You'll have lots to
see and do in Albuquerque, whether it's trekking around historic
Old Town, taking the tram through the spectacular Sandia Mountains,
or washing down spicy-hot enchiladas with icy-cold margaritas.
blue skies. Stunning sunsets. Towering pink mountains. Rounded brown
adobes. Route 66 cruising. Hot air ballooning. The Rio Grande valley
and sagebrush-dotted desert. Friendly folk and hot chile. Albuquerque
is still very much an undiscovered, low-key city that has yet to
hit metropolis speed. And that's just fine with the metro area's
nearly 700,000 residents, who combine to make the "Duke City"
New Mexico's largest.
its glitzy neighbor to the north, world-renowned Santa Fe, Albuquerque
is a proudly middle-class city, formed by its large population of
scientists, defense workers, high-tech employees, and university
staff and students. It is also a community of three cultures: Native
American, Hispanic and Anglo. On any given day, visitors may catch
a conversation snippet in Spanish, Spanglish (a slang mix of Spanish
and English) or Diné, the language of the Navajo people.
for the Seven Cities of Gold in the mid 14th century, Spanish explorer
Coronado ventured into the Albuquerque area in 1540. Later in 1706,
the Spanish Duke of Albuquerque granted Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdés
the right to settle the RoyalVilla de Albuquerque, an outpost of
30 families. Today's City of Albuquerque grew from its Old Town
core that cropped up around the plaza; it was incorporated in 1891.
New Mexico joined the U.S. as state No. 47 in 1912.
heart of Duke City beats in two places: in its Historic Old Town
marked by a central plaza with gazebo and 300-year-old church surrounded
by earth-toned buildingsand in its portion of the fabled Route
66, which runs along the colorful Central Avenue. Part ratty, part
trendy, this buzzing strip is always interesting, flanked with neon
signs, 50s-era motor courts and kitsch, boutiques, cafés,
bars, art galleries, book stores and the University of New Mexico
Rio Grande divides the city into an east and west side. The city's
two small freeways run north/south (Interstate 25) and east/west
(Interstate 40). It's easy to orient yourself in Albuquerque: the
imposing Sandía mountain range lines the east. The green-and-black-dotted
Sandías ("watermelon" in Spanish) glow pink in
the late afternoon just before the sun sets. Watch them light up
as the sun sinks below the West Side's Sleeping Sisters, a row of
five inactive volcanic cones, and a gigantic harvest moon creeps
over the crest.
yourself by dining atop the 10,600-foot peak at High Finance, a
primo view restaurant reachable by a 20 minute tram ride nearly
4,000 feet to the top (or a steep 9-mile hike on the scenic and
varied La Luz trail; bring water and allow four hours).
swank Northeast Heights neighborhood offers wonderful hiking and
mountain biking trails, and picnicking venues. Starting west of
the river and moving east along Central Avenue, the traveler hits
Old Town, the revitalizing Downtown entertainment district (home
to the city's few skyscrapers), the university area and then Nob
Hill, the city's trendy shopping neighborhood, also a good place
to park and stroll.
many Western cities, Albuquerque suffers under urban sprawl though
it still only takes about 20 minutes to zoom from one side of town
to the other. The best way to meet the Duke City is by getting to
know its unique neighborhoods. Fortunately, locals are friendly
and helpful. A good source for getting started is the Albuquerque
Convention & Visitors Bureau: (505) 842-9918 or (800) 284-2282,
fax (505) 247-9101, or see www.abqcvb.org.
An essential tool is the bureau's (free) Official Visitors Guide.
For statewide information, call the New Mexico Department of Tourism,
(505) 827-7400 or (800) 545-2040; or see www.newmexico.org.
from the perennial, red or green? (red or green chile,
that is, on your taco/enchilada/breakfast burrito/burger), the most
important question at hand is, What's your pleasure? An Albuquerque
experience can translate into many different things to different
people, depending on taste and preference. Here are some ways to
June is an ideal month for Duke City fun outdoors: not too hot (high
89 degrees, low 59 degrees), sunny skies, and an occasional brief
afternoon electrical storm to cool things off. But be aware: skin
burns easily in the thin, high desert air (about 5,600 feet). The
best defense against the altitude is to slather on heavy-duty sun
screen, wear a hat, and drink plenty of water.
