This blog post was updated on March 6, 2020.
The first thing you probably think of when you hear Albuquerque is the show Breaking Bad. Sure, we’re huge fans of the show too, but to know what’s really cooking in the ABQ, you need to dive into its Native American/Spanish influenced arts and culture, informative and entertaining museums, great restaurants, and friendly bars. Besides, any city whose minor league baseball team is called the Isotopes (after a Simpsons episode) HAS to be cool!
So put on your Walter White hat and shades and get ready to discover (or re-discover) Albuquerque!
The best way to start the day is to head on to the Central Grill and Coffee House. Dig into their massive burritos and finish off with their signature blueberry pancakes.
Walking up and down Central Avenue gives you a taste of Americana, and the best representation of Route 66. Diners selling milkshakes and burgers, neon signs, and old motels are all part of the vibe.
Head on over to the Old Town Plaza. This historic area is home to a variety of old buildings, cafés, shops restaurants, and churches.
Take a few pics of the beautiful San Felipe de Neri Church (built in 1793), one of the oldest churches still standing in the city.
Hey Breaking Bad fans: The ABQ Trolley Co. is just one of the many operators offering tours for various prices – most spanning 2-3 hours (so allot time for this) and taking you to places like Twisters Grill (Los Pollos Hermanos) and the A1A Carwash.
Head to the Backstreet Grill for some lunch, where you’ll find everything from delish street tacos and shrimp burritos to juicy burgers.
Next, it’s time to check out the exhibits and artwork at the Albuquerque Museum, which promotes the art and culture of the Southwest, and New Mexico in particular.
Take a short walk east of the Old Town to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, where you can explore awesome exhibits like ‘Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ and ‘The History of the Personal Computer.’ The museum also houses a planetarium as well as an IMAX-sized theater
If traveling with kids, make sure to stop by the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum instead – there’s tons of hands-on exhibits they’ll love!
Head to High Noon Restaurant and Saloon for their amazing cocktails (try the Old Town Mule) and their juicy steaks.
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If you want a small night cap afterwards, a 15-minute drive away is Sister, another favorite downtown watering hole, where you can enjoy their arcade games and beers, and even hop across to Anodyne, a pool hall/lively bar.
It’s time to rest up because your next day is going to be packed with activity!
Now that you’re up bright and early with the New Mexico sun, it’s time to get started with a good breakfast.
Head to Grove Café & Market, where you can fuel up for the day with their tasty and artistic creations, including breakfast staples and a constantly evolving menu.
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Get ready to take off by visiting the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, which is dedicated to educating visitors about the history of balloon flight and “lighter-than-air” flight. While offering some very interesting info, you can even get info on going up in a balloon yourself (give yourself about 90 minutes if you’re interested).
The International Balloon Fiesta is on from Oct 1-9, so you can view or even go up and be a part of one of the most colorful events in the country (early morning start!). If you’re afraid of heights, there’s plenty of food and drink on the ground.
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After a good few hours at the balloon museum and, if you were daring enough, up in a balloon, you can head back down to earth with a heavenly meal at Sadie’s of New Mexico. Their carne adovadas and sopaipillas (make sure you order them “Christmas-style”–smothered with half green chile and half red) are legendary!
(PS: Another option for lunch on your route is the James Beard award-winning Mary and Tito’s, a modest eatery that boasts authentic Mexican fare – their red chile is the bomb!)
With your belly full with tasty authentic Mexican food, why not top up on some culture as well? The must-see Indian Pueblo Cultural Center celebrates the culture and achievements of the Native American Pueblo people of New Mexico, and you can check out historical artifacts, sculptures, art, and traditional dances.
If time permits, make the drive out to the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History – a museum that looks back at nuclear science, from WWII through the Cold War, and through to the future.
Sound like you’ve had a busy day, so to cap it all off, why not head to the Downton area where you can relax at the highly rated Marble Brewery. You can partake from a wide variety of beers, either indoor or on their rooftop. If you’re hungry you can grab some food from the numerous food trucks outside and even enjoy some good live music.
If you’re still in the mood for some unique tapas and wines Head to Downtown’s The Cellar which is close by – a great way to close the night.
Well, we’re sure that you’ve discovered there’s tons more to this great city than you would think. So next time you’re thinking of a great city in the Southwest that has history, culture, great food, and knows how to have a good time, don’t forget to book your flight to Albuquerque!
Are there any great Albuquerque places that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments section.