Though it may be best known as the backdrop to Breaking Bad, New Mexico’s largest city is defined by its diversity. Albuquerque lies on both Route 66 and the Camino Real, and its architecture and cuisine have been heavily influenced by Native American and Spanish colonial history. The city is geographically diverse, too, nestled between the lush Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains, where miles of hiking trails snake through desert and alpine landscapes. In recent decades, ABQ has grown into a bustling urban center, now home to world-class dining, a funky artist community, and a dozen craft breweries. Experience an iconic sunset from a rooftop bar, enjoy the 300-plus days of blue skies per year, and you’ll start to see why Albuquerque is the heart of the Land of Enchantment.
See + Do
First, get the lay of the land. Every October, thousands of people flock to Albuquerque for its International Balloon Fiesta, but visitors can soar over the valley in a hot air balloon year-round thanks to reliably sunny weather (rainbowryders.com). For a different perspective, hike the 7.5-mile La Luz trail as it weaves from desert foothills to alpine forest at the top of Sandia Peak (elev. 10,000 feet). Take in expansive views of the city at the summit, then ride down on the 2.7-mile Sandia Peak Tramway (sandiapeak.com). Don’t miss the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (indianpueblo.org) and National Hispanic Cultural Center (nhccnm.org) for a taste of the state’s rich history and culture. Sports fans should catch a minor league baseball game if the Albuquerque Isotopes are in town; the name is a nod to the state’s nuclear history (milb.com). Or relax with a show at the historic KiMo Theater, a city landmark built in Art Deco and Pueblo Revival style (kimotickets.com).
Eat + Drink
Enjoy your morning coffee on Zendo’s outdoor patio, a trendy space on the edge of downtown (zendo-coffee.com), then grab a bite at the Grove Cafe, a local favorite serving fresh, original sandwiches and salads (thegrovecafemarket.com). For more down-to-earth dining, head to the South Valley’s El Paisa Taqueria, a hole-in-the-wall beloved for its cheap, flavorful burritos and tacos (820 Bridge Blvd SW).
When it’s five o’clock somewhere, make your way to La Cumbre Brewing Company’s industrial taproom for a local craft beer, like the Elevated IPA (lacumbrebrewing.com). For dinner, be sure to reserve a table at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, which serves up seasonal fare in adobe style at their restaurant, Campo (lospoblanos.com).
Before dinner at Los Poblanos, visit their Farm Shop, where you can browse a curated selection of jewelry, gifts, and small-batch products like lavender lotion and honey from the farm (farmshop.lospoblanos.com). Check out the plant-filled Spur Line Supply Company in the Sawmill District for apparel and goods from makers in the Southwest and beyond, all arranged in aesthetic scenes like an Airstream trailer (spurlinesupplyco.com). Find a new textile or statement piece of furniture for your home among Sukhmani Home’s colorful inventory, sourced from India, China, and Tibet (sukhmanihome.com).
Ancient pueblo culture influenced the design of the new, luxury Hotel Chaco. Located between the trendy Sawmill District and Historic Old Town, the modern space was inspired by New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO world heritage site that was home to thousands between 850 and 1250 AD. Enjoy the rooftop bar and restaurant, lounge by the pool, or hit the nightclub (hotelchaco.com).
Before You Go
Read: Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides for a history of the American West centered around the 20-year battle for the control of Navajo country.
Bookmark: NewMexico.org for travel inspiration and happenings around town. Be sure to check the events calendar for information on annual events like the Albuquerque International Flamenco Festival (June), New Mexico Wine Festival (May), Gathering of Nations (April), and Lavender in the Village (July).
Follow: @newmexicotrue on Instagram.