There's more to explore along Albuquerque's top shopping street

Even the most streetwise Albuquerquean would be surprised by a ramble along Fourth Street Northwest as it passes through Alameda and the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.

The street’s traditional Antique Mile has been given a dose of glamour, with new destinations existing side by side with family businesses that have been around a half-century or more.

“We’re bringing commerce back to the North Valley,” says Cherie Austin, a Los Ranchos resident whose family goes back 300 years in the area. “Now you can go shopping, get your hair cut, and have dinner without having to go very far. Which is the way it used to be.”

Austin is a partner in La Parada de Alameda (closed Mon-Tue; 8917 Fourth St. N.W.; 505/897-8203), a charming new mercantile with Mexican and Moroccan imports. Situated beside acres of alfalfa fields in an adobe hacienda said to be a former stagecoach stop, La Parada is typical of the new businesses springing up in the area.

Like Austin, Michelle McFadden wanted her art-supply business, the Art Barn (closed Mon; 8833 Fourth; 505/899-4441), to be a gathering place for creative types from Albuquerque’s semirural North Valley, hosting crafts classes, workspace, and displays of local art.

At nearby Kelly Jo Designs (closed Sun; 6829 Fourth; 800/844-5060), browse among shelves teeming with brightly colored, whimsical pottery. Or sniff the selection of bath products at old-fashioned Moses Kountry Health Food Store (closed Sun; 7115 Fourth; 505/898-9763).

Dan’s Boots & Saddles (closed Sun; 6903 Fourth; 505/345-2220) is the place to go to pick up a supply of wild birdseed as well as the latest in Western chic. After, stop for coffee at El Camino Dining Room ($; closed Mon; 6800 Fourth; 505/344-0448), a diner with ’50s-vintage style that evokes the days when Fourth Street was a stretch of Old Route 66. And if you’re in the mood for traditional New Mexican fare, many consider the fajitas at Casa de Benavidez ($; 8032 Fourth; 505/898-3311) the best in town.

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