Albuquerque is a vibrant, sprawling city near the center of New Mexico. Cradled in the Rio Grande Valley beneath the Sandia Mountains, it is by far the largest city in the state, acting as the media, educational, and economic center of New Mexico, as well as the home of the state's only major airport, making it a common entry point into New Mexico. Despite this, Albuquerque is often overshadowed as a tourist destination by Santa Fe, 60 miles (97 km) to the north.
But any visit to New Mexico would be incomplete without taking in what Albuquerque has to offer, as New Mexico's only major city has pleasant scenery, colorful history, and a wealth of great attractions in its own right. Here, in a setting that has been made familiar to many by the television series Breaking Bad, you'll find many excellent museums, colorful neon signs along old Route 66, the naturalistic beauty of the Rio Grande and the Sandia Mountains, and a spectacular hot-air balloon festival in the fall.
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as a small Spanish settlement on the banks of the Rio Grande and was named for the Duke of Alburquerque (hence Albuquerque's nickname, "The Duke City"). In the 1880s the railroad came to town, and almost overnight a new city grew up around the train tracks a couple of miles away from the original settlement. This "New Town" became the hub of commerce for the state, and the city grew exponentially (eventually the "New Town", which today is Downtown, and the original "Old Town" settlement were joined to become part of the same city).
In the 1920s the federal government designated a series of highways that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles as Route 66, and Albuquerque was one of the towns "The Mother Road" passed through. Starting in the 1950s, Albuquerque grew exponentially given federal investment in the local military bases and a massive influx of visitors and new residents, and for the most part it hasn't slowed down. Today, Albuquerque is still the hub of commerce and transportation in the state. While Santa Fe is the state capital and the principal tourist destination of New Mexico, Albuquerque is the state's only truly urban area, with a city population of over 500,000 and a metropolitan population of nearly a million people. This is where you'll find the headquarters of the state's businesses, the University of New Mexico, and the Albuquerque International Sunport, the only major airport in the state.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Albuquerque is in the high desert [35.11N −106.64W (Elev. 4989 ft/1521 m)] and has a generally warm, dry climate with four distinct seasons. Spring is sunny and windy, although temperatures at night can be unexpectedly cool. Summers are hot (highs average 90–95°F/34°C, and temperatures near 100°F/38°C are not rare) and still mainly dry, but monsoonal conditions develop in July or August and produce furious if short-lived thunderstorms. Have rainwear available in the summer, although you won't use it most days. Fall is delightful, with comfortable temperatures and a return to generally dry conditions. Winter can be blustery, with overnight lows below freezing, but subzero temperatures are rare. One winter-weather issue for the traveler: snow, while infrequent and short-lived, does occur, and its relative rarity means that local drivers don't deal with it well. If you happen to be in town for a snowstorm, expect road chaos far out of proportion to the amount of snow that falls.
Albuquerque's demographics are reflective of New Mexico as a whole. While Albuquerque does have a large non-native population, the city's makeup is predominantly white and/or Hispanic, with a significant population of Native Americans. These groups are spread throughout the city, but the largest concentrations of Hispanics are found in the South Valley (along the river on the south side of town) and in the Southeast Heights near Kirtland Air Force Base. The Southeast Heights is where you'll also find a large foreign-born population, with significant groups of Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Central American, African, and Middle Eastern descent.
Albuquerque is a casual town: expect shorts, a T-shirt, and sandals to be entirely acceptable almost everywhere. It's also a very humble city, with something of a self-deprecating vibe; you may hear a local remark on how backwards and small it is compared to larger Western cities, though this frequently gets rebuked with a passion from locals who adore their home. Either way, people here tend to be extremely friendly and exhibit very little pretension.
Two interstate highways pass through: I-40 goes east–west and I-25 goes north–south. Where they meet is a large intersection called "The Big I". Albuquerque's Central Ave. is part of old Route 66. A minor note of caution: I-25 south of the city is a "safety corridor" in which state law mandates higher fines for traffic violations. Enforcement is spotty, but take the speed limits seriously anyway.
- 1 Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ IATA). The major air hub for all of New Mexico. Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United serve the Sunport with limited service from their respective major hubs, but it's Southwest Airlines that operates most traffic into ABQ, with direct service from most western cities and from some of Southwest's hubs in the Midwest and eastern United States.
One tip: If you're prone to airsickness, try to get flights into this airport that arrive either before noon or after sundown, particularly during late spring and early summer. The high elevation, hot sun, and spring winds combine to produce thermals that can make afternoon arrivals an extremely bumpy proposition. There are no major safety issues (the airport's runways are long, owing to the adjacent Air Force base, with no nearby obstacles to run into), but try telling your stomach that! The rough ride is less of a problem with outbound flights.
Incidentally, this airport has a number of attractive displays of New Mexican arts and crafts, and is a more pleasant place than most airports to kill time while waiting for a flight. The Sunport also has charging stations for electronics and free wireless internet access. The major car rental companies are nearby, with a shuttle from the airport to the large rental center. The airport is served by a number of shuttle services and by local bus #50 on the lower level at the west end of the shuttle island.
Albuquerque is a layover stop along Amtrak's Southwest Chief daily train route. The depot is at the 2 Alvarado Transportation Center, in downtown at 320 First St SW (in the same building as the Greyhound depot). The westbound train to Los Angeles is scheduled to arrive at 3:55PM and departs at 4:45PM. The eastbound train to Chicago arrives at 11:42AM and departs at 12:10PM. The station has a small cafeteria.
A commuter rail line, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects Albuquerque to Santa Fe and to the smaller communities north and south along the Rio Grande, including Belen, Los Lunas, and Bernalillo. The main station is at the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown, which has regular bus connections along Central Avenue and to the airport. The Rail Runner runs daily, although service can be limited outside the weekday rush hour periods. Fares are based on how far you ride; a day pass will usually be in the range of $4–10. Tickets can be purchased online or from ticket agents on the train.
Albuquerque has a fine bus depot at the Alvarado Transportation Center in downtown, 320 First St SW, which is served by Greyhound ☏ , and Autobuses Americanos which provides bus service to many points in Mexico. The depot has a small cafeteria.
Albuquerque is a heavily planned city. In much of the city, the major roads are lined primarily with businesses with residential mazes on the insides. The city is divided into four quadrants, with street addresses taking the form "12345 Main St. (NE/NW/SE/SW)" in which the NE/NW/SE/SW suffix denotes the quadrant of the city containing the address. The railroad tracks, which run parallel to I-25, are the east–west dividing line, and Central Ave. is the north–south dividing line. Thus, the street address 3600 Menaul NE would be north of Central and east of the railroad tracks. This nomenclature, while useful in helping you with maps and directions, has the drawback that you can't tell whether a street runs north–south or east–west simply by looking at the address.
By and large it's difficult to get truly lost in Albuquerque, thanks in large part to the looming presence of the Sandia Mountains to the east. If you can also remember that I-25 runs north–south, I-40 runs east–west, and the Rio Grande runs along the bottom of the valley in the western part of the city, you should be able to make your way around the city without too many problems. Here are some basic terms that will come in handy when asking for directions or looking at a map:
- Central Avenue is a principal east–west artery, running roughly parallel to I-40 and through Downtown just west of I-25 and past the University of New Mexico (UNM for short) just east of I-25.
- The Heights are the eastern part of town closest to the Sandia Mountains. You may also hear reference to the Foothills, which are the most extreme eastern part of the city, right at the base of the mountains.
- Uptown is a business and shopping district in the Heights at I-40 and Louisiana Blvd.
- The North Valley and Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (which is a separate municipality from Albuquerque) encompass the area north of I-40 between I-25 and the river.
- The South Valley is the area south of Central Avenue west of I-25.
- The Westside is all the suburban neighborhoods on the western side of the river. Rio Rancho, a separate community from Albuquerque, is the metro area's largest suburb and can be considered a northern extension of the Westside. Sandwiched between Albuquerque and Rio Rancho is the village of Corrales, which sits adjacent to the river and has a more rural feel, with a single narrow roadway through town lined with picturesque adobe buildings, many of them containing locally owned shops.
If you're driving, be prepared for frequent road construction. The city government web site gives information on major construction projects, but there are always minor ones going on. Several radio stations try to give traffic reports during morning and afternoon rush hours, but the service tends to come and go, and it's best to inquire locally as to which stations are offering it. KKOB-AM, 770 on the dial, seems to be fairly reliable for these reports. The interchange of I-40 and I-25 is commonly called "The Big I", and you will hear it referred to as such in traffic reports. Traffic congestion, while not nearly as horrible as some of the other cities in the Western U.S., can still get bad during the rush hour and on Saturdays. The two interstates and the river crossings usually have the worst congestion.
Many Albuquerqueans seem to consider I-40 and 25, which run through the city, to be their own personal expressways. The lack of turn signal usage is a running joke for most Albuquerque drivers, so watch for cars changing lanes without warning. However, Interstate traffic usually flows around the pace of the speed limit.