Tram is a popular way to see the city from a bird's eye view (in
winter, skiers shoot down the back side of the peak). Ambitious
hikers will enjoy the La Luz trail, which winds up through the Sandías
to the top, morphing scenery every mile or so. Vistas are stunning,
though the long, switch-back trail is strenuous.
Hot air ballooning
is another picture perfect way to spend the day in Albuquerque,
which hosts the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Rides begin in the cool early morning hours. River rafting on the
Rio Grande is a fun way to beat the heat. For golfers, the Duke
City sports 13 courses. And just up the interstate about 16 miles
north (in Bernalillo), the brand new Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort
& Spa has two champion golf courses including the nearby Santa
Ana Pueblo's scenic course, plus horseback riding and a huge day
spa. Also on the property: four-star dining at Santa Ana Golf Club's
Prairie Star and Hyatt's The Corn Maiden.
Have Some Fun
Summer Fest is a big Albuquerque street party with music, food and
live entertainment in Downtown's Civic Plaza on Saturday nights.
Or catch local and national talent in evening shows at the university's
Popejoy Hall. Another performing arts venue, Downtown's KiMo Theatre
and Art Gallery, presents theater, dance and music. The KiMo has
just emerged from an extensive renovation and is a dazzling example
of 1920s Pueblo-Deco style. Check the Albuquerque Journal's Friday
Venue section for listings (www.abqjournal.com)
or call the Visitors Bureau events line at (800) 284-2282.
If you'd like
to tie food into your travel, sample New Mexico wines: Casa Rondeña
Winery and Gruet Winery offer regular tastings. Albuquerque also
boasts several cooking schools, including Jane Butel's Southwest
Cooking School, which is credited with starting the Tex-Mex mania.
got one day to take in the City Different, home to the country's
third largest art market and the oldest U.S. capital city
(founded in 1610). Where to start? Begin with a light breakfast
of heavenly scones and feather-light croissants fresh out
of the oven at tiny Sage Bakehouse (535-C Cerrillos Road,
north of Paseo de Peralta, (505) 820-SAGE). Parking can be
a hassle in Santa Fe; best to leave the car for the day at
the Sandoval Municipal Garage on West San Francisco (maximum
$6; closes at 10 p.m.). Then proceed on foot a few blocks
to the La Fonda hotel (100 E. San Francisco, (505) 982-5511
): Historic Walks of Santa Fe leads "Historic Walks"
departing daily at 9:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. from the lobby.
The $10 per person, two-hour leisurely downtown walk hits
all the highlight's of Santa Fe, including its famous and
infamous residents, melting pot of Hispanic, Native American
and Anglo cultures, the famed Loretto chapel and San Miguel
Mission (the country's oldest church in continuous use).
If history is not your bag, Historic Walks also offers two-hour
art tours, Ghost Walker (an adventurous look at Santa Fe's
other worldly residents) and a half-day Prestige Shopping
Tourmeet boutique and gallery proprietors to the rich
and famous. Call (505) 986-8388 or see www.historicwalksofsantafe.com.
Get into the art mode with lunch at the Georgia O'Keeffe Café;
follow that with a visit to the adjacent Georgia O'Keeffe
Museum (200 W. Marcy, (505) 989-1124) to see the works of
New Mexico's best-known painter. After that, just let your
feet wander undirected to explore the nooks and crannies of
the town. If it's in your path, make a pass by the Native
American vendors lining the plaza and stop in at the many
galleries both near the plaza and on the famed Canyon Road.
One nice walk twists up Acequia Madre ending at Canyon. You
can double back for a double latte at Downtown Subscription
(376 Garcia, (505) 983-3085).
As the shadows lengthen and the day fades into evening, take
a twilight walk up to Ft. Marcy Park to watch the sunset from
this ideal vantage point atop a hillalso great for picnics.
