In just a couple of weeks we’ll be exploring New Mexico, where we’ll try to figure out if we prefer red or green chile, gaze at beautiful art in Santa Fe and on The High Road to Taos, explore ancient geologic wonders at Tent Rocks National Monument, see one of the most photographed events in the world at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and even get our kicks on Route 66. But as we get closer to the trip and the excitement that awaits, I’ve been stressed about planning our time exploring Albuquerque culture.
When we decided to fly into Albuquerque to kick off our week in New Mexico, I planned to spend some time in the state’s largest city, but it really wasn’t going to be a major focus. That was reserved for Santa Fe. But I quickly realized how perfect our timing was as one of the world’s most photographed events would be taking place all week: the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Our time in Albuquerque will be spent over parts of four days on two weekends. My stress is trying to figure out how we’ll visit all the historic sites of Albuquerque while also experiencing the Balloon Fiesta. We’ll arrive on a Sunday at lunchtime and try to cram in as much of the city’s history, arts, food and fun over the next 24 hours, not to mention some of the region’s beauty with nearby Sandia Peak. Our return visit at the end of the week will be focused on the Balloon Fiesta while trying to fit in anything else we might have missed on the first weekend.
So what’s the plan for ABQ? Food, it all starts with food.
I haven’t settled on all the restaurants we’ll visit, but I’m really interested in trying a breakfast burrito and a sweet roll at Frontier, located along Route 66 across from the University of New Mexico.
After a late lunch, I think we’ll explore Old Town, a neighborhood on the west side of Downtown where the city originated. I’m not sure what we’ll find there, but something tells me there will be lots of Native American art and other handiwork to check out.
After Old Town I think we’ll board an ABQ Ride bus for the quick ride east along historic Route 66 to Nob Hill to check out its arts, shopping and dining scene, all lit up in the glorious neon of the Mother Road’s past.
Before driving north to experience Taos and Santa Fe, I’m really looking forward to a tram ride up the 10,000-foot-high Sandia Peak, which towers over the city just to the east. In the winter, it’s a skiing and winter sports spot. During the warmer months there is plenty of hiking, mountain biking and the like to be enjoyed. I think we’ll just enjoy the amazing views.
You’re not thinking I forgot about the Balloon Fiesta, are you? There’s no way we can forget one of the entries in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” The plan is to return to Albuquerque for the closing weekend of the Fiesta. After checking out any other city attractions we might have missed on the first weekend — I’m betting we return to the boutiques and galleries of Nob Hill — we’ll join the masses and drive to Balloon Fiesta Park on the north side of the city to take in the Balloon Glow and maybe the fireworks that follow.
And before we depart the city Saturday afternoon, we’ll wake up at 4 a.m. (wow that hurts just to write that) and bundle up for the cold early morning temps to take in the morning ascension.