Albuquerque, NM

Destination Location

  • 35.085334, -106.605553:primary
  • 35.0402777778, -106.6091666667:secondary

Overview

Albuquerque is ready to welcome you to New Mexico. With more than 256 days of sunshine, it’s always a good time to visit this beautiful city.

Often called the land of enchantment, Albuquerque offers all the right ingredients for a great getaway. The state’s turquoise skies and rugged Southwestern landscape offer up something exciting for visitors of all ages. Ski in the mountains, raft on white-water rapids or fly in a hot-air balloon. Discover the state’s past in Albuquerque’s many museums that celebrate everything from its prehistoric past to its diverse culture.

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History displays both permanent and special exhibits that showcase the area’s unique heritage. Don’t miss the sculpture gardens and walking tours of Old Town while you’re there. Travel back in time at Casa San Ysidro, the historic house of The Albuquerque Museum in the Village of Corrales – a Spanish Colonial hacienda house with a comprehensive collection of New Mexican art and furnishings.

The ancient past comes to life at The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. This interactive museum features active walk-through volcano simulations, ice-age caves and plenty of dinos to discover. Educational films play on a five-story screen while the museum’s planetarium will take you through a journey of the solar system.

If you’re travelling with kids (or kids at heart) take in the ABQ Bio Park. It’s a special place where you can hear a lion’s roar, descend into a coral reef and roam through lush gardens. The Park features the Rio Grande Zoo, the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden and Tingley Beach – a favourite along locals.

Of course, no visit to Albuquerque is complete without experiencing the state’s favourite pastime: hot-air ballooning. Whether you visit the Balloon Museum to see its international collection of art and exhibits or you take flight in a private tour above the city, it’s really an amazing sight to see.

If you’re seeking something off the beaten path, consider a scenic guided tour. Whether you walk or hike through Albuquerque’s many trails or hop on a sightseeing vehicle, you’ll be transported through the amazing landscape of New Mexico. From its mountains that provide incredible views to its desert areas where you can spot a chameleon or two, there’s always something to see in Albuquerque.

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Destination basics

Located in the southern half of New Mexico, Albuquerque often offers more than 300 sunny days per year. Because there are such changes in elevation throughout New Mexico, how you dress will depend on where – and when – you go. Try dressing in layers, especially if you plan to be out in the evening as temperature variations from day to night can be significant.

July brings Albuquerque’s hottest temperatures with 33 C highs and 18 C lows. Fall is a great time to visit with highs of 22 C and lows of 7 C. In the winter months, the area offers highs of 7 C and lows of -2 C. In the spring, temperatures rise to average highs of 21 C and lows of 5 C.

If you plan to hang out in the sun, remember to wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Staying hydrated will allow you to see much of what Albuquerque has to offer.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Albuquerque, NM

The rich cultural diversity of New Mexico has created a culinary melting pot. Finding something to eat is easy, but choosing from all of the options may take awhile. There are a variety of ethnic restaurants, and for every one of these, there are at least three restaurants offering New Mexican cuisine.

Old Town
Offering the finest New Mexico beef, wild game and poultry, the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon serves gourmet meals in a casual atmosphere. No trip to this area of town would be complete without a stop at one of the restaurants on the plaza. Casa de Fiesta Mexican Grill offers fine New Mexican dining with a full view of the plaza. Old Town's bars and pubs reflect the quiet atmosphere of this historical district and rowdier nightlife needs to be sought in another part of town.

Downtown
After the sun goes down in Old Town, the lights go on Downtown. Loosen your collar and lose the tie at Burt's Tiki Lounge, where tropical drinks are the specialty of the house and the kitchen remains open until 2a. For something a little more upscale, the Downtown Distillery offers live music, billiards and a restaurant that serves a wide variety of sandwiches. A popular hangout for the downtown lunch crowd is the Artichoke Café, a French bistro located on historic Route 66, which offers gourmet meals in a casual atmosphere.

Midtown
There is a bustling energy to this fast-paced region of the city. On-the-go business people, salesmen and executives in search of a quality meal have inspired a wide variety of coffee houses, fine restaurants and nightclubs.

A recent addition to this part of town and an instant favorite is Vic's Daily Café. Owned by the son of a long-time coffee house operator, the Greek heritage of the family is apparent in the three-page menu that offers huge hamburgers, meatloaf with mushroom gravy and Greek-style roasted chicken on a bed of rice pilaf.