(The paved trail with stairs winds up from the east side of
Paseo de Peralta just after Hillside Avenue, or you can drive
up the back on Artist Road, which becomes Hyde Park Road.)
With its massive white cross, the park's monument commemorates
the Franciscan padres killed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. If
that sounds too strenuous, catch the sunset from the popular
rooftop patio at Coyote Café (132 West Water Street;
For tasty New Mexican fare in a traditional and festive setting,
head to La Choza Restaurant (905 Alarid Street; (505) 982-0909).
Or try a massage and hot tub soak at Japanese spa Ten Thousand
Waves, nestled in the piñon-dotted hills above Santa
Fe; take the highway out of town toward the ski basin; the
sign is on the left ((505) 982-9304; www.tenthousandwaves.com).
To get started, contact the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors
Bureau: (800) 777-CITY or (505) 955-6200; or see
And speaking of food, the Duke City has more than the average number
of restaurants per resident. Albuquerqueans love to eat out, and
they love it hot. Staples are enchiladas, beans and rice and posole
(hominy stew), all topped with spicy red or green chile. In fact,
you'll discover homegrown Chile (Hatch, N.M. is the Chile-growing
capital) on anything or everything. Proceed with caution.
There are zillions, but favorites include El Pinto (sprawling outdoor
patio, in the South Valley), Barelas Coffee House (only locals here,
in historic Hispanic neighborhood), Maria Teresa (an Old Town haunt)
and Los Cuates (authentic, no frills). Upper crust: Scalo Northern
Italian Grill in Nob Hill (THE hot spot for a decade running), Seasons
Rotisserie & Grill (sophisticated dining in Old Town), Le Café
Mich (scrumptious French), Café Bodega (creative contemporary
cuisine from celebrated local chefs) and Gold Street Caffé
(upscale breakfast and lunches, Downtown). Watering hole: There's
nothing like slurping a frosty brew and watching Central Avenue
in action from an outside table at Kelly's Brewing patio.
point is Nob Hill's funky coffee house Flying Star Café (formerly
Double Rainbow), best for people watching and fabulous pies, cakes
and homemade ice cream. High Noon Restaurant and Saloon is an Old
Town staple. Or try high tea at the lovely St. James Tearoom near
Old Townindoor in the romantic parlor or in the garden under
Where do Albuquerqueans head for a bite? To Central Avenue's Il
Vicino, home to woodburning oven-baked gourmet pizzas and house-brewed
beer; Model Pharmacy (Carlisle at Lomas) for an old-fashioned egg
cream shake and sandwich in a quaint drugstore setting; the Frontier,
a budget institution across from the university (open 'round the
clock), for a cross-section of the Duke City and the best huevos
rancheros, homemade tortillas and gargantuan cinnamon rolls around;
The Range in Bernalillo (15 minutes northwest of Albuquerque), in
a typical small-town setting with big hearted New Mexican hospitality
and homemade dishes (try the Taos Cow ice cream, a local secret).
Old Town is
a favorite, with its 300-year-old adobe buildings, charming central
plaza and beautifully restored San Felipe De Neri Catholic church,
the city's first. Jewelry, local arts and crafts, clothing, housewares,
food and Native American rugs abound. Try The Christmas Shop, The
Candy Lady, Casa de Avila (jewelry, gifts, furniture, decor), Aceves
Old Town Basket & Rug Shop, Nizhoni Moses Ltd. (Indian arts)
and Weems Gallery.
Central strip has a few fun and quirky shops. But the trendy district
is Nob Hill, which runs along Central east from Girard to Washington.
