Albuquerque Biological Park
This-kid friendly park (505/768-2000, www.cabq.gov/biopark, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat. and Sun. June–Aug., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily Sept.–May, $7) along the riverbank just west of Old Town has several components.
North of Central (2601 Central Ave. NW, to be exact) is the Albuquerque Aquarium, with a giant shark tank, a creepy tunnel full of eels, and displays on underwater life from the Gulf of Mexico and up the Rio Grande, and the Rio Grande Botanic Gardens, including a desert hothouse, a Japanese garden, and a butterfly habitat.
The most New Mexico–specific installation in the gardens, and the most interesting, is the 10-acre Rio Grande Heritage Farm, a re-creation of a 1930s operation with heirloom apple orchards and rare types of livestock, such as Percheron horses and Churro sheep. Combined admission to these two areas is $7.
Across Central Avenue (but linked by a path along the river), Tingley Aquatic Park, known by locals as “Tingley Beach,” is 18 acres of paths and ponds, including a fishing lake and a model boating lake, dug along the eastern riverbank all the way south to Iron Avenue. There’s no admission fee, though anyone 12 and older needs a fishing license, available at the outfitter shop on the premises.
South of Tingley Beach, Rio Grande Zoo (903 10th St. SW) is not particularly ground-breaking, but kids can run around among trumpeting elephants and screeching peacocks. The window into the gorilla nursery is probably the most fascinating exhibit. Admission here is $7, but $12 gets you admission to the aquarium and gardens too, plus a ride on the Rio Line, the miniature train that connects all sections of the Biopark. It runs every day but Monday, and tickets alone cost $2.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition