Close to Home: Albuquerque BioPark & Botanical Gardens

Clown fish and sea anemones at the Albuquerque Aquarium. Photo by Dustin Lombardi.

Fall in New Mexico is a ridiculous time of the year. I always struggle to dress appropriately because it’s cold in the morning, hot in the afternoon and cold in the evening. As a result of the crazy weather, we found ourselves having a hard time choosing a destination this week. We decided to stick with a couple of tried and true places, where we knew we would be comfortable.

The Albuquerque BioPark Aquarium and Botanical Gardens is an old favorite of ours and we thought it would be fun to visit for the travel feature. In the autumn they have a wonderful rose exhibit at the Botanic Gardens and all the roses are in bloom. There are also lots of other fall flowers in bloom. The aquarium is small and charming, walking through doesn’t take very long.

As usual, I had Dustin calculate our gas and admission before we left. Edgewood is a half an hour from Albuquerque and he determined we needed two gallons of gas to get there and back, which cost about $6.

Admission to the aquarium is $10 for adults and kids 13 and up. We paid $20 to get in and that includes the botanic gardens. That left us with a lunch budget of $24.

Lots of flowers and many roses were in bloom throughout the park. The fruit trees were all full of fruit, most notably the pomegranates, which were so full of fruit the branches were hanging down to the ground.

We saw the new river otter exhibit and then went to our favorite tanks. As you first walk in there is a tank that has stingrays and other fish in it. There are two little blowfish that always come up to the window if Dustin is standing there. I am not sure if they are the same ones, but every time we go two little guys come and check him out. There is also a stingray with a messed up tail that we call “kinky tail,” who likes to flash its belly at the glass.

At the botanic gardens there is also a bug emporium and a butterfly pavilion. Both are really fun to walk through if you like that sort of thing and if you don’t like insects, the exhibits are off the main path to the gardens and easy to avoid.

A puffer fish at the Albuquerque Aquarium. Photo by Dustin Lombardi.

Dustin loves insects and he takes particular delight in teasing me about the gigantic centipede that lives there. I love all living creatures and I am not scared of most things but there are two insects in New Mexico that give me the creeps: centipedes and children of the earth. At least the centipedes at the bug emporium are contained. I prefer the night crawler room, which features nocturnal insects, my favorite being the Madagascar hissing cockroaches. They also have a naked mole exhibit which is pretty entertaining. The moles have really silly personalities and are very active, and they are so ugly they are cute.

The butterfly pavilion is always a joy and it has been closed for a long time because they were remodeling it. We missed the pavilion being open by only a few minutes but we could still see that there were lots of butterflies in there. Next time I will pay closer attention to the hours because both the bug emporium and butterfly pavilion close before the rest of the park.

For food this week, we decided not to eat in the valley or Old Town. We opted to eat on our way out of town at a place called Grassburger.

Grassburger is a fairly new business in Albuquerque and my favorite one is located off of Montgomery and Juan Tabo. They specialize in humane and ethical farming and slaughter practices. They sell only local products and the food is amazing. The service is good, food comes out pretty fast and the menu is reasonably priced. We both got exactly what we wanted with our $24 remaining budget. 

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