Although it is the largest city in the state, Albuquerque is often overshadowed as a tourist destination by Santa Fe, 60 miles to the north. But Albuquerque has a number of great attractions in its own right, with pleasant scenery, colorful history, and a spectacular hot-air balloon fiesta 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 officially recognized 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. Today, Albuquerque is still a hub of activity and transportation. While Santa Fe is the state capital and the principal tourist destination of New Mexico, Albuquerque is New Mexico's only truly urban area with a metropolitan population of nearly 900,000. This is where you'll find the headquarters of the state's businesses, the University of New Mexico, many of New Mexico's largest employers, and the Albuquerque International Sunport, the only major airport in the state.
Albuquerque is in the high desert [35.11N -106.64W (Elev. 4989 ft)] 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 degrees, and temperatures near 100 degrees 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.
This is a casual town. Expect shorts, a T-shirt, and sandals to be entirely acceptable almost everywhere. People tend to be friendly. While Albuquerque has a large non-native population, it is predominantly white, Hispanic, and American Indian.
Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau, with visitor centers in Old Town at the Plaza Don Luis and in the Albuquerque International Sunport on the Baggage Claim Level, +1 800 284-2282 or +1 505 842-9918, .
Two Interstate highways pass through Albuquerque: 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 Avenue is part of old Route 66. A minor note of caution: I-25 south of Albuquerque is a "safety corridor" in which state law mandates higher fines for traffic violations. Enforcement is spotty, but take the speed limits seriously anyway.
Albuquerque's airport, the Albuquerque International Sunport (IATA: ABQ) , is the major air hub for all of New Mexico. The Sunport has service from all major US airlines and their international partners, and is a major hub for Southwest Airlines. 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 contains a number of attractive displays of New Mexican arts and crafts as well as one good restaurant (a member of the Garduño's chain, see below under "Eat"), and is a more pleasant place than most airports to kill time while waiting for a flight. The major car rental companies are nearby, with a shuttle from the airport to the large new rental center. The Sunport has charging stations for electronics and completely free wireless internet access.
Airlines and destinations from Albuquerque International Sunport 
American: Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth.
Continental: Houston George Bush Intercontinental.
Delta: Atlanta, Salt Lake City.
Northwest: Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Southwest: Baltimore, Chicago Midway, Dallas Love Field, Denver, El Paso, Houston Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa, Tucson.
United: Chicago O'Hare, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington Dulles.
Great Lakes Airlines: Clovis, Silver City.
New Mexico Airlines: Alamogordo, Carlsbad, El Paso, Hobbs.
Albuquerque is a layover stop along Amtrak'sSouthwest Chief daily train route. The depot is at the Alvarado Transportation Center in downtown, at 214 First Street 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 12:12PM and departs at 12:55PM. 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. There are three stations in Albuquerque: the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown, one in the South Valley on Rio Bravo Blvd, and one in the North Valley/Los Ranchos area just off of Paseo del Norte. The Downtown station has bus connections 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 $5-$9. 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 Street SW, which is served by Greyhound+1 505 243-4435,  and Autobuses Americanos. The depot has a small cafeteria.
Map of Albuquerque
Map of Downtown/Old Town Area
Map of UNM/Nob Hill Area
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. Street addresses in Albuquerque take the form "12345 Main Street (NE/NW/SE/SW)" in which the northeast/northwest/etc. 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 Avenue is the north/south dividing line. 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.
Basically, if you remember that I-25 runs north-south, I-40 runs east-west, the Sandia Mountains are to the east, 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,
The interchange of I-25 and I-40 is called "The Big I" and is roughly in the center of the city,
Downtown is just southwest of "The Big I",
The University of New Mexico (UNM for short) is on Central Avenue east of downtown,
The "Heights" are the eastern part of town closer to the Sandia Mountains,
"Uptown" is a business district located in the Heights at I-40 and Louisiana Boulevard,
The "North Valley" and "Los Ranchos de Albuquerque" (technically a separate community from Albuquerque) encompass the area north of I-40 between I-25 and the river,
The "South Valley" is the area west of I-25 south of downtown,
And the "Westside" is all the suburbs on the western part of town across the river.
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 currently offering it. KKOB-AM, 770 on the dial, seems to be fairly reliable for these reports. Traffic congestion, while not nearly as horrible as some of the other cities in the Western United States, can still get bad during the rush hour and on Saturdays. The two interstates and the river crossings usually have the worst congestion.
Keep in mind that driving while talking on your cell phone is illegal in Albuquerque.
ABQ RIDE, +1 505 243-RIDE, , is Albuquerque's public transit system. Albuquerque is a driving city, and until very recently the city was not trying to make any great strides in its public transit system. So with the exception of Central Avenue, public transit here 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. Bus service is reduced during the weekend.
The Rapid Ride is an express bus service operated by ABQ Ride which runs frequently and utilizes buses that are longer than a normal city bus and painted bright red (they're pretty hard to miss). There are three Rapid Ride routes: the Route 766 (Red Line) and Route 777 (Green Line) each run very frequently and almost entirely on Central Avenue, with the 766 running from Uptown to Unser/Central, while the 777 runs from Tramway/Central to Downtown. The Route 790 (Blue Line) connects UNM to the Cottonwood Mall area on the Westside, running less frequently than the Red and Green Lines.
Standard fares for all ABQ Ride routes are $1 per ride, with several discounts possible. A day pass is $2.
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 (Tramway, etc.). There aren't many crossings over the Rio Grande, and some involve uncomfortably close contact with car traffic. Still, there are some great paved trails, particularly the Paseo del Bosque Trail which runs along the east side of the Rio Grande, and the North Diversion Channel Trail which runs from UNM north to Balloon Fiesta Park. Plan accordingly. You can find a complete bike map 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, +1 505 768-2000, , which includes the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden, the Rio Grande 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/Botanical Gardens and the Zoo. The train runs Tu-Su from around 10AM-4PM at 30 minute intervals.
