Back in the day, Albuquerque was nothing more than a dusty hub you’d stopover in on your way to Santa Fe. However, this Southwestern town has now blossomed into a fascinating city; filled with historic landmarks, great shopping and some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had.
Not only has the city been revitalized due to recently created bike paths (which make it much easier to explore the city’s vast landscape), but new shops and restaurants are popping up all over town to cater to students at the University of New Mexico as well as tourists, who are flocking from all over the country. This hip city is no longer a ghost town.
Where to stay
This gorgeous Spanish influenced hotel is not to be judged by the outside. Sure, the towers look like any old hotel in New Mexico, but the inside exudes luxury and charm with quintessential Southwestern and Spanish flair. Each room is outfitted with a hand-woven bed stands, while the rooms facing north (on the back side of the hotel) offer stunning views of the Sandia Mountains. Because of the beautiful outdoor space (and on site chapel), this hotel is huge for weddings. Rooms start at $98.
A little bit more north in the North Valley is the quaint 25-room Los Poblanos, which is also a working organic farm. This shady retreat is outfitted with a bright and vibrant theme, featuring a stunning bright-tiled fountain in the entryway and luscious saltwater pool. Don’t be surprised if you notice a few peacocks or chickens clucking past you, as these creatures also call the hotel home. The food is outstanding, with farm fresh eggs and Southwestern chicken dishes. Rooms start at $150.
Where to play
If you want to see the city like a local, hop on board the ABQ Trolley. The drivers blast old school music while they clang, clang (the sound of the bell when you’re riding it) down Route 66 — giving you a cool, yet informative, history lesson. In addition to fun pop culture facts, they also share local folklore and haunted tales. Tickets cost $25 for adults. After your trolley ride, take a taxi to the Sandia Peak Tramway. The pulley tram takes you 2.7 miles into the mountains, offering you the best panoramic view of the city. You’ll reach an altitude of 10,378 feet so if you’re scared of heights, be sure to chug a cocktail in the peak’s bar before the ride. Tickets are $20.
Another great way to see the city is to grab a bike and hop on the city’s new bike trails. The New York Times recommends Stevie’s Happy Bikes, because he offers retro themed bikes and vintage tandems, which make biking around the city a little more fun. A great place to visit while biking is Corrales, which is a fun and cute little city inside of Old Town Albuquerque.
For some great local ale, make a pit stop at the La Cumbre Brewing Company on Girard Boulevard. They’re open everyday from noon to close, offering tastings, answering questions and pouring some of the city’s best beer. Another favorite brewery in town is the Marble Brewery. The bar is fabulously New Mexican, with banjo players, sombreros and salsa bands. Grab a pint of their Wild Flower Wheat (a beer infused with local wildflower honey).
Where to eat
For dinner with a view, stop by The County Line, which is right on the base of the Sandia Mountains. The people who founded it grew up in Texas — the birthplace of barbecue — and the food is just as good as the kind you find in the Lone Star State. Order both the chicken and beef ribs slathered in sauce. Even though the food is good, the decor is even better. The slightly tacky wagon wheels and rusty Coca Cola signs make you feel like you’re back home in the South.
You can’t miss a stop at the famous Mary & Tito’s Cafe. This New Mexico favorite, located right near the University of New Mexico campus, has been named one of the best restaurants in the city by just about every publication. Their simple red chili is packed with flavor and goes on just about all of their dishes. We can’t get enough of it. Another great New Mexico classic is the legendary Church Street Cafe. The house, founded in 1706, is an Albuquerque institution, serving up the hottest salsa this side of the Mexican border. Pair a glass of their sangria with the Handmade Tamale Plate, our favorite entree to order.