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Albuquerque is the most populous city in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The high-altitude city serves as the county seat of Bernalillo County, and it is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population is 557,169 as of the July 1, 2014 population estimate from the United States Census Bureau, and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. The Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area (or MSA) has a population of 907,301 according to the United States Census Bureau's most recently available estimate for 2015.Albuquerque is the 60th-largest United States metropolitan area. The Albuquerque MSA population includes the city of Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Placitas,Corrales, Los Lunas, Belen,Bosque Farms, and forms part of the larger Albuquerque–Santa Fe–Las Vegas combined statistical area, with a total population of 1,163,964 as of the July 1, 2013 Census Bureau estimates.
Albuquerque is home to theUniversity of New Mexico (UNM),Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratories, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute,Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), Presbyterian Health Services, and Petroglyph National Monument. The Sandia Mountainsrun along the eastern side of Albuquerque, and the Rio Grande flows through the city, north to south. Albuquerque is also the home of the International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest such gathering of balloons from around the world. The event takes place during the first week of October.
|POPULATION :||• City 545,852|
• Metro 907,301
|FOUNDED :||Founded 1706 (as Alburquerque)|
Incorporated 1891 (as Albuquerque)
|TIME ZONE :||Time zone MST (UTC-7)|
Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
|AREA :||• City 189.5 sq mi (490.9 km2)|
• Land 187.7 sq mi (486.2 km2)
• Water 1.8 sq mi (4.7 km2)
|ELEVATION :||5,312 ft (1,619.1 m)|
|COORDINATES :||35°06′39″N 106°36′36″W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|ETHNIC :||69.7% White|
4.6% American Indian
|AREA CODE :||505, 575|
|POSTAL CODE :||87101–87125, 87131,|
87151, 87153, 87154,
87158, 87174, 87176,
87181, 87184, 87185,
|DIALING CODE :|
Albuquerque is a vibrant, sprawling city near the center of New Mexico. Cradled in the Rio Grande Valley beneath the Sandia Mountains, it is by far the largest city in the state, acting as the media, educational, and economic center of New Mexico, as well as the home of the state's only international airport, the Albuquerque International Sunport. Despite this, Albuquerque is often overshadowed as a tourist destination by Santa Fe, 60 mi (97 km) to the north.
But any visit to New Mexico would be incomplete without taking in what Albuquerque has to offer, as New Mexico's only major city has pleasant scenery, colorful history, and a wealth of great attractions in its own right. Here, in a setting that has been made familiar to many by the television series Breaking Bad, you'll find many excellent museums, colorful neon signs along old Route 66, the naturalistic beauty of the Rio Grande and the Sandia Mountains, and a spectacular hot-air balloon festival in the fall.
- Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau, visitor centers in Old Town at the Plaza Don Luis and in the Albuquerque International Sunport on the Baggage Claim Level, , toll-free: .
Early European settlers
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as the Spanish colonial outpost of Villa de Alburquerque.Present-day Albuquerque retains much of its historical Spanish cultural heritage.
Albuquerque was a farming community and strategically located military outpost along the Camino Real. The town was also the sheep-herding center of the West. Spain established a presidio (military garrison) in Albuquerque in 1706. After 1821, Mexico also had a military garrison there. The town of Alburquerque was built in the traditional Spanish village pattern: a central plazasurrounded by government buildings, homes, and a church. This central plaza area has been preserved and is open to the public as a museum, cultural area, and center of commerce. It is referred to as "Old Town Albuquerque" or simply "Old Town." Historically it was sometimes referred to as "La Placita" (little plaza in Spanish). On the north side of Old Town Plaza is San Felipe de Neri Church. Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city.
After the American occupation of New Mexico, Albuquerque had a federal garrison and quartermaster depot, the Post of Albuquerque, from 1846 to 1867. During the Civil War Albuquerque was occupied in February 1862 by Confederate troops under General Henry Hopkins Sibley, who soon afterward advanced with his main body into northern New Mexico. During his retreat from Union troops into Texas he made a stand on April 8, 1862, at Albuquerque and fought the Battle of Albuquerque against a detachment of Union soldiers commanded by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby. This daylong engagement at long range led to few casualties.
When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1880, it bypassed the Plaza, locating the passenger depot and railyards about 2 miles (3 km) east in what quickly became known as New Albuquerque or New Town. Many Anglo merchants, mountain men, and settlers slowly filtered into Albuquerque creating a major mercantile commercial center which is nowDowntown Albuquerque. Due to a rising rate of violent crime, gunman Milt Yarberrywas appointed the town's first marshal that year. New Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885, with Henry N. Jaffa its first mayor, and it was incorporated as a city in 1891. Old Town remained a separate community until the 1920s when it was absorbed by the city of Albuquerque. Old Albuquerque High School, the city's first public high school, was established in 1879. Congregation Albert, a Reform synagogue established in 1897, is the oldest continuing Jewish organization in the city.
Early 20th century
By 1900, Albuquerque boasted a population of 8,000 inhabitants and all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway connecting Old Town, New Town, and the recently established University of New Mexico campus on the East Mesa. In 1902, the famous Alvarado Hotel was built adjacent to the new passenger depot, and it remained a symbol of the city until it was razed in 1970 to make room for a parking lot. In 2002, the Alvarado Transportation Center was built on the site in a manner resembling the old landmark. The large metro station functions as the downtown headquarters for the city's transit department. It also serves as an intermodal hub for local buses, Greyhound buses,Amtrak passenger trains, and the Rail Runner commuter rail line.
New Mexico's dry climate brought many tuberculosis patients to the city in search of a cure during the early 20th century, and several sanitaria sprang up on the West Mesa to serve them. Presbyterian Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, two of the largest hospitals in the Southwest, had their beginnings during this period. Influential New Deal–era governor Clyde Tingley and famed Southwestern architect John Gaw Meem were among those brought to New Mexico by tuberculosis.
Decades of growth
The first travelers on Route 66 appeared in Albuquerque in 1926, and before long, dozens of motels, restaurants, and gift shops had sprung up along the roadside to serve them. Route 66 originally ran through the city on a north-south alignment along Fourth Street, but in 1937 it was realigned along Central Avenue, a more direct east-west route. The intersection of Fourth and Central downtown was the principal crossroads of the city for decades. The majority of the surviving structures from the Route 66 era are on Central, though there are also some on Fourth. Signs betweenBernalillo and Los Lunas along the old route now have brown, historical highway markers denoting it as Pre-1937 Route 66.
The establishment of Kirtland Air Force Base in 1939, Sandia Base in the early 1940s, and Sandia National Laboratories in 1949, would make Albuquerque a key player of the Atomic Age. Meanwhile, the city continued to expand outward onto the West Mesa, reaching a population of 201,189 by 1960. In 1990, it was 384,736 and in 2007 it was 518,271. In June 2007, Albuquerque was listed as the sixth fastest-growing city in America by CNN and the United States Census Bureau. In 1990, the Census Bureau reported Albuquerque's population as 34.5% Hispanic and 58.3% non-Hispanic white.
