Photograph by parkerphotography, Alamy Stock Photo
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The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway offers sweeping panoramic views near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Photograph by parkerphotography, Alamy Stock Photo

Everything to Know About Albuquerque

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to the Duke City.

Albuquerque is a jeans-at-the-theater kind of city, laid-back yet filled with energy, whether it’s hiking the Sandia Mountains or enjoying a night out at one of its many restaurants and microbreweries. The arts permeate life here, from theater at Popejoy Hall to Native American pottery and contemporary art found in Albuquerque’s museums and galleries. Native American and Hispanic cultures influence everything from Albuquerque’s adobe-style architecture to its spicy cuisine and music.

When to Go

Albuquerque is a year-round destination with four distinct seasons. It enjoys 320 sunny days a year, and summer sees highs in the mid-90s during the day with cooler evenings in the 60s. Fall highs are in the 70s, and events such as October’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta make this season a popular time to visit. Albuquerque sees snow in the winter, and nearby Sandia Peak Ski Area and other ski areas are typically open November through mid-April.

Celebrate

The famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest gathering and launching of hot-air balloons, takes place the first full week of October. November’s festive South Valley Day of the Dead Marigold Parade celebrates Hispanic and local culture, and Old Town glows with thousands of farolitos (paper sacks filled with sand and candles) in December. The Gathering of Nations Powwow, the largest gathering of indigenous people in North America, takes place in April.

What to Eat

Albuquerque is known for its distinct New Mexico fare served with spicy red or green chile. Classic dishes include carne adovada (pork slow-roasted in red chile) burritos, green chile stew with flour tortillas, chile relleno (green chile stuffed with cheese and batter fried), posole (hominy stew with pork), and green chile cheeseburgers. For dessert, flan with caramel, sopaipillas with honey, and biscochitos (anise cookies) are favorites. Contemporary, fusion, and farm-to-table plates are deliciously abundant.

Souvenir to Take Home

New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo Native American tribes are renowned for their pottery and jewelry, and each Pueblo has its own style. For instance, Acoma Pueblo artists are known for their skill in painting fine lines representing rain on their hand-coiled pottery. Navajo weavings are sought by collectors, as is silver and turquoise jewelry. Chile ristras, strings of red chile pods tied together in order to dry for cooking, are also an iconic New Mexico keepsake.

Sustainable Travel Tip

The New Mexico Rail Runner commuter train travels between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, with several depots throughout the Albuquerque area. A shuttle bus traveling between the Albuquerque International Sunport and depot is available. Buses connect Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, and also make stops at train depots. Albuquerque has more than 400 miles of paved bike paths throughout the city, and the scenic Paseo del Bosque Recreation Trail travels north and south along the Rio Grande.

Instagram-Worthy View

Hot-air balloons against a turquoise blue sky make a classic Albuquerque photo. The Sandia Mountains and the Sandia Tramway—from either the foothills or with city views from atop the 10,678-foot mountain—make another photo favorite. The oversize Albuquerque Adirondack chair and JOY sculpture (you supply the Y) on Civic Plaza downtown make for fun images, and details such as chile, cow skulls, adobe architecture, and sunsets also rack up likes on Instagram.

Travel Journalist Steve Larese has hung his hat in Albuquerque since 1993 and frequently takes advantage of New Mexico’s outdoor adventure offerings. Check out his New Mexico images on Instagram.