Albuquerque! When I told people I was coming to ABQ, many of them scratched their heads. Isn’t that city just for passing through? Well, it is a mainstay on historic Route 66, but there is plenty to discover, and I had no problem filling two days in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque in the Summer
You guys, what was I thinking? Albuquerque at the end of June was very hot. Like, very hot. I come from San Diego where weather is pretty much perfect all year, so I forgot about the desert in the summer. Nevertheless, I beat the heat and had a lot of fun anyway.
Albuquerqians (?) are serious about staying hydrated in the desert heat. Every time my husband and I sat down, our servers promptly brought giant glasses of water. They kept those glasses brimming—I felt really healthy… and I really ought to drink more water at home.
What did we Do?
Even though it was hot, there were still lots of cool things to do. We visited the Petroglyph National Monument and saw ancient glyphs—pictures chipped onto desert rocks in shapes of animal and man, plus geometric designs. These kind of things are fascinating to me: I saw similar petroglyphs off of Interstate 8 between San Diego and Phoenix. It’s very exposed out in the sun; make sure to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. When I go back in a cooler month, I look forward to hiking some of the longer trails in this area.
Old Town Albuquerque was much more interesting than I expected it to be. I might be a little jaded growing up in Western America, where almost every town has their “old town” with wild west themed gift shops and restaurants to draw tourists. This one had some touristy spots, but also artisan shops like De Colores, located southwest of the square. (This one was my very favorite). The old square was founded before the American Revolution! I was very surprised by this when I read the historic marker.
Sandia Peak was very highly recommended, but we didn’t take the tram ride up this time (#forevercheapskate). For $25 per person, you can take the cable car up from the desert to an elevation of 10,000 feet with panoramic views.
In contrast, the ticket to Tinkertown Museum was only $3.75 per person. This amazing oddball destination was 30 minutes out of town and well worth the drive. Featuring hand-carved and collected figurines set up in interesting vignettes, this museum is a testament to creativity. The creator’s slogan was, “I did all this while you were watching TV.” While I’m sure I can’t create something of this magnitude, it is inspiring to think of what kind of crafts I can do at home instead of digital hobbies.
Where’d we Eat & Drink?
We found green chiles everywhere we went. When we got into town we hit up B2B Bistronomy and had burgers and salad. I tried to come up with a more creative way to say this, but here is is: The food there is really, really good. So good I lack the proper words to emphasize it here. Other highlights included Deep Space Coffee for craft coffee and breakfast burritos and El Patio, recommended by Anna, for classic New Mexican dishes (try the vegetarian enchilada made with blue corn tortillas).
If you want to plan an affordable drink-cation, Albuquerque is a good destination for it. The scrappy, wild west, entrepreneurial spirit has led to a proliferation of excellent craft breweries and distilleries. Stand out breweries include Le Cumbre, Marble Brewing, and Bosque Brewing. Those who prefer spirits will find stiff drinks and very friendly staff at Left Turn Distillery and Still Spirits.
Here’s a bonus tip: if you’re going on a trip and don’t have every moment planned out, check facebook for concerts during your intended days. I discovered that Heartbyrne, a really fun Talking Heads cover band, was playing at Marble Brewing during our trip and I made sure we didn’t miss it. They were amazing!
Where’d we Stay?
Well, I covered where to stay in Albuquerque a couple weeks ago. The airbnb where I stayed will be getting its own post as well. Staying in Nob Hill was wonderful: picturesque, quiet, and easy to get around. I wonder what the neighborhood is like when school is in session. Next time I’d like to stay in a historic Route 66 motel, though!
All in all, if you want a laid-back vacation with a few things to do and many good places to eat, Albuquerque is a great option. You won’t feel pressured to jam-pack your itinerary. It’s the perfect destination to slow down, enjoy life, and eat green chiles on everything.
Photos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.