Albuquerque's downtown entered the same phase and development (decline, "urban renewal" with continued decline, and gentrification) as nearly every city across the United States. As Albuquerque spread outward, the downtown area fell into a decline. Many historic buildings were razed in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for new plazas, high-rises, and parking lots as part of the city's urban renewal phase. As of 2010, only recently has downtown come to regain much of its urban character, mainly through the construction of many new loft apartment buildings and the renovation of historic structures such as the KiMo Theater, in the gentrification phase.
During the 21st century, the Albuquerque population has continued to grow rapidly. The population of the city proper was estimated at 528,497 in 2009, up from 448,607 in the 2000 census. During 2005 and 2006, the city celebrated its tricentennial with a diverse program of cultural events.
Urban trends and issues
The passage of the Planned Growth Strategy in 2002–2004 was the community's strongest effort to create a framework for a more balanced and sustainable approach to urban growth.
Urban sprawl is limited on three sides—by the Sandia Pueblo to the north, the Isleta Pueblo and Kirtland Air Force Base to the south, and the Sandia Mountains to the east. Suburban growth continues at a strong pace to the west, beyond Petroglyph National Monument, once thought to be a natural boundary to sprawl development.
Because of less-costly land and lower taxes, much of the growth in the metropolitan area is taking place outside of the city of Albuquerque itself. In Rio Rancho to the northwest, the communities east of the mountains, and the incorporated parts of Valencia County, population growth rates approach twice that of Albuquerque. The primary cities in Valencia County are Los Lunas and Belen, both of which are home to growing industrial complexes and new residential subdivisions. The mountain towns of Tijeras, Edgewood, and Moriarty, while close enough to Albuquerque to be considered suburbs, have experienced much less growth compared to Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, and Belen. Limited water supply and rugged terrain are the main limiting factors for development in these towns. The Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), which includes constituents from throughout the Albuquerque area, was formed to ensure that these governments along the middle Rio Grande would be able to meet the needs of their rapidly rising populations. MRCOG's cornerstone project is the New Mexico Rail Runner Express. In October 2013, the "Albuquerque Journal" reported Albuquerque as the third best city to own an investment property.
Albuquerque is in the high desert [35.11N −106.64W (Elev. 4989 ft/1521 m)] 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°F/34°C, and temperatures near 100°F/38°C 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.
Climate data for Albuquerque
|Record high °F (°C)||72|
|Average high °F (°C)||46.8|
|Average low °F (°C)||26.1|
|Record low °F (°C)||−17|
According to the United States Census Bureau, Albuquerque has a total area of189.5 square miles (490.9 km2), of which187.7 square miles (486.2 km2) is land and1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), or 0.96%, is water.
Albuquerque lies within the northern, upper edges of the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion, based on long-term patterns of climate, associations of plants and wildlife, and landforms, including drainage patterns. Located in central New Mexico, the city also has noticeable influences from the adjacent Colorado Plateau semi-desert, Arizona–New Mexico Mountains, and Southwest plateaus and plains steppe ecoregions, depending on where one is located. Its main geographic connection lies with southern New Mexico, while culturally, Albuquerque is a crossroads of most of New Mexico.
Albuquerque has one of the highest elevations of any major city in the United States, though the effects of this are greatly tempered by its southwesterly continental position. The elevation of the city ranges from 4,900 feet (1,490 m) above sea level near the Rio Grande (in the Valley) to over 6,700 feet (1,950 m) in the foothill areas of Sandia Heights and Glenwood Hills. At the airport, the elevation is 5,352 feet (1,631 m) above sea level.
The Rio Grande is classified, like the Nile, as an "exotic" river because it flows through a desert. The New Mexico portion of the Rio Grande lies within the Rio Grande Rift Valley, bordered by a system of faults, including those that lifted up the adjacent Sandia and Manzano Mountains, while lowering the area where the life-sustaining Rio Grande now flows.
Albuquerque lies at the center of the New Mexico Technology Corridor, a concentration of high-tech private companies and government institutions along the Rio Grande. Larger institutions whose employees contribute to the population are numerous and include Sandia National Laboratories,Kirtland Air Force Base, and the attendant contracting companies which bring highly educated workers to a somewhat isolated region. Intel operates a large semiconductor factory or "fab" in suburban Rio Rancho, in neighboring Sandoval County, with its attendant large capital investment. Northrop Grumman is located along I-25 in northeast Albuquerque, and Tempur-Pedic is located on the West Mesa next to I-40.
The solar energy and architectural-design innovator Steve Baer located his company, Zomeworks, to the region in the late 1960s; and Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory cooperate here in an enterprise that began with the Manhattan Project. In January 2007, Tempur-Pedic opened an 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2) mattress factory in northwest Albuquerque. SCHOTT Solar, Inc., announced in January 2008 they will open a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) facility manufacturing receivers for concentrated solar thermal power plants (CSP) and 64MW of photovoltaic (PV) modules. The facility closed in 2012.
Forbes magazine rated Albuquerque as the best city in America for business and careers in 2006 and as the 13th best (out of 200 metro areas) in 2008. The city was rated seventh among America's Engineering Capitals in 2014 by Forbesmagazine. Albuquerque ranked among the Top 10 Best Cities to Live by U.S. News & World Report in 2009 and was recognized as the fourth best place to live for families by the TLC network. It was ranked among the Top Best Cities for Jobs in 2007 and among the Top 50 Best Places to Live and Play by National Geographic Adventure magazine.
Albuquerque is geographically divided into four quadrants which are officially part of the mailing address. They are NE (northeast), NW (northwest), SE (southeast), andSW (southwest). The north-south dividing line is Central Avenue (the path that Route 66 took through the city) and the east-west dividing line is the BNSF Railway tracks.
This quadrant has been experiencing a housing expansion since the late 1950s. It abuts the base of the Sandia Mountains and contains portions of the foothills neighborhoods, which are significantly higher, in elevation and price range, than the rest of the city. Running from Central Avenue and the railroad tracks to the Sandia Peak Aerial Tram, this is the largest quadrant both geographically and by population. The University of New Mexico, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Nob Hill, the Uptown area which includes two shopping malls (Coronado Centerand ABQ Uptown), Hoffmantown, Journal Center, and Balloon Fiesta Park are all located in this quadrant.
Some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city are located here, including:High Desert, Tanoan, Sandia Heights, and North Albuquerque Acres. (Parts of Sandia Heights and North Albuquerque Acres are outside the city limits proper). A few houses in the farthest reach of this quadrant lie in the Cibola National Forest, just over the line into Sandoval County.
This quadrant contains historic Old Town Albuquerque, which dates back to the 18th century, as well as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The area has a mixture of commercial districts and low- to middle-income neighborhoods. Northwest Albuquerque includes the largest section ofdowntown, Rio Grande Nature Center State Park and the Bosque ("woodlands"),Petroglyph National Monument, Double Eagle II Airport, Martineztown, the Paradise Hills neighborhood, Taylor Ranch, andCottonwood Mall.
