Learn about Albuquerque,
New Mexico by reading
Albuquerque – Spanish and Indian Touch on Modern
Enjoyment by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer. It features a mini,
but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to
plan your trip including getting there, objective information on places
to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've
provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference.
Albuquerque - Spanish and Indian Touch on Modern Enjoyment
by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member
San Felipe de Neri
church still stands on the original site in Old Town.
Photo courtesy of MarbleStreetStudio.com
When you arrive in Albuquerque you might want to head directly for
Old Town. Here you will immediately be a part of the color, atmosphere,
and excitement of this fascinating city. On April 23, 1706 the Spanish
governor of New Mexico, Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, certified the founding
of the Villa de Albuquerque.
In those early days, the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which
connected Mexico City with New Mexico’s capitals, ran right through
the Old Town plaza. Today, Old Town looks much as it did 70 years before
the American Revolution. As Spanish law of the Indies required at the
time, a plaza was established at the center of the villa. These early
Spanish were very religious persons and one of the first structures
built is still on the north side of the plaza, the San Felipe de Neri
Church, the oldest building in Albuquerque, built in 1793.
It is in the ten blocks near that plaza where you will find historic
adobe buildings, fine restaurants, art galleries, and shops featuring
a wide selection of Southwestern goods. Select some of the fine pottery,
jewelry, or weavings from a store or choose a painting from one of the
native artists along the portal east of the plaza.
Albuquerque has sunshine about 310 days a year so it is an excellent
place to get in your outdoor activities. Of course there are fine golf
courses (14). Maybe you prefer to leave the driving and putting to your
familiar home courses and don hiking boots for some scenic beauty that
cannot be found elsewhere. For this, take a ride on the Sandia Peak
Aerial Tramway. The Sandia Mountains form the eastern boundary of Albuquerque
and the Tramway slowly takes you up the 10,350-foot peak where you get
a panoramic view of the area.
In these Sandia Mountains go hiking among dormant
volcanoes, or ride a bike over these rugged but beautiful trails. Albuquerque
is an ideal place to fall back into the old west, partner, and swing
yourself into the saddle of a trusty steed for some ridin’ through the
brush. To really get into the spirit, stay at a working guest ranch
and live the life of a cowboy for a few days - riding, roping, and cookouts.
At some of the guest ranches you can pamper yourself with a spa, play
golf, take carriage rides, enjoy tennis, or just loll around a pool,
New Mexico is one of the nation’s most sparsely populated states giving
you plenty of opportunities to explore some of the wide open spaces.
Albuquerque is considered the balloon capital of the world because
of the excellent flying weather and because so many of the permanent
residents are balloonists. The Balloon Fiesta is held here annually
and it attracts scores of balloonists. Lasting more than a week, this
fall event not only provides exciting aerial rides but also fills the
sky with a colorful array of balloons that you can see nowhere else.
Just south of the launch field be sure to visit the International Balloon
Museum. Exhibits at this museum go through the history of ballooning
and show how hot air and gas balloons have been used over the centuries
since they became the first means of human flight. Many exhibits combine
historic facts with multi-media technology giving you the feel for the
adventure, scientific experiments, the arts, warfare, espionage, and
the exploration of space roles of ballooning.
And while you are in the mood for museums, visit the Museum of Natural
History and Science, which is within walking distance of Old Town. Here
you can walk through a simulated active volcano and experience the Ice
Age. Follow along through the history of the New Mexico area from the
days of the dinosaur and see recent discoveries like the fossilized
dinosaur skin and a dinosaur egg.
Also near Old Town drop in to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center,
which is dedicated to preserving the Pueblo Indian culture, history
The National Atomic Museum is another must see. It was at Los Alamos,
north of Albuquerque where scientists developed, produced and tested
the first atomic bomb. Exhibits here will take you through development
of "Little Bob" and "Fat Man" through to the current technologies. See
the documentary film "Ten Seconds That Shook The World" for newsreel
clips of the 30s and 40s leading up to World War II and the beginning
of the atomic age.
From its founding, Albuquerque has played an important role in the
development of the area. It is near the old Santa Fe Trail leading to
the west. When the railroad came it was a major trading area, stocking
goods from the East to be sold to settlers. With the automobile Historic
Route 66 - now called Central Avenue - wove its way through the city
and what was an important highway still connects many of the city’s
attractions. Follow it from the western side of the city and you will
pass through the Rio Grande Botanical Garden, Old Town, and the New
Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
One doesn’t normally think of New Mexico as a wine country but some
150 years before wines were made in California, missionaries planted
grapes in the Rio Grande valley, making this the oldest wine-making
area in the United States. The high desert’s warm, sunny days and crisp
cool nights let the local wineries still today produce some award-winning
wines, which are offered in many of the restaurants all over town. Some
of the wineries offer tours.
If sipping various wines starts you thinking of nightlife you will
find it is in several places in the city where some are grouped almost
in clusters. It is easy walking distance from one to the other to take
a sample of all. Visit downtown or Nob Hill for the largest clusters
of pubs, live music, dancing, wine bars, breweries, and restaurants.
The cuisine is an interesting mixture of Native American, Spanish, and
Mexican, providing some of the tastiest dishes found anywhere. When
ordering your food, be prepared to answer the question: "Red or green?"
This refers to the red or green chili. The chili is featured in every
meal from breakfast through dinner. More chilis are grown in New Mexico
than in any other state. Perhaps they can symbolize your trip to Albuquerque
where you can have a red-hot vacation and have friends green with envy.
The Albuquerque International Sunport is served by 11 airlines. There
are non-stop flights to and from 27 major American cities.
Albuquerque is a major stop on Amtrak’s lines from Chicago and Los
Angeles. The Alvarado Transportation Center is the hub for both train
and bus operations and is located in downtown.
Where to Stay
Hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, ranches - take your pick of
accommodations to fit your desires. Hotels and motels range from the
basics to the plush. Select a bed and breakfast and you might find yourself
staying in a renovated Victorian mansion or a Southwestern adobe. There
are more than 16,000 rooms available and you will find the rates and
taxes are among the lowest in the nation.
You may also book your accommodations and rental car at
Online Travel Booking Service. Deep discounts may apply.
Where to Eat
As mentioned in the main article, dining establishments are
many and varied. A few of the places you might want to try for authentic
New Mexican cuisine are:
- Albuquerque Grill at Best Western Rio Grand
- InnCafé Piazuela at Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town
- Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill in Old Town Café
- Au Lait in Old TownCalico Café in North Valley
- Prices at most restaurants are reasonable.
Notice: This information is current as of March 2008. It
is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites
above to determine any changes to the information.