Albuquerque, NM

How to spend 72 hours in Albuquerque

Peter Watson

Albuquerque is just the right mix of urban and wild. Here's how to get the best out of a long weekend in New Mexico's largest city.

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Albuquerque has plenty of understated appealSean Pavone/Shutterstock

Albuquerque is a hidden travel gem. It’s under-the-radar, affordable, achingly beautiful, unspoiled and filled with soul. If I only had 72 hours in Albuquerque, this is how I would spend it. Here is my list of the must-see, must-do things in the wonderful Duke City.

Cruise Down Route 66

Cruise up and down Central Avenue to see Americana at its best: buzzing neon signs, vintage motels and historic architecture.

For a real blast from the past, stop into the Route 66 Diner, and don’t leave without ordering one of their amazingly delicious malts or milkshakes.

Hike, Tram Or Ski Sandia Peak

Sandia Peak boasts breathtaking views and offers a nice sanctuary right outside Albuquerque city. If you are looking for adventure, hike the La Luz Trail to reach the peak.

If you want an easier, family-friendly way to the top, the tram makes a trip every 20-30 minutes throughout hours of operation. And if you there during the winter season, the best way down is on skis or a snowboard.

Attend Balloon Fiesta

Every year at the beginning of October Albuquerque hosts the International Balloon Fiesta.

This is an experience like no other and hundreds of colorful balloons paint the sky with the most stunning and picturesque views. It’s an early morning but well worth it.

You can even take a ride yourself. Just go extra early to help with takeoff. There's also the Red Rock Balloon Rally, Lephant Butte Balloon Regatta, Balloons Over Angel Fire and Taos Mountain Balloon Rally among others.

More information can be found on the New Mexico tourism website here.

Sample The Local Cuisine

New Mexican cuisine is hard to describe with words alone; it is something you have to experience. It is not Mexican food or Tex Mex. It is a blend of flavors from Spanish and Native American cultures that has been perfected over the course of 400 years.

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New Mexican cuisine in AlbuquerqueNew Mexico Tourism Department

Sadies is a staple of Albuquerque but you can find authentic New Mexican food at Cervantes, Mary & Tito’s, El Patio, Garcia’s, El Pinto and more. Some standout dishes to try include breakfast burritos (check out where to find the best breakfast burritos here), carne adovada, green chile chicken enchiladas, chilles relleños and stuffed sopaipillas.

Take A Walk (Or Ride) On The Bosque Trail

Featured by Sunset Magazine as one of the best bike trails in the west, the Paseo Del Bosque Trail runs from the north to the south edges of the Albuquerque metro area.

The 16-mile trail parallels the Rio Grande and runs through the cottonwood forest past Tingley Beach and the Nature Center. It’s a great uninterrupted trail for a long run, bike ride or a walk with the family.For more information visit www.cabq.gov.

Visit The Biopark Zoo

With more than 250 species, the 64-acre Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque displays animals from around the world in open-air habitats.

You can watch animal feedings, attend storytime in the Africa Amphitheater, attend a show or ride the train.

Make A Trip To ABQ's Breweries

If you love local beer as much as we do, make sure to stop by one of Albuquerque’s many breweries for a pint. New Mexico craft beers are showing up increasingly among the winners at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.

Check out La Cumbre Brewing Company, Marble Brewery, Chama River Brewing Company, Tractor Brewing Company or Broken Bottle Brewery.

Grab Sunset Drinks At Hotel Parq’s Rooftop Bar

The Apothecary Lounge sits on the roof of the Hotel Parq and offers some of the best panoramic views of the Albuquerque skyline and mountains in the city.

Go in the early evening for a cocktail and enjoy a breathtaking view of the sunset.

"Gather at the bar or relax in one of the secluded, creatively designed spaces perfect for a quiet conversation. Outside, bask in the best view in Albuquerque, with uninterrupted sightlines of the mountains, downtown city lights and enchanting Southwest sunsets." – Apothecary Lounge

Breakfast Can Be Chile

In New Mexico almost no food, no meal is without the influence of the famous chile pepper. Packed with delicious fillings, wrapped in a warm tortilla, covered and smothered in red and green chile; it’s hard to beat a good breakfast burrito.

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Chile for breakfast in AlbuquerqueNew Mexico Tourism Department

And as the originators of the classic breakfast burrito, New Mexicans have been perfecting this southwest staple for decades. So spice up your morning in Albuquerque with the king of breakfast foods at one of the numerous locations on our Breakfast Burrito Byway!

Find your burrito here.

Take A Breaking Bad Tour

If you are fan of the hit show Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, do not miss out on this tour.

Relive the series by visiting your favorite film locations in Albuquerque from Jesse’s house to Walt’s Car Wash to the Laundromat and more. Stop by the Candy Lady to purchase some “breaking bad candy.” And learn some interesting and entertaining history along the way. You can take your own self-guided tour or opt for one of the trolley tours.

For more information visit breakingbadrvtours.com.

Visit The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Discover the world of Pueblo Indian culture at this one-of-a-kind museum in Albuquerque.

Learn about the history and life of the 19 different New Mexican Pueblos, marvel at original artwork and craftsmanship or attend an event with food, native dances, art markets, exhibitions and more. For visitors without their own transportation, they offer a free shuttle service from Old Town and the Zoo.

For more information visit indianpueblo.org.

Go Shopping In Historic Old Town

Historic Old Town has been the heart of Albuquerque for over three centuries.

With five museums and more than 100 shops, galleries and restaurants Old Town is a great place to shop, walk around or soak in the distinctive culture. You can find spectacular and uniquely New Mexican jewellery, artwork, housewares, clothing and world-class leatherwork.

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ
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