Highlights include Hey Jhonny (Asian/Italian collectibles and antiques),
Mariposa Gallery, Papers!, silver jewelry at Ooh! Aah!, women's
apparel at Morning Bird and Wear It!, whimsical housewares at The
A Store and artist-designed jewelry at IMEC. East is the emerging
Upper Nob Hill, a real find for antique hunterstry Antique
Emporium, Linda's Sweets & Antiques, Morningside Antiques and
Albuquerque Tea & Trading Co., where local writers sip tea and
type their next novel. Other hits: Two Serious Ladies (antiques
from Asia and the Islamic world) and bath/garden haven Lavender
With one of the highest per capita concentrations of engineers and
scientists in the US, Albuquerque is emerging as a high-tech hub,
with a slew of innovative start-ups spinning off after incubation
at Sandia National Labs. Both Wired magazine and the Milken Institute
recently listed the Duke City as a national leader in high-tech
growth. Albuquerque also ranks fourth in R&D spending. Hot areas
include electronic components, communications equipment, medical
instruments and research/testing devices. Local players are Intel
Corp. with its huge Rio Rancho lab, Sennheiser Electronic GmbH,
Philips Semiconductors, Eclipse Aviation and Honeywell Power Systems
Inc. Intel's on-site Visitors Center charts the development of the
semiconductor (4100 Sara Road; 505/893-7000). The Albuquerque Convention
& Visitors Bureau outlines a five-hour "Science & Technology
Tour" in its 9 Self-Guided Tours brochure (free).
Center of Knowledge
Seeking to strengthen that fountain of knowledge while having fun?
The Duke City has much to offer. The National Atomic Museum, currently
housed on the Kirtland Air Force Base, is a collection of nuclear
science and history exhibits including B-52 and B-29 aircraft, rockets,
weapons and other artifacts from World War II and the Cold War.
Old Town boasts its own unique museums: the American International
Rattlesnake Museum (world's largest collection) and Turquoise Museum,
home to rare specimens of the blue stone. Part of the interactive
New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science near Old Town,
the LodeStar Astronomy Center includes a planetarium, observatory
and virtual voyages for kids. Just across the street is the Albuquerque
Museum of Art, History and Science. For tots, !Explora! Science
Center and Children's Museum is a hands-on learning center in Uptown's
Winrock Center shopping mall.
To delve into
the Duke City's cultural heritage, head to the new National Hispanic
Cultural Center or the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center with traditional
dances and exhibitsthis is a great way to gather background
before motoring off to visit one of the pueblos. Northwest of I-40,
Petroglyph National Monument shows Native American history in ancient
pictures chipped into its lava bluffs, documented in about 17,000
petroglyphs dating back to 8000 B.C.
While the Route
66 75th birthday bash doesn't kick off 'til July, you can still
get in on the freewheelin' fun. History tours of the "Mother
Road" highlight some of Central's relic Route motels: for example,
Upper Nob Hill's Aztec Motel, covered with hundreds of paintings
and figurines, or the pastel-hued University Lodge. Call 505/222-4342
Pentz is a freelance writer living in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
after Old Town, !Traditions! A Festival Marketplace is an
upscale indoor/outdoor shopping centerfeaturing solely
New Mexico artists and products, plus cultural events centerhalfway
between Albuquerque and Santa Fe off I-25. Check the center's
calendar for special events: artist demos, music festivals,
fun for kids.
wonderfully scenic drive to Santa Fe, take the Turquoise Trail
(N.M. 14); visit old mining town-cum artist colony Madrid
(pronounced "má-drid") along the way. The
country's oldest continuously occupied Pueblo community at
1,000-plus years, Acoma Pueblo, is a huddling of adobe dwellings
perched atop a 376-foot vertical rock; about an hour west
of Albuquerque. It is also is a great living example of pueblo
life. Because the town is still occupied, tours are guided
(call ahead). You can purchase discount-priced pottery from
the artists along the one-hour walk. Acoma's San Estevan Church
is one of the state's most stunning illustrations of mission
the "secret city" of Los Alamos National Laboratories,
home to The Manhattan Project, doesn't offer tours of the
facilities, you can learn about the labs and this unusual
mountain top town of 19,000 by visiting its Bradbury Science
Museum. Los Alamos is a 1 ½- to 2-hour drive from Albuquerque.
Staying longer in the Land of Enchantment? Visit Taos Pueblo,
Jemez Pueblo and hot springs, Abiqui and its Georgia O'Keeffe
House, aliens and UFOs in Roswell.
more information see: http://asee.org/conferences/annual2001/