50 things (or more) to do in Albuquerque this summer for $5 (or less)
By Steven Robert Allen, Christie Chisholm, Marisa Demarco, Laura Marrich, Devin D. O’Leary
The last thing you want to do is spend the entire summer wasting away on your couch in your underwear, shelling pistachios in front of the TV while the world goes by without you. Take part! Take action! For this year's summer guide, the Alibi brain trust collected more than 50 adventures available to the citizens of Albuquerque for the lowest of prices—from five bucks to free. So pull out the couch cushions, rustle up a couple dollars of change and let the good times roll.
One of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon is to buy a berm ticket to an Isotopes game. Sure, you'll be stuck way behind the outfield and a home run could kill you, but that just adds to the excitement. Berm tickets are only $5, and you can only buy them the day of the game. albuquerquebaseball.com.
Cheap Thrills ... If You Can Restrain Yourself
Head over to the Downs on the Expo New Mexico grounds anytime between about 10 a.m. and midnight for simulcast races on tracks around the world. Some races have a $1 minimum, though most start at $2. It could be a fast way to lose a couple bucks, but at least you can say you did it. If you win, extend your joy by betting that dough, too. Beware the slippery slope that is gambling, though. www.abqdowns.com.
There are few opportunities in Albuquerque to scope athletes in punky skirts and shorts knocking each other around on roller skates—all for the sake of vintage fun. If you plan in advance, tickets are only $5 at Free Radicals (254-3764) or dukecityderby.com. Bouts happen on the third Saturday of every month through October inside Club Fantasia/Midnight Rodeo at 4901 McLeod. This season is already shaping up nicely, with the D.I.A. spanking the Hobots on April 14.
Rent Music/Movies From the Library
In addition to all those books, the Bernalillo County Library System has a fair selection of DVDs and music CDs that can be checked out just by flashing your free library card. Simply search the website (www.cabq.gov/library) to see which branch has what.
Free Family Movies
Four Hills 10 (13160 Central SE) presents a Free Family Film Festival, June 5 through Aug. 1. Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m., you and your brood can watch one of two free G or PG-rated films--from Curious George to Rugrats: The Movie. 275-2114.
Prices at the dollar theaters actually go from 75 cents (Movies West, Wednesday all day) to $2 (Movies 8, Fridays and Saturdays after 6 p.m.). That still allows you to see some fine second-run films with enough left over for popcorn. Movies 8 (4591 San Mateo NE, 888-4773), Movies West (9201 Coors NW, 898-4864).
Guild Bargain Matinees
Show up for the first screening of the day at Nob Hill's Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE) and you can get in for a mere $5. Schedules are available at www.guildcinema.com. 255-1848.
Movie Nights at Cherry Hills
Mondays are free movie nights at the Cherry Hills Library (6901 Barstow NE). Selections range from the adult-minded (Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser) to the family-oriented (Nanny McPhee). Log on to www.cabq.gov/library/activity for a list of upcoming films and times. 857-8321.
It's a little-known fact that La Semilla, Out ch'Yonda's bookstore, bought up a hunk of Alphaville's stock. Rent these films for just $1 if you're an Out ch'Yonda member. You can become a card-carrying Yondite by volunteering three hours of time per month to the community-based theater and art space at 929 Fourth Street. 255-9312.
Improve Your Swing (I)
Remember your cousin's wedding last year, when everyone was out dancing on the parquet, having a great time? And you were getting drunk at the bar, pretending not to notice, because you can't dance to save your life? Don't ever do that again. The Heights Community Center (823 Buena Vista SE, at Coal) hosts two fabulous, beginner-friendly nights of swing dance lessons every week: ’50s-style Jitterbug on Tuesdays and ’40s-style Lindy Hop on Thursdays. Both are from 7-10 p.m. and have a $3 suggested donation.
Latin Swing Night at Selah Studios
Come by Selah Studios (7120 Wyoming NE, Suite 17) every Friday night to learn salsa, merengue, cumbia, cha-cha and bachata. Lessons go throughout the evening, from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. All-ages. $5. 798-0400.
Love Your Local Tennis Court
Did you know there are more than 160 public tennis courts—the vast majority of them free—scattered throughout the city? Find a comprehensive list of locations, maps, hours and more at www.cabq.gov/recreation/tcourt. Now all you've got to do is find a partner (three, if you're playing doubles), score a 99-cent tennis racket and a few tennis balls from your local thrift store, and you've got game.
Albuquerque Walking Tours
WALK Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Alliance for Active Living have created a series of walking tours for various neighborhoods. They're a good way to get a little exercise and learn some local history at the same time. The tours are available for downloading at www.cabq.gov/sustainability/news/walking-tours.
Rail Runner with Bikes!
One of many things to love about our new commuter train is that paying passengers can bring bicycles onboard for free. Hop the train, ride to another station and take a bicycling tour of the surrounding neighborhood. One-way tickets cost between $1-$3, while day passes run $2-$4. 245-RAIL (7245), www.nmrailrunner.com.
Free Golf Lesson From a Pro
May is PGA Free Lesson Month! Want to learn how to perfect your swing? Visit playgolfamerica.com to get contact information for one of 14 local professionals, who'll devote 10 minutes of their time to you ... for free.