For local food in Midtown, try Los Cuates, which specializes in New Mexican cuisine. The portions are large and the prices small, but that is not the only reason to stop in. It is the best authentic New Mexican food in the neighborhood.

Northeast Heights and Foothills
Family-owned restaurants, local taverns and hole-in-the-wall eateries are sprinkled across this section of town that slopes upward toward the Sandia Mountains. Garduno's of Mexico is a local favorite. For a four-course gourmet meal with a twist, try the Mystery Café, a murder mystery dinner theater. If this doesn't provide enough entertainment, head up the street to Laff's Comedy Caffe where locals go to find themselves or their friends taking the brunt of a good joke.

Nob Hill and University
In this part of town, the dining experience ranges from great, cheap fast food to the most expensive in town. In the University area, the coffee shops, cafes and diners may cater to the student's budget but everyone in town enjoys the fare. For some of the best Italian food in town, sample some of the offerings at Scalo.

Southeast
The area around the airport is alive twenty-four hours a day. A taste of New Mexico awaits you even before you have to worry about finding a rental car or a shuttle to get away from the Sunport. Garduno's of Mexico, a local favorite with several locations throughout the city, has staked out a spot in the airport itself. This restaurant will definitely acclimate visitors to chili, New-Mexico-style. Down the street near the motels, you will find Quarters Barbecue. You will also find the Rio Grande Yacht Club, one of Albuquerque's most respected seafood establishments.

North Valley and South Valley
Along the Rio Grande, old haciendas hint of the history at the heart of Albuquerque. A number of these distinguished old homes have been converted into restaurants. El Pinto, located in the far North Valley, is such a place. Dinner on the patio while watching the setting sun illuminate the Sandia Mountains can only be topped by the accompanying mariachi music.

For a close encounter with recent celebrities, visit one of the most revered Mexican restaurants in the city, Sadie's. Johnny Carson and other visiting celebrities make this a must on their to-do list in Albuquerque and it could be because of the margaritas. Another option is a combination plate and an imported beer on the patio at Geezamboni's BBQ, the North Valley's most popular barbecue spot.

Corrales
This quaint village wedged between Rio Rancho and north Albuquerque has maintained its atmosphere despite the burgeoning metropolis on its fringes.

West Mesa
Exponential growth is the hallmark of this part of the metro area. And no fast-growing town worth its salt would go up without Texas barbecue. Rudy's Country Store and Barbecue offers pit-roasted meat cut and served right before your eyes. For authentic Italian food washed down with micro brew, the Turtle Mountain Brewing Company has just the thing. Famous among the locals for its impressive breakfast spread is Weck's. If you're really hungry, try Twister's for a burrito so big it is sold as whole, 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 size.

Albuquerque is a city of diversity, with geographic and historic circumstances that brought Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures together to create a unique multicultural community. The land awes and inspires with the Sandia and Manzano Mountains to the east, the river valley cutting through the city and the West Mesa escarpment with its ghosts of volcanic activity. In spite of the size of the city and all of the amenities that go along with big city life, Albuquerque manages to retain a small town charm.

Old Town
Whether you stroll through this historic district on your own, or take a tour with the Albuquerque Museum, Old Town is the perfect place to begin exploring The Duke City. At the heart of this district is the original central plaza that is lined with over 100 quaint little shops. Like everything else in Albuquerque, a visit to Old Town is a delightful mix of old and new, with sights that range from Civil War cannons to the Church of San Felipe de Neri. Go further back in time with a trip through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, or satisfy your childlike curiosity in the Explora! Science Center. You can stay in the area in the modern luxury of the Sheraton Old Town, or in the elegance of a bed and breakfast like the Bottger-Koch Mansion.

Downtown
The hub of business and government activity in the city is the bustling downtown area. The Civic Plaza also plays host to a myriad of other activities and during summer months, Summerfest is held. This is a celebration of New Mexico's many cultures that showcases the food, music and dance of a different ethnic group every Saturday. While the Civic Plaza is downtown's outdoor venue, the KiMo Theater, renovated in 1999-2000, is the city's crown jewel of indoor venues for the performing arts. The Hyatt Regency, one of the city's newest luxury hotels dominates the downtown skyline. With two lounges and a restaurant that offers fine dining, this is the ultimate hotel for the business traveler.

