Best Long Weekend Trips from Denver, Colorado

When we first moved to Denver a couple of years ago, one of the things that struck me was how far it actually was from other cities. Denver is sort of nestled away on its own, but there are some great weekend trips waiting for you if you are willing to drive a bit.

Rapid City, South Dakota

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Seeing Mount Rushmore is something that we quickly added to our list when we realized that it was less than seven hours away from Denver. The drive to Rapid City is beautiful and full of historical stops. We stopped just outside of Cheyenne to see the Oregon Trail ruts. When we were just outside of Rapid City, we stopped at the Mammoth Site. Over 60 mammoths have been discovered at this site and if you are lucky you will see them working the dig while you visit.

While in Rapid City, we went to Mount Rushmore. We drove through Custer State Park and had to sit in our car for about half an hour as a large herd of buffalo wandered in and out of the cars as they crossed the road. We had the best steaks at the Alpine Inn and we learned about the Crazy Horse Monument. There was so much more that we could have done but we ran out of time.

See my post about what to do on a three day trip to Rapid City.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

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Glenwood Springs is less than three hours from Denver without traffic and it is lovely. We often talk about just driving over for the day but we haven’t tried it yet. I could spend the entire long weekend sitting in the Glenwood Springs and renewing my body and spirit but there is so much more to do.

The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is worth a visit just to ride the alpine slide on the side of the mountain. You can tour the caverns, ride some rides, and play some games. We visited in the summertime, but some day I would like to go in the winter so that we can see it covered with snow.

See my post about what to do on a three day trip to Glenwood Springs.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sandia Peak Tramway

Albuquerque is about a six hour drive south of Denver. We spent three days in Albuquerque and during that time we squeezed in some hikes, saw petroglyphs, and learned all about hot air balloons. We also did a self-guided tour of all the Breaking Bad film spots. My kids weren’t very interested in this part but luckily we had lots of other fun stops. We took the Sandia Tramway up the mountain and it was almost as scary as the one we took in Switzerland. The views are worth it though so I am glad that I swallowed my fear and went. I am so glad we stopped at the International Balloon Museum. We spent way more time exploring than I had allotted for but we were having too much fun.

See my post about what to do on a three day trip to Albuquerque.

 

 

5 Museums to Visit in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico had many different things to keep us occupied during our trip there and we loved exploring the museums that taught us more about the history of Albuquerque and what life in ABQ was like.

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Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum

This museum about all things hot air balloon was one of the highlights of our trip. When we first walked in and saw the exhibits, I expected to spend less than an hour checking out the museum before heading to our next destination, the Sandia Peak. The kids were anxious to get to the tram so I was surprised when we spent over two hours playing with the interactive exhibits and reading more about hot air ballooning.

American International Rattlesnake Museum

When I heard about the rattlesnake museum, I was hoping to keep it off of our itinerary (EEK!) but my children did not agree with me. This small museum is located in Old Town Albuquerque and makes for a nice stop in between shopping and exploring places that your kids might not be interested in. We only spent about thirty minutes looking at the exhibits but both of my kids really enjoyed our visit. We learned more about rattlesnakes and took away some information that might help us if we ever run into one on the trails.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center works to preserve and teach people about the Pueblo culture. If you are planning a visit, you will want to plan around the schedule of events. Unfortunately, our timing wasn’t great and we weren’t there during any of the presentations.  I was told by several people that the Native American dancing should not be missed. We were able to explore some handmade items and the exhibits.

Explora!

Explora! is a hands on children’s museum. When our children were a little younger, we used children’s museums as a sort of bribe to get through the things that mom and dad wanted to do. Shameful, I know, but it works! This museum has lots of hands on exhibits that will teach your children more about science, math and more.

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

If you have a dino lover in the house, this museum might be worth a stop. Go back in time and learn more about dinosaurs, the state of New Mexico, the night sky and more. What I love about this museum is that it fits nicely in the vacation budget. Adult tickets are $7 and children’s tickets are only $4 (at the time of this posting).

*Thank you to Visit Albuquerque for helping to facilitate our trip. Some of our expenses were covered but the majority of them were paid for ourselves. All opinions are mine and mine along.

 

Three Days in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The cold weather had us planning a trip south for spring break.  Albuquerque, New Mexico is about six hours south of Denver, making it a great long weekend getaway destination for us.  With the help of Visit Albuquerque, we planned to spend three days in Albuquerque and didn’t even get to half of the activities we wanted to do.

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Where to Stay in Albuquerque, New Mexico

We stayed at Hotel Cascada, a hotel that was centrally located to most of the activities we wanted to do.  Getting around Albuquerque is not difficult but we did spend a lot of time in the car.  Hotel Cascada was a good base for us and had an added bonus – a small water park!  Water park admission is not included in the hotel stay but look for packages that include the admission.  The hotel has a small pool and hot tub that is not part of the water park and this is where we found ourselves spending most of our time.  The water park was a lot of fun but it was very crowded so my kids were looking for something more low key.

ABQ BioPark and Old Town ABQ

The ABQ BioPark had all kinds of different animal babies.

The ABQ BioPark had all kinds of different animal babies.

We spent the morning of our first day at the ABQ BioPark.  The biopark is a zoo, botanical garden, and aquarium all wrapped up in one.  You can visit only one place or you can purchase a combo ticket.  We spent the most time at the zoo and then took the train to the botanical garden and aquarium, which are located next to each other.  The train was fun but be prepared to wait to board if it is crowded.  The trip is about a twenty minute ride.

