Neon-clad art deco storefronts line dynamic Central Avenue (aka Historic Route 66), which pierces the heart of Albuquerque's urbane but funky Nob Hill. With nearby University of New Mexico in full swing, the neighborhood buzzes with free-spirited vitality. But it's not just for college students: The sophisticated shopping hub appeals to all ages.
Kick off your retail ramble with a browse through Papers. If you can think of a craft or art related to paper, from origami to calligraphy, you'll find the supplies and how-to books at this sunlit shop. Around the corner, tiny Lavande Bleu bursts with exquisite bath products, half of them infused with lavender. There's lip balm, bath salts, massage oil, Earl Grey tea―plus highly addictive lavender-chocolate bark.
The A Store is a landmark home furnishings emporium that stocks scented votive candles and cool furniture. Just two blocks down, Hey Jhonny carries stylish home items; check out the Japanese tea sets, fashionable Italian leather bags, and stunning hand-blown glass vases. Around the corner, Hey Jhonny Home sells larger pieces, from mod sofas to ornate bronze Chinese statues.
Across the street, satisfy your fashion cravings with a tour of Sparky's, a natty his-and-hers boutique that carries Paul Frank and Ben Sherman. For a treat, hit Flying Star Café, a coffeehouse, wine bar, and newsstand in one. Nosh on the chopped Cobb salad with tomatillo-lime vinaigrette, or sweeten your day with a slice of the most luscious coconut-cream pie in Albuquerque.
Park in one of the free lots at Silver Ave. and Amherst Dr., behind Nob Hill Business Center in Albuquerque.
The A Store. 3500 Central Ave. S.E.; 505/266-2222.
Hey Jhonny. 3418 Central S.E.; 505/256-9244.
Hey Jhonny Home. Closed Mon-Tue. 118 Tulane St.; 505/265-9242.
Lavande Bleu. 109 Carlisle Blvd. S.E.; 505/255-5006.
Papers. 114 Amherst Dr. S.E.; 505/254-1434.
Sparky's. 3507 Central N.E.; 505/255-2996.
Flying Star Café. $; breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 3416 Central S.E.; 505/255-6633.