Rio Grande Zoo, 903 Tenth Street SW (just southwest of downtown). Daily, 9AM-5PM, except major holidays. It may not be as big as the zoos you see in a big city, but this zoo has most of the "popular" species you can expect at any good zoo: polar bears, lions, zebras, tigers, giraffes, elephants, gorillas, etc. The animals are in nice exhibits with trees, grasses, water and rockwork. The best exhibit areas are the seals, the polar bears, a large Africa area, and the "Catwalk". Every day there are scheduled feedings of the seals and the polar bears; during the warmer months more feeding times, activities, and shows are scheduled. A small narrow-gauge train runs through the zoo (Tu-Su 10AM-3:30PM at 20 minute 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/Botanical Gardens. During the warmer months there are frequent outdoor concerts, activities, more feeding times, and other events at the Zoo. $7 adults, $3 seniors, $3 children, under age 3 free (train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
Albuquerque Aquarium / Rio Grande Botanical Garden, 2601 Central Avenue NW (just east of the Rio Grande). Daily, 9AM-5PM, except major holidays. Albuquerque's small but pleasant Aquarium is focused on saltwater species from the Gulf of Mexico. You'll see jellyfish, seahorses, eels, and plenty of reef fish. The highlight is a huge shark tank with other ocean species like sea turtles and rays. Divers enter the big tank every day from 2-3PM to feed the fish. The Botanical Garden has plenty of gardens to explore, with an emphasis on desert plants. The highlights are a glass conservatory with plants from desert and Mediterranean climate zones, an indoor butterfly garden that is open in the summer, a Japanese garden, a recreated early 20th century farm with a barnyard petting zoo, a model railroad, and a fantastic children's "Fantasy Garden" with giant pretend vegetables, garden tools and bugs. $7 adults, $3 seniors, $3 children, under age 3 free (train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, 9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE (on the grounds of the Balloon Fiesta), +1 505 768-6020, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. A very interesting museum dedicated to the science and history of ballooning, with exhibits on balloons and other lighter-than-air craft, collections and memorabilia from famous balloonists, and extensive exhibits on ballooning in Albuquerque. $4 adults, $2 seniors, $1 children, age 3 and under free (Sunday mornings free).
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th Street NW (just north of I-40), +1 505 843-7270, . Every day 9AM-4:30PM, closed on major holidays. Operated by the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico, this complex has a small museum with a collection of artifacts of the culture and history of the pueblo people. The center also has an art gallery, a children's area, a restaurant, and a large gift shop. Indian dances are a frequent event. $6 adults, $4 children, under age 5 free.
National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. SW (south of downtown), +1 505 246-2261, . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM, closed major holidays. A large complex of buildings dedicated to Hispanic culture, with a small but very interesting art museum. There is also a library (closed Sunday), restaurant and gift shop, and frequent special events. $3 adults, $2 seniors, aged 16 and under free.
National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, 601 Eubank Blvd SE (at Southern Blvd, near the Kirtland Air Force Base), +1 505 245-2137, . Every day 9AM-5PM except major holidays. A museum devoted to things nuclear, including replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped on Japan, as well as other weapons, nuclear-capable aircraft and rockets, and displays on arms control and uses of atomic energy. The surrounding park includes a large aircraft collection, with planes, rockets, missiles, and even cannons. $8 adults, $7 seniors/youth, $6 military, age 5 and under free.
The Sandia Peak Tramway rises above Albuquerque
Sandia Peak Tramway, Off Tramway Blvd. on the northeast corner of the city, +1 505 856-7325, . Operates every 20-30 minutes from 9AM until evening (no morning rides on off-season Tuesdays), with closures in April and October for maintenance. Runs from a lower terminus in the northeast heights to the top of 10,400-foot Sandia Peak east of the city, and is one of the longest (some sources say the longest) and most spectacular aerial tramways in the world. The first upward tram departs at 9AM (except Tuesdays in the off season), and service continues until early evening. The 15-minute 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 restaurant and 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. $17.50 round trip for adults, $15 round trip for teens and seniors, and $10 round trip for children (discounts for riders with reservations for the restaurant at the top and for skiers).
Unser Racing Museum, 1776 Montano Rd NW, +1 505 341-1776, . Daily 10AM-4PM. Operated by the local Unser racing family, this museum is dedicated to the racing legacy of the Unsers as well as to the sport of auto racing in general. $7 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children, age 6 and under free.
Located east of Rio Grande Boulevard in between Central Avenue and Mountain Road (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 to blend 18th century architecture with narrow brick paths, adobe architecture, delicious food, and specialty shops. Old Town has a central plaza with a gazebo which is bordered on the north by the 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 located within easy walking distance of the Old Town plaza. Most of them are on Mountain Road, just a few blocks northeast of the Plaza.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
¡Explora! Science Center and Children's Museum
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, 2000 Mountain Rd. NW, +1 505 243-7255, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM except major holidays. Guided walking tours of Old Town start here. Loads of exhibits with Southwest art, artifacts from the history of colonial New Mexico and Albuquerque through the years (with some pretty neat items, like conquistador armor and an antique car), and an outdoor sculpture garden. The Albuquerque Museum also operates the historic home of Casa San Ysidro in nearby Corrales for tours. $4 adults, $2 seniors, $1 children, under age 3 free (admission free first Wednesday of the month and every Sunday 9AM-1PM).
American International Rattlesnake Museum, 202 San Felipe St (a block south of the Old Town plaza), +1 505 242-6569, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1PM-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. $3.50 adults, $2.50 children.
¡Explora! Science Center and Children's Museum, 1701 Mountain Road NW, +1 505 224-8300, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM and Su noon-6PM except major holidays. Called "one of the best science centers in the country", this museum has lots of interactive children's exhibits teaching science, technology, and art. There are some truly fantastic exhibits here, like a laminar flow fountain (with water jets you can turn on and off), an experiment bar, a high-wire bike (that will surely test your withstanding of heights), and a robotics lab. $7 adults, $5 seniors, $1 children, under age 1 free.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Rd. NW, +1 505 841-2800, . Every day, 9AM-5PM (closed on major holidays, and non-holiday Mondays in January and September). 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 an IMAX theater are also in the building. $7 adults, $6 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (separate fee required for planetarium and IMAX theater).
Turquoise Museum, 2107 Central Ave NW (in the strip mall on the NW corner of Central and Rio Grande), +1 505 247-8650, . M-F 9:30AM-5PM, Sa 9:30AM-4PM. While the location isn't ideal (located in a strip mall near Old Town, rather than in the historic district itself), this small gift shop/museum has some interesting exhibits about turquoise and its manufacture, history, and mythology. $4 adults, $3 children.
University of New Mexico
UNM during a rare winter snowfall
Located between Central Avenue, Girard Boulevard, Lomas Boulevard, and University Boulevard (east of I-25). 
The main campus makes a very pleasant diversion, with its Pueblo-Revival adobe buildings and abundant plant life. There's a duck pond near the center of the campus, giving you a chance to relax on the lawns or feed the birds.
