Courtesy of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Discover all the Southwestern city has to offer, from flamenco to breweries and the largest pow wow in North America. (Plus more than 300 sunny days a year.)

Sunset Staff in Partnership with Visit Albuquerque  – June 29, 2021

At the heart of New Mexico beats the pulse of a vibrant city. In Albuquerque, diverse cultures and centuries of history blend with boundless creativity and cutting-edge innovation to create an authentic destination unlike any other. The city’s one-of-a-kind cuisine, unmatched weather, and abundance of open space have the power to change perspectives. 

Nestled within the Rio Grande Valley between the towering Sandia Mountains to the east and ancient volcanoes to the west, Albuquerque is a high-desert metropolis. With four distinct yet mild seasons, stunning sunsets, enchanting landscape, and more than 310 days of sunshine each year, the city is a true gem of the American Southwest. 

Albuquerque Downtown

Courtesy of Visit Albuquerque

As one of the oldest and most culturally diverse cities in the country, Albuquerque’s ethnic tapestry is reflected in its architecture, art, cultural centers, and cuisine. There is no shortage of ways to experience these influences. Discover New Mexico’s 19 Native American Pueblos at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, learn more about the enduring impact of Hispanic cultures at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, witness a heart-pounding flamenco performance, or visit one of the city’s many museums to awaken the past and each of your senses at the same time.  

With more than 310 days of sunshine each year, mild weather, and more parkland per capita than any other U.S. city of its size, Albuquerque’s backyard is a natural playground. Bike the more than 400 miles of trails, hike to the 10,378-foot peak of the Sandia Mountains, kayak through the heart of the city on the legendary Rio Grande, or explore the breathtaking backcountry on a jeep tour—all accessible within 30 minutes of the city center. In Albuquerque, you don’t have to go looking for adventure. It’s right outside your door.  

Sandia Mountains

Courtesy of Visit Albuquerque

Calm winds, sunny skies, and mild temperatures are the norm in Albuquerque, making it easy to understand its moniker as the Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World. Operators offer balloon rides year-round, revealing a kaleidoscope of colors set against the bright blue sky. Visitors from all over the world travel to Albuquerque every October for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® (Oct. 2-10, 2021), the largest event of its kind and said to be the most photographed event in the world. 

Ballooning

Courtesy of Visit Albuquerque

The Balloon Fiesta isn’t the only distinctive event that calls Albuquerque home. The city also hosts the Gathering of Nations each spring, the largest pow wow in North America. Hundreds of dancers, drummers, and artists from U.S. and Canadian tribes participate in this colorful celebration of Native culture and heritage, which also features a traders’ market and the annual Miss Indian World pageant. Also each spring, the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show welcomes thousands of “chileheads” to Albuquerque to watch cooking demonstrations, sample spicy cuisine, and feel the burn. And Festival Flamenco Alburquerque, the largest flamenco event held outside of Spain, takes place in the city each summer. (The event’s spelling of “Alburquerque” refers to the original spelling of the city’s name, which honored Spain’s Duke of Alburquerque.)

Pow Wow

Visit Albuquerque

Get a taste of the city by visiting each of Albuquerque’s distinct neighborhoods, which reflect the deep diversity of the city. From historic Old Town and the bustling Uptown shopping district to the serene beauty of the North Valley and the hip vibe found within Nob Hill, each of Albuquerque’s neighborhoods has a unique personality inherent to the area and a variety of places to stay, things to do, keepsakes to treasure, and delicacies to eat. Witness the changes in scenery and the contrasts between historic and modern architecture as you move around the city from one neighborhood to the next. Central Avenue, the original Route 66, runs through the heart of Albuquerque, allowing one to travel not only through each of the city’s eclectic entertainment districts but back in time to the bustling heyday of the Mother Road. 

Flamenco

Visit Albuquerque

For a more literal taste of Albuquerque, sample authentic New Mexican cuisine that takes minutes to make and hundreds of years to prepare. Chefs here have been blending Indigenous ingredients—like corn, beans, and squash—with the famous chile peppers that form the basis of these traditional New Mexican recipes. Visit the Indian Pueblo Kitchen, a new concept centered around Indigenous cuisine education and exploration, to learn more about the Native American culinary artistry and Pueblo hospitality. 

Albuquerque Cuisine

Courtesy of Visit Albuquerque

In addition to these time-honored dishes, the culinary scene in Albuquerque is becoming increasingly known for its mix of creative creations, diverse offerings, and blend of cultural influences. No matter the preference, the city’s cuisine satisfies the widest range of tastes and styles. Albuquerque is the food-hall capital of the state, with eclectic offerings at Sawmill Market, 505 Central, and Tin Can Alley. For those looking for libations, Albuquerque boasts one of the highest number of breweries per capita in the country, is home to an ever-growing third-wave coffee movement, and is located within the country’s oldest wine-growing region, with vineyards up and down the Rio Grande Valley centuries before New Mexico became a state. 

More than $300 million in recent hospitality investments have reshaped Albuquerque’s skyline and exciting developments are on the horizon. The city’s most historic neighborhood, Old Town, will soon be home to new wine-tasting rooms, a brewery, restaurants, and retail; the West Central Route 66 Visitors Center is on track for a 2022 opening; and several new hotels have recently opened or are set to open in the coming months. With its accessible location at the intersection of Interstate 25 and Interstate 40—as well as increased air service at the Albuquerque International Sunport—there’s never been a better time to connect with the city. 

Both ancient and cutting-edge, equal parts cool and quaint—the city is an oasis in the high desert, full of people with rich histories and inspiring ideas you won’t find anywhere else. There is truly no other city like it. Go to VisitABQ.org/discover to plan your trip today, and leave Albuquerque viewing your own world in a whole new light.


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