Additionally, the "North Valley" area, which has some expensive homes and small ranches along the Rio Grande, is located here. The city of Albuquerque engulfs the village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and borders Corrales in the North Valley. A small portion of the rapidly developing area on the west side of the river south of the Petroglyphs, known as the "West Mesa" or "Westside", consisting primarily of traditional residential subdivisions, also extends into this quadrant. The city proper is bordered on the north by the city of Rio Rancho.
Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratories, Sandia Science & Technology Park, Albuquerque International Sunport,Eclipse Aerospace, American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque Veloport, University Stadium, Isotopes Park,The Pit, Mesa del Sol, The Pavilion, Albuquerque Studios, Isleta Resort & Casino, National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, New Mexico Veterans' Memorial, and Talin Market are all located in the Southeast (SE) quadrant.
The upscale neighborhood of Four Hills is located in the foothills of Southeast Albuquerque. Other neighborhoods include Nob Hill, Ridgecrest, Willow Wood, and Volterra.
Traditionally consisting of agricultural and rural areas and suburban neighborhoods, the Southwest quadrant contains the community of South Valley, New Mexico, often referred to as "The South Valley". Although the city limits of Albuquerque do not include the South Valley, it extends all the way to the Isleta Indian Reservation. Newer suburban subdivisions on the West Mesa near the southwestern city limits join homes of older construction, some dating back as far as the 1940s. This quadrant includes the old communities of Atrisco, Los Padillas, Kinney, Westgate, Westside, Alamosa, Mountainview, and Pajarito. The south end of downtown Albuquerque, the Bosque ("woodlands"), the Barelas neighborhood, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the Albuquerque Biological Park are also located here.
A new adopted development plan, the Santolina Master Plan, will extend development further west past 118th Street SW to the edge of the Rio Puerco Valley, and house 100,000 by 2050. It is unclear at this time whether the Santolina development will be annexed into the City of Albuquerque or incorporated into its own city when its development does occur.
The area code for the city is 505.
Every branch of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System provides free wifi; they also have computers available but these require that you purchase an internet access card for $3. The 2 Main Library is Downtown 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. Also, it is free to connect to the guest wifi on the UNM 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.
- 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 news service (Monday through Fridays in the school year) produced by UNM students. The online version is updated daily, but the printed version is only distributed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Prices in Albuquerque
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.85|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$10.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$28.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$46.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.90|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$5.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$4.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$9.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$12.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.09|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$7.10|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.70|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$41.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$39.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$70.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
65 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
221 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
The Albuquerque International Sunport (IATA: ABQ) is the major air hub for all of New Mexico. Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United serve the Sunport with limited service to their respective major hubs, but it's Southwest Airlines that operates most traffic into ABQ, with direct service to most western cities as well as some of Southwest's hubs in the Midwest and eastern United States.
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, and is a more pleasant place than most airports to kill time while waiting for a flight. The Sunport also has charging stations for electronics and free wireless internet access. The major car rental companies are nearby, with a shuttle from the airport to the large rental center. The airport is served by a number of shuttle services as well as local bus #50, located on the lower level at the west end of the shuttle island.
Albuquerque is a layover stop along Amtrak's Southwest Chief daily train route. The depot is at the 2 Alvarado Transportation Center, in downtown at 320 First St 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 12:55 PM. 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. The main station is at the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown, which has regular bus connections along Central Avenue and 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 $4–10. Tickets can be purchased online or from ticket agents on the train.
Two interstate highways pass through: 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 Ave. is part of old Route 66. A minor note of caution: I-25 south of the city is a "safety corridor" in which state law mandates higher fines for traffic violations. Enforcement is spotty, but take the speed limits seriously anyway.
Transportation - Get Around
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. The city is divided into four quadrants, with street addresses taking the form "12345 Main St. (NE/NW/SE/SW)" in which the NE/NW/SE/SW 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 Ave. is the north–south dividing line. Thus, the street address 3600 Menaul NE would be north of Central and east of the railroad tracks. 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.
By and large it's difficult to get truly lost in Albuquerque, thanks in large part to the looming presence of the Sandia Mountains to the east. If you can also remember that I-25 runs north–south, I-40 runs east–west, 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 and through Downtown just west of I-25 and past the University of New Mexico (UNM for short) just east of I-25.
- The Heights are the eastern part of town closest to the Sandia Mountains. You may also hear reference to the Foothills, which are the most extreme eastern part of the city, right at the base of the mountains.
- Uptown is a business and shopping district located in the Heights at I-40 and Louisiana Blvd.
- 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 south of Central Avenue west of I-25.
- The Westside is all the suburban neighborhoods on the western side of the river. Rio Rancho, a separate community from Albuquerque, is the metro area's largest suburb and can be considered a northern extension of the Westside.
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. The interchange of I-40 and I-25 is commonly called "The Big I", and you will hear it referred to as such in traffic reports. Traffic congestion, while not nearly as horrible as some of the other cities in the Western U.S., can still get bad during the rush hour and on Saturdays. The two interstates and the river crossings usually have the worst congestion.
Many Albuquerqueans seem to consider I-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.
Keep in mind that driving while talking on your cell phone is illegal in Albuquerque unless you use a hands-free system.
ABQ RIDE, +1 505 243-RIDE, is Albuquerque's public transit system. Despite some recent strides in the development of its public transit system, Albuquerque is still primarily a driving city, so with the exception of Central Avenue public transit 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 as well as a Rail Runner station. Bus service is reduced during the weekend.
The Rapid Ride is an express bus service operated by ABQ Ride which runs frequently, utilizing bright red articulated buses. There are three Rapid Ride routes: the #766 (Red Line) and #777 (Green Line) each run very frequently and almost entirely on Central Avenue, serving attractions such as the BioPark, Old Town, Downtown, UNM, Nob Hill, the fairgrounds, and Uptown; the #766 runs between Uptown and Unser/Central on the Westside, while the #777 runs between Downtown and Tramway/Central on the eastern edge of the city. Additionally, the #790 (Blue Line) connects UNM to the Cottonwood Mall area on the Westside, but runs less frequently than the Central Avenue lines and is geared more towards commuters. Local routes that are useful for visitors include the #50, which runs Monday-Saturday between the airport and Downtown; and #40 (the "D-Ride"), a free shuttle which circulates around Downtown on the weekdays.
Standard fares for ABQ Ride routes are $1 per ride, with discounts for seniors and children available (cash only; exact change required). A day pass costs $2. A day pass is included in the price of a Rail Runner Express day pass, so visitors who ride the Rail Runner train to Albuquerque can also ride the bus for free using their train ticket.
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 on the eastern side of the city; plan accordingly. Getting around by bike can be a mixed bag in Albuquerque: street cycling can be risky as drivers may not always be aware and most major streets lack bicycle lanes (and even those that do have lanes may require uncomfortably close proximity to fast traffic). On the other hand, Albuquerque has a very proactive cycling community and a splendid paved trail network which is undergoing an expansion phase.