Petroglyph National Monument, Hot Air Balloons and the Sandia Tramway

Hot air balloon museum

Albuquerque is best known for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta but if you can’t make it to visit when the balloons take flight, you can learn about all things hot air balloon at the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.  The exhibits are beautiful and informative but our favorite part was the hands-on section where we tried to pilot a hot air balloon simulator.

Petroglyph National Monument

The highlight of our trip was hiking at Petroglyph National Monument in the morning and then taking the Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of Sandia Peak.  At Petroglyph National Monument, we wandered around the trails and tried to spot the petroglyphs that were carved into rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago.  From there, we drove to the tramway where we ascended 2.7 miles into the sky.  The views were amazing and were worth the butterflies in my stomach.  If you are afraid of heights, this adventure might not be for you!

Sandia Peak Tramway

Breaking Bad Film Locations

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In between our adventures, we drove past many spots that might look familiar because they were used as film locations for Breaking Bad.  It was fun to see many of the spots as we drove around town.  There are tours that you can take but I decided to do a self-guided tour.  I ended up planning film locations stops with the different activities we had already planned so that we weren’t driving all over town.

When we first moved to Denver, Albuquerque wasn’t high on our list of places we wanted to visit.  We were impressed with all of the great activities and I am so glad that we planned this trip.

Old Town Albuquerque

A few things to know before you go:

There is a whole lot of open road between Colorado Springs and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  If you haven’t driven that stretch of road before, you might be surprised at how little there is.  Keep an eye on your gas tank.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is about 75 miles off of I-25.  If you have never been, I highly recommend taking this detour if you have the time.  You can make a quick stop at the visitor center and then take a walk in this otherworldly landscape.  It is like the Sahara Desert was dropped right in the middle of the mountains.

More details on some of our favorite activities to come!

*Thank you to Visit Albuquerque for helping to facilitate our trip. Some of our expenses were covered but the majority of them were paid for ourselves. All opinions are mine and mine along.

Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque was one of those cities that surprised us.  We found so many different activities to check out while we were there.  I wish that we could have stayed another day or two.  By far, my children’s favorite activity was taking the Sandia Peak Tramway, courtesy of Visit Albuquerque .  This tram isn’t for the faint of heart though.  You start your journey at 6559 feet.

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You hop on the tram during your assigned time and begin to ascend 2.7 miles into the sky.

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The views were worth the butterflies in my stomach.

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During your journey, you will pass the second tram going the opposite direction.

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When you reach the top of the peak, you will be at 10,378.

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After a little exploring or perhaps a meal in the mountaintop restaurant, it will be time to take the fifteen minute ride back down.

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We have so much to share about this adventure and the rest of our Albuquerque visit, but for today I am sharing these picture postcards with Walking On Travels Friday Postcards so that I can enjoy the last day of spring break with my family.

Would you take the Sandia Peak Tramway?

A Southwestern Road Trip through New Mexico and Arizona

Spring break is upon us and I am ready to get the heck out of dodge.

We were just going to stick close to home but my husband is stuck at work and my kids have a two week spring break so I started planning a trip immediately.  I wanted somewhere warmer than Colorado (though that is all subjective now that we are in the month of March) and I wanted to go somewhere that I could drive.

Our trip will begin with a 6 hour drive south across the New Mexico border. I have driven through New Mexico before but my children have never been. They are thrilled to be able to check (two!) more states off of their list. Once we cross the border we will head to Albuquerque, were Visit Albuquerque is graciously hosting us for a few days.

From Albuquerque, we are heading even further south to Tucson, Arizona. We have family in Tucson, so part of the trip will be spent visiting with them and then we are also going to do some exploring.

These are two cities in which we haven’t spent much time at all. I am excited to explore with the kids and step out of our comfort zones a little bit. I have stacks of travel guides from the library and we have been researching the web for ideas. Feeling a little bit overwhelmed, I turned to my favorite group of travel writers and bloggers for their advice. I can tell already that we won’t even cover half of what we want to see during the trip!

Tucson, Arizona

When we tell somebody that we are headed to Tucson, they inevitably say that we must see the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. Karen Heffren from Desert Chica Ramblings suggests that we pick up a stamp book for $1 at the entrance so that the kids can collect stamps along the way.

Jodi Grundig, Family Travel Magazine, recommends visiting Trail Dust Town.  I think my kids might dig the stunt show.

The only thing that we really have on our list so far is to visit Saguaro National Park while we are in Tucson.  My kids are always on the lookout for cacti and I know they will flip out when they see the size of the saguaro cactus!  Mary, from The World is a Book, shares tips for a quick visit to the national park if you are short on time.

Stephanie, from TucsonTopia, shares tons of activities in Tucson but what caught my eye were the tips on what to do if you see a rattlesnake. I will definitely keep this post handy for our trip and our outings around Denver.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

While in Albuquerque, we are undecided about taking the drive up to Taos but Lance’s review of his visit on Trips by Lance might just convince us to go.  I really enjoyed his reflections on his trip where he visited Albuquerque, Taos, and Santa Fe.

Jessica shares a fun stop (and a great photo essay) at Tinkertown on Suitcases and Sippycups. This place looks like a fabulous place for a scavenger hunt checklist.

While in Albuquerque, Jessie with Wandering Educators suggests that we visit the Pueblo Cultural Center to learn about the culture, architecture and more.

Sheri, from Kidsumers, shared her pictures from their ABQ trip and the colors…oh, the brilliant colors we are going to see in the art and textiles. It looks like she had an incredible trip!

Vero, from All Over the Map, offers five things to do in Albuquerque and I was glad to see Petroglyph National Monument listed. This is something that we would like to see. There are also some restaurant recommendations.

What else do you think we should see or do while on our road trip?