Ashley’s Albuquerque

Hello city-lovers! Ashley Biggers writes to us from the Southwest, where she’s an associate editor at New Mexico Magazine, to tell us why she loves her hometown of Albuquerque.

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Albuquerque, New Mexico is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is Sandía Peak Tramway, the world’s longest aerial tramway. From Sandía Peak, you can take in views of the entire valley–and adjust to the high desert altitude.

When I crave flamenco music and dance I go the National Hispanic Cultural Center. When I crave Native American drumming, I go to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

To escape the city I head to the Jémez Mountains where red rock cliffs, natural mineral hot springs, and a quaint village await.

If I want to discover a new local author I go to Bookworks.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in the tasting room at Casa Rondeña Winery in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the “Chevy on a Stick,” also known by its formal title “Cruising San Mateo.” It’s a ’54 Chevy perched on an archway and tiled over in the name of public art.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Casa de Benavidez it has to be the sopaipillas (friend dough puffs drizzled in honey).

Mariposa Gallery is my one-stop shop for one-of-a-kind finds created by emerging artists.

Locals know to skip El Pinto and check out Sadie’s Restaurant for authentic New Mexican food instead.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go hiking at Elena Gallegos Open Space.

For a huge splurge I go for a full day of treatments at Betty’s Bath and Day Spa.

Photo ops in my city include the Sandía Mountains at sunset. The mountains draw their Spanish name from the watermelon shade they turn at sunset. One of the best vantage points is from the Petroglyph National Monument on the West Mesa.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Neil Patrick Harris because he’s witty and overflowing with secret talents. (He was raised here, too.)

The most random thing about my city is that more than 170 movies and televisions shows have been filmed here.

My city has the most men who are part hipster, part hippie.

My city has the most women as fiery as our chili.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves mountain biking in the Sandía Mountains.

My city’s best mainstream museum is the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. My city’s best non-mainstream museum is the American International Rattlesnake Museum.

My favorite jogging/walking route is the Paseo del Bosque trail along the Río Grande’s cottonwood forests.

For a night of dancing, go to the Cooperage on the weekends. Or, for live music, check out the Sunshine Theater.

Frontier Restaurant across from the University of New Mexico is the spot for late-night eats. Check out their to-die-for cinnamon rolls or green chile stew.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read The Alibi.

You can tell a lot about my city from how fiercely its residents defend it.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they have a “Make Art, Not War” bumper sticker on their car.

In the spring you should explore the Aldo Leopold Forest‘s interpretive trail through the bosque to see the cottonwoods leaf out.

In the summer you should drink a margarita on the second-floor cantina at Seasons Rotisserie and Grill, which overlooks Old Town and downtown.

In the fall you should smell roasting green chile and buy a ristra at a roadside stand.

In the winter you should curl up with a good book and a latte at Satellite Coffee. On Christmas Eve, walk through Old Town’s adobes lit with thousands of luminarias (below).

A hidden gem in my city is La Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a small, out-of-the-way chapel in Old Town.

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For a great breakfast joint try Calico Cantina and Café in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.

Don’t miss the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October.

Just outside my city, you can visit Acoma Pueblo, a Native American village ensconced atop a 367-foot sandstone bluff.

The best way to see my city is by motorcycle along Route 66 (Central Avenue).

If my city were a pet it would be a friendly mixed-breed dog that is a bit scruffy, but always up for an adventure.

The best book about my city is Albuquerque by Rudolfo AnayaAlbuquerque by Rudolfo Anaya.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “You’re All I’m Dreaming Of” by local Navajo blues/rock band The Plateros.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss ¡Explora! Science Center.

Only in my city could every event you’d ever want to attend all year long be scheduled on the same day.

My city should be featured on your website because we are the consummate southwestern U.S. city: Here you’ll find ancient cultures melding with modern-day pursuits–from the arts to the outdoors.

Photos: danderson800, ushlambad, camera_obscura, JasonBechtel via Flickr

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