Hit the Gym
Finally, you can take advantage of a UNM student instead of the other way around. Get one to sponsor you for a $5 day pass to Johnson Gym, one of the best facilities in town. Most commercial gyms will also do a one-time pass for $5 or less, too. Be sure to make good faces at yourself in the mirror as you flex your impressive biceps. That's the best part.
Improve Your Swing (II)
Sure, golf is a a relaxing sport—but its green fees can be downright painful. Keep your budget under par by hitting the driving range instead. The award-winning UNM Championship Golf Course (3601 University SE, 277-4546) will rent you a small bucket of 35 balls for $3, or a large bucket of 75 balls is $5.
Change Your Name to "Slugger"
Can't afford therapy? Try smacking a few slow-pitched baseballs with a bat instead. Ahhhh .... that's better. The best deal (and the tallest cage) in town is at Batter's Edge (630 Sunset SW, 243-4490). A $2 token buys you 25 pitches, or plunk down $5 for 75. On the Eastside, both Los Altos Batting Range (9501 Lomas NE, 296-6699) and Slugger's Batting Range (4565 Juan Tabo NE, 294-5900) will throw you 20 pitches for $2 a batch.
Discount Night at Roller King
On Thursday nights, you can get your roller boogie on for a mere $1.75 per person (that includes roller skate/roller blade rental if you need it). Check out www.rollerkingabq.com for details. 400 Paisano NE. 298-1442.
Grab a frisbee (definitely under $5) and head to one of four local disc golf courses at Brent Baca Memorial, Roosevelt Park, Ladera and Vista Hills Park.
Want something else to do with a frisbee? Head to Johnson Field every Sunday at 11 a.m. and to Bullhead Park every Friday at noon to play ultimate frisbee with the local pros. www.abqultimate.org.
Go Fly a Kite
Zia Kites is hoping to be Albuquerque's only specialty kite shop. They're building interest by sponsoring the Albuquerque Kite Club, which meets every Wednesday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and every Saturday from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Balloon Fiesta Park. They have free demo kites you can borrow. Contact Zia Kites and the AKC at www.ziakites.com. Balloon Fiesta Park is at 4401 Alameda NE.
Tingley Beach Fishing
Already purchased your annual fishing license? Then take the kids over to Tingley Beach, where fishing is free. The lake is stocked about every two weeks by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. www.cabq.gov/biopark/tingley/fishing.
Tingley Beach Boating
If you're not into the fishing thing, you can try your hand at controlling a model yacht in a special section of Tingley's Central Pond. Each of the six radio control stations accepts tokens, available inside Tingley Beach Station for 25 cents apiece. Fifty cents will get you two minutes worth of nautical fun. Tingley Parkway and Central.
Ollie and grind to your heart's content with extended summer hours at both skate parks. Los Altos (on Lomas just west of Eubank) and Tower (at 86th Street and Tower) will both be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. from May through August. Admission is free.
Pimp Your Ride
Listen, someone's got to say it. Your car is ... uh ... filthy. Just really, really gross. Why don't you hit up that do-it-yourself car wash in your neighborhood? Most take 25 cents to $1.50 to kickstart, with a quarter for each additional minute. Throw in a "Little Tree" air freshener (available at most gas stations and auto stores), and your ride'll be fresh as a daisy.
Rio Grande Nature Center
Our poor trashed and abused Bosque—nobody seems to give it the lovin' it needs except the fine folks at the Rio Grande Nature Center (2901 Candelaria NW). Come learn all about Albuquerque's most precious natural resource. Tickets are only $3 per vehicle. 344-7240, www.rgnc.org.
Support your local growers' markets, and you'll be eating like a prince while paying like a pauper. The freshest, most flavorful food around is available right now at markets in Los Alamos, Los Ranchos (Albuquerque), Jemez Springs, Nob Hill (Albuquerque), Taos County and Silver City, and more are on the way. Log on to www.farmersmarketsnm.org for a comprehensive list of outdoor growers' markets in New Mexico.
Stroll among food vendors, an arts and crafts market and a beer garden while watching local and national music and dance acts at this year's Summerfest. Face-painting, magic tricks, juggling and "interactive drumming" are available for the kids. On June 16, June 23, July 7, July 14, July 21 and July 28 from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Free. www.cabq.gov/crs/summerfest04, 768-3556.
Plant a Garden
It only takes a few bucks to buy some seeds from your local plant nursery or grocery store. Or, if you're lucky and have neighbors with green thumbs, ask if they have any extras. Now all you need is a patch of dirt. For directions, visit www.wikihow.com/Plant-Your-First-Garden.
Ninja Monkey Gaming
If you're way into videogames, Ninja Monkey Gaming Center boasts 24 high-end LAN-connected PCs. In addition, they have Xbox 360s, a Playstation 3 and a Wii--all available for use on the center's 10-foot screens. Rates are $4 an hour for members ($6 for nonmembers). However, on your first visit, bring a photo ID and you can score a free hour to check it all out. The home page at www.ninjamonkeygamingcenter.com has all the specifics. Two locations: Paseo and Wyoming (217-2160), Montgomery and Juan Tabo (217-2309).
