A Weekend in Albuquerque
Choose Your Own Adventure
Plan your weekend in Albuquerque.
Alburquerque, the biggest city in New Mexico, is an under-appreciated travel destination.
The weather is consistently beautiful.
Albuquerque is jam-packed with fun things to do.
And the food is delicious.
If you have the chance to visit Alburquerque, jump.
Use our weekend guide to this southwestern city to plan your perfect trip.
Take a gondola up 10,378 feet to the peak of Sandia Mountain.
From the observation deck, you can see the entire Rio Grande Valley.
The trams run every 15-30 minutes, but you can stay at the top as long as you like.
Our suggestion – head up about an hour before sunset and enjoy the light show. Hang around until it gets dark and the city below starts to twinkle.
(Note: It is cold up there – 20-30 degrees colder than the valley.)
We wore all our layers, but packing for 80 degree days did not prepare us for a 40-degree evening.
Albuquerque Isotopes baseball team plays April – September.
University of New Mexico Lobos offers a wide variety of Men’s and Women’s sports.
Football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross-country, golf, tennis, soccer, and swimming – there’s something for every sport’s fan.
Take in a show
Pueblo Harvest is a solid choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But if you want a little entertainment with your meal, check out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Party on the Patio includes all-you-can-eat tacos and pizza with live music and dancing.
You will find an eclectic mix of music; blues, salsa, soul, country, and rock.
For film buffs, try Guild Cinema
At the Guild, you will find Indie, vintage, foreign and all manner of quirky cinema.
If live music is your jam, check out the Launch Pad.
Rated the best place to hear live music in Albuquerque, Launch Pad has a full calendar.
Local New Mexican favorite.
With many, many classic menu options, the Build-Your-Own Meal may be your best bet.
Or, dig into the famous Rellenos.
La Salita is known for its fresh, house-made salsa.
All the food is made from scratch.
Located in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, this is The Place to try indigenous Southwest cuisine.
For instance, mutton stew, blue corn enchiladas, elk, yucca and yams, frybread, and Posole, are menu features.
The Pueblo feast is an excellent option if you want to try it all.
So much to say about El Pinto.
It’s a family-owned restaurant (since 1962), seats 1200 people indoors and out, and includes a 12-acre compound of food bliss and salsa manufacturing.
If you love the El Pinto flavor, you can take a jar home and order more when you run out.
If you want to try your hand at some of their specialties, they give away all their secrets on the recipes page.
If you want an education on green chile, check out the ‘All Things Green Chile‘ page.
If you only want to eat eggs from happy chickens, check out their Hen Hotel Animal Welfare program.
Oh, and the food is delicious – be sure to make reservations.
Huge, huge portions. Breakfast served all day.
All sauces and gravies are housemade.
They serve breakfast sandwiches, omelets, waffles, New Mexican specialties.
And, of course, biscuits – with gravy, with eggs, with cheese, with sausage, even fried chicken!
Home-style New Mexican breakfast and lunch.
Simple, cafe/diner atmosphere.
Blue corn waffles with berries and whip cream (a lavender whip is an option!) are a specialty.
Carne adovada, tamales and posole are also popular.
Tia Betty Blue’s also makes good coffee.
Serving breakfast, lunch, sweets, and a full menu of coffees.
Big menu of classic breakfasts, burgers, and sandwiches.
Saturday morning activity
Indoors/Outdoors – Albuquerque Bio Park
Albuquerque did us a favor and located some of their main attractions in one big park.
The Bio Park hosts a gamut of events – celebrations, workshops, camps, and evening programs.
It’s a must-stop for families and the young at heart.
The zoo is known for its snow leopard family and habitats.
At the Botanic Garden, besides a plethora of plants and habitats, you will see butterflies – always a favorite.
The aquarium has a shark tank, coral reefs, a shipwreck, and jellyfish galore.
And don’t forget to save time for a picnic at Tingley Beach, where you can fish in a pond, boat, hike or look for wildlife.
If you want to save a little money and see it all check out the combo tickets.
Outdoors – Petroglyph National Monument
This monument is smack dab in the middle of suburban Albuquerque.
We parked next to a friendly housing development and were able to zip across to the Walgren’s and use the facilities.
Joking aside, this is one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America and worth a visit.
The rock carvings are estimated to be 400-700 years old and have significant spiritual and cultural meaning to the descendants of the areas early Native people.
Drop by the visitor center and watch the short movie explaining the importance of the monument.
There are several trails to choose from; the ranger can help you decide which is the best option for your group.
The trails are exposed and can be uncomfortably hot in the summer (it was toasty in the middle of October).
I suggest a sunhat and carry water.
Opinion time: Petroglyphs is a sacred space and should be given the same respect as a cathedral or cemetery. I’m glad we went. I’m always in awe of our nation’s history and proud of the job the National Parks Service does to protect our heritage sites. However, this is not the most visually exciting spot on earth, and it’s going to be a hard sell for children. If you have young people with you, I suggest Option 1. Go to the zoo!
Handmade tortillas – reason enough right there to stop for lunch.
We did a restaurant profile on Duran’s – you can find it here.
Duran’s is packed at lunch during the week. Try going a little early or a little late on the weekends.
50’s style diner.
