When you think of New Mexico, Santa Fe and Taos are the cities that come to mind, and they do (unfairly) get all the love. Albuquerque is mostly known for its International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place early October, or for the TV show Breaking Bad, which has a cult following. Whether or not you happen to be in ABQ during the fiesta, or are a Breaking Bad fan, there’s still a lot to do in this underrated city.
We did a lot in 3 days in Albuquerque, and really got a taste for the city. I had no idea what to expect before I went there, and came away with a great impression of the eclectic mix of activities, food, drink and culture available, along with the truly unique vibe of the city.
1. Breakfast at Sophia’s Place
First things first, let’s start with breakfast. Stop by this hole in the wall for a breakfast burrito (Christmas style) and the blue corn pancakes. You will leave full and happy, ready to take on a day of Albuquerque hiking, biking, and walking ;)
2. Wander the streets of old town Albuquerque
This historic neighborhood is a tribute to the city’s Native American and Spanish heritage, and is full of beautiful adobe buildings housing art galleries, souvenir shops, and restaurants. Stop by the city’s oldest building - the stunning Church of San Felipe de Neri.
3. Sandia Peak Tramway at sunset
If you want a majestic view of Albuquerque and the Sandia mountains, definitely take the Sandia Peak Tramway which goes up a whopping 2.7 miles up the 10000ft high summit of Sandia Peak. If you can do it at sunset, it’s even better! Once you are at the peak, get a drink at the bar up there to enjoy the views of the city and the landscape.
4. Eat all the chile you can
Red or Green? You will be asked this question at every restaurant. Chile. This defining ingredient of New Mexico cuisine comes in 2 varieties – red or green. What you will prefer is what you need to find out, and then soon get used to answering the question without flinching. I tried both at every stop, and am leaning red, but could go green too! Pro Tip: Say you want “Christmas” if you want to try both red and green!
5. Enjoy the outdoors – hiking trails
Albuquerque has a number of hiking trails both in the city and around. The Paseo Del Bosque trail, which literally goes through the metro area, is easily accessible and is a fantastic trail going along the Rio Grande river and the cottonwood forests. ABQ apparently has over 300 days of sun and good climate, so make the best of it!
6. Bike from old town
Rent bikes from the fantastic Routes Bicycle shop in old town ABQ and head to the Bosque trail, which can be easily accessed from the city. The folks at the store are super friendly and helpful – and gave us great recommendations for stops along the trail route, and biking directions to a winery. Routes also has bike tours which sound pretty cool and is on our list for a next visit (New Mexico Chile Bike tour, anyone?)
7. Stop at a NM Winery
Whether on bike or not, there are some good wineries to visit around the city. We biked about an hour from old town ABQ to Casa Rondena (thanks to Routes Rentals for the suggestion!) , which was a great stop. The grounds are beautiful, and we enjoyed a few glasses of wine at their outdoor tables. Another good stop is Gruet winery to try New Mexico sparkling and still wines. Pro Tip: If you bike from Routes to Casa Rondena, stop by the Los Poblanos Inn and Farm to walk around their grounds and enjoy a meal at their restaurant.
8. Drink Craft beer
The craft beer scene in Albuquerque is pretty big, and there are a ton of brew pubs to try. We stopped by 4 of them, which we talked about here.
9. Do a Hot air balloon ride
10. Eat at Frontier
You cannot go to Albuquerque and not eat here. Open late and great for any meal – it is a staple among students, locals, and visitors alike. Order your food at the counter and find a seat. I loved their green chile burger and the green chile stew, but the burritos got rave reviews as well. Just go!
All these are added on the Travelabulous map below - use it to plan your trip too!