Written by Abby Luttrell
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Albuquerque, New Mexico is the biggest city in the state. Yet considering its population is only 450,000, and a mountain hike is only 15 minutes away from the center of town, Albuquerque is never too far from nature. With the stunning Sandia Peak on view from every part of town, and the banks of the Rio Grande filled with parks and boating opportunities, Albuquerque has come by its reputation of a fun city deservedly.

Acoma, The Sky City

And Albuquerque can be the starting point for some fascinating journeys to unique attractions within a hundred mile radius. Acoma, the sky city, is one of the oldest inhabited sites in the country, from at least 1150. Pueblo Indians still live on the beautiful and forbidding mesa top, and their homes and feast days are on view in tours. Nearby Enchanted Mesa and Mt. Taylor provide some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.

Near Grants, west of Albuquerque, the El Malpais lava formation and ice caves have drawn geologists and scientists interested in the fascinating volcanic formations. El Morro, nearby, contains the inscriptions of countless travelers in the area, who carved their "I was here" in the soft stone, dating from 1605. And you won't want to miss the small town of Crownpoint, north of Grants, where auctions of valuable Navajo rugs and blankets are held monthly in the atmospheric town hall.

To the southeast of Albuquerque, Ruidoso Downs is a world-class horse racing track that features quarter horse racing. San Felipe Pueblo hosts the San Felipe Casino, with exciting gaming at cosmopolitan New Mexico hotels. And if you have kids, don't miss Edgewood, east of Albuquerque on I-40. Its 122-acre park is home to elk, antelope, white-tail deer, raccoons and foxes, and events featured are hayrides, chuckwagon dinner shows and birdwatching.

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