Driving while talking on your cell phone is illegal in Albuquerque unless you use a hands-free system.
ABQ Ride, +1 505 243-RIDE, is Albuquerque's public transit system. Despite some strides in the development of its public transit system, Albuquerque is still primarily a driving city, so with the exception of Central Avenue public transit is still for the most part very underdeveloped. Most of ABQ Ride's routes spur out of the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown at Central Avenue & First Street, which also serves as Albuquerque's Amtrak station and Greyhound depot as well as a Rail Runner station. Bus service is reduced during the weekend.
The ART (formerly Rapid Ride) is an express bus service operated by ABQ Ride which runs frequently, utilizing bright red articulated buses. There are three routes: the #766 (Red Line) and #777 (Green Line) each run very frequently and almost entirely on Central Avenue, serving attractions such as the BioPark, Old Town, Downtown, UNM, Nob Hill, the fairgrounds, and Uptown; the #766 runs between Uptown and Unser/Central on the Westside, while the #777 runs between Downtown and Tramway/Central on the eastern edge of the city. Additionally, the #790 (Blue Line) connects UNM to the Cottonwood Mall area on the Westside, but runs less frequently than the Central Avenue lines and is geared more towards commuters. Local routes that are useful for visitors include the #50, which runs Monday–Saturday between the airport and Downtown; and #40 (the "D-Ride"), a free shuttle which circulates around Downtown on the weekdays.
For visitor access to the Sun Van paratransit service, call ☏ firstname.lastname@example.org at least two business days in advance.or
Until June 30, 2023, all travel on ABQ Ride, Sun Van, and ART is free.
Albuquerque is fairly bikeable, but it's a sprawling Western city and things are spread out. It's hillier than it looks; Old Town and Downtown attractions are several hundred feet lower than things in the heights on the eastern side of the city; plan accordingly. Getting around by bike can be a mixed bag in Albuquerque: street cycling can be risky as drivers may not always be aware and most major streets lack bicycle lanes (and even those that do have lanes may require uncomfortably close proximity to fast traffic). On the other hand, Albuquerque has a very proactive cycling community and a splendid paved trail network which is undergoing an expansion phase.
The crown jewel in this network is the Paseo del Bosque Trail, which runs along the east side of the Rio Grande and offers lovely riverside scenery. Another backbone to the trail network is the North Diversion Channel Trail which runs from UNM north to Balloon Fiesta Park, and while not nearly as scenic as the Bosque trail (it runs along a concrete drainage channel and past some industry) it offers the occasional grand vista of the city. Another fun ride is the paved trail along Tramway Boulevard on the eastern edge of the city, which offers excellent views of the city and access to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. You can find a complete bike map of all the trails, lanes, and recommended routes on the city's bicycling website.
A principal corridor for equestrian use is the Paseo del Bosque Trail. Trailhead parking lots are large and one, at the Los Ranchos open space in the North Valley, has a feed store, Miller's Feed.
- Albuquerque Biological Park, ☏ . Includes the city's aquarium, botanical garden, zoo, and Tingley Beach (see below under Do). Combo tickets for the Biological Park can be purchased and include the price of train rides on a small narrow-gauge train running between the Aquarium/Botanic Garden and the Zoo. The train runs Tu–Su from around 10AM–4PM at 30-min intervals.
- 1 ABQ BioPark Zoo, 903 Tenth St SW (just SW of downtown). 9AM–5PM daily, except major holidays. It may not be as big as your average big city zoo, but this zoo is surprisingly comprehensive for its size, with most of the popular species you can expect to find at any good zoo: polar bears, lions, zebras, tigers, giraffes, elephants, gorillas, etc. And like any good zoo, the animals are in nice, naturalistic exhibits. The highlight exhibit areas are the seals, the polar bears, a large Africa area, and a large elephant enclosure. Every day there are scheduled feedings of the seals and the polar bears; during the warmer months more feeding times, activities, and outdoor concerts are scheduled. A small narrow-gauge train runs through the zoo (Tu–Su 10AM–3:30PM at 20-min intervals), with a conductor pointing out some of the animals and explaining what goes on behind-the-scenes. A separate train line runs to the Aquarium/Botanic Garden. $12.50, $5.50 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
- 2 ABQ BioPark Aquarium, 2601 Central Ave NW (just east of the Rio Grande). 9AM–5PM daily, except major holidays. Albuquerque's small but pleasant aquarium is well-curated, with exhibits designed to simulate the Rio Grande and the saltwater marshes of the Gulf of Mexico before moving on to ocean species. Among the sea creatures on display are jellyfish, seahorses, eels, and plenty of colorful reef fish, with the highlight being a huge tank at the end with sharks, sea turtles, and rays. Divers enter the big tank every day from 2–3PM to feed the fish. $12.50, $5.50 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (includes admission to Botanic Garden; train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
- 3 ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, 2601 Central Ave NW (just east of the Rio Grande). 9AM–5PM daily, except major holidays. Next door to the Aquarium, this expansive botanical garden is one of Albuquerque's real gems. The place is an oasis with a variety of gardens to explore, with an emphasis on high desert plants but also with many highlight exhibits that are great for children: an indoor conservatory with lush Mediterranean plants, an insectarium with plenty of creepy-crawlies, an indoor butterfly pavilion that's open in the summer, a large Japanese garden with a koi pond and a waterfall, a recreation of an early 20th-century farm with a barnyard petting zoo, a model railroad, and a fantastic children's "Fantasy Garden" made to look as if you've shrunk down to a bug's size, with giant pretend vegetables, garden tools and bugs. $12.50, $5.50 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (includes admission to Aquarium; train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
- 4 Anderson–Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, 9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE (on the grounds of Balloon Fiesta Park), ☏ . Tu–Su 9AM–5PM. Overlooking the balloon launch field is this very interesting museum dedicated to the science and history of ballooning, with exhibits on hot air balloons and other lighter-than-air craft (including a couple of historic craft occupying the expansive hall), collections and memorabilia from famous balloonists, and extensive exhibits on ballooning in Albuquerque. If you can't make it to the Balloon Fiesta, this is next best thing, and if you can make it to the Balloon Fiesta, this makes for an excellent complement to a morning spent at a mass ascension. $4 adults, $2 seniors, $1 children, age 3 and under free (Sunday mornings free).
- 5 Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St NW (just north of I-40), ☏ . 9AM–5PM daily, closed on major holidays. A tourist complex operated by the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico. Though there is a museum about pueblo history and culture on-site, it's rather small and tucked away, with most of the complex given over to more lucrative ventures like an art gallery, a restaurant, and a large gift shop (a better museum experience can be found at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture up in Santa Fe). Besides the gift shop, the best reason to visit this place is the regularly scheduled Indian dances which take place in the courtyard. $8.40, $6.40 seniors/military, $5.40 students/children, under age 5 free.
- 6 National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St SW (south of downtown), ☏ . Tu–Su 10AM–5PM, closed major holidays. A large complex of buildings dedicated to Hispanic culture, with a small but very interesting art museum with changing exhibitions of Hispanic art. There is also a library and genealogy center, restaurant, gift shop, and a regular schedule of special events and performances. $6, ages 16 and under free.
- 7 National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, 601 Eubank Blvd SE (at Southern Blvd, near the Kirtland Air Force Base), ☏ . 9AM–5PM daily except major holidays. A museum devoted to things nuclear, with extensive exhibits on the history of nuclear weapons including replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped in World War II as well as other weapons and displays on arms control and uses of atomic energy. Even for those who are skeptical of the merits of nuclear arms and power, a visit to this museum makes for an interesting experience; a particularly illuminating exhibit is a guestbook where visitors are invited to share their thoughts regarding the use of atomic bombs on Japan, and as one might expect, such a controversial matter invites a wide variety of strong opinions. Outside the museum is a collection of nuclear-capable aircraft standing alongside rockets, missiles, and even a cannon designed to fire nuclear bombs. $12, $10 seniors/youth, $8 veterans, $7 active military, age 5 and under free.
- 8 Sandia Peak Tramway, off Tramway Blvd on the NE corner of the city, ☏ . Operates every 20–30 min from 9AM until evening (no morning rides on off-season Tu), with closures in April and November for maintenance. Runs from a lower terminus in the northeast heights to the top of 10,400-foot (3,200 m) Sandia Peak east of the city, and is one of the longest and most spectacular aerial tramways in the world. The first upward tram departs at 9AM (except Tu in the off season), and service continues until early evening. The 15-min ride to the top is incredible, bringing you right up to the rocky face of the Sandias. The view of the city from Sandia Peak is tremendous (especially after sunset), and there is a visitor center at the top. Closed for two weeks in spring and fall for "maintenance," but spring winds are so intense that you really don't want to be on an aerial tram then anyway. $25 round trip for adults, $20 round trip for seniors/military/students (age 13–20), $15 round trip for children, free for children under 5.
