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  • Albuquerque Aquarium (2601 Central Ave. NW; tel. 505/764-6200; www.cabq.gov/biopark): Exhibits here focus on sea areas fed by the Rio Grande. You'll pass by many large tanks and within an eels' den; the star attraction is a 285,000-gallon shark tank, where many species of fish and 15 to 20 sand tiger, brown, and nurse sharks swim around, looking ominous.

  • Albuquerque Botanic Garden (2601 Central Ave. NW; tel. 505/764-6200; www.cabq.gov/biopark): Within a state-of-the-art conservatory, a desert collection features plants from the lower Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, and a Mediterranean collection includes many exotic species native to the Mediterranean climates of Southern California, South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean Basin.

  • Rio Grande Zoo (903 10th St. SW, Albuquerque; tel. 505/764-6200; www.cabq.gov/biopark/zoo): More than 250 species live on 64 acres of riverside bosque among ancient cottonwoods. Open-moat exhibits with animals in naturalized habitats are a treat for zoo-goers. Major exhibits include the polar bears, the giraffes, the sea lions (with underwater viewing), the cat walk, the bird show, and ape country, with its gorilla and orangutans.

  • Sandia Peak Tramway (10 Tramway Loop NE, Albuquerque; tel. 505/856-7325; www.sandiapeak.com): The world's longest tramway ferries passengers about 3 miles from Albuquerque's city limits almost to the summit of the 10,678-foot Sandia Peak. On the way, you may see birds of prey and rare Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Go in the evening to watch the sun burn its way out of the western sky; then enjoy the glimmering city lights on your way down.

  • El Rancho de las Golondrinas (334 Los Pinos Rd., Santa Fe; tel. 505/471-2261; www.golondrinas.org): This living museum re-creates an 18th- and 19th-century Spanish village. Kids like to visit the working molasses mill, the blacksmith shop, the shearing and weaving rooms, and the water mills, as well as the resident animals.

  • Santa Fe Children's Museum (1050 Old Pecos Trail; tel. 505/989-8359; www.santafechildrensmuseum.org): Designed for the whole family to experience, this museum offers interactive exhibits and hands-on activities in the arts, humanities, science, and technology. Most notable is a 16-foot climbing wall that kids can scale, outfitted with helmets and harnesses. A 1-acre Southwestern horticulture garden features animals, wetlands, and a greenhouse. Family Life magazine named this one of the 10 hottest children's museums in the nation.

  • New Mexico Mining Museum (100 N. Iron Ave., Grants; tel. 800/748-2142 or 505/287-4802; www.grants.org): This museum takes you down into a spooky, low-lit replica mine. You begin in the station where uranium was loaded and unloaded, and travel back into the earth through places defined on wall plaques with such interesting names as "track drift" (where ore comes up in cars from the mine) and "stope" (a room stripped of all ore and off-limits in an actual mine).

  • Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park (1504 Miehls Dr., Carlsbad; tel. 575/887-5516; www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/LivingDesert.htm): Spread across a vast plateau, this park offers visitors an hour-long trek through desert lands full of odd plants that survive on who-knows-what to zoo exhibits of hawks, cats, and bears. What's best about this zoo is that the animals aren't just captive, they're rehabilitating.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.