You’ve woken up at 4 a.m., braved the crowds, gorged on breakfast burritos and hot chocolate, marveled at hundreds of balloons painting the sky at Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta–and now it’s only 10 a.m. What to do?
How Cheap Is Cheap?
For $5 dollars, El Rancho de las Golondrinas, just south of Santa Fe, is hosting special Balloon Fiesta Week tours. To put in perspective, $5 in Santa Fe could also buy a Frito Pie, pay for parking, or–that’s pretty much all we can think of. This is a good deal.
The Best $5 You’ll Ever Spend
El Rancho de las Golondrinas is a living history museum comprised of historic colonial buildings on 200 acres that includes traditional farm fields and gardens. Villagers dressed in period costume explain life in 1700s New Mexico. Working mills still grind corn, blacksmiths pound glowing metal into nails and horseshoes, women string chile ristras, and others go about their daily lives as they would in the 18 century. From Wednesday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 10, at 1 p.m., special docent-guided $5 tours take visitors on a 2-hour tour of the property. No reservations are needed; exact cash is appreciated.
For anyone interested in true New Mexico, or American history in general, a visit to Las Golondrinas is a must. Far from the pink coyotes of the more touristy aspects of Santa Fe, Las Golondrinas is committed to showing how life was when Santa Fe was but a backwater colony of the Spanish Crown.
Now You Do It
El Rancho de las Golondrinas is about an hour’s drive from Albuquerque. Take I-25 north and turn off at Exit 276. Complete directions. Wear comfortable walking shoes and a sun hat, and bring water and snacks, though concessions are available. Definitely bring your camera.
What to Do With Leftover Change (optional)
Just next door to the museum is Sunrise Springs Resort, which features Spa Samadhi and it’s fabulous The Lotus Cafe and Bar. A little more than $5, but well worth the stop to walk the beautiful grounds and pond (yes, they have a real blue heron that hangs out), and at least enjoy a cup of tea or coffee on the patio (under $5).
If You’d Like to Splurge (optional)
If you still have money left, Santa Fe is just 15 miles north, and you’ll pass the Santa Fe Outlet Mall that houses Polo, Bass, Liz Claiborne and other high-end stores at outlet pricing, stretch $5 even more.