Family Vacation in Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Chris Morales with his famous biscochitos.
- Grab lunch at Golden Crown Panaderia: I strongly recommend the blue corn crust pizza topped with green chiles (they have plain for the kiddos), with coffee milkshake chaser. Get a small. The large contains a quart of vanilla ice cream (plus a shot of espresso and a secret ingredient). Chris Morales, a tango instructor by night, and his warm, friendly dad, Pratt, run the place, the only authentic New Mexican bakery in Albuquerque. The reason they have no competitors? True New Mexican baking methods take time. Lots of time, and effort. Chatting with them to get a feel for the history is half the reason to go. When you enter, you get a biscochito, New Mexico’s official state cookie. It’s like a crispy cinnamon sugar cookie.
- Look up. Taking a hot air balloon ride is cool, but it can get pricey and may not be your first thought if you have little kids. For the next best thing, stop at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum to see specimens of every shape and design. The exhibits use the latest technology to give families the feeling of being airborne and the excitement of history’s biggest balloon and zeppelin launches.
Bella, the Queen of Albuquerque Alpacas.
- Meet Skip and Stacie Chavez. He’s a former Long Islander; she’s from Maine. They’ve cultivated a slice of furry heaven at Albuquerque Alpacas. These folks can tell you everything you want to know about alpacas, and a few things you didn’t think to ask. No, they’re not the same as llamas. Llamas are much bigger and are bred to be pack-carrying animals, rather than for their luxurious coats that transform into a strong, soft fiber. After romping with the child-loving residents (Bella poses for selfies!), try your hand at felting soap. It’s much easier than the colorful finished product looks. I’m saving mine for impressive (yet inexpensive) holiday gifts.
- Ride to the sky on the Sandia Peak Tramway. Move to the sides of the cars to get the best view: You will be transported 4,000 feet. (The Empire State Building is 1,250 feet.) Up top, take pictures of Valle Grande, the largest volcano crater in the world, or Mount Taylor, more than 100 miles away. You can bring a picnic or grab burgers at High Finance. Just keep hikes short if you’re feeling winded. Those of us used to sea level are going to feel a bit of altitude sickness here, if we’re going to feel it anywhere in the Albuquerque area.
The 15-minute tram ascent to Sandia Peak brings you to an 11,000-square-mile vantage point.
- Tuck in at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm. This B&B is elegant, special, and kid-friendly, a rare combination. The entrance lane is lined with those tall trees that bend in, like those pictures you see of old estates way down South. Every room has a down-home yet somehow still chic feel. In the cooler months you’ll find freshly-stocked piñon wood for the kiva fireplace. Borrow a bike next to the saltwater pool area and pedal around the lavender fields. Watch out for Chester, one of the resident peacocks. Stop for a lavender gelato at the Farm Shop.
Chester strutting his stuff around Los Poblanos’ grounds.
- While you can enjoy a delish, organic dinner at the farm, if your kids aren’t up to it, head four minutes down the road (make a right as you exit) to the Flying Star, a cafeteria-style cafe, for three-cheese grilled cheese and curly fries, salads, and award-winning mac and cheese.