Although the morning started off drizzly, it stopped raining a little while before we started to head out, and it turned out to be a very nice day. Three adults (including myself), and a 13 and 11 year old headed out to visit the Albuquerque Aquarium. For $7 adults/$5 under 13, you can get an admission ticket to both the Aquarium and the Rio Grande Botanic Garden. (also, for about $5 more, admission to the Zoo… but we opted not to do the zoo thing. Still, three major attractions for $12/person is a pretty excellent deal!).
The aquarium was cool, and I think worth the money, but it was also a tad bit disappointing. I’m used to larger aquariums with some tanks where you can actually touch things, but nothing was touchable there. It’s basically a center full of large fish tanks (haha, hence the name “aquarium” eh?). I’d say we spent about an hour checking everything out and taking pictures. There is a big open tank full of sting rays and you can watch them jumping out of the water; it was very cool but also freaked me out a little bit because of the Steve Irwin thing. I think we spent the most time checking out the sting rays and the jellyfish, although we also spent quite a while checking out all the fish and sharks in the main exhibit. For whatever reason, my regular camera would NOT take good pictures, but my iPhone took some pretty good ones:
After the Aquarium, we debated whether to check out the Rio Grande Botanic Garden (you have to pay the $7 for the aquarium, and if you do, the Botanic Gardens are free.. right next to the Aquarium). We decided that we should at least stroll through it quickly. That way, if there was something really cool we could see it for free, but we wouldn’t have to stay long if it wasn’t our cup of tea.
First, we toured the “Children’s Fantasy Garden” which was pretty cool, but more for little kids, not the 11 & 13 year olds that we had with us. Basically, a lot of giant oversized things. At 6’4″, it made me feel a little normal 😉
From there, we noticed a sign that said “Japanese Garden” and decided that’s what we wanted to check out. As it turned out, the Japanese Garden was in the very back so we ended up strolling through most of the grounds on our way to see the Japanese Garden. It was beautiful! Honestly, if we hadn’t had kids with us, and if we hadn’t forgotten to eat lunch before we left, I would have loved to stay longer. It was very relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful in there. Definitely worth a visit for anyone who is into flowers, or just wants to take a nice, pretty walk outdoors 🙂
After the Garden, we grabbed some lunch, and then decided to walk around Old Town. The Old Town area was Albuquerque’s “First Neighborhood” and the “Center of Community Life dating back to 1706.” It’s basically a tourist attraction these days… It’s primarily souvenier shops, art galleries, and restaurants but the buildings have the old, historic style. (As a sidenote, when I was in Barcelona, I walked around a similar old town, except I had to pay to see it, and it was not a real old town, it was modeled after one…. Albuquerque’s Old Town is the real deal, and free).
My favorite part, and what also seems to be the central attraction (and is in fact in the center of Old Town) is the San Felipe de Neri Parish which has been around holding services for over 300 years! I LOVE old churches.
Quite a few of the shops were closing already by the time we showed up (5pm on a Friday night?) So, apparently if you’re looking for the full Old Town experience, it’s better to go a little earlier in the day. It was alright that the stores were closing though, because it also looked like the evening storms were rolling in so it was best to head home anyway:
So, all in all, we spent about $10 each ($7 for the Aquarium/Garden, and $2-$3 for lunch) and around 5-6 hours to see an Aquarium, Child’s Fantasy Garden, Botanic Garden, buy lunch, and see Old Town, and San Felipe de Neri church! Not bad! 🙂