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.
Thick fog and strobe lights distort the bloodstained secret passages of a demonic slaughterhouse, the home of a sadistic couple who tortures any child they believe to be imperfect and have encountered true evil. As brave guests tiptoe between walls and through vents, hordes of cannibalistic children with an unquenchable hunger snap at their heels. Hidden booby traps, a leather-clad monster, and a feral wolf that has developed a taste for human flesh thwart escape efforts as guests dash toward the exit, lest they be trapped in the house forever. Professional actors and high-quality decorations send adrenaline soaring in the house of horrors, chilling spines with moving floors, dismembered body parts, and breezes imported from Antarctica.
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.
Tours of Old Town specializes in informative, interesting and entertaining outdoor walking tours which share a wide variety of interesting trivia and historical facts in the heart of the Duke City. Tours of Old Town provides memorable experiences for both locals and visitors to the Land of Enchantment.
Helmed by cookbook author and television personality Jane Butel, Jane Butel’s Southwest Cooking School arms aspiring chefs with savory culinary artillery. For more than 50 years, Butel has sharpened her culinary prowess—authoring more than 20 cookbooks and hosting four television and national radio shows—by developing an insatiable catalogue of accessible demonstration classes that delve deep into American Southwest and regional Mexican cooking.
In the historic landscape of El Camino Real, the Black Mesa's vines produce the purple foodstuffs formed and fermented into award-winning wines. Partakers can sit indoors or out on Black Mesa's gazeboed patio while wetting their whistles on a wealth of varietals, including chardonnay, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and zinfandel. Tickle tongues' taste receptors with six of Black Mesa's wines and six New Mexican cheeses, earthier alternatives to showy moon gouda. Guests are gifted with two souvenir wine glasses and $20 towards a bottle of their choice, including Black Mesa's award-winning blends, such as Coyote, Antelope, and Black Beauty (prices range from $12.45-$34.50), ensuring at-home sips are enjoyed in more appropriate receptacles than plastic cups or "World's Best Cousin" mugs.