Set between the towering Sandia Mountains and the shallow Rio Grande, Albuquerque is often passed by as visitors whizz up I-25 to Santa Fe and Taos. But that’s a shame. Its off-beat charms can beguile. I don’t know an American city quite like it.
At its core, Albuquerque embraces and blends Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo influences. Case in point: Old Town, with its adobe architecture, a Spanish colonial church, Native American pottery, and touristy shops. Case in point: Nob Hill where the university and Route 66 impact the hip (for New Mexico) offerings.
The Burque also celebrates its natural beauty. The rugged Sandia Mountains loom over the city; the crest (reached by a tramway) and foothills are popular for hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking. The flat banks of the Rio Grande are great for walking, biking, and birdwatching. The ABQ BioPark is terrific for meandering, and the Petroglyph National Monument is home to more than 24,000 ancient rock carvings.
Albuquerque honors its history and traditions — with the International Balloon Fiesta and through the National Hispanic Cultural Center — while looking forward with cool places to eat and drink. Places where you might catch yourself saying, “Wow, this is as cool as anything I’d find in [fill in the blank.]” — Kim Grant