Most of the attractions at Hinkle Family Fun Center (12931 Indian School NE)—Laser Tag, Bumper Boats, Go-Karts—will run you $6.75. But you can gain entrance to Nickel City arcade for a mere $2.50. There, you'll have access to more than 100 arcade games for only 5 cents a play. www.hinklefamilyfuncenter.com, 299-3100.
Desert Life Aquatic
Woe is the mermaid who finds herself in Albuquerque, miles away from any really big body of water, splashing around her bathtub as a sorry substitute to frolicking among the waves. Find frugal relief in the pet stores, wandering through cool, dark rooms, gawking at pretty fish in bubbling tanks. Make a pet of a feeder fish for somewhere around a quarter. Name it Steve or Zissou in honor of your maritime tendencies.
The Thrifty Bookworm
No, it's not an illustrated children's tale. Cater to your bookish side the second Saturday of every month at the Main Library (501 Copper NE). The monthly book sale charges a $1 admission, but you'll be able to purchase paperbacks for as little as 25 cents and hardcovers starting at around $1. The sale starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 3:30 p.m. or so. Get there early for the good stuff.
Find spunky, unjaded fellow audience members at any all-ages Sol Arts rock show. Just $3 will get you in the door to see some of the best acts in town up close and personal at the space on 712 Central SE. All shows start at 7 p.m. and run until 10 p.m.
Cliff's Amusement Park
Spend the afternoon people-watching and chowing on cotton candy at Cliff's (4800 Osuna NE). Unlimited ride passes are relatively pricey, but general admission is only $2.50 and individual rides a mere $2. www.cliffs.net,881-9373.
Be a Snoop
Open houses and estate sales are invaluable if you're in the market for a new home or household fixtures. They're also windows into how other people live. Admire the fine architectural details of a house you'll never be able to afford! Ridicule your neighbor's hideous linoleum! Rifle through the medicine cabinets of complete strangers—guilt free. Bonus: Some serve complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Consult your local paper's classifieds for weekend listings.
The Box Performance Space
Albuquerque's newest theater—specializing in improv and youth performances--asks a flat $5 for all their shows produced in-house. Visit www.theboxabq.com for a schedule of events. 1025 Lomas NW, 404-1578.
Tour Casa San Ysidro
Take a guided tour of this historical Corrales ranch house (973 Old Church Road), which dates back to the 1870s. $4 adults, $3 students and seniors, $2 children 12-and-under, Albuquerque Museum Foundation Members are free. On Heritage Day (Saturday, May 12), Casa San Ysidro will host music, performances and artist demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. www.cabq.gov/museum/history/casatour. 898-3915.
You can't go wrong with a visit to the Petroglyph National Monument, an archaeological site on the West Mesa that includes approximately 20,000 ancient Native American images. If you enter through the main entrance, which includes a visitor center and interpretive trail, the fee is $1 on weekdays and $2 on weekends. Some of the areas with the best petroglyphs are in less traveled areas of the park, which are free. 899-0205, www.nps.gov/petr.
Ice, Ice, Baby
All it takes is a block of ice, a towel and a grassy hill for hours of sledding fun in the summer. Unwrap your ice and set it on the crest of the hill. (There are several parks around town with good slopes.) Fold the towel and put it on top of the block to avoid the injury commonly known as "ice-ass" or "booty-freeze." Sit down with your behind square on the ice. Good form demands that you hold your legs out straight in front of you while keeping your arms tucked in close to your chest or sides. Be forewarned: Ice moves fast. Ice blocks can usually be found at convenience or grocery stores for a buck and change. Call around first.
Truly talented mischief-makers find ways to annoy friends without causing any actual damage to property or pride. A couple boxes of plastic forks and one or two quiet snickering hours should be all it takes to "fork" someone's lawn. Sure, it takes as much effort to put the forks in as it does to take them out, but genuine imps should have no problem with that—especially when imagining the looks of confusion on the lawn-owners' faces upon discovery of such an absurd prank.
Ride the 66
There's no better way to get to know the real Albuquerque than to take a ride on the Central Avenue No. 66 bus. It runs every 15 minutes and only costs $1. Take a few hours and do the whole thing. Wear clothing you don't mind getting dirty. Bring a notepad for composing bad urban poetry. Do not make eye contact. www.cabq.gov/transit.
Scratch That Itch
If you're in a gambling mood, prices for New Mexico Lottery Scratchers run from $1 to $20. Heck, you might even make a profit! May we suggest the new $2 Space Invaders Instant Scratcher game? You could win $10,000, a Space Invaders arcade game or a trip to the 60th anniversary of the UFO Festival in Roswell. Plus, all net revenues from the lottery go to college scholarships, so you don't have to feel bad even if you lose. Available at most area convenience stores.
Confuse a Gaggle of Knights and Wenches
Dress up like a hobo and go to Bataan Park (Carlisle and Lomas) on the weekends when the Society for Creative Anachronism recreates the Middle Ages. Recreate Depression-era hobo scenes alongside the medieval warriors.