Why It's Worth It

Rich in Native American and Hispanic cultures, surrounded by mountains and scenic high desert, and aglow in the neon lights of Route 66 and spectacular sunsets, Albuquerque is a diverse destination that also makes a great home base for exploring the rest of New Mexico. The city’s population of 650,000 grows by several hundred during October’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and some of New Mexico’s best chile-laden cuisine, museums, and art are found here. —Steve Larese