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, located on Redondo Drive just east of University Blvd between Las Lomas and Dr. M. L. King Jr. Avenue. +1 505 277-4405, . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM, closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays. The anthropology department at UNM has been acclaimed as one of the finest in the nation. This museum has changing exhibits and two permanent exhibits; one showcasing the evolution of humans from primates, and the other focuses on the prehistoric native cultures in the American Southwest, with a reconstruction of an archaeological dig in Chaco Canyon. Free.
Meteorite and Geology Museums, located in the Northrop Hall, on the Yale walkway just north of Central Avenue, +1 505 277-4204, . M-F 9AM-4PM. Two nice little museums (located just down the hall from each other) with minerals, fossils, and meteorites from New Mexico and other places collected by UNM faculty and students. Free.
University Art Museum, located in the Center for the Arts building, on the Cornell walkway near the bookstore, just north of Central Avenue. +1 505 277-4001, . Tu-F 9AM-4PM and Sa-Su 1PM-4PM. Changing exhibitions of art, with a focus on New Mexico and UNM artists. Free.
Isotopes Park, home of the Albuquerque Isotopes
Albuquerque Isotopes, at the corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard (south of UNM), +1 505 924-2255, . The Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, play baseball in a beautiful stadium. Seats in the park are both good and cheap—$11 can get you a seat behind home plate ($13 if you buy your ticket on gameday). All the concessions and restrooms are located along a big concourse behind the seats which is open to the field, so you don't miss any of the action. For $6 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. $6-$24.
Cliff's Amusement Park, 4800 Osuna Rd. NE at San Mateo (just south of the Osuna-San Mateo/I-25 interchange), +1 505 881-9373, . Open weekends April-September, hours vary by month. This is just about the only amusement park in New Mexico. Fairly small, but with a good amount of rides. Thrill rides (including two roller coasters), family rides, kiddy rides, and a water play area. Ride pass (includes general admission and all rides) is $24 for over 48" tall, $20 for under 48" tall, $17.45 for age 2 and under (Parking is free).
Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd, +1 505 897-8831, . 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.
Outpost Ice Arena 9530 Tramway Blvd NE, 505-856-7595, . Located near the base of the Sandia Peak Tram. Has four rinks under one roof. A great place to sharpen your figure skating or hockey skills or just skate for fun.
Petroglyph National Monument, visitor center at 6001 Unser Blvd, NW, +1 505 899-0205 ext. 331, . On the west side of town, Petroglyph is a unit of the United States National Parks system, and preserves a significant archaeological site with an impressive number of petroglyphs. Despite their proximity to an urban center and the fact that the monument is of recent origin, the petroglyphs are in good condition with very little vandalism or theft. There are interpretive exhibits and a few short trails. Day use only; $3 fee (Park Pass applies).
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 . There are also several picnic areas and wetland areas. Free.
Rio Grande Nature Center, 2901 Candelaria Road NW, +1 505 344-7240, . Every day, 10AM-5PM. The bosque provides a tranquil setting for this small visitor center, with its nature pond and exhibits on the native wildlife. Two short trails head into the bosque from the visitor center. $1 adults, $0.50 children.
Hiking in the Sandia Mountains
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 the ski area on the other side of the mountains during the summer. If less athletically inclined, ride the tram to the top. At the base of the mountains, near the tramway, is the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area, which offers magnificent views of the mountains as you enjoy your meal and provides access to some of the trails of the Sandia Mountains. For a map of Sandia Mountain trails, see the Cibola National Forest website .
During the winter, you can ski or snowboard at Sandia Peak, +1 505 242-9052, . The ski season is typically mid-December to mid-March, depending on the seasonal amount of snowfall. There are 30 trails with four chairlifts and two surface lifts, and a terrain park. Most of the facilities are at the bottom of the slope (which is accessible by road), including a cafeteria, ski school, the equipment rental shop, and a sports shop. At the top of the hill is access to the Sandia Peak Tramway (see "See" section above) and the High Finance Restaurant (see "Eat" below). The peak can be reached either by taking a 45 minute 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. There are a few equipment rental places in Albuquerque). $43 adult full-day lift tickets, $32 children full-day lift tickets (half-day and Beginner Lift Only tickets are also available).
Santa Ana Star Center, just off of Unser in neighboring Rio Rancho, +1 505 891-7300, . It is home to the New Mexico Scorpions  ice hockey team. There are also concerts, conventions and other events. Scorpions tickets $15-$40.
Tingley Beach, Tingley Drive, just south of Central Avenue (just east of the Rio Grande), . Daily, sunrise to sunset. A facility of the Albuquerque Biological Park. This park, located 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. A train station for the Aquarium/Botanical Gardens - Zoo train is located here. Free (separate fee required for train rides).
UNM sports (the Lobos), Avenida Cesar Chavez / University Boulevard (south of UNM), +1 505 925-5626, . The Lobos are big. For a deafening experience in college sports, try to catch a basketball game at "The Pit," the university's semi-underground fieldhouse that has been a house of pain for visiting basketball teams for years. The women's teams have been doing better than the men's lately, and attract crowds every bit as raucous. Right across the street is University Stadium, home of the immensely popular Lobos football team. Football tickets $14-$27 adults, $8-$17 children. Basketball tickets $8-$22 adults, $4-$8 children (women's game tickets are cheaper than men's). UNM Students are free, guests of students can get sometimes a discount.
Popejoy Hall, in the Center for the Arts building on the UNM campus, +1 505 277-3824, . Hosts a schedule of live performances year-round, including Broadway musicals, live theater, dance and music.
KiMo Theater, 423 Central Ave NW, +1 505 768-3522, . This historic and beautiful downtown building is a vibrant setting for the local preforming arts community, as well as a venue for some traveling shows.
Journal Pavillion, 5601 University Boulevard SE, +1 505 452-5100, . Located in south Albuquerque, this is the city's primary concert venue.
The Cell, 700 1st St. NW, +1 505 766-9412, . Home to the Fusion Theater Company, a local performance group.
Albuquerque Little Theater, 224 San Pasquale SW, +1 505 242-4750, . Hosting local performances throughout the year.
The Box Performance Space, 1025 Lomas Blvd. NW, +1 505 404-1578, . Featuring sketch comedy, improv, children's shows, and other works. Home to Cardboard Playhouse Productions and Blackout Theatre Company.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Tricentennial balloon at the 2006 International Balloon Fiesta
At Balloon Fiesta Park, located north of Alameda Boulevard, one mile west of I-25 (take either Alameda Boulevard or Tramway Boulevard exit off I-25), . $6 adults, children ages 12 and under free (parking is $10 per car).