Midtown
This region of Albuquerque boomed following the Second World War when Route 66 became an artery for interstate travel and migration to the west. The residential neighborhoods are quaint, tree-lined streets with sprawling, 1950s ranch-style homes and a sprinkling of well-groomed parks. The uptown district is the retail center of the city, home to the Coronado Center. Restaurateurs have taken advantage of the traffic generated by these centers. The Japanese Kitchen sushi bar caters to local businessmen and shoppers alike. The Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown offers a range of rates for all levels of business travelers.

Nob Hill and University
This eccentric area is a mix of art deco, Spanish colonial, Pueblo and modern architectural styles. It has undergone a recent facelift and the Nob Hill Merchants Association has revitalized and reclaimed this formerly run-down neighborhood. Once-bland strip malls now house a mix of retailers, galleries and coffee houses that cater to students from the nearby University of New Mexico as well as the locals who drop in for a little gossip. Closer to the university are a variety of restaurants, delis and sidewalk cafes that offer fare from the far reaches of the world. The award-winning Olympia Café has served authentic Greek cuisine from the same location since 1972. Just east of the Nob Hill area lie the New Mexico State Fair grounds, home of the sixth largest state fair in the US.

Northeast Heights
The sheer, pink granite Sandia Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for this sprawling area, which contains some of the newest developments within the city limits. One of Albuquerque's landmark features is the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. For an unforgettable evening, punctuated by one of the most awe-inspiring views in the western United States, catch a ride on the tram to the top of the mountains where you can enjoy a sunset meal at the High Finance Restaurant. A drive past the opulent mansions that perch on the boulder-strewn foothills of the mountains will take you to the hikers' Mecca of Albuquerque. Elena Gallegos Park offers miles of trails through the sage and juniper hills. On the north end of the mountains, La Luz Trail winds to the soaring heights of Sandia Crest, where hang gliders ride the warm air currents that rise from the valley floor.

West Mesa
The silicon age drives the economy of one of the fastest growing regions in the country. The Intel Corporation has sparked a massive boom on the city's west side. As new neighborhoods sprawl across the mesa, their growth is steered by the basalt escarpment of Petroglyph National Monument. A hike down the trails of this unique treasure offers visitors a glimpse into New Mexico's prehistoric past. Shopping abounds at the new Cottonwood Mall, the state's largest indoor mall. The Hilton Garden Inn, across the street from the Intel complex, offers a central location for the visitor with business on the west side. A drive down Coors Boulevard after dark offers a remarkable vista. The city becomes a sea of light that stretches from the distant mountains to the cottonwood Bosque of the Rio Grande.

North Valley/South Valley
The Rio Grande Valley offers the visitor a glimpse of what the Spanish explorers saw in the 15th century when they rode north along the Rio Grande del Norte. The economic diversity of the city unravels as you follow Rio Grande Boulevard from north to south. Some of the homes in the South Valley have withstood the test of time for hundreds of years. Nestled among these ancient dwellings are the Albuquerque Country Club. A new addition to the South Valley is the Rio Grande Botanic Gardens, where you can dine with the sharks in their exclusive restaurant.

The North Valley is home to some of the city's more prominent families. The world famous racing family, the Unsers, have an estate here. Set in the adobe walls that surround the estate are wheels from cars that actually ran at the Indianapolis 500. Giant, ancient cottonwoods shade bridle paths and walking trails. A nice way to end the day is a visit to the Anderson Vineyards, where you can taste one of New Mexico's premier wines.

East Mountains
Surrounded by majestic Ponderosa Pines and expansive vistas, this area is growing faster than some people like. Populated with a mix of income brackets, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds, the east mountain area is seen as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city. You can ski Sandia Peak Ski Area in the morning and golf at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in the afternoon. Lodging in the East Mountains is limited to bed and breakfasts. The frenetic pace of the city is forgotten as visitors can enjoy a hot drink by the fire or sit on the porch watching the hummingbirds chase each other among the pines.