Fantastic collection of Route 66 memorabilia. Inside and outside its 1950s eye-candy.
Speaking of candy – be sure the notice the Pez dispenser collection ringing the ceiling.
The restaurant serves traditional diner fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The 66 Diner is a great place to try the famous New Mexico Chile Cheeseburger.
The shakes are amazing…
After all the New Mexican food, a little kale might be in order.
Vinaigrette is trendy, bright, and colorful. They make vegetable fun.
The produce comes from the owner’s sustainable New Mexico farm.
In addition to beautiful, creative salads, you can have a sandwich or a bowl of soup.
And yes, they serve meat and seafood – on the salads.
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Saturday afternoon activity
We almost didn’t stop here. Because…nuclear science and history??
It turned out to be fascinating.
Not to mention, you can get your photo taken with the ‘Back to the Future’ Delorean.
The museum covers nuclear science, from its use in warfare to medical advancements to the future of Nanotechnology.
There are plenty of hands-on exhibits to keep young people interested.
The highlight for Jody is the Heritage Park aircraft yard.
You will see planes (B-52’s, F-15’s), rockets, missiles, and sundry mechanical objects.
These are museum artifacts, you won’t be allowed to climb in or on them, but it’s sobering to get up close and personal to a cruise missile or a submarine sail.
Outdoors – Hike La Luz Trail
An 8-mile hike up the Sandia Mountains.
La Luz is a challenging hike at elevation 7000-10000k feet.
Packing water and food is a must.
The trail is closed from time to time for maintenance, so be sure to check the website before getting your heart set on the climb.
If La Luz is a bit ambitious try, Elena Gallegos Open Space
A city-operated 640-acre park, with picnic facilities.
There is a variety of multi-use (some fully accessible) trails.
The Cottonwood Spring trail is self-guided and accessible.
A local favorite thanks to their handmade dough and house-cured meats.
Farina’s has also been on national lists of the best pizza in the USA.
To make it a truly New Mexican experience, add roasted green chile to any pizza.
If you happen to be in town during the week, check out the Sunday – Tuesday special Pint and Pie deal.
Street food favorites.
Tacos, loaded fries, and burritos are stars.
Big burritos with your choice of meat, toppings, and fries – it’s the fries in the burrito that make this special.
The food is fresh, fresh, fresh. They do everything by hand, down to butchering the meats in-house.
The Nob Hill location is a walk-up window.
Other locations with dining rooms are downtown and on Albuquerque’s westside.
A quirky open-air destination made out of shipping containers stacked up like building blocks.
Multiple restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, ice cream, and boutiques make up this indoor/outdoor community space.
Special breakfast options
New Mexican breakfast comfort food, served all day.
You aren’t going to Garcia’s for the fancy atmosphere – you’re going for the fresh food.
Try the Huevos Rancheros or The Andy’s Style Breakfast.
Garcia’s is also known for its Carne Adovada – one of my very favorite New Mexican foods!
One of the most popular brunch spots in Albuquerque.
Local farm-to-table, organic food.
Everything is beautiful, the food and the atmosphere.
Breakfast served all day.
Salads, soup, and sandwiches offered on the lunch menu.
Pueblo Harvest is an excellent choice for Sunday brunch (and lunch and dinner and live music as you saw above).
However, breakfast ends at 11 a.m.
They have regional and indigenous favorites as well as the very popular build-your-own-breakfast option.
The Grove Cafe and Market (listed above for brunch) and Central Grill and Coffee House (Saturday breakfast) are also good choices for coffee.
Relaxed, bright, friendly space with indoor/outdoor seating and wifi.
The coffee is single-source and delicious.
Also serving tea, pastries, and breakfast burritos.
You can pick up Pinon coffee everywhere in New Mexico. We brought a few bags home and enjoyed them for weeks.
It’s quintessentially New Mexican.
If you want to try some Pinon on vacation, there are 2 (soon to be 3) locations.
Pinons is the coffee house for those of us that couldn’t tell a flavor note from a quarter note.
The coffee is fluffed, fussed-over, and flavored, with plenty of whip-cream to go around.
Indoor – Explora
Hands-on science museum for all ages.
Covering the full STEAM gamut – from engineering, technology, and math to art and nature.
Or, for a quieter atmosphere…
Indoor – National Hispanic Cultural Center
The National Hispanic Cultural Center might be more your speed.
NHCC is a beautiful museum, celebrating everything Hispanic.
Ongoing and rotating exhibits are the feature.
But check out the calendar of events and classes.
Salsa dancing anyone?
Outdoor – Old Town Albuquerque
One of the best ways to see Old Town is by bike.
Routes Rentals in Old Town is the place to rent a bike (or book a tour).
Besides shopping at both unique and touristy boutiques and eating at tiny eateries, Old Town is home to:
Breaking Bad Fans
As all Breaking Bad superfans know, the show is set in Albuquerque.
Many people make the pilgrimage to Albuquerque to immerse themselves in BB movie trivia.
Lonely Planet has a do-it-yourself tour online.
Indiana Jo writes about the joy of a Breaking Bad RV Tour in detail.
Enjoy your weekend!
There you have it, three days of history, culture, art, nature, and food.
What more could you ask of a weekend getaway?
Did we leave anything out? What do you love about Albuquerque, tell us in the comments below?