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Simply Smart Travel
by Jeff Orenstein and Virginia Orenstein
Albuquerque, New Mexico A Small Town With A Big City Vibe
Many Albuquerque visitors land at the city’s convenient Sunport airport, rent a car and promptly drive an hour north to Santa Fe, seeing Albuquerque only from the freeway. That’s a pity because Albuquerque is one of the most delightful small towns in America, full of regional character, delicious New Mexican regional cuisine (oh those chiles!) and plenty of local color. It is a small and attractive city that welcomes visitors with an endless supply of attractions that are worthy of exploration.
It is quite practical to combine your Albuquerque trip with a visit to stylish Santa Fe because the convenient and economical RailRunner commuterrail service makes it easy. Trains run frequently between downtown Albuquerque to downtown Santa Fe daily.
Home to the world famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta when hundreds of hot air balloons take to the skies for over a week each October, Albuquerque is close to the imposing Sandia Mountains and is surrounded by history and recreational opportunities from golf courses, hiking, biking and skiing. Awaiting visitors are many micro breweries, wineries, a kitschy Old Town, good shopping for native American and Western items, lots of native American culture and fascinating displays of the city’s Western heritage in museums, shops and architecture.
Bisected by historic Route 66, New Mexico’s largest city has 310 days of sunshine annually and is a simply smart place to explore.
Albuquerque can be easily reached by highway, air, cruise ship or train.
By car, Albuquerque is on I25 and I40.
By air, the nearest airport is Albuquerque Sunport (ABQ). It is 4 miles from downtown.
By train, Albuquerque is served by Amtrak and connected to Santa Fe and Belen via New Mexico Rail Runner. Seniors ride free on summer Wednesdays on the NMRR.
Albuquerque is inland, with no cruise ship service.
Must-Sees/ Dos for A Short Trip:
Ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway and see Albuquerque from above.
Visit the Nob Hill District for shopping and dining.
Stroll around historic Old Town.
Learn about native American culture at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
If You Have Several Days, Some Best Options Are:
National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center or one of our many world class museums.
Checking out the zoo and aquarium at The ABQ BioPark.
See the Acoma Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.
Spend a day in Santa Fe, connected by RailRunner train and highway.
Explore Taos’ museums, galleries and pueblo (a 133 mile drive including the scenic Rio Grande valley.)
Journey to Los Alamos, center of the U.S. nuclear weapons development in the 1940s.
Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing:
Casual and seasonable comfortable clothing will be fine in Albuquerque for visitors. There is no need to pursue high style or dress to the nines for the vast majority of places you will visit.
This Destination At A Glance Over 50 Advantage:
Laid back with good shopping and many museums, Albuquerque is welcoming to the over 50 set.
Low. Albuquerque has good accessible public transportation and no special mobility issues.
When To Go:
Year-round. Autumn has the best weather and numerous festivals. Winter is ski time in the nearby mountains. Spring is dry and windy. Summer is hot but still pleasant.
Where To Stay:
Old Town and downtown have scores of hotels at almost any price range. Resorts are nearby as well. Most national chains are well represented.
Special Travel Interests:
New Mexican cuisine (lots of chile pepper infused food), nuclear history, native American culture.
Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in eight states and major websites. Contact them at jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com