The Fiesta is the world's largest ballooning event, largest annual international event in North American, 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 may 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 United States.
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 or the Rail Runner commuter train to beat the traffic). Get your hotel reservations far in advance, because everyone fills up around this time of year.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The 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. Returning favorites include a milk cow, a wagon coach, and twin bees balloons.
And if you want to do more than watch the balloons, there are several local companies which provide balloon rides year-round: Rainbow Ryders, +1 505 823-1111,  is the only one which operates directly from Balloon Fiesta Park during the Balloon Fiesta, but there's also Above and Beyond Affordable Balloon Rides, +1 505 293-0000, , Above It All Balloon Rides, +1 505 861-3386, Aliens Aloft, +1 505 864-8871, , Beautiful Balloons Co., +1 800 367-6625 , Private Balloon Flights, +1 505 550-2677, , and Skyspan Adventures, +1 505 250-2300, .
Other annual events
Besides the Balloon Fiesta, there are numerous festivals and celebrations which take place in Albuquerque on an yearly basis. Here are some of the major ones:
New Mexico State Fair, +1 505 265-EXPO, . The state fair takes place annually for two weeks in September. Like any state fair, there's lots of competitions, farm animals, rodeos, carnival rides, art, music, food, etc. There are also some interesting exhibits as well, showing off the pride and character of New Mexico, such as the Indian Village, the Villa Hispana, and much more. The state fair is held at Expo New Mexico (on Louisiana between Central and Lomas, east of UNM and south of Uptown). $9 adults, $5 seniors, $4 children, children 2 & under free.
The Native American Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow is an event bringing Native Americans from across the country together. There are many events, including the powwow, native music, arts, crafts, and food, and Miss Indian World. The event takes place in late April at the University of New Mexico Arena ("The Pit").
New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair takes place in June at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds.
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 a individual's front yard, but Old Town provides the most accessible and dramatic display.
University of New Mexico, . Founded in 1889, UNM is the oldest and largest institution of higher education in New Mexico, with undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of programs.
Central New Mexico Community College (formerly Technical-Vocational Institute, TVI), . A two-year college with a few branch campuses. The main campus is on University Boulevard just south of the main UNM campus.
Albuquerque has evolved into a fairly "high-tech" city from the employment point of view. Albuquerque major employers are mostly military and technology based: The Kirtland Air Force Base and the Sandia National Laboratories are the region's largest employers. Intel has a huge plant just outside the city in neighboring Rio Rancho. These are surrounded by spinoffs, support organizations, etc. The University of New Mexico and the medical industry are also major regional employers as well.
Recently, the film industry has hit New Mexico (and Albuquerque in particular) in a big way, with new movie studios being built and some big-name films being produced in the area. Keep your eyes open; you may be able to find an interesting job.
Unemployment in Albuquerque tends to run below the national average, so jobs are comparatively easy to get. Being bilingual (English/Spanish) is a plus in the retail workplace, although by no means essential.
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 Avenue. 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.
Amapola Gallery, 205 Romero Street NW, +1 505 242-4311, . Co-op of 40 contemporary artists selling a wide variety of southwestern arts and crafts.
Andrews Pueblo Pottery & Art Gallery, 303 Romero Street NW, +1 505 243-0414, . A great collection of works from traditional native artists.
Old Town Emporium, 204 San Felipe NW, +1 505 842-8102, . M-Sa 9AM-8PM, Su 9AM-6PM. A very large gift shop with all the typical tourist kitsch, which certainly has its charm.
R.C. Gorman/Nizhoni Gallery, 323 Romero Street NW, +1 505 843-7666, . Featuring works by several popular artists, including noted local painter R.C. Gorman.
Tanner Chaney Gallery, 323 Romero Street NW, +1 505 247-2242, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 12PM-6PM. A long-standing business selling native arts & crafts.
Downtown, particularly along Central Avenue and Gold Avenue (one block south of Central). While downtown has plenty of bars and restaurants, the shopping scene is a bit lacking. However, there are a few interesting places:
The Man's Hat Shop, 511 Central Ave NW, +1 505 247-9605, . Tu-F 9:30AM-5:30PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM. Has a huge selection of Western hats.
Patrician Design, 216 Gold Ave SW, +1 505 242-7646, . M-F 8AM-6PM. A retail boutique with art, jewelery, and some nifty around-the-home accessories.
Skip Maisel’s, 510 Central Ave SW, +1 505 242-6526, . Indian jewelry, arts, and crafts in a lovely building dating back to the heyday of Route 66.
Sumner & Dene, 517 Central Ave NW, +1 505 842-1400, . Fine art, jewelery, and furnishings.
2 Time Couture, 600 Central Ave SE (2 Blocks west of I-25, in the "EDo" neighborhood), +1 505 242-3600, . An upscale designer consignment boutique offering top quality clothing, accessories and handbags.
Nob Hill, along Central from Girard to Carlisle, . 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).
The Herb Store, 107 Carlisle Blvd SE, +1 505 255-8878, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su Noon-5PM. Stock up on all your herb supplies and herbal remedies here.
Objects of Desire, 3225 Central Ave NE, +1 505 232-3088, . Fine furnishings and accessories.
Old World Imports, 3019 Central Ave NE, +1 505 265-0433, . M-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su 12PM-5PM. Carpets, textiles, jewelry and furnishings.
Uptown, centered around Indian School & Louisiana. For the more typical suburban mall experience, Coronado Mall, which is anchored by Macy's, JCPenney, Mervyn's and Sears, will suit your needs. ABQ Uptown, on the other hand, is an outdoor mall with more high-end retail stores, such as Apple Computer, Talbots, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma. Most of the major 'Big Box' retailers are also in the general area, in both directions along I-40.
Cottonwood Mall, Coors Blvd & Coors Bypass, on the west side of Albuquerque, . A typical indoor mall, the surrounding area contains all the typical 'Big Box' retailers (i.e. Walmart Supercenter, Best Buy, Home Depot, Pets Mart, Walgreens, Staples, Circuit City...).
Here are some specific businesses around town that are worth your time:
Bien Mur Indian Market Center, 100 Bien Mur Drive NE (north of Albuquerque at the Sandia Pueblo, off the intersection of Tramway and I-25), +1 505 821-5400, . 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.
