Albuquerque also gains fame as the hot air balloon capital of the U.S. Find out about the first hot air balloons that lifted off in the late 1700s at the Balloon Museum. Since those big contraptions belching fire looked like monsters to the farmers in whose fields the balloons landed, the pilots proved their civility by offering the farmers’ champagne. The tradition continues today except now balloon riders drink the bubbly themselves.
The museum is filled with such facts and lore, but there’s lots of reading involved and not as many interactive exhibits as we’d like to see. Nonetheless, this is a colorful place. Our favorite exhibit: the virtual balloon flight. Even though we never master the art of decreasing the hot air at just the right time to land properly, we like trying.