- 9 Unser Racing Museum, 1776 Montano Rd NW, ☏ . 10AM–4PM daily. Operated by the local Unser racing family, this museum is dedicated to the racing legacy of the Unsers and to the sport of auto racing in general. $10, $6 seniors, under age 16 free.
- 10 Rio Grande Nature Center State Park (The Nature Center), 2901 Candelaria Rd., NW (from I-40, take Rio Grande Blvd north; turn west (left) onto Candelaria and go straight until you come to the end of the road; entrance will be on your right), ☏ , email@example.com. Park 8AM-5PM; Visitor Center 10AM–5PM; Nature Shop M–F 11AM–3PM, Sa Su 10AM–4PM. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Visitors can walk the paths through cottonwood forest and next to managed ponds and wetlands, or avoid the elements at the Visitor Center. Beautiful tile installments throughout the park educate visitors on local ecology and conservation efforts. Birdwatchers find this site an especially rewarding urban location. $5.00 per vehicle.
The Old Town is east of Rio Grande Boulevard in between Central Ave. and Mountain Rd. (west of downtown).
A nice sightseeing area, Old Town is where the city was founded in 1706 and is a place where centuries of history and modern life merge; 18th century architecture with narrow brick paths is blended with adobe architecture, and there are lots of little nooks and crannies, small restaurants, and specialty shops. At the center of the district is the pleasant 11 Old Town Plaza, which has a gazebo, historic exhibits, and is bordered on the north by the 12 San Felipe de Neri Church, the oldest building in Albuquerque. In Christmas time, thousands of luminarias (paper bags filled with sand and illuminated from within by a lit candle) line the streets. Guided tours of Old Town are available from a private operator or from the Albuquerque Museum.
There are several museums within easy walking distance of the Old Town Plaza. Most of them are on Mountain Rd., just a few blocks northeast of the Plaza.
- 13 Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, 2000 Mountain Rd NW, ☏ . Tu–Su 9AM–5PM except major holidays. Guided walking tours of Old Town start here. An excellent example of a city-specific museum, with a large permanent collection of Southwestern art, changing art exhibitions, artifacts from the history of colonial New Mexico and Albuquerque through the years (with some pretty neat items, like conquistador armor and antique cars), and an outdoor sculpture garden. The Albuquerque Museum also operates tours of the historic home of Casa San Ysidro in the nearby village of Corrales, which offers a glimpse into Spanish colonial life in the valley. $4, $2 seniors, $3 teens, $1 children, under age 4 free (admission free first Wednesday of the month and every Sunday 9AM–1PM).
- 14 American International Rattlesnake Museum, 202 San Felipe St (a block south of the Old Town plaza), ☏ . Summer: M–Sa 10AM–6PM, Su 1–5PM; Sep–May: M–F 11:30AM–5:30PM, Sa 10AM–6PM, Su 1–5PM. This great little museum's claim to fame is the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the world. There's lots of snakes (and various other reptiles) and snake-related memorabilia, such as artwork and films, and the gift shop is not to be missed. $5, $4 seniors/military/students, $3 children.
- 15 ¡Explora! Science Center and Children's Museum, 1701 Mountain Rd NW, ☏ . M–Sa 10AM–6PM, Su noon–6PM except major holidays. A truly splendid science and children's museum, this museum has lots of interactive exhibits teaching science, technology, and art. There are some fantastic exhibits here, like a laminar flow fountain with water jets you can turn on and off, an experiment bar, a high-wire bike, and a robotics lab. $8, $5 seniors/students/military, $4 children, under age 1 free.
- 16 New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Rd NW, ☏ . W–M 9AM–5PM, closed Tu (closed on major holidays). This splendid museum has well-constructed geological and paleontological displays which illustrate a "journey through time", covering everything from the birth of the planet to the Ice Age. There's plenty of dinosaurs around, from the statues outside the main entrance, to a T. rex in the atrium, to one massive hall with several complete (and massive) dinosaur skeletons. Additionally, an entire wing of the museum is devoted to astronomical exhibits, and there's also an exhibit about the birth of the personal computer, which happened right here in Albuquerque. A planetarium and a large-screen theater are also in the building. $8, $7 seniors, $5 children, under age 3 free (separate fee required for planetarium and Dynatheater).
- 17 Turquoise Museum, 2107 Central Ave NW (in the strip mall on the NW corner of Central and Rio Grande), ☏ . 90-minute tours M–Sa at 11AM and 1PM. While the location isn't ideal (in a strip mall near Old Town, rather than in the historic district), this small gift shop and museum has some interesting exhibits about turquoise and its manufacture, history, and mythology. Reservations required. $12, $10 children/seniors/military.
University of New MexicoEdit
University of New Mexico, between Central Ave., Girard Blvd., Lomas Blvd., and University Blvd (east of I-25).
By far the largest institution of higher education in the state, UNM has a significant presence in the center of the city. The main campus makes a very pleasant diversion, with its Pueblo-Revival adobe buildings and pleasant landscaping. Near the center of the campus is a 18 Duck Pond, a popular relaxing spot for students where you can rest on the lawns and feed the birds.
- 19 Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Redondo Dr (just east of University Blvd. between Las Lomas and Martin Luther King Jr. Ave), ☏ . Tu–Sa 10AM–4PM, closed Su M and major holidays. The anthropology department at UNM has been acclaimed as one of the finest in the nation, and over the years its field schools have amassed an impressive collection of artifacts. The museum has changing exhibits and two permanent exhibits; one showcasing the evolution of humans from primates, and the other focusing on the prehistoric native cultures in the American Southwest, with a reconstruction of an archaeological dig in Chaco Canyon. Free.
- 20 Meteorite and Geology Museums, in Northrop Hall, on the Yale walkway just north of Central Ave, ☏ . Geology Museum: M–F 8:30AM–noon and 1PM–4:30PM; Meteorite Museum: M–F 10AM–4PM (hours may be limited when school is not in session). In the university's geology department building are a pair of galleries with minerals, fossils, and meteorites collected by UNM faculty and students, as well as exhibits about local geology. Free.
- 21 University Art Museum, in the Center for the Arts building, on the Cornell walkway near the bookstore, just north of Central Ave, ☏ . Tu–F 10AM–4PM, Sa 10AM–8PM, closed Su–M. Changing exhibitions of art, with a focus on New Mexico and UNM artists. Free.
- Breaking Bad Tour – A tour of filming locations from Albuquerque's main claim to fame: the popular television series Breaking Bad, which was set and produced almost exclusively in Albuquerque. This itinerary contains most of the filming locations for the show as well as some local businesses selling show-inspired products.
- 1 Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd, ☏ . Tu–Su 9AM–5PM. The center for the city's open space program, which encompasses land from around the city to preserve for environmental and recreational use. The visitor center has exhibits on the natural and cultural resources of the area, an art gallery, a nature area, and views of the bosque and mountains. Free.
- 2 Petroglyph National Monument, visitor center at 6001 Unser Blvd NW, ☏ . Daily 8AM–5PM. On the west side of town, Petroglyph is a unit of the United States National Park System and preserves a significant archaeological site with an impressive number of petroglyphs. Despite their proximity to an urban center, the petroglyphs are in good condition with very little vandalism or theft. The monument has a visitor center with some interpretive exhibits and a few short trails that lead past numerous petroglyphs. Also within the monument are a series of volcanic cinder cones overlooking the city, accessible by hiking trails from Atrisco Vista Blvd along the backside of the monument. Free, parking at Boca Negra Canyon trailhead $1 weekdays/$2 weekends.
- 3 Rio Grande Valley State Park. A very pleasant state park running along the banks of the Rio Grande through Albuquerque. The park encompasses almost the entirety of the bosque (cottonwood forest) in the city, which is home to much wildlife, such as geese, roadrunners, beavers, rabbits, squirrels, and numerous other species. Numerous trails criss-cross the park, most notably the Paseo del Bosque paved bike/walk trail which runs the length of the park and offers a scenic walk or bike ride. The park's trails are also utilized by an active equestrian community in the area. There are also several picnic areas and wetland areas, with the two most prominent listed below. Free.
- 4 Rio Grande Nature Center, 2901 Candelaria Rd NW, ☏ . 10AM–5PM daily. The bosque provides a tranquil setting for this small but delightful nature center, with its wildlife pond and exhibits on the native wildlife. Nature lovers will particularly enjoy the enclosed views of the pond behind the visitor center. Two short trails head into the bosque from the visitor center. Free, parking $3.
- 5 Tingley Beach, Tingley Dr, just S of Central Ave (just east of the Rio Grande). Daily, sunrise to sunset. A facility of the Albuquerque Biological Park, this park along the Rio Grande has fishing ponds for adults and children, a model boating pond, a cafe, and a gift shop where you can buy fishing licenses, fishing gear, or rent a pedal boat for a ride on the central pond. Trails lead into the bosque to the edge of the river and to a pair of restored wetland ponds. A narrow-gauge train links Tingley Beach to the Albuquerque Aquarium/Botanical Gardens and the Rio Grande Zoo (listed above under See). Free (separate fee required for train rides).