The crown jewel in this network is the Paseo del Bosque Trail, which runs along the east side of the Rio Grande and offers lovely riverside scenery. Another backbone to the trail network is the North Diversion Channel Trail which runs from UNM north to Balloon Fiesta Park, and while not nearly as scenic as the Bosque trail (it runs along a concrete drainage channel and past some industry) it offers the occasional grand vista of the city. Another fun ride is the paved trail alongTramway Boulevard on the eastern edge of the city, which offers excellent views of the city and access to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. You can find a complete bike map of all the trails, lanes, and recommended routes 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.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
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 Ave. 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.
- Albuquerque Photographer's Gallery, 303 Romero St NW, STE N208 (upstairs), . M-Sa 11AM-5:30PM, Su noon-5PM. A juried photography co-op of award-winning photographers, representing a wide variety of styles and techniques.
- Amapola Gallery, 205 Romero St NW, . Daily 10AM-5PM. Co-op of 40 contemporary artists selling a wide variety of southwestern arts and crafts.
- The Candy Lady, 524 Romero St. NW (corner of Mountain & Rio Grande), . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. A popular candy shop with lots of homemade fudge, chocolates, caramels, and other sweets, though it has also gained notice for providing the blue-colored hard candy that served as the meth prop in the locally-set Breaking Bad television series. You can buy a bag of a faithful recreation of the prop, which is now one of the shop's most popular products.
- Mama's Minerals, 800 20th St NW (at 20th and Bellamah, behind Hotel Albuquerque), . 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. Anyone even slightly interested in geology could spend a lot of time here.
- Old Town Emporium, 204 San Felipe NW, . 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 St NW, . Featuring works by several popular artists, including noted local painter R.C. Gorman.
- Tanner Chaney Gallery, 323 Romero St NW, . M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM, Su noon-5:30PM. A long-standing business selling native arts and crafts.
- Downtown, particularly along Central and Gold Aves. (one block S 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, . Tu-F 9:30AM–5:30PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM. Has a huge selection of Western hats.
- Patrician Design, 216 Gold Ave SW, . M-F 8AM-6PM. A retail boutique with art, jewelry, and some nifty around-the-home accessories.
- Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry, 510 Central Ave SW, . M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM. Indian jewelry, arts, and crafts in a lovely building dating back to the heyday of Route 66.
- Sumner & Dene, 517 Central Ave NW, . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM. Fine art, jewelry, and furnishings.
- 2 Time Couture, 600 Central Ave SE (two blocks W of I-25, in the "EDo" neighborhood), . Su-M 10:30AM-3PM, Tu-F 10:30AM-6PM, Sa 10:30AM-5PM. An upscale designer consignment boutique offering top quality clothing, accessories and handbags.
- Nob Hill, along Central Avenue from Girard Boulevard to Washington Street. 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 (in the Nob Hill Business Center), . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Stock up on all your herb supplies and herbal remedies here.
- Masks Y Mas, 3106 Central Ave SE, . M-Th 11AM-6PM, F-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-5PM. An art gallery and store cram packed with Day of the Dead folk art.
- Objects of Desire, 3225 Central Ave NE, . Fine furnishings and accessories.
- Coronado Mall, Menaul and Louisiana. A typical indoor suburban mall, anchored by Macy's, JCPenney, Mervyn's and Sears. Most of the major 'big box' retailers are also in the general area, in both directions along I-40.
- ABQ Uptown, Indian School and Louisiana (across the street from Coronado Mall).An outdoor mall with more high-end retail stores, such as Apple Computer, Talbots, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma.
- Cottonwood Mall, Coors Blvd & Coors Bypass, on the west side of Albuquerque, . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A typical indoor mall, the surrounding area contains most typical 'big box' retailers.
Outside these areas, there are also some specific businesses around town that are worth your time:
- Active Imagination, 11200 Montgomery Blvd NE (SE corner of the intersection of Montgomery and Juan Tabo), . Daily 11AM-midnight. Formerly Wargames West on Central, this store has a long history in Albuquerque. Features cards, board games, role-playing games and a gambit of miniature table-top games. Open boardgame night is Thursday, but you're bound to find people gaming any night of the week.
- Bien Mur Indian Market Center, 100 Bien Mur Dr NE (N of Albuquerque at the Sandia Pueblo, off the intersection of Tramway and I-25), . M-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM, Su 11AM-5:30PM. 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. A locally-owned jewelry chain in Albuquerque with plenty of antiques and Southwestern jewelry. There are three locations around the city:
- Gertrude Zachary Jewelry Showroom, 1501 Lomas NW (between Old Town and Downtown), . M-Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM.
- Gertrude Zachary Antiques Showroom, 416 Second St SW (in Downtown), . F-Sa 10AM-5PM, or by appointment.
- Gertrude Zachary Nob Hill, 3300 Central Ave SE, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM.
- Jackalope, 6400 San Mateo Blvd NE (near the intersection of San Mateo and I-25), . Daily 9AM-6PM. A local chain of stores (there is also a location in 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.
- Page One Bookstore, 11018 Montgomery NE (SW corner of the intersection of Montgomery and Juan Tabo), . M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-8PM. The largest independent bookstore in the city.
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 desserts are flan, a type of custard, or Natillas, closer in texture to pudding.
- Acapulco, 840 San Mateo Blvd SE (alternate location at 2617 Wyoming Blvd NE)(near the Kirtland AFB Truman Gate), . Serves excellent New Mexican cuisine from a stand.
- Church Street Cafe, 2111 Church St NW (in Old Town behind the church), . 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.
- Durans Central Pharmacy, 1815 Central Ave NW, . M–F 9AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. An inexpensive lunch counter in the back of a pharmacy serving cheap, hearty New Mexican cuisine. $5–9.
- Little Anita's, regional chain, original in Old Town at 2105 Mountain Rd NW, . 7AM-9PM daily. Consistent, great quality food with great service and atmosphere. $3–7.
- Los Cuates, regional chain, main location at 4901 Lomas NE, .11AM-9PM daily. A pleasant sit-down restaurant with a milder chile. $4–10.
- Milly's, 7308 Jefferson St NE (alternate location at 2100 Candelaria Road), . M-F 6:30AM-3PM. Flavorful but not-too-hot chile. $3–8.
- Ortega's Mexican Restaurant, 3617 Wyoming Blvd NE (N of Comanche), . M-Sa 11AM-8:30PM. Whole grains, low fat.
- Papa Felipe's Mexican Restaurant, 9800 Menaul Blvd NE, , e-mail: [email protected]. 11AM-9PM daily. Fri & Sat til 10PM. Home-cooked, authentic New Mexican cuisine since 1977. Lunch and Senior specials. Full bar and happy hour. $7.50-20.
- Perea's, 1140 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, . M-Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7AM-2PM.May have the hottest green chile in town.
- Sadie's of New Mexico, regional chain, original at 6230 4th St NW, . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Consistent quality. Often a long wait. Hot chile.$5–9.
