Bernalillo is just off Interstate Highway 25, although travelers following the Route 66 itinerary will get there via back roads. The nearest major airport is in Albuquerque.
A commuter railroad, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects Bernalillo to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and some of the other small communities along the Rio Grande. There are two stations in Bernalillo: One is on US-550 right near the I-25 exit, which is mainly just a park and ride lot. The second station is right in the center of town, in the old historic area. The train runs with limited service daily.
Driving is the most reliable way to move through this town, and just about the only way to get to places on the west side of the Rio Grande, like Coronado State Monument. US-550 is the main drag through town.
Public transportation to points within Bernalillo is largely non-existent. A dedicated shuttle connects the Rail Runner station to the Santa Ana Star Casino, but that's it.
There are a few walkable areas of town, like the old main street of Bernalillo (Camino del Pueblo) with its shops, restaurants, and historic structures. This area of town is also within easy walking distance of the Downtown Bernalillo Rail Runner station.
- 1 Coronado Historic Site, located on the west side of the Rio Grande, north of US-550. Daily, 8:30AM-5PM. In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, a Spanish explorer, passed through the valley, where he is said to have spent time at an Indian village here. Today, the monument preserves the ruins of that village, Kuaua Pueblo. You can climb down into a reconstructed kiva and see Spanish colonial artifacts on exhibit at the museum. There's also a lovely little picnic area on the bank of the Rio Grande. $3 adults, free for children 16 & under.
- J&R Vintage Auto Museum, 3650 NM-528, Rio Rancho (just south of US-550), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-5PM (open Sundays in summer 1PM-5PM). A large collection of vintage automobiles, with some of them even for sale. $6 adults, $5 seniors, $3 children, children under 6 free.
- Downtown Bernalillo has a number of historic buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
- If you're in to gambling, the nearby Santa Ana Pueblo operates the Santa Ana Star Casino, which is on US-550 across the Rio Grande from Bernalillo. The pueblo also operates the Santa Ana Golf Course, which is behind the casino next to the Prairie Star Restaurant.
- Abuelita's New Mexican Restaurant, 621 Camino del Pueblo, ☏ . M-Th 7AM-3PM, F 7AM-8:30PM, Sa 8AM-8:30PM, Su 7:30AM-2PM. Acceptable New Mexican food like grandma (Abuelita) used to make.
- Range Cafe, 925 Camino Del Pueblo, ☏ . Su-Th 7:30AM-9PM, F-Sa 7:30AM-9:30PM (open a half hour later in summer). Good Mexican and American fare, large portions. Located in an old adobe building with a Western-themed atmosphere inside. There's a lounge with bar and live music. $7-10.
- La Casita Café, 567 Camino Del Pueblo, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:30AM-8:30PM. Great, inexpensive New Mexican food. Green sauce is world class, red sauce not far behind. Heavenly sopapillas. Another must-stop for the Route 66 foodie road warrior.
- Prairie Star, 255 Prairie Star Rd (west of town off Tamaya Blvd), ☏ . Dinner only, Tu-Su 5:30PM-9PM. Eclectic menu with American, New Mexican, and Asian components. It has an extensive wine cellar, excellent outdoor patio with views of the Sandias and an inventive menu which changes frequently but is always outstanding. Patio dining available. Can be a bit pretentious, but will meet the standards of any foodie.
- Silva's Saloon, 955 Camino Del Pueblo, ☏ . Antique saloon that is said to have the oldest liquor license in New Mexico and has been used as a setting for a number of Western films. Lots of memorabilia and old photographs on the walls from generations of bar patrons.
Bernalillo has a few chain motels located along US-550, including a Days Inn and a Holiday Inn. Lodging may be hard to find in October when the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta occurs.
- Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, 1300 Tuyuna Trail (On Santa Ana Pueblo, west of the Rio Grande and north of US 550, past the casino and golf course), ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. The inn and grounds are beautiful, with conference and meeting facilities available, near the Rio Grande with a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains to the east. There's lot of activities at the hotel with a focus on Native American culture. The Twin Warriors golf course is located adjacent to the hotel. $200-300.
- Santa Fe, one of the biggest tourist destinations in the American Southwest, is about 45 miles north on I-25.
- The scenic Jemez Mountains lie just to the north of Bernalillo. Take US-550 north to San Ysidro and right on SR-4. Jemez Springs, Jemez State Monument, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve are some of the highlights of the drive. Beyond is Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument.
|Routes through Bernalillo|
|Santa Fe ← Algodones ←||N S||→ Albuquerque → Las Cruces|
|Farmington ← Cuba ←||NW SE||→ END|