Visitors to Albuquerque experience the authentic Southwest. As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Albuquerque boasts a unique multicultural heritage and history where Native American, Hispanic, Latino, Anglo and other cultural influences are a part of everyday life. You’ll always feel you’re someplace special when you’re eating at a traditional New Mexican restaurant, shopping at one of more than 3,000 shops and galleries, enjoying world-class visual or performing arts or taking in the great outdoors. Nowhere in America is the confluence of past and present more dramatic than in Albuquerque. Even better, Albuquerque boasts more than 300 days of sunshine each year.
Up, Up and Away…
Albuquerque is famous for its annual Balloon Fiesta in the fall. But clear blue skies, calm winds and mild temperatures are the norm in Albuquerque, encouraging year-round hot-air ballooning. If the balloons you see dotting the sky pique your interest, you can take a flight yourself. Local hot air-balloon companies provide rides for visitors on a daily basis. Or experience a balloon simulator at The Anderson-Abruzzo National Balloon Museum.
Pueblo Cultural Center
For hundreds of years, the numerous cultures of the Pueblo people called the area we know as New Mexico home. While dozens of pueblos disappeared with the coming of the Spanish, many remain vibrant. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, located two miles north of Old Town, celebrates these living cultures and histories with an outstanding museum as well as cultural events, lectures, workshops and tours. The traditional dances are one of the top draws to the center.
Indian Markets and Retail Shops
Another way to learn about Native American communities is to explore their many arts and crafts including silver and turquoise jewelry, pottery, drums, carvings, clothing and weavings. Discover authentic Native American-made items—often at lower prices than other Southwestern cities—but be sure to ask for a certificate of authenticity. Historic Old Town is a great place to buy directly from artisans under the portal, but there are shops scattered throughout the city that sell authentic Native American arts and crafts, such as Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry at 510 Central Ave. SW, a highly regarded shop.
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History
Located at the edge of Old Town, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History hosts a spectacular collection of cultural items from the past 400 years. It is a place where the visitor not only gains a better understanding of Albuquerque’s history but about European settlement in the entire Southwest. Displaying suits of Spanish armor, historic woodcarvings and the more modern art of Georgia O’Keeffe, the museum also hosts traveling and temporary exhibits.
Site of the original Spanish settlement, Old Town was shaped for centuries by both the Spanish and Mexican cultures as well as the Native Americans of the area. Centered on the large plaza, Albuquerque’s Old Town retains a relaxing and charming Southwestern feel characterized by giant old cottonwood trees, cobblestone streets and adobe structures. Old Town is full of visitor-friendly attractions like art galleries, souvenir shops, little museums and restaurants. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll and casual sightseeing.
Still Kicking on Route 66
Historic neon signs still glow on old Route 66 through Albuquerque, which is now Central Avenue. The famous Route 66 continues to guide visitors through Albuquerque, from the volcanoes on the city’s far west side past the ABQ Bio Park, which contains the city zoo, botanical garden and aquarium, through historic Old Town and the Downtown business district, and continuing eastward through the University of New Mexico.
Locally owned shops dominate historic Nob Hill, a mile-long bustling shopping district bookended with neon arches and filled with eclectic boutiques, hip bistros and chic galleries. This stretch of Central Avenue is a paean to midcentury-modern retro style.
University of New Mexico
The sprawling forested campus of the University of New Mexico (UNM) is like one massive park located right in the center of the city. The state’s flagship educational institution is a public-research university founded in 1889. Famed architect John Gaw Meem designed many of the buildings on the central campus, which has a unique Southwestern feel. Here you will find an arboretum encompassing more 300 species—a perfect place for a stroll. UNM is forever hosting art and cultural exhibits and performances and is surrounded by a lively university district.
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
The centerpiece of Albuquerque tourism, the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway located on the northeast edge of the metro area, takes a 2.7-mile ascent to the top of the 10,378-foot peak of the Sandia Mountains that soar over the city’s eastern edge. It’s a thrilling way to see the city and the surrounding landscape. From the top, take in a panorama of more than 11,000 square miles. The tram offers excellent access to a variety of hikes and wildlife experiences, plus, the peak is the perfect location to catch a gorgeous New Mexico sunset.
Best of ABQ Tours
One of the best ways to see Albuquerque’s top attractions is via a bus tour by ABQ Trolley Co. Learn all sorts of little-known facts such as the many palate-pleasing uses of red and green chiles or practice the thundering call of the University of New Mexico Lobo. Discover film locations of major motion pictures and television including Breaking Bad. The Best of ABQ City Tour covers it all pretty much.
Where to Stay
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
Located downtown, this hotel offers easy access to everything the city has to offer. Rooms from $107/night. Complimentary shuttle service is available to guests linking attractions, shopping, dining and entertainment within a three-mile radius.
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town
Luxurious accommodations within walking distance of most Old Town attractions. Flamenco dancing on the weekends. Rooms from $179/night.
A renovated historic hotel downtown. Spectacular lobby. Rooms from $179/night.
Mauger Estate Bed & Breakfast
Stay in a lovely Queen Anne mansion downtown. Great for business and leisure travelers. Rooms from $107/night.
Red Horse Vineyard B&B
An oasis in the desert and a destination in itself, complete with pool. Rooms from $115/night.
Where to Dine
If you want the classic Albuquerque cuisine with a choice of red or green chiles, then two places in Old Town will fill the bill. Servers at La Placita and the Church Street Café all will all ask the classic Albuquerque question: “Red or green?” If you want both just say “Christmas.”
Locals love the Artichoke Café, which offers New American and Continental cuisine. You can’t have red or green for every meal.
For a truly special meal, The Antiquity Café has created a niche of quality in its small but inviting interior. Fresh locally sourced ingredients and wonderful service stand out.