. The ride is fun and the views are fabulous. There are picnic tables on top if you want to take a lunch. There is a restaurant at the top but is expensive and not that great. There are trails all around that you can hike on. If you have a young child make sure you have a front or back carrier for them. A stroller will not work. The tram tickets are rather pricey ($15 adults and $10 kids 5-12) but if you have never been it’s worth it. It is a great trip in the summer to get out of the heat.
Petroglyph National Monument 505-899-0205 (http://www.nps.gov/petr/) is located on the west side of Albuquerque. There are Native American Petroglyphs all over the park. There are 3 fairly simple trails set up just for children. Make sure to go the Ranger station first to pick up Jr. Ranger packets for the kids. The fee is a $1 or $2 per vehicle fee depending on the day.
New Mexico State Parks (http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/ParkTours.htm)
We have many parks located throughout the state. Most have a small vehicle entrance fee.
American International Rattlesnake Museum 505-242-6569 (http://www.rattlesnakes.com/) This is a very small museum but very fun. It’s only a couple bucks to check out.
Albuquerque Public Parks (http://www.cabq.gov/gis/park.htm) Albuquerque has many great parks. Most of them do not have bathrooms (I usually keep The Baby Bjorn Little Potty in the car just in case) but the parks are usually well kept and many of them have new equipment. Check the link and you can find a park near where you are staying. It can get hot here in the summer and a lot of the parks are not shaded so make sure to have a sun hat and sunscreen.
West Mesa Aquatic Center 505-836-8718 (http://www.cabq.gov/recreation/wmac.html)
This pool has an indoor pool open year round and an outdoor pool open in the summer only. There is one water slide indoors and two water slides outside. The pool is beached so it is great for the little ones. It also has an Olympic sized lap pool. On Friday nights it is only 50 cents to swim.
Cliff’s Amusement Park 505-881-9373 (www.cliffs.net) This is a small but fun amusement park. There are rides for kids of all ages.
Hinkle Family Fun Center 505-299-3100 (http://www.hinklefamilyfuncenter.com/) There is a play land, arcade games, miniture golf, bumper boats, and more. The price can add up but it is a good place to let the kids burn off some steam.
Hoots the Ultimate Party Zone 505-922-6178 (http://www.hootspartyzone.com/) This is a facility with several different blow up jumpers. It is kind of pricey but the kids have a blast and it is great when the weather is crummy. (Although that doesn’t happen often here in Albuquerque)
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (http://www.aibf.org/) is one of the largest hot air balloon festivals in the world. It runs for 10 days in early October. When going to the morning events make sure to dress very warm as it can be awfully chilly. They also have balloon glows in the evening with fireworks. My kids love all the events and they talk it about it year after year.
Albuquerque Special Events (http://www.cabq.gov/crs/specialevents.html) Albuquerque hosts many events that change regularly. Please view this link to see if anything special is going on during your stay.
The New Mexico State Fair (http://www.virtualalbuquerque.com/VirtualABQ/StateFair/) is usually held mid September. It Starts the Friday after labor day and goes for two weeks. There is tons of stuff to do. Great food, rides, and shows. We never miss it!
Interests Throughout New Mexico
The Santa Fe Children’s Museum (http://www.santafechildrensmuseum.org/) is only an hour from Albuquerque and well worth the drive. It is not as large as Explora but it is wide open and gives children a chance to explore. There is stuff for all ages and a great outdoor garden area. They even have a rock climbing wall.
The Santa Fe Ski Area 505-982-4429 (https://www.skisantafe.com/index.php/contact_us) This is a fun place to ski and they have a great children’s program.
Tinker Town Museum 505-281-5233 (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tips/getAttraction.php3?tip_AttractionNo==915) is located about 30 miles east of Albuquerque. This is a small collection of mechanically operated dioramas, statues and coke bottle walls. This is fun for the kids and something different. It is fairly inexpensive ($3 for adults and less for kids). Bring plenty of quarters for the machines.
Jemez Mountains Area State monument 505-829-3530 USDA forest service 505-438-7840. (http://www.americansouthwest.net/new_mexico/jemez_mountains/) The Jemez Mountains are a great day trip. There are places to stay there if you choose to but it is only a couple of hours from Albuquerque. There is a small village, a state monument, soda Dam and cave, battleship rock, Jemez Falls, and natural hot springs.
Carlsbad Caverns (http://www.nps.gov/cave/) is located 4 or 5 hours southeast of Albuquerque. You would need to stay in Carlsbad as the drive is too far for a day trip. It is an excellent experience and worth mentioning.
Other Links of Interest
Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau (http://www.abqcvb.org/)
New Mexico Tourism Department (http://www.newmexico.org/index2.php)
New Mexico Kids Family Magazine (http://www.newmexico-kids.com/)