Most of us don’t get as much vacation time as we’d like, but anyone can take a day trip. All you need is some money for gas and food and a day off. These excursions vary in cost but you can reach each destination within 90 minutes (three hours round trip). So, the next time you want a mini escape, hit the road and try one of these 11 awesome day trips from Albuquerque. (Prices are listed when applicable, but are subject to change.)
1. Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, Socorro
Although Bosque del Apache is most impressive when blanketed by flocks of waterfowl, it’s a great spot to view wildlife any time of year. In addition to birds, creatures as diverse as bobcats and peccaries have been spotted here. Just bear in mind that, during the summer months, birds and animals are most active in the mornings and evenings.
Cost of admission: $5 per vehicle.
Drive time: Roughly 75 minutes each way.
2. Sky City, Acoma Pueblo
The Acoma have been living in this spot, on top of a mesa, for at least 800 years and visitors can embark on a 90-minute guided walking tour of the pueblo.
Tip: Research the rules on photography and dress code before visiting.
Cost of a full tour: $23 for an adult; condensed tours of just the mission $15 per adult.
Drive time: Approximately 75 minutes each way.
3. Hot springs, Jemez Springs
From the town of Jemez Springs, you can hike to the primitive San Antonio Hot Springs, soak at the historic Jemez Springs Bath House, or relax at Giggling Springs Hot Springs.
Cost: The San Antonio Springs are free; it's $12 for a 25-minute soak at the Jemez Springs Bath House; 1 hour passes for Giggling Springs cost $18 per person.
Drive time: 80 minutes in each direction.
4. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
For a unique hike that culminates in mind-blowing views, try the slot canyon trail at Tent Rocks – a spur off the cave loop trail.
Cost: $5 per vehicle.
Drive time: 70 minutes each way.
5. Quarai Ruin, near Mountainair
This area was once one of the most populated regions in the Southwest. In the 17th century, Franciscan missionaries converged on the pueblos here and orchestrated the construction of large churches. The ruins of the one at Quarai are fairly well preserved.
Drive time: 90 minutes each way.
Tip: If you don’t mind driving a little further, there are two other missions that make up this monument: Abó and Gran Quivira.
6. Wildlife West Nature Park, Edgewood
This nature park is big enough to satisfy your desire to see wildlife, but small enough to be manageable. All of the animals and birds here are rescued and, for one reason or another, cannot be returned to the wild.
Cost: $9 for an adult ticket.
Drive time: 33 minutes in either direction.
Tip: Call and make a dinner reservation for one of the chuckwagon dinners held here during the summer months, which include a falcon show and hayride.
7. The City of Santa Fe
Santa Fe boasts wonderful galleries, churches, restaurants, a botanical garden, and even a bug museum! Whatever your interests, there’s something in New Mexico’s capital city to entertain you.
Drive time: 60 minutes each way.
8. The Luna Mansion, Los Lunas
Steak, booze, and a ghost – it’s pretty much the trifecta of a great night out! Some claim that the spirit of Josefita Otero, a previous mistress of the house, continues to roam these halls. In fact, the bar is named the Spirit Lounge in her honor. Check out the live music schedule to make the most of your visit.
Drive time: 30 minutes each way.
9. Explore the Manzano Wilderness, near Manzano
The Manzano Mountains are often overlooked in favor of the Sandia Mountains. Mix things up by heading southeast of Albuquerque to explore this 36,664-acre wilderness area, which offers 64 miles of trails. Amenities are sketchy, so bring supplies along with you.
Drive time: It depends on which portion you visit. It’s 66 minutes each way to the trailheads at the Fourth of July Campsite and 77 minutes in either direction to Manzano itself.
10. Belen Harvey House Museum, Belen
Harvey House was the name of a chain of restaurants and hotels situated next to railroads – this was actually the first restaurant chain in the nation. Today, you can tour the Harvey House in Belen, constructed in 1910, which now contains information about the company and the heyday of the railroads. While you’re in Belen, grab a bite to eat at Montano’s or the Rio Grande Diner.
Cost: Free (although donations are appreciated).
Drive time: 46 minutes each way.
11. The Turquoise Trail, from Albuquerque to Cerrillos
The Turquoise Trail is an excellent day trip for anyone who loves ghost towns, mining history, dinky galleries, or small New Mexico towns. Highlights include expansive scenery, the town of Madrid, and a visit to Cerrillos Hills State Park.
Drive time: 69 minutes each way.