Great Escapes: Our guide to Albuquerque, NM

Planning a getaway? Consider Albuquerque, NM, the biggest city in the Land of Enchantment.

The Sandia Mountains with a cloud resting on top.

There’s a reason they call it the “Land of Enchantment.”

Photo by Raychel Sanner

Table of Contents

ATXtoday City Editor Figi here 👋. I spent the first 15 years of my life in Albuquerque — or Burque, as Burqueños call it — and although I consider Austin my home now, my birthplace has some pretty cool things to offer. New Mexico is often overlooked when it comes to tourism, so let me show you why it’s worth a visit. Besides “Breaking Bad” and “High School Musical.”

Here’s what The Duke City has in store for you.


The annual balloon fiesta fills the skies with hot art balloons of all shapes and sizes.

Photo by Hayden Walker

Why go?

  • Albuquerque is flanked on the city’s east side by The Sandia Mountains, which rise to more than 10,600 feet in elevation. Albuquerque sunsets are famous for their watermelon pink color in front of the soft purple-colored mountains.
  • Do you like Mexican food? Strap in for New Mexican food, which is characterized by a fusion of Pueblo Native American, Spanish, and Mexican fusion. Oh, and lots of chile peppers, as New Mexico makes up ~30% of US chile production.
  • Albuquerque is most famous for the International Balloon Fiesta, an annual celebration that fills the sky with hot air balloons and takes place each October.
  • Visitors can enjoy a trip on the Sandia Peak Tramway, an aerial trolley through the Sandia Mountains with the world’s third-longest single span, year round.
  • Find some quick touristy tips with the help of The New York Times’ ”36 Hours in Albuquerque” guide, Marie Claire’s “Instagrammable guide to ABQ”, this list of bars you’ll only find in ABQ, and Eater’s 21 Essential Restaurants list.
A close-up of a warm and buttery sweet roll.

Make sure to get your sweet roll warmed, or it will come frozen.

Act like a local:

  • Food: Stop by Frontier or one of Golden Pride’s four locations for a breakfast burrito — yes, burrito — and a sweet roll, which is sorta like a gigantic buttery cinnamon roll. Just trust us.
  • Drink: Quench your thirst with a few loose-leaf tea blends from NM Tea Co., my favorite tea artist to this day, The owners are very knowledgeable about the ancient drink and will help find a blend for any palate.
  • Order: When you order at a restaurant and the server asks you “Red or green?” you might already know they are referring to chile. If you respond with “Christmas,” they will give you both.
  • Outdoors: Take a trip to the ABQ BioPark — a triad consisting of the city zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden — which simply has too much to see and do in one day.
  • Hike: Nature buffs — the Fourth of July Campground in the Sandia Mountains is a picturesque way to take in the local foliage. We recommend making a visit in the fall for the most vibrant colors.
  • Explore: You’ll have to drive an hour north to Santa Fe, but Meow Wolf is worth the visit. An immersive, mind-bending art experience, this museum is something that you will not soon forget.
A woman holds food for an elephant's trunk at the ABQ BioPark

Make sure to block off multiple days for the ABQ BioPark.

Photo by @abqbiopark

Where to stay:

  • Vrbo: This Spanish Casita with a rooftop deck is just minutes from downtown and old town. (~$90/night)*
  • Airbnb: Located just outside old town, this artisan casita comes with state-of-the-art fixtures and modern amenities. (~$119/night)
  • Splurge hotel: Sandia Resort & Casino (~$289/night)
  • Save hotel: Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Albuquerque Midtown (~$76/night

Those are my recommendations for visiting the 505 — oh, and bring home a ristra.

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