- The Sandia Mountains offer outdoors opportunities ranging from straight hiking (the La Luz trail is popular, perhaps too much so) on to serious, multi-day rock climbing. Mountain biking is also really popular, and there are great trails in the foothills as well as at a ski area on the other side of the mountains during the summer. If less athletically inclined, ride the Sandia Peak Tramway (see "See" section above) to the top. At the base of the mountains, near the tramway, you can find magnificent views of the city and mountains and access trails into the mountains, especially around the 6 Elena Gallegos Picnic Area. For a map of Sandia Mountain trails, see the Cibola National Forest website. During the winter, the Sandia Peak Ski Area serves skiers and snowboarders; see Cedar Crest for details. The ski area can be reached either by taking a 45 min. drive around the mountain to the base lodge or by taking the tramway up to the top of the mountain—presuming there's enough snow at the top (skiers get a discount on tramway tickets, but you have to bring your own equipment).
Sports and amusementsEdit
- 7 Albuquerque Isotopes, at the corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Blvd (south of UNM), ☏ . Season runs from April–September. The Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, play baseball in a beautiful stadium. Seats in the park are both good and cheap—$16 can get you a seat behind home plate. All the concessions and restrooms are along a big concourse behind the seats which is open to the field, so you don't miss any of the action. For $9 a ticket, you can bring a picnic blanket and find a spot in the grassy "Berm" behind right field that's perfect for kids—they can enjoy the grass and play on the playground on top of the Berm. Beware of foul balls—the park is a notorious "launching pad" for hitters that drives pitchers nuts. The park also hosts the new men's soccer team New Mexico United (below). $9–36.
- 8 Cliff's Amusement Park, 4800 Osuna Rd NE (at San Mateo, just south of the Osuna-San Mateo/I-25 interchange), ☏ . Open Tu–Su May–August, plus weekends in April and September; hours vary, may be closed for weather. This is just about the only amusement park in New Mexico. Fairly small, but with a good number of rides. Thrill rides (including two roller coasters), family rides, kiddy rides, and a water play area. Day pass (includes general admission and all rides) is $28, children/seniors $25 (parking is free).
- 9 New Mexico Lobos (UNM sports), Avenida Cesar Chavez / University Blvd (south of UNM), ☏ . The Lobos are big. For a deafening experience in college sports, try to catch a basketball game at "The Pit" (formally named Dreamstyle Arena), the university's semi-underground fieldhouse that has been a house of pain for visiting basketball teams for over 50 years. The women's teams have often been better than the men's in this century, and attract crowds every bit as raucous—when the teams are doing really well, games will sell out. Right across the street is Dreamstyle Stadium, home of the immensely popular Lobos football team. Football tickets $20–40, $15–20 children. Basketball tickets $8–42, $4–19 children (women's game tickets are cheaper than men's). UNM students are free, guests of students can sometimes get a discount.
- New Mexico United, 317 Commercial St. NE (team offices; games at Isotopes Park), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Pro soccer has arrived! United began play in the second tier of US men's soccer, the USL Championship, in 2019, with home games at Isotopes Park. Walk-up prices $16–42.
- 10 Outpost Ice Arena, 9530 Tramway Blvd NE (near the base of the Sandia Peak Tramway), ☏ . Has four rinks under one roof. A great place to sharpen your figure skating or hockey skills or just skate for fun.
- 11 KiMo Theater, 423 Central Ave NW, ☏ . This historic and beautiful downtown building is a vibrant setting for the local performing arts community, and a venue for some traveling shows. The theater is gorgeous and filled with Pueblo-esque art deco ornamentation, such as beautiful murals, plaster cow skulls and wooden beams.
- 12 Popejoy Hall, in the Center for the Arts building on the UNM campus, ☏ . Hosts a schedule of live performances year-round, including Broadway musicals, live theater, dance and music.
- 13 Isleta Amphitheater, 5601 University Blvd SE, ☏ . It's in south Albuquerque; this is the city's primary concert venue.
- 14 The Cell, 700 1st St NW, ☏ . Home to the Fusion Theater Company, a local performance group.
- 15 Albuquerque Little Theater, 224 San Pasquale SW, ☏ . Hosting local performances throughout the year.
- 16 The Box Performance Space, 100 Gold Ave SW #112, ☏ . Featuring sketch comedy, improv, children's shows, and other works. Home to Cardboard Playhouse Productions and Blackout Theatre Company.
- 17 Aux Dog Theatre, 3011 Monte Vista Boulevard NE (in the Nob Hill area just north of Central), ☏ . An intimate performance space that produces innovative plays year round.
Albuquerque International Balloon FiestaEdit
18 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Balloon Fiesta Park (north of Alameda Blvd, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of I-25, take either Alameda Blvd or Tramway Blvd exit off I-25). $10, children ages 12 and under free (parking $15 per car).
The Fiesta is the world's largest ballooning event and one of the most photographed events in the world. A cultural landmark for Albuquerque (and indeed, all of New Mexico), this festival gives you a first-hand look at the world of ballooning. For nine days in October, you can walk out onto a large field where balloonists from around the world set up, inflate, launch, and possibly land their balloons. Mass ascensions of balloons with hundreds of different colors and shapes create an often stunning and magnificent sight. It's one of the most heavily attended festivals in the entire U.S.
Balloons fly best in cooler conditions, so many of the events take place early in the morning. Traffic is pretty bad around the festival; expect a long, long line of cars (you may want to seriously consider taking park-and-ride to beat the traffic). Get your hotel reservations far in advance, because everyone fills up around this time of year.
If the event is rained or snowed out, there are no refunds on prices. Most years the weather works in favor of the balloonists, so this shouldn't be a problem, though.
The event begins on the first Saturday of October and ends with a farewell mass ascension on the Sunday of the following weekend, with numerous events in-between, such as concerts and balloon races. Here are a few of the highlights of the fiesta:
- Dawn Patrol. Every day there's a Dawn Patrol at around 6AM, where a few balloons take off before the sun rises. These balloons test the conditions before other balloons take off.
- Mass Ascension. On weekend days at about 7AM the Mass Ascension occurs, which is the lift off of all the balloons participating in the fiesta, usually in two waves. Not to be missed.
- Balloon Glow. On weekend evenings (except for the final day of the event) a Balloon Glow takes place, when the balloons don't lift off the ground, but are illuminated by the light of their propane burners going off.
- Morning Glow. The same as the balloon glow but early in the morning (may not always occur).
- Special Shapes Rodeo. Happens at 7AM on the Thursday and Friday of the event, which is a Mass Ascension for all the "special shape" balloons. There are also Balloon Glows called Glowdeos (a portmanteau of "glow" and "rodeo") for the special shape balloons. The special shapes are the balloons in forms other than the standard balloon shape, and are very popular with kids; expect to see animals, cartoon characters, clowns, and many other colorful creations. Returning favorites include a milk cow, a wagon coach, and a trio of bees.
And if you want to do more than watch the balloons, there are several local companies which provide balloon rides year-round:
- Rainbow Ryders, ☏ . The only one which operates directly from Balloon Fiesta Park during the Balloon Fiesta
- Skyspan Adventures, 5600 McLeod Rd NE H, ☏ .
Other annual eventsEdit
Besides the Balloon Fiesta, there are numerous festivals and celebrations on a yearly basis. Here are some of the major ones:
- 1 New Mexico State Fair: September, held at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds (on Louisiana between Central and Lomas, east of UNM and south of Uptown), ☏ . Takes place annually for two weeks in September. Second only to the Balloon Fiesta, the state fair is a massive event in the Albuquerque calendar. Like any state fair, there's lots of agricultural competitions, farm animals, rodeos, carnival rides, art, music, and fried food. Unique to the New Mexico State Fair are lots of exhibits that show off the pride and character of New Mexico, such as art galleries, a performing arts center, an Indian Village (where you can watch Native American music and dance) and the Villa Hispana, where you can see regular demonstrations of local art and culture. $10 adults, $7 seniors/children, children 5 and under free. (date needs updating)
- Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow: late April. A massive pow-wow—the largest in North America, in fact—which brings Native Americans from across the country together for a huge celebration. There are many events, including the powwow, native music, arts, crafts, and food, and the Miss Indian World pageant. The event takes place in late April at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds. (date needs fixing)
- Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque: mid-July. One of the most exciting Flamenco gatherings in the country, with artists from around the world. Held annually during the summer, usually in early June, at a number of venues. (date needs fixing)
- Around Christmas time, thousands of luminarias (a paper bag half-filled with sand with a lit candle placed inside) line the streets of Old Town. If you come to the city during this time of year you are also likely to see electric luminarias (a string of lights designed to resemble authentic luminarias) lining the roofs of many buildings in the city. You may also see luminaria displays in some of the city's residential neighborhoods, on the UNM campus, and on many an individual's front yard, but Old Town provides the most accessible and dramatic display.
