Top 10 Romantic Attractions in Albuquerque

Balloon festival, landscape view and sunset.
••• Busakorn Pongparnit / Getty Images

Albuquerque and its environs hold many attractions for couples. Like most western cities, the most exciting places to visit in Albuquerque are outside the downtown business district. Whether you and your honey like active pursuits, cultural ones, or a combination of the two, the following attractions will add fun and romance to any visit to Albuquerque.

  • 01 of 10
    Hot air balloon festival
    ••• Photography by Tom Weisbrook / Getty Images

    Excluding the occasional roar of a propane burner, there is nothing more serene than taking the town by balloon. Home to the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each October, the area is renown for its excellent precision flying conditions. Get ready for an early day; the adventure kicks off at sunrise. Pack a romantic meal or pop the question as you float dreamily over the Rio Grande, soak in views of the Sandia Mountains, or peep into the backyards of Albuquerque locals (much to the dismay of their dogs, who bark up a storm when they hear a balloon). The morning concludes with a light breakfast and champagne toast, by which time you’ll already be drunk on love.

  • 02 of 10
    Hiking New Mexico
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    Take a breathtaking walk in the wild. The stunning trails of Kasha-Katuwe (“white cliffs” in the Keresan language of the Pueblo de Cochiti) reveal the unique majesty of structures more than six million years old. Formed by ancient volcanic eruptions, the conical rocks and towering striated walls provide nooks for picnics and gorgeous backdrops for photos. Savor a landscape of desert marigold as red-tailed hawks soar by. Bring everything you need -- including water -- to walk the easy Cave Loop or moderate Canyon Trail. Camping, fires, and cooking are prohibited. Located 52 miles north of Albuquerque.

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    Witness the vibrant performing and fine arts of the Hispanic community at this exceptional cultural attraction. If you crave an elegant evening out, purchase tickets to programs that range from film to flamenco, opera to orchestra in the Center’s beautiful Albuquerque Journal Theatre. During the fall and winter, attend free dance classes and parties in styles that include mambo, Aztec, and Latin hip-hop. Art lovers can wander the Art Museum, an impressively curated collection of forward-thinking Hispanic artists. 

  • 04 of 10
    Snow Dusted Sandia Mountains at Magic Hour
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    Scale a mountain without taking a step at this attraction. The Sandia Peak Tramway is the world’s longest continuous cable aerial tramway, climbing 4,000 feet in roughly 15 minutes. The spacious cars can get packed with people, so make sure to nab an unobstructed view by the window to catch the impressive mountain vistas. At the summit, couples can cuddle as they watch the sun set on the horizon. During ski seasons, intermediate and advanced snow bunnies can tote their ski gear and whoosh down the east side mountain runs.

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  • 05 of 10

    Horse around with your sweetie in uncultivated Pueblo backcountry, soaking in the bosky forests, mountain silhouettes, and high desert foliage of this pristine land. Horseback riding through the Santa Ana Pueblo evokes romantic fantasies of simpler times. Speaking of simple, dress that way for your adventure. Long pants and closed toe shoes are recommended. Aside from kicking up some dust, the journey can take rough riders into the Rio Grande itself -- leading to occasional splashes. Plan ahead with the stable to bring a picnic...or proposal!

  • 06 of 10

    Hold your honey tight and get ready for a wild ride. Thrill-seekers who don’t mind a little dust can view centuries-old Spanish homes, Pueblo ruins, extinct volcanoes, sweeping vistas and wildlife including rattlesnakes, horses, and jackrabbits all from the bumpy seats of an off-road jeep. Keep the top up or bring it down, allowing as much exposure to the elements as you crave (bring a hat and/or sunscreen if you opt for open-air sightseeing). The itinerary can be flexible, making ample room for a hiking and other stops, all led by an experienced guide.

  • 07 of 10
    •••  Courtesy of Tinkertown Museum

    This quirky site has 22 rooms of kitschy art and collections of curios, a perfect stop for an afternoon of Americana and folksy fun. Forty years in the making, Tinkertown was the work of Ross Ward, who created elaborate, kinetic tableaus -- the circus! the Wild West! -- with miniature hand-carved figurines. Housed in glass bottle walls, home to fortune teller booths and vintage strength-testing machines, this off-beat attraction at times evokes an avant-garde art exhibit or carefully cluttered antique shop. Roughly 25 miles outside of Albuquerque, it lies on Central New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway.

  • 08 of 10

    George W. Bush loves this Albuquerque haven for New Mexican cuisine, going as far as having them cater Cinco de Mayo festivities at The White House. (Dems don’t despair; Hillary has eaten here, too) With an expansive menu of chile-infused New Mexican delights, El Pinto is the best for local cuisine in a romantic setting. Despite the sprawling property, the restaurant manages to create intimate corners throughout its dining rooms and festive outdoor patio, making it ideal for a special evening. Sample the salsa they make in the factory out back and make sure to sink your teeth into the succulent red chile ribs. 

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  • 09 of 10
    Old town plaza at hidden patio with San Pasquals shop and decorative sidewalk with brick paths, flowers, dried chiles, and gardens
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    ​Art fiends, tchotchke fans, and gem connoisseurs will enjoy a stroll through the adobe-architecture of historic Old Town. A community center since 1706, the tiny, winding streets bustle with souvenir shops, art galleries, jewelry and Native American artifact stores where you can easily find a chile-shaped oven mitt or turquoise necklace for the one that you love. Several sightseeing attractions including the Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden and Rattlesnake Museum (with live snakes) are within walking distance of Old Town’s center should you (or your wallet) need a break.

  • 10 of 10
    Rock Formations Against Sky
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    Wander hand in hand through the mysterious graffiti of yesteryear and see animals, people, and symbols carved into volcanic rocks 400 to 2000 years ago at this attraction. Roughly 20,000 images decorate the trails of the Petroglyph National Monument, all believed to be carved by the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians. Walks range from easy to strenuous, leading past volcanoes, sand dunes, and archeological sites. Keep your eyes peeled for the rattlesnakes and coyotes who populate the area and bring plenty of water for your stroll.