Albuquerque is a city of fascinating history, culture and heritage. One of the best places in the United States to appreciate the real Southwest, the city is a vibrant combination of several different cultures, as over 70 different ethnicities make up the over 840,000 residents in the metropolitan area. Nearly 50 percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino, with other prominent minorities being Native American and African American. Located at over 5,000 feet above sea level, Albuquerque occupies about 189 square miles between the Sandia mountain range and the Rio Grande Valley. On the upper edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, the city experiences a sunny and dry climate and over 310 days of sunshine per year.
The clear skies and mild temperatures make Albuquerque a prime site for enjoying a wide variety of outdoor activities, from biking the 15 miles of the Bosque Trail along the Rio Grande, golfing at one of several award-winning courses to skiing on one of 30 trails at the Sandia Peak Ski Area, located only 30 minutes east of the city. Visitors can also take advantage of the glorious sun and warm weather by soaring thousands of feet over the city in a hot air balloon. Known as the hot air ballooning capital of the world, the city is home to numerous ballooning companies and the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, where guests can learn about the history of balloons and the technology involved. The city even hosts the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, the largest festival of its kind. Stand in amazement of the nearly 600 colorful balloons in a simultaneous lift-off.
Albuquerque boasts a rich and storied history, reflected in many of its present day attractions. Thousands of years ago, Native Americans inhabited the region as a complex and sophisticated culture, with advanced language, art, craft and stone work skills. See their notes from the past, known as petroglyphs, etched into lava flows and boulders at the Petroglyph National Monument. The city itself was later established as a Spanish outpost known as "Ranchos de Albuquerque," where early religious settlers built a small chapel and clusters of adobe homes. Explore the present-day San Felipe de Neri Church in the popular historic Old Town to take a step back into the past and see these still-standing monuments. Or, to take in these thousands of years of history in one spot, visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, which tells the story of the land from the age of the dinosaurs to today.
From savory enchiladas to sweet sopapillas, the dishes of Albuquerque are certainly a big draw for any visitor. A mélange of Native American, Mexican and Spanish flavors and ingredients such as squash, corn and beans, Albuquerque's New Mexican cuisine is served throughout the city at famed eateries such as El Pinto and Sadie's. From the restaurants to attractions to outdoor activities, diversity is what's in store for any Albuquerque visitor, who's sure to leave with both the need—and desire—for another visit.