Upon first glance, it might seem like your only place to shop are the miles and miles of strip malls that line the major arterials. While that's not entirely the case, everything is really spread out, with the exception of the concentrated Old Town-Downtown-Nob Hill area along Central Ave. So while you can find just about anything you're looking for, you will probably have to drive a ways to get it.
Here are some good places around town to shop:
- Old Town, at Central & Rio Grande. If you're looking for all the "New Mexican" shops, this is probably the next best thing to Santa Fe. Granted, some of it is tacky souvenir stuff, but there are also plenty of quality gift shops with authentic Native American and Southwestern art. You can also find plenty of antiques, art galleries, jewelry, pottery, weavings, clothing stores, and other specialty shops.
- 1 Albuquerque Photographer's Gallery, 303 Romero St NW, STE N208 (upstairs), ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–5:30PM, Su noon–5PM. A juried photography co-op of award-winning photographers, representing a wide variety of styles and techniques.
- 2 Amapola Gallery, 205 Romero St NW, ☏ . Daily 10AM–5PM. Co-op of 40 contemporary artists selling a wide variety of southwestern arts and crafts.
- 3 The Candy Lady, 424 San Felipe St NW (corner of Charlevoix and San Felipe), ☏ . M 11AM–5PM, Tu W noon–5PM, Th 11AM–5PM, F Sa 11AM–6PM, Su noon–5PM. A popular candy shop with lots of homemade fudge, chocolates, caramels, and other sweets, though it has also gained notice for providing the blue-colored hard candy that served as the meth prop in the locally-set Breaking Bad television series. You can buy a bag of a faithful recreation of the prop, which is now one of the shop's most popular products.
- 4 Mama's Minerals, 800 20th St NW (at 20th and Bellamah, behind Hotel Albuquerque), ☏ . M–F 9AM–7PM, Sa 10AM–6PM, Su 11AM–5PM. A wonderful store with an extensive collection of minerals, geologic specimens, gems, beads, supplies for the geologist, information about local geology, and more. Anyone even slightly interested in geology could spend a lot of time here.
- 5 Old Town Emporium, 204 San Felipe NW, ☏ . M–Sa 9AM–8PM, Su 9AM–6PM. A very large gift shop with all the typical tourist kitsch, which certainly has its charm.
- 6 R.C. Gorman/Nizhoni Gallery, 323 Romero St NW, ☏ . Featuring works by several popular artists, including noted local painter R.C. Gorman.
- 7 Tanner Chaney Gallery, 323 Romero St NW, ☏ . M–Sa 10AM–5:30PM, Su noon–5:30PM. A long-standing business selling native arts and crafts.
- Downtown, particularly along Central and Gold Aves. (one block S of Central). While downtown has plenty of bars and restaurants, the shopping scene is a bit lacking. However, there are a few interesting places:
- 8 The Man's Hat Shop, 511 Central Ave NW, ☏ . Tu–F 9:30AM–5:30PM, Sa 9:30AM–5PM. Has a huge selection of Western hats.
- 9 Patrician Design, 216 Gold Ave SW, ☏ . M–F 8AM–6PM. A retail boutique with art, jewelry, and some nifty around-the-home accessories.
- 10 Sumner & Dene, 517 Central Ave NW, ☏ . M–F 10AM–6PM, Sa 10AM–5PM, Su noon–4PM. Fine art, jewelry, and furnishings.
- Nob Hill, along Central Avenue from Girard Boulevard to Washington Street. A trendy district known for its neon reminiscent of the Route 66 days, Nob Hill is easily one of the best places in the city to window shop. The Nob Hill Business Center, at Central & Carlisle, has some great little shops as well as the La Montanita Food Co-Op (see Grocery stores under "Eat" below).
- 11 The Herb Store, 107 Carlisle Blvd SE (in the Nob Hill Business Center), ☏ . M–Sa 10AM–6PM, Su noon–5PM. Stock up on all your herb supplies and herbal remedies here.
- 12 Masks Y Mas, 3106 Central Ave SE, ☏ . M–Th 11AM–6PM, F Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon–5PM. An art gallery and store cram packed with Day of the Dead folk art.
- 13 Coronado Center, Menaul and Louisiana. A typical indoor suburban mall, anchored by Macy's, JCPenney, Mervyn's and Sears. Most of the major 'big box' retailers are also in the general area, in both directions along I-40.
- 14 ABQ Uptown, Indian School and Louisiana (across the street from Coronado Mall). An outdoor mall with more high-end retail stores, such as Apple Computer, Talbots, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma.
- 15 Cottonwood Mall, Coors Blvd & Coors Bypass, on the west side of Albuquerque, ☏ . M–Sa 10AM–9PM, Su 11AM–6PM. A typical indoor mall, the surrounding area contains most typical 'big box' retailers.
Outside these areas, there are also some specific businesses around town that are worth your time:
- 16 Active Imagination, 11200 Montgomery Blvd NE (SE corner of the intersection of Montgomery and Juan Tabo), ☏ . Daily 11AM–midnight. Formerly Wargames West on Central, this store has a long history in Albuquerque. Features cards, board games, role-playing games and a gambit of miniature table-top games. Open boardgame night is Thursday, but you're bound to find people gaming any night of the week.
- 17 Bien Mur Indian Market Center, 100 Bien Mur Dr NE (N of Albuquerque at the Sandia Pueblo, off the intersection of Tramway and I-25), ☏ . M–Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM, Su 11AM–5:30PM. Owned by the Sandia Pueblo, this huge market has loads of Native American jewelry, pottery, rugs, paintings and folk art. Most of the stuff here comes directly from the artist to the market.
- 18 Gertrude Zachary Jewelry Showroom, 1501 Lomas NW (between Old Town and Downtown), ☏ . M–Sa 9:30AM–6PM, Su 10AM–5PM. A locally-owned jewelry chain in Albuquerque with plenty of antiques and Southwestern jewelry.
- 19 Jackalope, 6400 San Mateo Blvd NE (near the intersection of San Mateo and I-25), ☏ . Daily 9AM–6PM. A local chain of stores (there is also a location in Santa Fe) that sells folk art, pottery, rugs, and furniture from around the world. There is really a lot of fantastic stuff here, and a lot to browse through.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||$10 or less|
|Splurge||$20 or more|
Dining out in Albuquerque tends to be relatively inexpensive and very casual. Many places offer outdoor seating. Iced tea is the beverage of choice.
New Mexican diningEdit
New Mexican cuisine is unique. Be ready for the question "Red or green?" or in Spanish "¿Rojo o verde?" which refers to the chile-based sauce included in or used to smother various menu items. There are constant arguments as to which is hotter, the ripe and often dried red chile, or the immature green chile; however, spiciness depends much more on the strain of pepper and how the chile is prepared rather than the color, and varies greatly by restaurant, so inquire and experiment. Many meals will include sopaipillas, the characteristic New Mexican fry bread, as a side. The characteristic desserts are flan, a type of custard, or Natillas, closer in texture to pudding.
- 1 Acapulco, 840 San Mateo Blvd SE (alternate location at 2617 Wyoming Blvd NE) (near the Kirtland AFB Truman Gate), ☏ . Serves excellent New Mexican cuisine from a stand.
- 2 Church Street Cafe, 2111 Church St NW (in Old Town behind the church), ☏ . Th–Sa 8AM–8PM, Su–W 8AM–4PM. A cozy little restaurant with good New Mexican food tucked away down a side alley of Old Town. $6–15.
- 3 Durans Central Pharmacy, 1815 Central Ave NW, ☏ . M–F 9AM–6PM, Sa 9AM–2PM. An inexpensive lunch counter in the back of a pharmacy serving cheap, hearty New Mexican cuisine. $5–9.
- 4 Little Anita's, regional chain, original in Old Town at 2105 Mountain Rd NW, ☏ . 7AM–9PM daily. Consistent, great quality food with great service and atmosphere. $3–7.
- 5 Los Cuates, regional chain, main location at 4901 Lomas NE, ☏ . 11AM–9PM daily. A pleasant sit-down restaurant with a milder chile. $4–10.
- 6 Milly's, 7308 Jefferson St NE (alternate location at 2100 Candelaria Road), ☏ . M–F 6:30AM–3PM. Flavorful but not-too-hot chile. $3–8.
- 7 Papa Felipe's Mexican Restaurant, 9800 Menaul Blvd NE, ☏ , email@example.com. Su-Th 11AM–9PM, F Sa 11AM–10PM. Home-cooked, authentic New Mexican cuisine since 1977. Lunch and Senior specials. Full bar and happy hour. $7.50–20.
- 8 Perea's, 1140 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, ☏ . M–Sa 7AM–8PM, Su 7AM–2PM. May have the hottest green chile in town.