- Barelas Coffee House, 1502 4th St SW, . 6AM-3PM daily. 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 Nik-L-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, . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Excellent menu, ala carte items, full bar, World Record Margarita. Local favorite.
- El Pinto, 10500 4th St NW, . 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, and the restaurant is also the purveyor of a popular local brand of salsa.
- Garduño's of Mexico, 2100 Louisiana Blvd NE (alternate location at Cottonwood Mall), . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 10:30AM-9PM.Consistent, good quality food with some Mexican and Arizonan influence to go with the New Mexican standards.
- Monroe's, 1520 Lomas NW (alternate location at 6051 Osuna NE), . M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa-Su 9AM-9PM. Great carne adovada Indian tacos. $4–11.
Non-New Mexican dining
- Banh Mi Coda, 230 Louisiana Blvd SE, . 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 jalapeños. Bakery also carries various Vietnamese desserts, steamed sweet/glutinous rice with mung beans, and Vietnamese steamed pork sausages.
- Bob's Burgers, several locations around town; Central location at 4506 Central Ave SW, . 10:30AM-9PM daily. 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 (between downtown and Old Town), . 10AM-10PM daily. An Albuquerque classic - greasy fast food joint, best known for their grilled foot-long hot dogs. Very recognizable place with its dog neon sign. The dining room is very small, so you may want to just eat in your car. Cash only.
- Federico's Mexican Food, several locations around town; Zuni location at 5555 Zuni SE, . 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), . 5AM-1AM daily. One of the most popular restaurants in Albuquerque; a big hangout for the college students at UNM. Good American and New Mexican food, the breakfast burrito here is one of the best in Albuquerque. The atmosphere is casual, and it's a great place to people-watch and witness a good cross-section of the city's population. 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. $3–9.
- Grandma's K&I Diner, 2500 Broadway Blvd SE, . Daily 6AM-3PM. 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.
- Pericos, 109 Yale Blvd SE (near the intersection of Yale and Central), . M-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 10-6PM. A small Mexican/New Mexican greasy hole-in-the-wall joint with lousy service, but delicious burritos. $3–7.
- Pho #1, 414 San Pedro Dr SE, . 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, . Bright, clean Vietnamese restaurant serving a range of Southeast Asian specialties for very good prices.
- Route 66 Malt Shop, 3800 Central SE (two blocks east of Carlisle in Nob Hill), . M 11AM-8PM, Tu-Th 8AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 8AM-3PM.Exceptional home-made root beer, burgers, floats, etc. $4–8.
- Rudy's Country Store and BBQ, 2321 Carlisle NE (alternate location at 10136 Coors NW), . 7AM-10PM daily. 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 Restaurant), . 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 Blvd), . 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.
- County Line BBQ, 9600 Tramway Blvd NE, . W-F 11:30AM-2PM and 5-9PM, Sa-Su 11:30AM-9PM. 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; Central location at 4717 Central Ave NE, . Su-Th, 10:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 10:30AM-11PM. A popular local chain of pizzerias, serving some of the best pizza in Albuquerque. They also have sandwiches.
- Il Vicino, multiple locations; Nob Hill location at 3403 Central Ave NE, . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight. Fresh gourmet pizza and beer.
- Flying Star Cafe, multiple locations; Nob Hill location at 3416 Central Ave SE, . Su-Th 6AM-11PM, F-Sa 6AM-Midnight. A local space age-themed chain with a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, entrees, New Mexican food, and superb desserts. Rated 'Best Bakery' in Albuquerque. Daily and weekly specials. Free wi-fi and comfy seating areas. Vast selection of magazines. Flying Star also operates the localSatellite Coffee chain, which has a great coffee selection and some of the same pastries you'll find at the Flying Star. $3-11.
- Pars Cuisine, 4320 The 25 Way, Ste 100, . M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Persian food. Cushion seating available, bellydancing on weekend nights. Hookah available for rental. Wonderful Persian classics. $4–20.
- Rasoi, 110 Yale Blvd SE (just S of Central), . Lunch 11:30AM–2:30PM daily, dinner 5PM-9PM daily. 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, . 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 cuisine. They have a nice wine list and a wine bar loft too.
- Taj Mahal, 1430 Carlisle Blvd NE, . Lunch 11AM-2:30PM, Dinner 5PM-10PM. Excellent Indian food. $3–15.
- Thai Tip, 1512 Wyoming NE, . A Thai restaurant with a loyal local following, and for good reason. Friendly owners and relaxed atmosphere.
- Artichoke Cafe, 424 Central Ave SE (corner of Central and Edith), . Lunch M-F 11AM-2:30PM; dinner Su-Th 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 5-10PM. American cuisine and a popular restaurant in the downtown area. Great creamy artichoke soup and excellent salmon. Very pleasant ambiance. $9–30.
- High Finance, atop Sandia Peak, . Lunch W-Su 11AM-3PM; dinner daily 4:30PM-8PM. American cuisine. 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"). Reservations strongly advised. $7–29.
- The Rancher's Club, Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, 1901 University Blvd NE, . M 5:30PM-10PM, Tu-Th 11:30AM-2PM and 5:30PM-10PM, F 11:30AM-2PM and 5:30PM-10:30PM, Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM, Su 5:30PM-9PM. One of the finest restaurants in Albuquerque, and the winner of multiple awards. American cuisine, serving prime aged beef, seafood and poultry grilled over aromatic woods.
- Terra American Bistro, 1119 Alameda Blvd NE, . Tu-F 11AM-2PM and 5:30PM-close, Sa 5:30PM-close. A very nice restaurant to have a romantic dinner or to bring friends and have a wine tasting from a very intense wine menu. Terra makes everything in house from scratch - no store bought sauces, soups, dressings, etc.$7-25.
- Tucanos Brazilian Grill, 110 Central Ave SW, . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9PM. 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, . M-Th 11AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10PM, F 11AM-2:30PM and 5PM-11PM, Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 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. Reservations advised. $8-27.
- La Montanita Natural Foods Co-Op. A local community-owned co-op offering organic food with two locations in Albuquerque:
- La Montanita Nob Hill, 3500 Central Ave SE (in the Nob Hill Marketplace at Central and Carlisle), . M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 8AM-10PM. Slightly spaced out till staff.
- La Montanita Valley, 2400 Rio Grande NW, . M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 8AM-10PM.
- Los Altos Ranch Market, 4201 Central Ave NW (at Central and Atrisco, on the W side of the Rio Grande), . 8AM-10PM daily. A California-based grocery chain geared toward the Hispanic crowd.
- Sprouts. 8AM-11PM. Local organic food store chain with 4 locations in Albuquerque. Good place, even have diet Indian tonic if you like a gin and tonic.
- Sprouts on Corrales, 10701 Corrales Rd NW, . 7:30AM-10PM daily.
- Sprouts on Lomas, 5112 Lomas Blvd NE (Lomas and San Mateo), . 7AM-10PM daily.