Gertrude Zachary is a locally-owned jewelry chain in Albuquerque with plenty of antiques and Southwestern jewelry. There are three locations around the city:
Jewelry Showroom, 1501 Lomas NW (between Old Town and Downtown), +1 505 247-4442.
Antiques Showroom, 416 Second St SW (in Downtown), +1 505 244-1320.
Nob Hill Location, 3300 Central Ave SE, +1 505 766-4700.
Jackalope, 6400 San Mateo Blvd NE (near the intersection of San Mateo and I-25), +1 505 349-0955, . A local chain of stores (there are also locations in Bernalillo and 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.
Mama's Minerals, 1100 San Mateo NE (at the intersection of Lomas and San Mateo), +1 505 266-8443, . 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. You could spend a lot of time here.
Page One Bookstore, 11018 Montgomery NE (at the intersection of Montgomery and Juan Tabo), +1 505 294-2026, . M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-8PM. The largest independent bookstore in the city.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
$10 or less
$10 - 20
$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 dining
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 dessert is flan, a type of custard.
Acapulco, 840 San Mateo Blvd SE (near the Kirtland AFB Truman Gate), +1 505 268-9865; 2617 Wyoming Blvd NE, +1 505 237-8044. Serves excellent New Mexican cuisine from a stand.
Church Street Cafe, 2111 Church St NW (in Old Town behind the church), +1 505 247-8522, . 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.
Dos Hermanos, 6211 4th St NW, +1 505 345-4588; 7600 Jefferson NE, +1 505 828-1166; 2435 Wyoming NE, +1 505 294-8945; or 5010 Cutler NE, +1 505 881-2202, . M-Sa 7AM-3PM, Su 9AM-3PM (Wyoming location opens at 6:30AM M-Sa, and Cutler location closes at 8PM on Friday and Satruday). Deli-style New Mexican food. Tends towards the spicy side. $5-$9.
Juan's Broken Taco, 2740 Wyoming Blvd NE (NE corner of Wyoming and Candelaria behind Sandia Area Federal Credit Union and next to Bibles Plus), +1 505 296-5211, . M-F 11AM-7:45PM, Sa 11AM-4PM. All plates can be made vegetarian. $3-$8.
Little Anita's, regional chain, original in Old Town at 2105 Mountain Rd NW, +1 505 242-3102, . Daily 7AM-8PM. Consistent, great quality food with great service and atmosphere. Check out the one in Corrales on Alameda and Coors-Bypass. $3-$7.
Los Cuates, 5016-B Lomas NE, +1 505 268-0974; 4901 Lomas NE, +1 505 255-5079; 8700 Menaul NE, +1 505 237-2800, . Every day, 11AM-9PM (4901 Lomas location opens at Noon). 4901 Lomas and Menaul locations are newer facilities and serves milder chile, 5106 Lomas is an authentic diner experience. $4-$10.
Milly's, 7308 Jefferson St NE, +1 505 345-9200. Flavorful but not-too-hot chile. $3-$8.
Ortega's, 3617 Wyoming Blvd NE (north of Comanche), +1 505 298-0223. Whole grains, low fat.
Papa Felipe's Mexican Restaurant, 9800 Menaul Blvd NE, +1 505 292-8877, . Every day, 11AM-9PM. Home-cooked authentic New Mexican cuisine since 1977. $5-$10.
Pericos, 109 Yale Blvd SE (near the intersection of Yale and Central), +1 505 247-2503. Has possibly the most delicious burritos in town.
Perea's, 5801 Central Ave NE, +1 505 232-9442. Every day, 7AM-2PM. May have the hottest green chile in town.
Sadie's, 6230 4th St NW, +1 505 345-5339, . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Consistent quality. Often a long wait. Hot chile. $5-$9.
Barelas Coffee House, 1502 4th St SW, +1 505 843-7577. Daily 6AM-3PM. 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 Nickle Nips! $12+ (varies on party size, and do tip well. If you come back, the servers will literally run for you!)
Cervantes, 5801 Gibson Blvd SE, +1 505 262-2253. Excellent menu, ala carte items, full bar, World Record Margarita. Local's favorite!
El Pinto, 10500 4th Street NW, +1 505 898-1771. 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.
Garduño's of Mexico, regional chain, original at 8806 4th Street NW, +1 505 898-2772, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Consistent, good quality food with some Mexican and Arizonan influence to go with the New Mexican standards.
Monroe's, 1520 Lomas NW, +1 505 242-1111; 6051 Osuna NE, +1 505 881-4224, . Great carne adovada Indian tacos. $4-$11.
Non-New Mexican dining
Bob's Burgers, several locations around town. Daily 10:30AM-9PM. 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 foot-long chile-cheese dog with green sauce instead of traditional red.
The Dog House, 1216 Central Ave SW (in between downtown and Old Town), +1 505 243-1019. Daily, 10AM-10PM. American food, but best known for their grilled foot-long hot dogs. Very recognizable place with its dog neon sign. The dining room is very small, you may want to just eat in your car. Cash only.
Federico's Mexican Food, 1109 Juan Tabo NE, +1 505 271-6499; 640 Coors NW, +1 505 352-2120, . Open 24 hours. 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.
Frontier Restaurant, 2400 Central Ave SE (at Central & Cornell), +1 505 266-0550, . Daily 5AM-1AM. One of the most popular restaurants in Albuquerque, a big hangout for the college students at UNM. Good American & New Mexican food, the breakfast burrito here is one of the best in Albuquerque. Casual atmosphere. 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. $2-$9.
Grandma's K and I diner, 2500 Broadway Blvd SE, +1 505 243-1881. 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.
Lee's Bakery, 230-C Louisiana Blvd SE, +1 505 232-0085. 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 jalapenos. Bakery also carries various Vietnamese desserts, steamed sweet/glutinous rice with mung beans, and Vietnamese steamed pork sausages.
Pho #1, 414 San Pedro Dr SE, +1 505 268-0488. Pho: Vietnamese noodle soup. Also grilled pork / chicken / beef noodle bowl and rice plates. Great friendly service. Don't miss the Vietnamese cold coffee with condensed milk.
Que Huong, 7010 Central Ave SE, +1 505 262-0575. Vietnamese.
Route 66 Malt Shop, 1720 Central SW, . Exceptional home-made root beer, burgers, floats, etc. $3-$6.
Rudy's Country Store and BBQ, 2321 Carlisle NE, +1 505 884-4000; 10136 Coors NW, +1 505 890-7113, . Daily, 10AM-10PM. Casual, relaxed, and wonderful self-serve BBQ. Don't miss the beef brisket! $3-$6.