- 9 Sadie's of New Mexico, regional chain, original at 6230 4th St NW, ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–10PM, Su 11AM–9PM. Consistent quality. Often a long wait. Hot chile. $5–9.
- 10 Barelas Coffee House, 1502 4th St SW, ☏ . 6AM–3PM daily. This place, for those who know how to find it (it is tucked in a corner) is a local favorite, serving menudo, chile, and a wide range of other both Mexican and New Mexican foods. They are also locally known for their tea, a blend of chamomile teas, always served hot and fresh. Also, as you are about to pay, make sure and check out the candy table right in front of the cash registers, as you might just spot an old favorite such as Sugar Daddys and Nik-L-Nips! From $12 (varies on party size, and do tip well. If you come back, the servers will literally run for you!).
- 11 Cervantes, 5801 Gibson Blvd SE, ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–10PM, Su 11AM–9:30PM. Excellent menu, ala carte items, full bar, World Record Margarita. Local favorite.
- 12 El Pinto, 10500 4th St NW, ☏ . M–Th 11AM–9PM, F Sa 11AM–10PM, Su 10:30AM–9PM (Sunday brunch 10:30AM–2PM). Lovely ambiance and a great menu. Their nachos are fantastic, and the restaurant is also the purveyor of a popular local brand of salsa.
- 13 Monroe's, 1520 Lomas NW (alternate location at 6051 Osuna NE), ☏ . M–F 10AM–9PM, Sa Su 9AM–9PM. Great carne adovada Indian tacos. $4–11.
Non-New Mexican diningEdit
- 505 Central Food Hall, 505 Central Ave NW, ☏ . 10AM-9PM. Industrial-style food court with a terrace offering pizzas, Mexican fare & cocktails, plus wine.
- 14 Banh Mi Coda, 230 Louisiana Blvd SE, ☏ . Excellent Vietnamese sandwiches. Get the #6, grilled pork on a French style baguette with French-inspired style mayo (aioli), cucumber, cilantro, strips of pickled carrots, and slices of jalapeños. Bakery also carries various Vietnamese desserts, steamed sweet/glutinous rice with mung beans, and Vietnamese steamed pork sausages.
- 15 Bob's Burgers, several locations around town; Central location at 4506 Central Ave SW, ☏ . 10:30AM–9PM daily. A home-grown chain of burger stands with a New Mexican flair. The ones west of the river are owned by Bob, the ones east of the river by his son-in-law Clifford. Bob makes some of the hottest green chile sauce in the state; Clifford flat out tries to kill you. A "chile-head"'s paradise. Try a 1-foot (0.30 m) long chile-cheese dog with green sauce instead of traditional red.
- 16 The Dog House, 1216 Central Ave SW (between downtown and Old Town), ☏ . 10AM–10PM daily. An Albuquerque classic—greasy fast food joint, best known for their grilled foot-long hot dogs. Very recognizable place with its dog neon sign. The dining room is very small, so you may want to just eat in your car.
- 17 Federico's Mexican Food, 1109 Juan Tabo NE (also 2202 Central Ave SW ), ☏ . Daily 6ː30AM–midnight. The place is a little bare-bones, but the food is excellent (and shows the difference between "Mexican" and "New Mexican" cuisine), not to mention cheap. Get a horchata as your drink. $3–6.
- 18 Frontier Restaurant, 2400 Central Ave SE (at Central & Cornell), ☏ . 5AM–1AM daily. One of the most popular restaurants in Albuquerque; a big hangout for the college students at UNM. Good American and New Mexican food, the breakfast burrito here is one of the best in Albuquerque. The atmosphere is casual, and it's a great place to people-watch and witness a good cross-section of the city's population. If you can't make it to the Frontier, you can go to one of the several Golden Pride chain places around Albuquerque, which is owned by the same family and serves much of the same food. $3–9.
- 19 Grandma's K&I Diner, 2500 Broadway Blvd SE, ☏ . Daily 6AM–3PM. Enjoy some authentic Albuquerque cuisine, restaurant is best known for serving a fry covered, football sized burrito called the Travis. They can be ordered in eighths, quarters, halves or whole; consumption of an entire travis is sometimes used as a fraternity hazing. The breakfast skillet meals are wonderful.
- 20 Pericos, 109 Yale Blvd SE (near the intersection of Yale and Central), ☏ . M–F 9:30AM–9PM, Sa 10AM–7PM, Su 10–6PM. A small Mexican/New Mexican greasy hole-in-the-wall joint with lousy service, but delicious burritos. $3–7.
- 21 Pho #1, 414 San Pedro Dr SE, ☏ . Pho: Vietnamese noodle soup. Also grilled pork, chicken, or beef noodle bowl and rice plates. Great friendly service. Don't miss the Vietnamese cold coffee with condensed milk.
- 22 Rudy's Country Store and BBQ, 2321 Carlisle NE (alternate location at 10136 Coors NW), ☏ . 7AM–10PM daily. Casual, relaxed, and wonderful self-serve BBQ. Don't miss the beef brisket! $3–6.
- 23 Saggio's Pizza, 107 Cornell Dr SE (at Central & Cornell, across the street from the Frontier Restaurant), ☏ . Su–Th 8AM–10PM, F Sa 8AM–11PM. Some of the best pizza in Albuquerque. The atmosphere is wonderful, with statues, murals, plants, and televisions everywhere. There is a sports bar in here, but the place is still very kid-friendly.
- 24 66 Diner, 1405 Central Ave NE (between I-25 and University Blvd), ☏ . M–F 11AM–11PM, Sa 8AM–11PM, Su 8AM–10PM. A Route 66-themed restaurant serving classic American dishes. Big portions, great atmosphere. $5–9.
- 25 County Line BBQ, 9600 Tramway Blvd NE, ☏ . W–F 11:30AM–2PM and 5–9PM, Sa Su 11:30AM–9PM. Spectacular views of the city from the picture windows in the main dining area. For weekend dining, be prepared to wait a bit. Good Texas-style BBQ, relaxed atmosphere and large portions for your dollar. $10–20.
- 26 Dion's, multiple locations; Central location at 4717 Central Ave NE, ☏ . Su–Th, 10:30AM–10PM, F Sa 10:30AM–11PM. A popular local chain of pizzerias, serving some of the best pizza in Albuquerque. They also have sandwiches.
- 27 Il Vicino, multiple locations; Nob Hill location at 3403 Central Ave NE, ☏ . Su–Th 11AM–11PM, F Sa 11AM–midnight. Fresh gourmet pizza and beer.
- 28 Flying Star Cafe, multiple locations; Nob Hill location at 3416 Central Ave SE, ☏ . Su–Th 6AM–11PM, F Sa 6AM–midnight. A local space age-themed chain with a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, entrees, New Mexican food, and superb desserts. Rated 'Best Bakery' in Albuquerque. Daily and weekly specials. Free wi-fi and comfy seating areas. Vast selection of magazines. Flying Star also operates the local Satellite Coffee chain, which has a great coffee selection and some of the same pastries you'll find at the Flying Star. $3–11.
- 29 Pars Cuisine, 4320 The 25 Way, Ste 100, ☏ . M–Th 11AM–9PM, F Sa 11AM–10PM, Su 5–9PM. Persian food. Cushion seating available, bellydancing on weekend nights. Hookah available for rental. Wonderful Persian classics. $4–20.
- 30 Slate Street Cafe, 515 Slate NW, ☏ . Breakfast/lunch M–F 7:30AM–3PM; brunch Sa 8AM–2PM; wine loft W–Sa 4PM–10PM; dinner Tu–Th 5PM–9PM, F Sa 5PM–10PM. American cuisine. They have a nice wine list and a wine bar loft too.
- 31 Taj Mahal, 1430 Carlisle Blvd NE, ☏ . Lunch 11AM–2:30PM, dinner 5–10PM. Excellent Indian food. $3–15.
- 32 Thai Tip, 1512 Wyoming NE, ☏ . A Thai restaurant with a loyal local following, and for good reason. Friendly owners and relaxed atmosphere.
- 33 Artichoke Cafe, 424 Central Ave SE (corner of Central and Edith), ☏ . Lunch M–F 11AM–2:30PM; dinner Su–Th 5–9PM, F Sa 5–10PM. American cuisine and a popular restaurant in the downtown area. Great creamy artichoke soup and excellent salmon. Very pleasant ambiance. $9–30.
- 34 The Rancher's Club, Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, 1901 University Blvd NE, ☏ . M 5:30–10PM, Tu–Th 11:30AM–2PM and 5:30–10PM, F 11:30AM–2PM and 5:30–10:30PM, Sa 5:30–10:30PM, Su 5:30–9PM. One of the finest restaurants in Albuquerque, and the winner of multiple awards. American cuisine, serving prime aged beef, seafood and poultry grilled over aromatic woods.
- 35 Tucanos Brazilian Grill, 110 Central Ave SW, ☏ . M–Th 11AM–10PM, F Sa 11AM–11PM, Su 11AM–9PM. Excellent salad bar, and a variety of meats brought to your table. $12 lunch, $20 dinner per person, all you can eat.