- Sprouts on Montgomery, 11205 Montgomery Blvd NE (Montgomery and Juan Tabo), . 7AM-10PM daily.
- Sprouts on San Mateo, 6300 San Mateo Blvd (San Mateo and Academy), . 7AM-10PM daily.
- Talin Market World Food Fare, 88 Louisiana Blvd SE (at the corner of Central and Louisiana), . M-Sa 8:30AM-8PM, Su 9AM-7PM. International food marketplace.
- Trader Joe's. Two locations in Albuquerque:
- Trader Joe's Far Heights, 8929 Holly Ave NE (at the intersection of Paseo del Norte and Ventura), . 9AM-9PM daily.
- Trader Joe's Uptown, 2200 Uptown Loop NE (next to ABQ Uptown mall), . 9AM-9PM daily.
- Whole Foods Market. Organic food store chain with two locations in Albuquerque:
Sights & Landmarks
- Albuquerque Biological Park, .Includes the city's aquarium, botanical garden, 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/Botanic Garden and the Zoo. The train runs Tu-Su from around 10AM-4PM at 30 min. intervals.
- Rio Grande Zoo, 903 Tenth St SW (just SW of downtown). 9AM-5PM daily, except major holidays. It may not be as big as your average big city zoo, but this zoo is surprisingly comprehensive for its size, with most of the popular species you can expect to find at any good zoo: polar bears, lions, zebras, tigers, giraffes, elephants, gorillas, etc. And like any good zoo, the animals are in nice, naturalistic exhibits. The highlight exhibit areas are the seals, the polar bears, a large Africa area, and a large elephant enclosure. Every day there are scheduled feedings of the seals and the polar bears; during the warmer months more feeding times, activities, and outdoor concerts are scheduled. A small narrow-gauge train runs through the zoo (Tu-Su 10AM-3:30PM at 20 min. 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/Botanic Garden. $12.50, $5.50 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
- ABQ BioPark Aquarium, 2601 Central Ave NW (just east of the Rio Grande).9AM-5PM daily, except major holidays. Albuquerque's small but pleasant aquarium is well-curated, with exhibits designed to simulate the Rio Grande and the saltwater marshes of the Gulf of Mexico before moving on to ocean species. Among the sea creatures on display are jellyfish, seahorses, eels, and plenty of colorful reef fish, with the highlight being a huge tank at the end with sharks, sea turtles, and rays. Divers enter the big tank every day from 2-3PM to feed the fish. $12.50, $5.50 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (includes admission to Botanic Garden; train rides require separate admission, unless you have a combo ticket).
- ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, 2601 Central Ave NW (just east of the Rio Grande). 9AM-5PM daily, except major holidays. Next door to the Aquarium, this expansive botanical garden is one of Albuquerque's real gems. The place is an oasis with a variety of gardens to explore, with an emphasis on high desert plants but also with many highlight exhibits that are great for children: an indoor conservatory with lush Mediterranean plants, an insectarium with plenty of creepy-crawlies, an indoor butterfly pavilion that's open in the summer, a large Japanese garden with a koi pond and a waterfall, a recreation of an early 20th century farm with a barnyard petting zoo, a model railroad, and a fantastic children's "Fantasy Garden" made to look as if you've shrunk down to a bug's size, with giant pretend vegetables, garden tools and bugs.$12.50, $5.50 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (includes admission to Aquarium; 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 Balloon Fiesta Park), . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. Overlooking the balloon launch field is this very interesting museum dedicated to the science and history of ballooning, with exhibits on hot air balloons and other lighter-than-air craft (including a couple of historic craft occupying the expansive hall), collections and memorabilia from famous balloonists, and extensive exhibits on ballooning in Albuquerque. If you can't make it to the Balloon Fiesta, this is next best thing, and if youcan make it to the Balloon Fiesta, this makes for an excellent complement to a morning spent at a mass ascension. $4 adults, $2 seniors, $1 children, age 3 and under free (Sunday mornings free).
- Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St NW (just north of I-40), . 9AM-4:30PM daily, closed on major holidays. A tourist complex operated by the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico. Though there is a museum about pueblo history and culture on-site, it's rather small and tucked away, with most of the complex given over to more lucrative ventures like an art gallery, a restaurant, and a large gift shop (a better museum experience can be found at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture up in Santa Fe). Besides the gift shop, the best reason to visit this place is the regularly scheduled Indian dances which take place in the courtyard. $6, $4 children, under age 5 free.
- National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St SW (south of downtown), . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM, closed major holidays. A large complex of buildings dedicated to Hispanic culture, with a small but very interesting art museum with changing exhibitions of Hispanic art. There is also a library, restaurant, gift shop, and a regular schedule of special events and performances. $3, $2 seniors, aged 16 and under free (free on Sundays).
- 7 National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, 601 Eubank Blvd SE (at Southern Blvd, near the Kirtland Air Force Base), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily except major holidays. A museum devoted to things nuclear, with extensive exhibits on the history of nuclear weapons including replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped in WWII as well as other weapons and displays on arms control and uses of atomic energy. Even for those who are skeptical of the merits of nuclear arms and power, a visit to this museum makes for an interesting experience; a particularly illuminating exhibit is a guestbook where visitors are invited to share their thoughts regarding the use of atomic bombs on Japan, and as one might expect, such a controversial matter invites a wide variety of strong opinions. Outside the museum is a collection of nuclear-capable aircraft standing alongside rockets, missiles, and even a cannon designed to fire nuclear bombs. $8, $7 seniors/youth, $6 military, age 5 and under free.
- Sandia Peak Tramway, off Tramway Blvd on the NE corner of the city, . Operates every 20-30 min. from 9AM until evening (no morning rides on off-season Tu), with closures in April and October for maintenance. Runs from a lower terminus in the northeast heights to the top of 10,400-foot (3169 m) Sandia Peak east of the city, and is one of the longest and most spectacular aerial tramways in the world. The first upward tram departs at 9AM (except Tu in the off season), and service continues until early evening. The 15-min. 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. $20 round trip for adults, $17 round trip for teens and seniors, and $12 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, . 10AM-4PM daily. 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. $10, $6 seniors, under age 16 free.
Located east of Rio Grande Boulevard in between Central Ave. and Mountain Rd. (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; 18th century architecture with narrow brick paths is blended with adobe architecture, and there are lots of little nooks and crannies, small restaurants, and specialty shops. At the center of the district is the pleasant Old Town Plaza, which has a gazebo, historic exhibits, and 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 Rd., just a few blocks northeast of the Plaza.
- Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, 2000 Mountain Rd NW, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM except major holidays. Guided walking tours of Old Town start here. An excellent example of a city-specific museum, with a large permanent collection of Southwestern art, changing art exhibitions, artifacts from the history of colonial New Mexico and Albuquerque through the years (with some pretty neat items, like conquistador armor and antique cars), and an outdoor sculpture garden. The Albuquerque Museum also operates the historic home of Casa San Ysidro in nearby Corrales for tours. $4, $2 seniors, $3 teens, $1 children, under age 4 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), . 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, and the gift shop is not to be missed. $5, $4 seniors/students, $3 children.