Saggio's Pizza, 107 Cornell Dr SE (at Central & Cornell, across the street from the Frontier), +1 505 255-5454, . 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.
66 Diner, 1405 Central Ave NE (between I-25 and University Boulevard), +1 505 247-1421, . 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.
Bangkok Cafe, 5901 Central Ave NE +1 505 255.5036, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-9:30PM, Sa Noon-9:30PM, Su Noon-9PM. Some of the best Thai food in town! The larb (meat salad), chicken and basil, and yellow curry are excellent! Basic divey atmosphere but the food can't be beat. $4-$12.
County Line BBQ, Tramway Blvd at Tramway Rd, +1 505 856-7477, . 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.
Dion's, multiple locations, . Su- Th, 10:30AM-10PM, F-Sa, 10:30AM-11PM. Best pizza in Albuquerque? They also have sandwiches.
India Palace, 4410 Wyoming NE, +1 505 271-5009. Indian.
Flying Star Cafe, multiple locations, . Su-Th 6AM-10PM, F-Sa 6AM-11PM. Wide variety of salads, sandwiches, entrees, New Mexican food, and superb desserts. Rated 'Best Bakery' in Albuquerque. Daily and weekly specials. Free wi-fi. Vast selection of magazines. $3-$11.
Ninja Sushi, 6205 Montgomery Blvd, +1 505 830-2507. Innovative, "avant garde" sushi and Japanese food. Wide selection of sushi and sashimi.
Pars Persian Cuisine, 4320 The 25 Way, Suite 100, +1 505 345-5156, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Persian. Cushion seating available, bellydancing on weekend nights. Hookah available for rental. Wonderful Persian classics. $4-$20.
Rasoi, 110 Yale Blvd SE (just south of Central), +1 505 268-5327, . Lunch daily 11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner daily 5PM-9PM. An excellent Indian restaurant with a lovely atmosphere and delicious food. The dishes are referred to by their actual Indian names. You can order from the menu, or you can go for the buffet (all you can eat, around $9). $8-$18.
Slate Street Cafe, 515 Slate NW, +1 505 243-2210, . 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. They have a nice wine list and a wine bar loft too.
Eurasia Bistro, 10701 Montgomery NE (just west of Juan Tabo), +1 505 299-9898. Japanese with European influence. Large portions, excellent sushi and sashimi. The ceviche is not to be missed.
High Finance, atop Sandia Peak, +1 505 243-9742 (reservations advised), . American. You pay for the view as well as the food, but it's an interesting experience, especially since the only way there is via the Tramway (listed above under "See"). Lunch and dinner 7 days. $7-$29.
The Rancher's Club, Albuquerque Hilton, 1901 University Blvd. NE, +1 505 889-8071, . Lunch, Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM, Dinner M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM, Su 5:30PM-9PM. The Rancher's Club is a repeat winner of the prestigious DiRoNA Award. The only AAA 4 Diamond Award Winner in Albuquerque. "American" cuisine, serving prime aged beef, seafood and poultry grilled over aromatic woods.
Terra American Bistro, 1119 Alameda Blvd. NE, +1 505 792-1700, . Lunch Tu-F 11AM-2PM, Dinner Tu-Sa 5:30PM-close. American. $7-$25.
Tucanos Brazilian Grill, 110 Central Ave SW, +1 505 246-9900, . Excellent salad bar, and a variety of meats brought to your table. $12(lunch)/$20(dinner) per person, all you can eat.
Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro, 3009 Central Ave. NE, +1 505 254-9462 (reservations advised), . Lunch M-F 11AM-2:30PM, Dinner M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Sunday brunch 11AM-2:30PM. Located 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. $8-$27.
La Montanita Natural Foods Co-Op is a local community-owned co-op offering organic food with two locations in Albuquerque:
3500 Central SE (in the Nob Hill Marketplace at Central and Carlisle), +1 505 265-4631. M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 8AM-10PM.
2400 Rio Grande NW, +1 505 242-8800. M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 8AM-10PM.
Pro's Ranch Market, 4201 Central Avenue NW (at Central and Atrisco, on the west side of the Rio Grande), +1 505 833-1765, . Daily 6AM-11PM. A California-based grocery chain geared toward the Hispanic market.
Sunflower Market, organic food 3 locations in Albuquerque. .
5112 Lomas Blvd NE (Lomas and San Mateo), +1 505 268-5127. Daily 7AM-10PM.
6300 San Mateo Blvd (San Mateo and Academy), +1 505 821-7000.
Talin Market World Food Fare, 88 Louisiana Blvd SE (at the corner of Central and Louisiana), +1 505 268-0206, . M-Sa 8:30AM-8PM, Su 9AM-7PM. International food marketplace.
Trader Joe's, . This nation-wide chain of stores has two locations in Albuquerque. Very popular with the locals.
8929 Holly Ave NE (at the intersection of Paseo del Norte and Ventura), +1 505 796-0311. Daily 9AM-9PM.
2200 Uptown Loop NE (next to ABQ Uptown mall), +1 505 883-3662. Daily 9AM-9PM.
Whole Foods Market, organic food store chain with two locations in Albuquerque:
5815 Wyoming Boulevard NE (at the intersection of Wyoming and Academy), +1 505 856-0474, . Every day, 7:30AM-9PM.
2103 Carlisle Blvd. NE (at the intersection of Carlisle and Indian School), +1 505 260-1366, . Every day, 7AM-10PM.
For your more typical chain groceries, Albertsons and Smith's each have several stores in the city.
Anodyne, 409 Central Ave NW, +1 505 244-1820. Downtown hipster bar. 100 different icy beers, pool tables galore and a killer jukebox.
Atomic Cantina, 315 Gold Ave SW, +1 505 242-2200, . Great bar if you like a little Rock with your drinks.
Burt's Tiki Lounge, 313 Gold Ave SW, +1 505 243-2878, . M-Sa 8PM-2AM. Eclectic doesn't even begin to describe Burt's. Popular nights: Monday, Geeks Who Drink pub trivia -- $2 drafts; Thursday, 75 cent Pabst's Blue Ribbon 'til midnight.
Downtown Distillery, 406 Central Ave SW, +1 505 765-1534. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 5PM-2AM. Long bar downstairs; pool lounge and bar upstairs. Jaeger specials, to say the least.
Launchpad, 618 Central Ave SW, +1 505 764-8887, . Well established music venue and rock bar.