Albuquerque is the only major city within several hundred miles and most of New Mexico relies on it for quality entertainment. The city offers activities that are as diverse as the cultures that populate the area. No matter what your tastes, there are year-round activities that will provide hours of enjoyment. The locals are particularly proud of the various venues here and contribute greatly to the success of events.

Sports/Outdoors
Nowhere are sports fans more loyal than in Albuquerque and evidence of this is most readily found at The Pit. The Pit is home to the UNM Lobo basketball team and is famous for its noise, energy level and pandemonium. There is no way to avoid getting immersed in the game when The Pit gets wound up. Both the Lobo men and women play in this arena and more often than not, it is before standing-room-only crowds of nearly 20,000. The Lady Lobos hold the NCAA record for the highest single-game attendance.

Up from the University, just off Central Avenue, is the busiest coliseum in the state. Tingley Coliseum is host to many events year round. Every year, the first three weeks of September welcome the New Mexico State Fair. The walls of Tingley also echo with 11 nights of Professional Rodeo performances as well as stage acts like Waylon Jennings, Def Leppard, Blood Sweat and Tears and Mark Chesnut. At other times during the year, Tingly hosts the New Mexico Scorpions hockey team, the Indian National Finals Rodeo, the Gathering of Nations, concerts, monster truck rallies and dirt bike races. The New Mexico Slam World Basketball League team just completed its first season here, and has moved its venue to the Albuquerque Convention Center. If you like basketball, the Slam provides edge-of-your-seat, high-quality basketball.

Without a doubt, the most famous spectator event in town is the annual Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. More than 1000 colorful hot air balloons fill the skies above the city during the first two weeks of October. Balloonists maneuver to win events like the key grab, during which a set of new car keys is hung from a tall pole. The first pilot able to maneuver close enough to grab the keys gets to keep the car. Spectators are treated to musical entertainment and wonderful food provided by vendors as well as a chance to see one the world's most colorful spectacles.

Museums
There is no limit to what one can see at the museums in the area. The Downtown area offers The Albuquerque Museum, Explora Science Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. New Mexico's night skies have attracted astronomers from all over the world and the LodeStar Planetarium shares its acquired knowledge with the curious public. Located on Kirtland Air Force base is the National Atomic Museum, which explains the official history of atomic science in the United States. There are a number of museums that would appeal to the person who favors oddities, such as International Rattlesnake Museum. If you are interested in the history and culture of the Pueblo Indians of the area, schedule time for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Music
Music is the heartbeat of any culture and Albuquerque offers a spectrum of choices for the music lover. The haunting rhythms of Native American drums at the Gathering of Nations Powwow, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, and Mariachi Espectacular, are a sample of what the city has to offer. Popejoy Hall, on the University of New Mexico campus, hosts a variety of touring musical programs throughout the year including the Stomp percussion group. Now in its 23rd year, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop sponsors dozens of concerts and several major events during the year. When the stars come out, Albuquerque goes to the Journal Pavillion, a brand new outdoor venue that seats 8400. Although small, the Adobe Theater is an intimate local favorite for musical plays. The hands-down favorite venue for the performing arts is the KiMo Theater, a restored picture palace built in Pueblo Deco style when movie palaces like Grumman's Chinese Theater were the rage.

Dance
Popejoy Hall's Ovation series often sponsors international dance troops like Ballet de l'Opera de Bordeaux. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center has Native American dancing daily and during the summer, folk dance performances can be seen at the Civic Plaza as part of Summerfest.

Theater
Theater abounds in Albuquerque, from professional traveling groups to experimental community theaters. The Vortex Theater is a community-run center that provides a venue for local amateur actors to perform. The Albuquerque Little Theater is a big favorite among locals and is in its 70th season. For family-oriented entertainment, the Strolling Players Theater Group offers a variety of performances throughout the year.

Albuquerque

State: New Mexico

Country: United States of America

Albuquerque By The Numbers
Population: 556,500
Elevation: 5326 feet / 1625 kilometers
Average Annual Precipitation: 9 inches / 23 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 10 inches / 25 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 35°F / 1.7°C
Average July Temperature: 78°F / 25.6°C

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT-7 (GMT-6 daylight savings time); Mountain Time (MT)

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Code: 505

Did You Know?

Albuquerque is the highest metropolitan city in America with an elevation of 5312 feet (1625 kilometers).

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world.