- 36 Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro, 3009 Central Ave NE, ☏ . M–Th 11AM–2:30PM and 5–10PM, F 11AM–2:30PM and 5–11PM, Sa 5–11PM, Su 11AM–2:30PM. In Nob Hill. Zinc is pleasant and well-appointed inside. American cuisine, with a touch of French; excellent appetizers. Don't miss the wine bar and jazz in the basement. Reservations advised. $8–27.
- La Montanita Natural Foods Co-Op. A local community-owned co-op offering organic food with two locations in Albuquerque:
- Sprouts. 8AM–11PM. Local organic food store chain with 4 locations in Albuquerque. Good place, even have diet Indian tonic if you like a gin and tonic.
- 39 Sprouts on Corrales, 10701 Corrales Rd NW, ☏ . 7:30AM–10PM daily.
- 40 Sprouts on Lomas, 5112 Lomas Blvd NE (Lomas and San Mateo), ☏ . 7AM–10PM daily.
- 41 Sprouts on Montgomery, 11205 Montgomery Blvd NE (Montgomery and Juan Tabo), ☏ . 7AM–10PM daily.
- 42 Sprouts on San Mateo, 6300 San Mateo Blvd (San Mateo and Academy), ☏ . 7AM–10PM daily.
- 43 Talin Market World Food Fare, 88 Louisiana Blvd SE (at the corner of Central and Louisiana), ☏ . M–Sa 8:30AM–8PM, Su 9AM–7PM. International food marketplace.
- Trader Joe's. Two locations in Albuquerque:
- Whole Foods Market. Organic food store chain with two locations in Albuquerque:
- 1 Anodyne, 409 Central Ave NW, ☏ . Downtown hipster bar. 100 different icy beers, pool tables galore and a killer jukebox.
- 2 Downtown Distillery, 406 Central Ave SW, ☏ . M–F 11AM–2AM, Sa 5PM–2AM. Long bar downstairs; pool lounge and bar upstairs. Jaeger specials, to say the least.
- 3 Ibiza, 125 Second Street NW (in the Hotel Andaluz), ☏ . M–F 11AM–2AM, Sa 5PM–2AM. Rooftop bar and dining with nightly themes.
- 4 Launchpad, 618 Central Ave SW, ☏ . Hours vary; check ahead for concert schedule. Well established music venue and rock bar and perhaps the best place to see live music in town.
- 5 Library Bar & Grill, 312 Central Ave SW, ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–2AM, Su noon–midnight. School girl dress bartenders serve bikers by day and club goers by night.
- 6 Marble Brewery, 111 Marble St NW, ☏ . M–Sa 1PM–midnight, Su 1–10:30PM. Fine local micro brewery in Albuquerque's industrial heart. Limited food selection, but in a taproom -- that's the point.
Nob Hill & UNMEdit
- 7 Copper Lounge, 1504 Central Ave SE, ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–2AM. Dark dive bar, but extremely friendly patrons. Best beer special in town—$2.50 drafts on Wednesday nights.
- 8 Gecko's Bar & Tapas, 3500 Central Ave SE, ☏ . M–Sa 11:30AM–2AM, Su 11AM–midnight. Great atmosphere and an excellent patio for people watching. The tapas are great bar food.
- 9 Monte Vista Fire Station, 3205 Central Ave NE, ☏ . M–Sa noon–2AM, Su noon–midnight. Housed above the Gruet Steakhouse, Monte Vista Fire Station roosts in a converted Depression Era fire house. Atmosphere lacking; bit empty.
- 10 O'Neill's Pub, 4310 Central Ave SE, ☏ . M–Sa 11:30AM–2AM, Su 11:30AM–midnight. Great food, casual atmosphere, and a fantastic patio facing old Route 66.
- 11 Two Fools Tavern, 3211 Central Ave NE, ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–2AM, Su 11AM–midnight. Irish beers and music abound. $3.75 bottled beer, $5–16 wines, scotches, whiskeys. Good beer and wine.
North I-25 Corridor & HeightsEdit
- 12 Billy's Long Bar, 4800 San Mateo Blvd NE, ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–2AM, Su noon–midnight. Wide variety of beers on tap.
- 13 Canteen Brewhouse, 2381 Aztec Rd NE, ☏ . Su–Th noon–10PM, F Sa noon–midnight. A long-standing microbrewery with a loyal following. Small food selection.
- 14 Horse & Angel Tavern, 5809 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, ☏ . Daily 11AM–1:30PM. Very large selection of domestic and imported beers on tap, good food with an excellent human resources department (mostly very attractive UNM girls). Laid back, but not too laid back.
- 15 La Cumbre, 3313 Girard NE, ☏ . Daily noon-closing time. A microbrewery opened by a former brewer from Chama River Brewing Co.
- 16 Nexus Brewery, 4730 Pan American Fwy East, Suite D, ☏ . Su–W 1PM–10PM, Th–Sa 1PM–midnight. A new microbrewery.
- 17 Stone Face Package Liquors, 8201 San Pedro Dr NE (near Paseo del Norte), ☏ . M–Sa 11AM–2AM, Su 11AM–midnight. Blue collar and all the character you could even hope for. Live music, outdoor volleyball, and great beer specials.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Splurge||$176 and over|
If you want a nicer—and pricier—hotel, then head east on I-40 to "uptown" (in the northeast side of the city, which is at higher elevation than "downtown" close to the river) or north on I-25. If you don't mind less free stuff, Central Ave. (old Route 66) is cheaper. However, there are some real dives along Central Avenue, many with unsavory reputations and occasional police raids. Hotels around the airport are generally vanilla-flavored, business-traveler places, but at least are somewhat less expensive than airport hotels in many cities. There are a few nice highrise hotels in the Downtown/Old Town area. Lodging Per Diem is $75.
Albuquerque is experiencing a massive wave of hotel building, mainly in the "Mid-range" class. This apparently is driven in part by the infamous lodging shortages during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October. The result is that during other parts of the year, affordable hotels shouldn't be too hard to find. Even with the growth in the hotel market, lodging can be tight for the Fiesta, so if you're coming then, reserve well in advance—months rather than days.
For some free lodgings try looking for cafes where bands are playing (normally on the weekends) and ask among the punk kids and see if they'll help. Even they, however, may not have much space during the Balloon Fiesta.
- 1 Hiway House Motel, 3200 Central Ave SE (Nob Hill), ☏ . What it lacks in appearance and amenities it makes up for with location. Right in the middle of the Nob Hill area, next door to Kelly's Brewery, in walking distance to restaurants, pubs, shops, and UNM. $40–60.
- Sandia Peak Inn – Albuquerque, 4614 Central Ave SW, ☏ . Festive appearance, with an indoor pool and free breakfast. $65 (Dec 2021).
- Quality Inn & Suites, 6100 Iliff Rd NW, ☏ . Indoor hot tub and pool, complimentary breakfast. $62 (Dec 2021).
- 2 Sleep Inn Airport, 2300 International Ave SE (off Yale N of the airport), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Probably the cheapest of the several cookie-cutter hotels near the Albuquerque airport. $60–70.
- 3 Suburban Extended Stay, 2401 Wellesley Dr, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. In a business district near the midtown area of Albuquerque. $60–70.
- Econo Lodge Old Town, 2321 Central Ave NW, ☏ . The indoor pool and hot tub are pretty petite, but better than nothing. $50 (Dec 2021).
- 4 Best Western Rio Grande Inn, 1015 Rio Grande Blvd (north of Old Town at the intersection of I-40/Rio Grande), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Basic chain motel which has the advantage of being right near Old Town. $90–120.
- 5 Bottger Mansion of Old Town, 110 San Felipe St NW (S of the Plaza), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 3–6PM, check-out: 11AM. This historic house, now a bed-and-breakfast, is shaded by massive 100-yr old trees and is just steps away from the Old Town plaza. $115–179.
- 6 Courtyard Albuquerque, 5151 Journal Center Blvd NE (North I-25/Jefferson area), ☏ , fax: . Chain motel in the North I-25 area. $140.
- 7 Courtyard Albuquerque Airport, 1920 Yale Blvd, ☏ . In the airport area. Well lit work desks and complimentary high-speed internet.
- 8 Doubletree Hotel Albuquerque, 201 Marquette Ave NW, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A luxury downtown highrise hotel with many amenities, not to mention the only place directly connected to the Albuquerque Convention Center. $150–200.
- 9 Embassy Suites Albuquerque, 1000 Woodward Pl NE (just off the intersection of I-25/Lomas near downtown), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Great hotel overlooking downtown. $120–170.
- 10 Hawthorn Suites Albuquerque Airport, 1511 Gibson Blvd SE (just off I-25 near the airport), ☏ . Check-in: 3M, check-out: noon. Good airport hotel.