Library Bar & Grill, 312 Central Ave SW, +1 505 242-2992. School girl dress bartenders serve bikers by day and club goers by night.
Lotus, 211 Gold Ave SW, +1 505 243-0955, . W-Sa 9PM-2AM. Unique themed nightclub. One of the few 18+ clubs in town. Thursday nights are Goth/Industrial/Electronic all other nights are House/Hip-hop/R&B.
Marble Brewery, 111 Marble St NW, +1 505 243-2739, . Fine local micro brewery located in Albuquerque's industrial heart. Limited food selection, but in a taproom -- that's the point.
One Up, 301 Central Ave NW, +1 505 242-1966, . M-Th 11AM-Midnight, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 3PM-2AM. Smoke free fine dining lounge in Downtown Albuquerque. Business casual or urban contemporary dress.
Nob Hill & UNM
Coaches Sports Grill, 1414 Central Ave SE, +1 505 242-7111. Dozens of televisions and pitchers of beer -- perfect place to quench a post Isotope or Lobo game thirst.
Copper Lounge, 1504 Central Ave SE, +1 505 242-7490. Dark dive bar, but extremely friendly patrons. Best beer special in town -- $2.50 drafts on Wednesday nights.
Gecko's Bar & Tapas, 3500 Central Ave SE, +1 505 262-1848; 5801 Academy Road NE, +1 505 821-8291, . M-Sa 11:30AM-2AM, Su 11AM-Midnight. Great atmosphere and best patios in Albuquerque for people watching. Gecko's tapas are among the best bar food you will ever stumble upon.
Imbibe, 3103 Central Ave NE, +1 505 255-4200. Cigar bar with Vegas styling. Rooftop bar and patio.
Kelly's Brewery, 3222 Central Ave SE, +1 505 262-2379, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-Midnight. Wide variety of beers brewed on site. Good food, friendly wait staff (mostly hot young ladies), and an extensive outdoor patio for people watching.
Monte Vista Fire Station, 3205 Central Ave NE, +1 505 255-2424, . M-Sa Noon-2AM, Su, Noon-Midnight. Housed above the Gruet Steakhouse, Monte Vista Fire Station roosts in a converted Depression Era fire house.
Nob Hill Bar & Grill, 3128 Central Ave SE, +1 505 266-6872, . Urban-chic bar in the heart of the Nob Hill District.
O'Neill's Pub, 4310 Central Ave SE, +1 505 255-6782, . M-Sa 11:30AM-2AM Su 11:30AM-Midnight. Great food, casual atmosphere, and a fantastic patio facing Old Route 66.
Two Fools Tavern, 3211 Central Ave NE, +1 505 265-7447, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-Midnight. Irish beers and music abound. $3.75 bottled beer, $5-$16 wines, scotches, whiskeys.
North I-25 Corridor & Heights
The Barley Room, 5200 Eubank NE, +1 505 332-0800, . Wide selection of domestic and imported beers. Good food and nice atmosphere. Live music almost every weekend. Being located in the far Northeast Heights and right next door to a mortgage company, it tends to attract an older, classier crowd.
Billy's Long Bar, 4800 San Mateo Blvd NE, +1 505 889-0573. M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su Noon-Midnight. Wide variety of beers on tap.
Chama River Brewing Company, 4931 Pan American NE, +1 505 342-1800, . Fantastic local micro brewery which also offers a solid dining experience. $3.75 16-ounce.
Horse & Angel Tavern, 5809 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, +1 505 299-0225. 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.
Il Vicino. Brewing Co. & Tap Room: 4000 Vassar NE, +1 505 830-4629, . M-Tu: Noon-5PM, W-F Noon-7PM. Restaurants: 3403 Central NE, +1 505 266-7855. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-Midnight, and 11225 Montgomery NE, Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM.  Fresh beer and gourmet pizza.
The Quarters, 801 Yale Blvd SE, +1 505 843-7505; 4516 Wyoming Blvd NE, +1 505 292-7604; 3700 Ellison Rd NW +1 505 897-3341. M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa Noon-9PM. Decent selection of beers on tap.
Stone Face Tavern, 8201 San Pedro Dr NE, +1 505 822-8855. 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.
Knuckleheads Bar & Grill, 3230 Coors Blvd NW, +1 505 839-8660. A sports bar for the barfly.
Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, 3755 Southern Blvd, Rio Rancho, +1 505 994-9497, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su Noon-9PM. Fresh beer and greasy pizza. $3.75 bottled beer.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
$75 - 175
$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 Avenue (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 for FY2008.
Albuquerque is experiencing a massive wave of hotel building, mainly in the "Mid-range" class, as of 2005. 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 amongst the punk kids and see if they'll help. Even they, however, may not have much space during the Balloon Fiesta.
Crossland Economy Studios, 5020 Ellison St. NE (North I-25 area, near the intersection of Ellison-San Antonio/I-25), ☎ +1 505 343-1100 (AQN@extendedstay.com, fax: 1 505 343-1102), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Tiny rooms, but clean and inexpensive.$50-$60.
Hiway House Motel, 3200 Central Avenue SE (in Nob Hill), ☎ +1 505 268-3971, . 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 the University of New Mexico. Bus service directly down Central Avenue to Downtown and Old Town.$40-$60.
Microtel West Albuquerque, 9910 Avalon Rd. NW (western edge of town, near the intersection of I-40 and 98th St.), ☎ ''+1 505'' 836-1686 (fax: +1 505 831-2450), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 Noon. Basic chain motel on the edge of town. Stay if you're just passing through on I-40 or heading out of town the next day, but not if you're going to be exploring Albuquerque.$60-$70.
Route 66 International Hostel, 1012 Central Avenue SW (between Downtown and Old Town), ☎ +1 505 247-1813 (email@example.com), . checkin: 4:00 PM; checkout: 10:30 AM. Only hostel in town. Centrally located, within walking distance of Old Town and Downtown.Dormitories are $20 per night, private rooms start at $25/night.
Sleep Inn Airport, 2300 International Ave. SE (off Yale north of the airport), ☎ +1 505 244-3325 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 505 244-3312), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Probably the cheapest of the several cookie-cutter hotels near the Albuquerque airport.$60-$70.
Suburban Extended Stay, 2401 Wellesley Drive, ☎ +1 505 883-8888 (email@example.com, fax: +1 (505)883-2830), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 PM. Located in a business district near the midtown area of Albuquerque, perfect for business travelers.$60-$70.