- ¡Explora! Science Center and Children's Museum, 1701 Mountain Rd NW, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM except major holidays. A truly splendid science and children's museum, this museum has lots of interactive exhibits teaching science, technology, and art. There are some fantastic exhibits here, like a laminar flow fountain with water jets you can turn on and off, an experiment bar, a high-wire bike, and a robotics lab. $8, $5 seniors, $4 children, under age 1 free.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Rd NW, . 9AM-5PM daily (closed on major holidays, and non-holiday M 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 a large-screen theater are also in the building. $7, $6 seniors, $4 children, under age 3 free (separate fee required for planetarium and Dynatheater).
- Turquoise Museum, 2107 Central Ave NW (in the strip mall on the NW corner of Central and Rio Grande), . 90-minute tours at 11AM and 1PM, M-Sa.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. Reservations required. $10, $8 children/seniors.
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico, between Central Ave., Girard Blvd., Lomas Blvd., and University Blvd (east of I-25).
By far the largest institution of higher education in the state, UNM has a significant presence in the center of the city. The main campus makes a very pleasant diversion, with its Pueblo-Revival adobe buildings and pleasant landscaping. Near the center of the campus is a Duck Pond, a popular relaxing spot for students where you can rest on the lawns and feed the birds.
- Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Redondo Dr (just east of University Blvd. between Las Lomas and Martin Luther King Jr. Ave), . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM, closed Su M, and major holidays. The anthropology department at UNM has been acclaimed as one of the finest in the nation, and over the years its field schools have amassed an impressive collection of artifacts. The museum has changing exhibits and two permanent exhibits; one showcasing the evolution of humans from primates, and the other focusing on the prehistoric native cultures in the American Southwest, with a reconstruction of an archaeological dig in Chaco Canyon. Free.
- Meteorite and Geology Museums, in Northrop Hall, on the Yale walkway just north of Central Ave, . M-F 10AM-4PM. In the university's geology department building are a pair of galleries with minerals, fossils, and meteorites collected by UNM faculty and students, as well as exhibits about local geology. Free.
- University Art Museum, in the Center for the Arts building, on the Cornell walkway near the bookstore, just north of Central Ave, . Tu-F 9AM-4PM, Sa Su 1PM-4PM. Changing exhibitions of art, with a focus on New Mexico and UNM artists. Free.
- Breaking Bad Tour — A tour of filming locations from Albuquerque's main claim to fame: the popular television series Breaking Bad, which was set and produced almost exclusively in Albuquerque. This itinerary contains most of the filming locations for the show as well as some local businesses selling show-inspired products.
Things to do
- Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd, . 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.
- Petroglyph National Monument, visitor center at 6001 Unser Blvd NW, . Day use only. On the west side of town, Petroglyph is a unit of theUnited States National Parks system and preserves a significant archaeological site with an impressive number of petroglyphs. Despite their proximity to an urban center, the petroglyphs are in good condition with very little vandalism or theft. The monument has a visitor center with some interpretive exhibits and a few short trails that lead past numerous petroglyphs. Also within the monument are a series of volcanic cinder cones overlooking the city, accessible by hiking trails from Atrisco Vista Blvd along the backside of the monument. Free, parking at Boca Negra Canyon trailhead $1 weekdays/$2 weekends.
- 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 thebosque (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, two of the most prominent listed below. Free.
- Rio Grande Nature Center, 2901 Candelaria Rd NW, .10AM-5PM daily. The bosque provides a tranquil setting for this small but delightful nature center, with its wildlife pond and exhibits on the native wildlife. Nature lovers will particularly enjoy the enclosed views of the pond behind the visitor center. Two short trails head into the bosque from the visitor center. Free, parking $3.
- Tingley Beach, Tingley Dr, just S of Central Ave (just east of the Rio Grande).Daily, sunrise to sunset. A facility of the Albuquerque Biological Park, this park 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. Trails lead into the bosque to the edge of the river and to a pair of restored wetland ponds. A narrow-gauge train links Tingley Beach to the Albuquerque Aquarium/Botanical Gardens and the Rio Grande Zoo (listed above under See). Free (separate fee required for train rides).
- 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 a ski area on the other side of the mountains during the summer. If less athletically inclined, ride the Sandia Peak Tramway (see "See" section above) to the top. At the base of the mountains, near the tramway, you can find magnificent views of the city and mountains and access trails into the mountains, especially around the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area. For a map of Sandia Mountain trails, see the Cibola National Forest website. During the winter, the Sandia Peak Ski Area serves skiers and snowboarders. The ski area can be reached either by taking a 45 min. 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).
Sports and amusements
- Albuquerque Isotopes, at the corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Blvd(south of UNM), . Season runs from April–September. The Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, play baseball in a beautiful stadium. Seats in the park are both good and cheap—$13 can get you a seat behind home plate. 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 $7 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. $7–23.
- Cliff's Amusement Park, 4800 Osuna Rd NE (at San Mateo, just south of the Osuna-San Mateo/I-25 interchange), . 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 $26, $30 to include water play area (parking is free).
- New Mexico Lobos (UNM sports), Avenida Cesar Chavez / University Blvd (south of UNM), . 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 50 years. The women's teams have often been better than the men's in this century, and attract crowds every bit as raucous - when the teams are doing really good, games will sell out. Right across the street is University Stadium, home of the immensely popular Lobos football team. Football tickets $15–32, $10–15 children. Basketball tickets $9–35, $4–14 children (women's game tickets are cheaper than men's). UNM students are free, guests of students can sometimes get a discount.
- Outpost Ice Arena, 9530 Tramway Blvd NE (near the base of the Sandia Peak Tramway), . Has four rinks under one roof. A great place to sharpen your figure skating or hockey skills or just skate for fun.
- KiMo Theater, 423 Central Ave NW, . 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. The theater is gorgeous and filled with Pueblo-esque art deco ornamentation, such as beautiful murals, plaster cow skulls and wooden beams.
- Popejoy Hall, in the Center for the Arts building on the UNM campus, . Hosts a schedule of live performances year-round, including Broadway musicals, live theater, dance and music.
- Isleta Amphitheater, 5601 University Blvd SE, . Located in south Albuquerque, this is the city's primary concert venue.
- The Cell, 700 1st St NW, . Home to the Fusion Theater Company, a local performance group.
- Albuquerque Little Theater, 224 San Pasquale SW, . Hosting local performances throughout the year.
- The Box Performance Space, 100 Gold Ave SW #112, .Featuring sketch comedy, improv, children's shows, and other works. Home to Cardboard Playhouse Productions and Blackout Theatre Company.
- Aux Dog Theatre, 3011 Monte Vista Boulevard NE (in the Nob Hill area just north of Central), . An intimate performance space that produces innovative plays year round.
