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August 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Simply Smart Travel
by Jeff Orenstein and Virginia Orenstein
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Albuquerque, New Mexico A Small Town With A Big City Vibe

Albuquerque downtown station
Taken from onboard the New Mexico Rail Runner at the Albuquerque downtown station. This commuter train connects Albuquerque to Santa Fe in the north and Belen in the south and is frequented by commuters, tourists and bicyclists. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

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.

Albuquerque downtown station
Downtown Albuquerque is the site of frequent festivals and celebrations . Credit:

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.

Albuquerque downtown station
A ristra (arrangement of drying chile peppers) and a native American blanket sum up Albuquerque’s love of great food and veneration of native American culture.. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Bisected by historic Route 66, New Mexico’s largest city has 310 days of sunshine annually and is a simply smart place to explore.

Before You Go, Check out:

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has some spectacular balloons participating. Credit:

Getting There:

Albuquerque can be easily reached by highway, air, cruise ship or train.

Must-Sees/ Dos for A Short Trip:

Route 66 heritage
These restored cars of the 50s are indicative of Albuquerque’s proudly celebrating its Route 66 heritage. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

If You Have Several Days, Some Best Options Are:

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.

Mobility Level:

Low. Albuquerque has good accessible public transportation and no special mobility issues.

Route 66 heritage
Native American celebrations are held frequently at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Credit: Tazbah McCullah

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