- 11 Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque Uptown, 6510 Americas Pkwy NE (just off I-40/Louisiana in Uptown area), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Highrise hotel in the Uptown area. $145–165.
- 12 Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, 800 Rio Grande Blvd NW (just north of Old Town), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A luxury hotel near Old Town approaching "splurge" territory. On-site restaurant, business center, outdoor swimming pool & Jacuzzi, fitness center, and elegant event space. $140–200.
- 13 Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport, 1400 Sunport Pl SE (just off I-25 near the airport), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Great airport hotel. $140.
- 14 Hyatt Place Albuquerque Uptown, 6901 Arvada Ave NE (in the Uptown area near Louisiana/I-40), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Nice chain motel in the Uptown area, across the street from the ABQ Uptown mall. $140.
- 15 The Clyde Hotel, 330 Tijeras Ave NW, ☏ . Large hotel right in downtown Albuquerque, in the smaller of the two tallest highrises with the pyramid roof. $110.
- 16 El Cuervo ABQ Guest Rooms, 701 Roma Ave NW (Downtown, corner of 7th and Roma), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A cozy bed & breakfast near Downtown in a lovely old Victorian house. Pet-friendly. $106 (Dec 2021).
- 17 Sonesta ES Suites Albuquerque, 3300 Prospect Avenue NE, toll-free: . Near downtown and the airport. Complimentary breakfast buffet and high-speed internet. $108 (Dec 2021).
- 18 Sheraton Albuquerque Airport Hotel, 2910 Yale Blvd SE, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. The closest hotel to the airport, no more than 2 min. away by shuttle, which runs on the half hour. However, a management transfer has left the hotel in shambles. Poor value for the money spent—give it a miss and go with other nearby airport hotels instead. Reasonable restaurant (Rojo's Grill) on the premises. $150-180.
- 19 Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown, 2600 Louisiana Blvd NE (at Louisiana and Menaul), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. $100–200.
- 20 Albuquerque Marriott, 2101 Louisiana Blvd NE (in the Uptown area, at Louisiana/I-40), ☏ , fax: . Highrise hotel in the Uptown shopping area off I-40. $180–200.
- 21 Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE (North I-25/Jefferson area), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Large hotel in "Aztec pyramid" shaped building. $180–250.
- 22 Hotel Andaluz, 125 Second Street NW (at Copper), ☏ . The closest thing Albuquerque has to a grand old hotel, this downtown spot is a historic and lavishly-decorated hotel, with Moroccan and Spanish-inspired architecture throughout, very elegant ballrooms, and some luxuriously appointed rooms. A Mediterranean restaurant and a rooftop lounge are also on the premises. $165–275.
- 23 Hotel Parq Central, 806 Central Avenue SE (just west of I-25), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A boutique hotel in the downtown area, in a lovely old building with gardens and a rooftop bar with excellent views. The accommodations themselves are wonderful, with high ceilings, large windows, and nice furnishings. $150–300.
- 24 Los Poblanos Inn, 4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. In the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (7 miles [11 km] from downtown Albuquerque), the inn and 25 acres (10 ha) grounds are beautiful, set near the Rio Grande bosque with conference and meeting facilities available. $150–315.
Albuquerque has an average crime rate compared to some other American cities, but most of it is property crime of more concern to residents than to visitors.
Central Avenue is home to some of Albuquerque's main attractions, but portions of it can be somewhat dangerous after dark. The section from the train tracks (eastern edge of downtown) to University Blvd. can be a little scary in the evening. Even in Downtown, while Central Avenue is passable, smaller nearby streets such as Copper Street can be scary after dark. The Nob Hill/UNM district (between University and Carlisle) is perfectly safe at night, but Central gets progressively seedier east of Carlisle, and can get quite scary around the Fairgrounds. Consider the bus or a cab through these areas after the sun goes down.
Due to its size and mild climate, the streets of Albuquerque are considered home to many people. While not typically a danger, do expect to meet up with beggars and vagrants, particularly around UNM.
If you're going to be engaging in outdoor recreation (even as laid-back as watching an Isotopes day game), slather on the sun screen. The elevation of the city is 5000 ft or higher, and there is usually not much cloud cover, so one can get a bad sunburn in surprisingly short order.
Also, New Mexico is very arid. That, and its high altitude results in very low humidity in both summer and winter, which can lead to dehydration. Drink plenty of water. A common complaint among visitors from lower altitudes is a persistent headache, which is often mistaken for altitude sickness, but is really a common symptom of dehydration. Consider carrying a water bottle and drinking frequently throughout the day if you don't already.
Be forewarned about New Mexican cuisine; if you're not used to green chile, go easy at first. Many first-timers have tried to eat the hottest chile they could find, only to discover six hours later that it was much hotter than they remembered. Be prepared.
The area code for the city is 505.
Every branch of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System provides free wifi; they also have computers available but these require that you purchase an internet access card for $3. The 2 Main Library is Downtown at 501 Copper NW, +1 505 768-5141. There are also a number of free wi-fi hot spots provided by the city, mainly around Civic Plaza in Downtown, the Sunport, and the Old Town Plaza. Also, it is free to connect to the guest wifi on the UNM campus. Generally, there aren't very many wireless cafes in the city, but there is a good concentration around the UNM/Nob Hill area. The local Flying Star Cafe and Satellite Coffee locations offer free wireless internet to customers.
- The Albuquerque Journal ($0.50 daily, $1.50 Sundays) is the state's largest newspaper and talks about issues in the metro area, the state, and the world.
- The Alibi (free Wednesday mornings) is a free weekly that discusses issues in the metro area and runs some columns, but is more focused on the arts scene and has some great movie and restaurant reviews. They also run a number of "best of..." lists, notably the yearly "Best of Burque" awards. Great event listings.
- The Daily Lobo (free daily) is a daily news service (Monday through Fridays in the school year) produced by UNM students. The online version is updated daily, but the printed version is only distributed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Magazines and TVEdit
New Mexico has a statewide ban on smoking in places of business. This includes bars and restaurants; the only exceptions are casinos and cigar bars. In addition, Albuquerque has banned smoking on all public property except the golf courses.
North of Albuquerque:
- Santa Fe, one of the world's great travel destinations, is about 60 miles (97 km) to the north. The direct route is via I-25, but if you have time and the weather forecast is good, consider taking instead the "Turquoise Trail" (NM SR 14) on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. If you'd rather not drive, you can also take the Rail Runner commuter train straight into the heart of the city.
- If taking the Turquoise Trail, stop at Madrid, an artist community along the way. There's a small selection of galleries, a glass blower and decent tavern for lunch. Another attraction on the route is the Tinkertown Museum near Cedar Crest, which contains a large collection of wood carvings and Americana.
- Bernalillo is 15 miles (24 km) north on I-25 and is connected via the Rail Runner commuter train. The Coronado State Monument is a notable attraction, as well as the Santa Ana Pueblo's casino and golf course, which are right next to Bernalillo.
- There are several Native American pueblos between Albuquerque and Santa Fe just off I-25. Some of them offers attractions and a chance to explore the area. If you have a few hours to kill, consider a detour to Cochiti Pueblo and the Kasha–Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This little known monument, open for day use ($5/vehicle), contains some gorgeous natural scenery and geologic formations, such as a narrow slot canyon you can hike through. To get there, get off at the Santo Domingo Pueblo exit (Exit 259) and follow the signs up SR 22 and onto a gravel road to the monument.
- The pretty Jemez Mountains offer pleasant hiking and fishing in the summer and can be good for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, although snowpack varies greatly from year to year and may be insufficient for winter sports. Take I-25 north to Bernalillo, then US 550 to San Ysidro, where NM 4 (502 on some maps) takes off through the astonishing red rock of San Diego Canyon and into the Jemez.
- Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument are also to the north, and about as distant from Albuquerque via the Jemez route as via the Santa Fe route.
- Beyond Santa Fe lies the beauty and cultural color of north central New Mexico—Taos, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, etc.
South of Albuquerque:
- Isleta Pueblo, off of I-25 just south of the city, is a small Native American village with the St. Augustine Church, a large white mission and one of the oldest in the nation. Take the Isleta Pueblo exit (NM 314) and drive south until you reach the village.
- Belen is about 30 miles (48 km) south and makes a good day trip.
- Mountainair, about a 90-min. drive southeast, is the home of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, a superb collection of pueblo and Spanish mission ruins.
- If traveling south during the winter, be sure to stop at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, south of Socorro and covered in that community's article... and while you are down there, consider visiting the Very Large Array, one of the worlds biggest radio telescope arrays.
|Routes through Albuquerque|
|Los Angeles ← Gallup ←||W E||→ Las Vegas → Kansas City|
|Santa Fe ← Bernalillo ←||N S||→ Los Lunas → Las Cruces|
|Gallup ← Grants ←||W E||→ Cedar Crest → Tucumcari|
|Gallup ← Grants ←||W E||→ Cedar Crest → Tucumcari|