Visit the Abq Botanic Gardens: Gem of New Mexico

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Looking for a fun outdoor activity in Albuquerque that the whole family can enjoy? Spend a sunny morning at the Abq Botanic Gardens, which boasts 32 beautiful acres of plant species from around the world. Once cited by Travel Channel as one of the country’s top 12 gardens, it is definitely worth a visit.

Check out some of the garden’s highlights.

The Japanese gardens

Passing through the large stone gates feels like entering a different world as the sound of the waterfall greets you. Follow the trail around the lake and over small streams for views of the beautiful foliage and koi fish.

The back loop of the trail is home to peonies in the spring, and color-changing maples in the fall, which makes it my favorite section of the park. 

The Rose Gardens 

Surprisingly, roses thrive in Albuquerque’s high-altitude climate, as shown by the wide variety of roses all over the garden. There is a small rose garden near the park entrances but the desert rose garden near the back of the park is the real star of the show. Make sure to literally stop and smell the roses or find your favorite color amongst all the blooms.

The Festival Garden

This wide-open field in the heart of the park is the perfect location for picnics, setting children loose, and listening to a summer concert. When you first walk in the gates, the manicured lawn surrounded by trees and flanked by a large duck pond immediately relaxes you. With trickling fountains and ample shade, it is hard to resist the urge to roll out a blanket.

The Bugarium and Butterfly Pavilion

The Bugarium is “an immersive exhibit” that gets you up close and personal with arthropods of all shapes and sizes. Peek into a working beehive, marvel at the ENORMOUS Malaysian stick bugs or check out the naked mole rat mazes.

My personal favorite is the leafcutter ants. A vine extends from one side of the exhibit to the other, and if you’re lucky, you can see the ants marching across it carrying little pieces of leaves. This was a big deal to me as an elementary teacher and a nerd. 

The Porcupine

In the Ceremonial Gardens, make sure you look up into the tangle of vines to find the resident porcupine.

He often sleeps with his mouth open, showing off his impressive rodent teeth.

Besides the beautiful exhibits, there are plenty of other reasons why you should go to the Abq Botanic Gardens.

It is a manageable size.

You can see everything it has to offer without being overwhelmed by the sheer size of it.

It’s great for all ages. 

Kids love the Children’s Fantasy garden, full of life-size vegetables and insects. There is also a mini train set that runs through the Railroad Gardens. The paths are wheelchair/wagon friendly, making them accessible for visitors of all life stages. 

It is beautiful in every season. 

Fall is full of amazing colors, and of course, everything is in bloom in the spring.

In the winter, the garden transforms into the River of Lights, with over 700 light displays of almost anything you can think of, from giant animals to tractors, hot air balloons, and enormous plant sculptures. Grab a hot chocolate and bundle up to enjoy this perfect cozy winter activity.

In summer…it is hot. I know things are blooming, but I have no recommendations. I have never been. That’s all I have to say about that.

It is working on creating something new.

Heritage Farms is currently closed to the public to undergo an update. While we wait to see what is unveiled, take a moment to appreciate what we will miss from the Heritage Farms exhibit.

The ABQ Botanic Gardens pair perfectly with the Albuquerque Aquarium.

Admission to the ABQ Aquarium is included in your ticket price. The entrance to the aquarium is just across the courtyard from the botanic gardens, so it is easy to pop over and enjoy a quick trip through the exhibits. You can read my write-up about the aquarium here.


If you are an ABQ local, I highly recommend the annual membership to the Biopark. I go to the gardens almost every weekend in spring because there is always something new to see: the irises/bulbs go first, then the lilacs, then peonies and roses. If you go frequently enough, the membership easily pays for itself.

In conclusion…

Going to the zoo or gardens is a great place to go if you are looking to get out of the house. If you can’t tell, I am a crazy plant lady, so I love the Abq Botanic Gardens and highly recommend them to anyone, visitor or local.

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