Fire and wind: that’s all it takes to fly. Hot air ballooning’s sheer simplicity sparked pilot Scott Appelman’s interest in the sport 30 years ago. “In a lot of ways, it’s the exact opposite of the way the world is today,” says the Rainbow Ryders, Inc. founder. “And I think that gives it a certain degree of romance.”
Further evidence of ballooning’s inherent romance can be found in the number of proposals and weddings that have taken place aboard Rainbow Ryders’ fleet of 19 balloons, earning the company a spot on Yahoo’s list of top five places in the nation to pop the question. Even if engagement is not on passengers’ agendas, the crew still strives to ensure a memorable expedition. Guests can join the launch crew to help inflate the balloon before takeoff, and upon landing, pilot and passengers clink glasses in a champagne toast to celebrate another successful flight.
Though whimsy and romance may prove the biggest draw, Rainbow Ryders’ untarnished safety record is what ultimately keeps the balloons hovering. Since 1982, experienced pilots have safely floated 160,000 people over the Rio Grande Valley. Pilots not only helm top-tier equipment, but carefully monitor the region’s weather patterns to ensure smooth thermal drafts and minimize hitchhiking requests from migrating geese.
The Santa Fe Southern Railway revels in a rich history, one that commenced in the 1800s and was heralded in the Academy Award–winning Judy Garland song "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe". Connecting Santa Fe to the rest of the country, the train line helped to build the southwestern city's reputation as a great arts destination as it transported visitors and wanderlust-filled paintbrushes to the picturesque terrain. During regular expeditions to nearby Lamy, the railway continues to dazzle riders with sweeping vistas just outside the windows of vintage 1920s train cars, which each sport their own snack and drink bar.
Parents and children enjoy an afternoon of all-ages activities and local eats during the family-friendly prelude to Red Wine & Blues: A Taste of Albuquerque. Youth can carefully whack balls across greens during games of mini golf or ask artists to paint their faces with sparkly unicorns and fake IDs. Local restaurants including Kelly's, JC's Pizza, and Tomato Cafe will have tasty treats and teach children about nutritious snacking. A silent auction will serve as a venue for mimes to auction off their unused voices. Funds from the Mini Taste of Albuquerque go to benefit the Junior League of Albuquerque’s hunger-prevention projects and food pantries.
World Balloon's skilled pilots have been cruising gentle air currents in their colorful balloons for over 41 years. From the safety of a basket, they unveil panoramic views of the arcing earth, the sun rising above the Sandia Mountains, and the lush greenery of the Rio Grande Valley. After the balloon alights upon the ground, the staffers keep the experience going. They treat guests to a champagne toast and a light snack, and give them a commemorative certificate. The crew also sets the tone for each celebration with a short lesson on the origins of hot-air ballooning and how to identify which clouds would yield the fluffiest pillow stuffing.
ABQ Trolley Co.?s custom, open-air trolley exudes the Albuquerque aesthetic with wrought-iron rails, a stucco-like paint job, and mosaic tile art. Co-owners and Albuquerque natives Michael M. Silva Jr. and Jesse Herron founded the tour company and serve as its guides, sharing an assortment of unscripted facts and tidbits that change with every tour. All expeditions showcase the ins and outs of the city as the trolley coasts past landmarks such as Museum Row, the University of New Mexico?s campus, and the Rio Grande Zoo.
Escaped asylum patients lurk the shadowy corridors of Realm of Darkness Haunted House, their tormented cries chilling the spines of anyone who crosses their path. While creeping through the forsaken space, brave explorers must navigate a disorienting maze and creep past cages rattled by howling inmates. In addition to living horrors, the haunted asylum also harbors blood-splattered specters who appear in unexpected places, sporting deranged grins that bespeak eternal damnation and subpar dental work.