20 Awesome Free Things to Do in Albuquerque

From stunning hiking trails to world-class museums, this is Jerry’s ultimate list of free things to do in Albuquerque.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Home to beautiful hiking trails, fascinating museums, and the historic Route 66, Albuquerque is chock-full of free things to do—you just have to know where to look.
car insurance
super app
has done a little digging, and we’ve put together our ultimate list of free activities in Albuquerque. Whether you’re road-tripping with your best friend or taking your family for a weekend ski trip, we’ll make sure that your stay in
New Mexico’s
high desert is as affordable as it is unforgettable.

Free outdoor adventures in Albuquerque

Address: Forest Service 333 Rd, Albuquerque, NM 87122
If you’re willing to brave the arduous, 8-mile hike to the top of Sandia Crest, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Albuquerque and its many beautiful trees and
. It’s one of the most challenging hikes in Albuquerque, so be sure to pack plenty of water, food, and rain gear in case the weather changes.
If you’re exhausted when you get to the top, don’t sweat it—you can take the
Sandia Peak Tramway
back down and be off the trail before it closes at sunset.

Address: 1800 Tingley Dr SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
For folks who would rather relax by the waterside, Tingley Beach offers family-friendly fishing fun. Open from sunrise to sunset, there are multiple catch-and-release lakes for adults (and a children’s pond for kids!)—perfect for a stress-free afternoon in Albuquerque.
Remember, if you’re 12 or older, you’ll need a
New Mexico fishing license
before you can try your luck in the lake.

Address: 1890 Roma Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Speaking of the waterside, the University of New Mexico’s picturesque duck pond is a must-see before you leave Albuquerque. It’s a bustling oasis within the city, covered by shade and filled with flowers, turtles, and, well—ducks!
It’s not the biggest or boldest attraction in town, but it’s a great place for a midday picnic or a pit stop during your
UNM campus tour

Address: 6500 Coors Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120
Though the visitor center is the best place to learn about the wildlife that makes the city unique, things really get going in the
Foothills Trail System
. You can traverse this
winding network
of paths on foot or on a bicycle.
So, how long should you plan to spend here? Up to you! The trails in the Albuquerque Open Space are nearly endless, so you could stay for a 30-minute lunch break or do an all-day trek across town.

Address: Atrisco Dr NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120
Here’s something really special about Albuquerque: it’s home to thousands of petroglyphs. These drawings were carved into volcanic rock by Native Americans and Spanish settlers.
Boca Negra’s trails
take you through an hour-long, self-guided tour of more than 100 of these intriguing creations.
The canyon is open from 8:30 to 4:30 pm, and last entry is strictly enforced at 4 pm, so plan on arriving in the early afternoon to get a taste of all Boca Negra has to offer!

Address: 7 access points, from Alameda Boulevard to Rio Bravo Boulevard
If you’re looking for an insider’s perspective on Albuquerque, the Paseo Del Bosque can’t be beaten. It features 16 miles of multi-use trails without a single interruption by roadways. 
Plus, while you’re touring the metro area, you’ll be able to enjoy
public art displays
and see the
Rio Grande Nature Center
Albuquerque BioPark
, and
National Hispanic Cultural Center
. Talk about an action-packed outdoor adventure!
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Albuquerque’s free events and festivals

Address: Various locations (see below)
Summerfest is a series of concerts with a little something for everyone. It’s got handcrafted goods, local food trucks, climbing walls, children’s activities, and (of course) live music! Here are the details for each of the four events:
Heights Summerfest
: June 11, 2022, 5-10 pm at
North Domingo Baca Park
Route 66 Summerfest
: July 23, 2022, 5-10 pm at
Nob Hill
Downtown Summerfest
: August 6, 2022, 5-10 pm at
Civic Plaza

Address: Wherever the next event is!
Whether you’re traveling alone or trying to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of poetry, ABQSlams hosts educational events and readings throughout the year. Check out
their Facebook page
for info on upcoming events!

Address: Along Route 66 in Downtown and Nob Hill
Up for an evening stroll in the city? Albuquerque’s theaters, public art exhibits, and esteemed galleries line the streets in the downtown area. Keep an eye out for the
Rainbow Artists Show
in April! 

Address: 1701 4th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Though the Cinco de Mayo and Day of the Dead festivals are the talk of the town, Albuquerque’s Hispanic Cultural Center also boasts an art museum, performing arts complex, and genealogy center.
From weekly events to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, their
events calendar
has everything you need to know about Hispanic heritage happenings in Albuquerque.

Address: 200 N Plaza St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
Albuquerque’s Old Town neighborhood is brimming with rich history and cant-miss cultural shindigs. The heart of the city (and, some would say, the crossroads of the West!) is located in
Old Town Plaza
, where Albuquerque was founded. Be sure to spend a delightful evening in Old Town before the city’s in your rearview mirror.
MORE: 8 pro tips for long car rides with kids
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Free museums, monuments, and more

Address: 2000 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
art exhibits
, cultural artifacts, and
vast collections
from all over New Mexico, the Albuquerque Museum is a fantastic way to get to know the town. It’s free from 9 am to 1 pm on Sunday or on the first Wednesday of the month.

Address: 9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113
Here’s a perfect fit for aviation aficionados and young flight enthusiasts alike! The balloon museum traces the history of lighter-than-air flights since the
first hot air balloon ride
in 1783, and it’s free from 9 am to 1 pm on Sunday and on the first Friday of the month.

Address: Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120
Home to five volcanic cones, hundreds of archaeological sites, and over 20,000 petroglyphs, you can stop by this open-air museum between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm—you’ll just need to pay a $1 or $2 parking fee.

Address: 1833 8th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
With free tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can get a first-hand look at
a group of volunteer
welders, pipe-fitters, and mechanics who are restoring Steam Locomotive 2926 to full working order. Don’t worry, you’ll be given a hard hat!
Parking is free and donations are encouraged to keep the restoration process alive.

Address: 2005 N Plaza St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
Whether you’re hoping to
attend mass
while you’re out of town or you just want to admire the Spanish architecture of one of the oldest buildings in Albuquerque, you’ll find what you’re looking for at this historic Catholic church.

Unique free activities in Albuquerque

First commissioned in 1926
, Route 66 captures the spirit of Albuquerque with its diverse array of shops and restaurants. If you didn’t cruise down 66 on your way into town, don’t miss it on the way out—it’ll take you through Albuquerque’s most beloved and richly storied neighborhoods.

From the
Gruet Winery
, which specializes in sparkling wines, to the French country cuisine at
D.H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro
, there’s no shortage of places for oenophiles and wine hobbyists alike to enjoy New Mexico’s best.
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers

There’s no better way to spend a New Mexico morning than by shopping for local, farm-grown produce—and Albuquerque has a handful of outstanding options (for example, the
Downtown Growers’ market

Don’t leave Albuquerque without swinging through Nob Hill! It’s the height of modern dining in the city, complete with local shops, impressive galleries, and
vibrant neon signs

How to get cheap, customized car insurance

Before you fill your schedule with free things to do in Albuquerque, be sure to pencil in a couple of minutes for
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You’ll find the fewest crowds in the winter and spring, but we think the combo of fun events and fantastic weather in the fall months is unbeatable.
Sandia Peak is only 40 minutes from Albuquerque, but if you’re willing to spend a couple hours in the car, you can reach great resorts like Sipapu Ski Resort and Ski Santa Fe.
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