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ABQ BioPark Review
The city's foremost outdoor attraction and nature center, the park comprises Tingley Beach (and its trout-stocked ponds) as well as three distinct attractions: Aquarium, Botanic Garden, and Zoo. The garden and aquarium are located together (admission gets you into both facilities), just west of Old Town, off Central Avenue; the zoo is a short drive southeast, off 10th Street. You can also ride the scenic Rio Line vintage narrow-gauge railroad between the zoo and gardens and the aquarium complex; rides are free if you purchase a combination ticket to all of the park's facilities.
Aquarium and Botanic Garden. Two main components of the ABQ BioPark, the Aquarium and the Botanic Garden are a huge draw with kids but also intrigue adult visitors. At the aquarium, a spectacular shark tank with floor-to-ceiling viewing is among the most popular of the marine exhibits. The Spanish-Moorish garden is one of three walled gardens near the entrance of the 36-acre botanic garden. The exquisite Sasebo Japanese Garden joins other specialty landscapes including the Curandera Garden, exhibiting herbs used by traditional Spanish folk-medicine practitioners; Rio Grande Heritage Farm, which re-creates a '30s-era local farm and features canning, quilting, and other demonstrations; and the Children's Fantasy Garden, complete with walk-through pumpkin, a 14-foot dragon, and giant bees. The PNM Butterfly Pavilion is open late May through mid-October and, year-round, the glass conservatory holds desert and Mediterranean plantings. 2601 Central Ave. NW, NM, 87104.
Zoo. The 64-acre Zoo is an oasis of waterfalls, cottonwood trees, and naturalized animal habitats. More than 250 species of wildlife from around the world live here, including giraffes, camels, polar bears, elephants, koalas, and as of 2013, a set of snow leopard twins. The Tropical America exhibit offers a bit of contrast for dry Albuquerque, replicating a jungle rain forest and containing toucans, spider monkeys, and brilliant orchids and bromeliads. The zoo has established captive-breeding programs for more than a dozen endangered species. "Zoo music" concerts are performed on the grounds on summer Friday evenings. There's a café on the premises. The Thunderbird Express is a ¾-scale train that runs in a nonstop loop within the zoo, and during the 20-minute ride conductors talk in depth about the creatures and their habitats. Running Tuesday through Sunday, it's free with combo tickets, or $2 otherwise. 903 10th St. SW, NM, 87102. www.cabq.gov/culturalservices/biopark/zoo.
Tingley Beach. Tingley Beach is a recreational arm of the BioPark that consists of three large ponds, created in the 1930s by diverting water from the Rio Grande. Seasonally, you can rent pedal boats, fish the trout-stocked ponds (gear and fishing licenses can be purchased at the fishing-tackle shop on-site), or sail model electric or wind-powered boats. The popular 16-mi Paseo del Bosque bike path and a number of forest trails run through the cottonwood Bosque that edges the "beach." 1800 Tingley Dr. SW, south of Central Ave. and just east of Central Ave. bridge, NM, 87102.
- Address: 903 10th St. SW, Old Town, Albuquerque, 87102 | Map It
- Phone: 505/764–6200
- Cost: Tingley Beach and grounds free, Aquarium and Botanic Garden $12.50 (includes both attractions), Zoo $12.50; combination ticket for all attractions, including unlimited rides on the Rio Line and the zoo loop Thunderbird Express trains $20. Free admission for all attractions for kids under 3 .
- Hours: Aquarium, botanic garden, and zoo Sept.–May daily 9–5; June–Aug. weekdays 9–5, weekends 9–6. Tingley Beach daily sunrise–sunset. No trains Mon.
- Website: www.abqbiopark.com
- Location: Old Town
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