Adobe Nido Bed and Breakfast, 1124 Major Ave NW (Center of Abuquerque, I-40 & I-25), ☎ +1 505 344-1310 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: after 3PM; checkout: 11AM. A comfortable and relaxing Southwest style adobe inn with jetted tubs in all rooms and an outdoor Finnish Sauna. Healthy breakfast every morning.$119-$239.
Best Western Rio Grande Inn, 1015 Rio Grande Blvd. (north of Old Town at the intersection of I-40/Rio Grande), ☎ +1 505 843-9500 (email@example.com, fax: +1 505 843-9238), . Basic chain motel which has the advantage of being right near Old Town.$90-$120.
Bottger Mansion of Old Town, 110 San Felipe St NW (South of the Plaza), ☎ ''+1 505'' 243-3639 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 3 - 6PM; checkout: 11AM. This western Victorian house, now a bed-and-breakfast, is shaded by massive 100-year old trees and is just steps away from the Old Town plaza.$155-$179.
Comfort Inn Airport, 2300 Yale Boulevard SE, ☎ +1 505 243-2244, . $80-$100.
Courtyard Albuquerque, 5151 Journal Center Blvd. NE (North I-25/Jefferson area), ☎ ''+1 505'' 823-1919 (fax: +1 505 823-1918), . Chain motel in the North I-25 area.$140.
Courtyard Albuquerque Airport, 1920 Yale Boulevard, ☎ +1 505 843-6600, . Located in the airport area. Well lit work desks and complimentary high-speed internet.
Doubletree Hotel Albuquerque, 201 Marquette Avenue NW, ☎ +1 505 247-3344 (fax: +1 505 247-7025), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 Noon. A luxury downtown highrise hotel with many amenities, not to mention the only place directly connected to the Albuquerque Convention Center.$150-$200.
Embassy Suites Albuquerque, 1000 Woodward Place NE (just off the intersection of I-25/Lomas near downtown), ☎ +1 505 245-7100 (fax: 1 505 247-1083), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 Noon. Great hotel overlooking downtown.$120-$170.
Hawthorn Suites Albuquerque Airport, 1511 Gibson Blvd. SE (just off I-25 near the airport), ☎ +1 505 242-1555 (fax: +1 505 242-8801), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 Noon. Good airport hotel.$80.
Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque Uptown, 6510 Americas Parkway NE (just off I-40/Louisiana in Uptown area), ☎ +1 505 944-0300, . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Highrise hotel located in the Uptown area.$145-$165.
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, 800 Rio Grande Boulevard NW (just north of Old Town), ☎ +1 505 843-6300 (fax: +1 505 842-8426), . Wonderful highrise hotel within walking distance of Old Town. Approaching "splurge" territory.$130-$210.
Hyatt Place Albuquerque Uptown, 6901 Arvada Avenue NE (in the Uptown area near Louisiana/I-40), ☎ +1 505 872-9000 (email@example.com, fax: +1 505 872-3829), . Nice chain motel located in the Uptown area, right across the street from the ABQ Uptown mall.$140.
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, 330 Tijeras Ave NW, . Large hotel right in downtown Albuquerque, in the smaller of the two tallest highrises with the pyramid roof.$150-$180.
Los Poblanos Inn, 4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, ☎ +1 505 344-9297 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 505 342-1302), . Located in the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (seven miles from downtown Albuquerque) along with the La Quinta Cultural Center. The inn and 25 acre grounds are beautiful, with conference and meeting facilities available.$150-$250.
Wyndham Albuquerque Hotel, 2910 Yale Blvd. SE, ☎ +1 505 843-7000 (fax: +1 505 843-6307), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 12:00 Noon. The closest hotel to the airport, no more than 2 minutes away by shuttle, which runs on the half hour. Reasonable restaurant (Rojo's Grill) on the premises.$150-$180.
Albuquerque Marriott, 2101 Louisiana Boulevard NE (in the Uptown area, at Louisiana/I-40), ☎ +1 505 881-6800 (fax: +1 505 888-2982), . Highrise hotel located in the Uptown shopping area off I-40.$180-$200.
Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE (North I-25/Jefferson area), ☎ +1 505 821-3333 (email@example.com, fax: +1 505 828-0230), . Large hotel in "Aztec pyramid" shaped building.$180-$250.
The area code for the city is 505.
Every branch of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System provides wireless internet free for those with an Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Public Library card; otherwise, they charge $2 for an internet access card good for one year, but they require a library card to use it. The Downtown Main Library is 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 . The city's Rapid Ride buses also offer wireless connections. A large portion of UNM's main campus offers free Wi-Fi; try the Student Union Building in the middle of the 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.
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 the University of New Mexico.
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' or higher, and there is usually not much cloud cover, so one can get a bad sunburn in surprisingly short order.
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 city is divided into four quadrants, with Central Avenue as the North-South dividing line, and the train tracks as the East-West dividing line. Thus, the street address 3600 Menaul NE would be north of Central and east of the tracks. All addresses include a quadrant.
Many Albuquerqueans consider Interstates 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.
You may hear reference to "The Big Eye" in local news or traffic reports. Actually, they mean "The Big 'I'", as in interchange; the interchange of I-40 and I-25.
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 newspaper (Monday through Fridays in the school year) produced by the students of the University of New Mexico, so it focuses on events at UNM and is only available at stands on the UNM campus.
There are a number of hospitals in the city:
Presbyterian Hospital, 1100 Central Ave. SE (at the interscetion of Central and I-25), +1 505 841-1234, . Largest critical health care hospital in the city. General and acute care hospital and 24 hour emergency rooms. Laboratory, physical therapy, nursing, and X-ray/radiology available. Presbyterian also operates a branch hospital, the Kaseman Hospital, 8300 Constitution Ave. NE (at Wyoming and Constitution), +1 505 291-2000.
Lovelace Health System has a couple of facilities in the city:
Lovelace Medical Center Downtown, 601 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave NE, +1 505 727-8000.
University of New Mexico Hospital, 2211 Lomas Blvd. NE (just north of the UNM campus), +1 505 272-2111, .
New Mexico has a state-wide 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 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 located 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 Tinker Town Museum, which contains a large collection of wood carvings and Americana. Its off Highway 536 on the Turquoise Trail about 20 minutes from Albuquerque. Its open April 1st - November 1st.
Bernalillo is 15 miles north of Albuquerque on I-25 and is connected via the Rail Runner commuter train. The Coronado State Monument is a popular 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.
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 located about 30 miles south and makes a good day trip.
Mountainair, about a 90 minute drive southeast of Albuquerque, 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.