Things to do in Albuquerque, NM

Get Your Bearings in Albuquerque

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Caution:

Best to take a shuttle to the Balloon Fiesta, as individual cars can sometimes wait 2 hours in traffic.

Avoid:

Riding the Tramway during Balloon Fiesta - lines are way too long.

Caution:

If coming to Albuquerque for balloon fiesta, you must make your reservation many months in advance, as rooms sell out.

Avoid:

Lower-priced hotels on Central.

Avoid:

The high prices and lackluster service at the High Finance restaurant at the top of the Tramway.

Be Sure to Sample:

A steak at High Noon in Old Town, the muffaletta at Relish, the queso at El Pinto and the lobster bisque at Marcello's Chophouse.

Avoid:

The bars on Central in the wee hours or major holidays as the crowds can be overwhelming.

Take It or Leave It:

The outdoor summer concerts at the Albuquerque Museum are great, but you must have a ticket beforehand, as they sell out and you can't get one at the door.

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Hot Tips:

For wonderful ambience, catch the Holiday Stroll in Old Town in early December.

Best Local Souvenir:

The green chile peanut brittle at the Chile Traditions store.

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Things to do in Albuquerque


Albuquerque is known for...

Five of Albuquerque's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Sandia Mountains:

The city is nestled at the base of the Sandia Mountains, a defining visual which always tells you where "east" is.  the entire city is built on a slope that stretches toward the desert floor (with volcanos visible on the horizon!).   Watching the changing weather at the top of Sandia (which means watermelon in Spanish) is a citywide pasttime.

2. Chiles:

City residents are devoted to their chile peppers.  State legislators even voted for "Red or Green?" as the Official State Question, a query proffered by restaurant servers to determine your preference of chile sauce.   (Either can be hotter on any given day;  ask which is which)  Everything from cheeseburgers to enchiladas is served with chile sauce, but locals just call it chile. 

3. Hot Air Balloons:

Fall draws balloon enthusiasts from around the world to Balloon Fiesta, but balloonists practice their sport year-round.   It's not surprising to see half a dozen balloons aloft on any given morning.   Look west.   The unusual air currents in Albuquerque create a "box" in which balloonists can fly and return to near their starting point.  The city also has a world-class balloon museum, adjacent to the beautiful Balloon Fiesta fairgrounds.   Open year-round, it's full of surprises and fun for all ages.   While you're shopping around town, you'll see lots of balloon-themed goods, and with reason.  Albuquerque is known around the world as a destination for balloonists and enthusiasts.  

4. Route 66:

"America's Highway" plays a big role in Albuquerque's beautifully renovated downtown.   Great photo opps await here, and some very funky old motels line the far less glamorous stretch east of UNM.  Take a drive and see what you discover.

5. Casinos:

Large indian reservations surround the city, and over the years each of them has built bigger and better casinos.   Sandia Casino & Resort has the full range of live and digital gaming, but also top-notch touring shows, a fabulous rooftop bar, and a beautiful golf course.  Isleta Casino, on the city's south side, has partnered with the Hard Rock and provides visitors a more glamorous hotel experience but a similar casino. Many of the casinos are now destinations, drawing patrons for large buffets, poker tournaments and special musical events.  But gambling always takes center stage.