Orientation

Albuquerque is one of the largest cities in New Mexico. It is about 64 miles (103 kilometers) from Santa Fe and about 780 miles (1255 kilometers) from Los Angeles, CA.  

The Rio Grande has always brought life to the inhabitants of the Albuquerque valley. The river provided water to traders and nomads as they made their way across the high desert. As early as 500 CE, pockets of civilization began to appear along the river that served as the principal trade route between the pre-Pueblo culture and other groups who lived to the north. For over six centuries, this culture thrived as the people developed transportation and communication networks. The bounty of the region provided rich soil for farming, and the nearby mountains harbored wildlife for hunting. Although not a city by today's standards, at least 15,000 people were cultivating the Middle Rio Grande Valley by the 15th Century.

The river that brought life to this peaceful civilization also served as a conduit for the Spanish conquest. In 1540, a group of Spanish explorers under the command of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado encountered the natives when they traveled north from Mexico in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. At first, the Indians welcomed the new travelers with open arms, but the Spanish viewed the natives as heathens and therefore inferior. The two cultures inevitably clashed. Coronado set up his winter quarters in one of the pueblos, Tiguex (present-day Bernalillo near Albuquerque). This was a harsh winter for the Spanish as they suffered from fierce attacks by the natives. One year later, Coronado returned to Tiguex on his trip back to Mexico. This was the beginning of Spanish colonization of the area now known to Europeans as Nuevo Mexico. The remains of Tiguex now form the heart of Coronado State Monument.

More than a century passed and the American Southwest was claimed as Spanish territory. Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, the territory's provisional governor, petitioned the crown for permission to establish a villa in the area in 1706. He proposed naming the new settlement San Francisco Xavier de Alburquerque, in honor of the Duke who was responsible for preliminary approval of Cuervo's application. This settlement was nicknamed "The Duke's City" by the Spanish settlers. The 18 original families lived in a walled village in an area now known as Old Town. In later years, Anglo settlers shortened the name to Albuquerque leaving out the first "r".

The Spanish colonies grew and in 1821, Mexico declared its independence from Spain. The new government opened Nuevo Mexico to trade with the Americans. Under the spell of Jefferson's Manifest Destiny, Americans began settling in territory claimed by the young Mexican government. When the United States annexed the Texas Republic in 1845, Congress sent troops to the Rio Grande to protect the new territory. Clashes with Mexican forces eventually led to a declaration of war with Mexico in 1846. Two years later, U.S. General Stephen Kearny declared New Mexico a United States Territory and established a military outpost in Albuquerque.

Less than 20 years passed before another flag flew briefly in the skies above New Mexico, when the Confederate Army briefly occupied Albuquerque during the Civil War. 1880 marked the arrival of the railroad that changed the city dramatically and forever. The train depot divided the city into two districts, Old Town and New Town. The people who arrived in the next five years began to outnumber the original inhabitants. This brought changes in architectural style and the city's ethnic makeup. Soon afterward, telephone and electricity made their debut.

Albuquerque was incorporated as a town in 1885 and just six years later was recognized as a city. New Mexico was admitted to the United States in 1912, becoming the 47th state in the Union. Albuquerque's mild year-round weather brought about the building of sanatoriums that attracted many invalids from around the world. Two of the sanatoriums operating at that time, Presbyterian Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, are still standing today. In 1926, the United States established the first transcontinental highway, Route 66. This transformed Albuquerque's main drag into a thriving tourist attraction. In 1928, Albuquerque's airport opened, officially internationalizing travel to the city.

World War I had very little effect on the thriving city, but this was not true for World War II. In 1942, the United States government built Kirtland Air Force Base, which became an integral part of the Manhattan Project. After the war, Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development facility, was built on Kirtland. This top-secret facility became even more important during the Cold War. Sandia Labs has helped Albuquerque establish a reputation as one of the world's top high-tech research and development cities.

Albuquerque has made a commitment in recent years to preserving both its ancient and more recent past. The city council's Quality of Life Tax has generated funds for the purchase and protection of many acres of open space and the enhancement of existing facilities. Old Town is now a thriving tourist center and downtown is the subject of an ongoing and highly successful revitalization project. The All-Indian Pueblo Council created The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center documenting and celebrating Pueblo Indian history and accomplishments.

Points of interest in Albuquerque, NM

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