Festivals and events
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Balloon Fiesta Park (north of Alameda Blvd, one mile (1.6 km) west of I-25, take either Alameda Blvd or Tramway Blvd exit off I-25).$8, children ages 12 and under free (parking $10 per car).
The Fiesta is the world's largest ballooning event 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 can 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 U.S.
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 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:
- Dawn Patrol. 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.
- Mass Ascension. 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.
- Balloon Glow. 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.
- 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. The special shapes are the balloons in forms other than the standard balloon shape, and are very popular with kids expect to see animals, cartoon characters, clowns, and many other colorful creations. Returning favorites include a milk cow, a wagon coach, and a trio of bees.
And if you want to do more than watch the balloons, there are several local companies which provide balloon rides year-round:
Other annual events
Besides the Balloon Fiesta, there are numerous festivals and celebrations on a yearly basis. Here are some of the major ones:
- New Mexico State Fair, held at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds (on Louisiana between Central and Lomas, east of UNM and south of Uptown), . Takes place annually for two weeks in September. Second only to the Balloon Fiesta, the state fair is a massive event in the Albuquerque calendar. Like any state fair, there's lots of agricultural competitions, farm animals, rodeos, carnival rides, art, music, and fried food. Unique to the New Mexico State Fair are lots of exhibits that show off the pride and character of New Mexico, such as art galleries, a performing arts center, an Indian Village (where you can watch Native American music and dance) and the Villa Hispana, where you can see regular demonstrations of local art and culture. $10 adults, $7 seniors/children, children 5 and under free.
- Native American Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow. 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 UNM Arena ("The Pit").
- Festival Flamenco International de Albuquerque. One of the most exciting Flamenco gatherings in the country, with artists from around the world. Held annually during the summer, usually in early June, at a number of venues.
- New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair. Takes place in June at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds and features a great variety of arts and crafts all made locally.
- 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 an individual's front yard, but Old Town provides the most accessible and dramatic display.
- Anodyne, 409 Central Ave NW, . Downtown hipster bar. 100 different icy beers, pool tables galore and a killer jukebox.
- Burt's Tiki Lounge, 313 Gold Ave SW, . W-Sa 8:30PM-2AM.Eclectic doesn't even begin to describe Burt's. Popular nights: Monday, Geeks Who Drink pub trivia -- $2 drafts; Thursday, $.75 Pabst's Blue Ribbon 'til midnight.
- Chama River Microbar, 106 2nd St SW, . Daily 4PM-midnight. No food (other than bags of potato chips), only really good beer from one of the finer microbreweries in the region. Outstanding featured seasonal beers rotate in and out, house beers include a really tasty IPA.
- Downtown Distillery, 406 Central Ave SW, . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 5PM-2AM. Long bar downstairs; pool lounge and bar upstairs. Jaeger specials, to say the least.
- Ibiza, 125 Second Street NW (in the Hotel Andaluz), . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 5PM-2AM. Rooftop bar and dining with nightly themes.
- Launchpad, 618 Central Ave SW, . Hours vary; check ahead for concert schedule. Well established music venue and rock bar and perhaps the best place to see live music in town.
- Library Bar & Grill, 312 Central Ave SW, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su noon-midnight. School girl dress bartenders serve bikers by day and club goers by night.
- Lotus, 211 Gold Ave SW, . 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, . M–Sa 1PM–midnight, Su 1PM–10:30PM. Fine local micro brewery located in Albuquerque's industrial heart. Limited food selection, but in a taproom -- that's the point.
Nob Hill & UNM
- Copper Lounge, 1504 Central Ave SE, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM.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, . M-Sa 11:30AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. Great atmosphere and an excellent patio for people watching. The tapas are great bar food.
- Imbibe, 3103 Central Ave NE, . M-Sa 11AM–2AM, Su noon–midnight. Cigar bar (although the noisy music is incongruous with relaxing over a cigar) with Vegas styling. Rooftop bar and patio. Strict dress code.
- Kelly's Brewery, 3222 Central Ave SE, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. A Route 66-era gas station and garage-turned-restaurant, with lots of vintage decorations. 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, . M-Sa noon-2AM, Su noon-midnight. Housed above the Gruet Steakhouse, Monte Vista Fire Station roosts in a converted Depression Era fire house. Atmosphere lacking; bit empty.
- Nob Hill Bar & Grill, 3128 Central Ave SE, . Tu-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Urban-chic bar in the heart of the Nob Hill District. Cocktails good, food not bad.
- O'Neill's Pub, 4310 Central Ave SE, . 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, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. Irish beers and music abound. $3.75 bottled beer, $5-16 wines, scotches, whiskeys. Good beer and wine.
North I-25 Corridor & Heights
- The Barley Room, 5200 Eubank NE, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. 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, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su noon-midnight. Wide variety of beers on tap.
- Chama River Brewing Company, 4931 Pan American NE,.Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Fantastic local micro brewery which also offers a solid dining experience. $3.75 pint.
- Horse & Angel Tavern, 5809 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, . Daily 11AM-1:30PM. 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 Brewery, 2381 Aztec, . Su–Th noon–10PM, F-Sa noon–midnight. Where Il Vicino brews the beers for their restaurants. Small food selection.
- La Cumbre, 3313 Girard NE, . Daily noon-closing time. A new microbrewery opened by a former brewer from Chama River Brewing Co.
- Nexus Brewery, 4730 Pan American Fwy East, Suite D, . Su-W 1PM-10PM, Th-Sa 1PM-midnight. A new microbrewery.
- Stone Face Package Liquors, 8201 San Pedro Dr NE (near Paseo del Norte), . 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.
Things to know
Albuquerque's demographics are reflective of New Mexico as a whole. While Albuquerque does have a large non-native population, the city's makeup is predominantly white and/or Hispanic, with a significant population of Native Americans. These groups are spread throughout the city, but the largest concentrations of Hispanics are found in the South Valley (along the river on the south side of town) and in the Southeast Heights near Kirtland Air Force Base. The Southeast Heights is where you'll also find a large foreign-born population, with significant groups of Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Central American, African, and Middle Eastern descent.
Albuquerque is a casual town: expect shorts, a T-shirt, and sandals to be entirely acceptable almost everywhere. It's also a very humble city, with something of a self-deprecating vibe; you may hear a local remark on how backwards and small it is compared to larger Western cities, though this frequently gets rebuked with a passion from locals who adore their home. Either way, people here tend to be extremely friendly and exhibit very little pretension.
New Mexico has a statewide 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.
Safety in Albuquerque
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 UNM.
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 ft or higher, and there is usually not much cloud cover, so one can get a bad sunburn in surprisingly short order.
Also, New Mexico is very arid. That, and its high altitude results in very low humidity in both summer and winter, which can lead to dehydration. Drink plenty of water. A common complaint among visitors from lower altitudes is a persistent headache, which is often mistaken for altitude sickness, but is really a common symptom of dehydration. Consider carrying a water bottle and drinking frequently throughout the day if you don't already.
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.