48 Hours in Albuquerque


By Mary Farah



On this episode of Big Blend Radio’s Vacation Station travel show, travel writer Mary Farah chats about her recent visit to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hear about this enchanting southwest city’s rich Native American history, iconic Route 66 culture, film locations, wine tasting and dining opportunities, hot air balloon rides, and luxury lodging at Hotel Chaco.

Hailing from Los Angeles, I live in a county of 20 million people. When I visited¬†Albuquerque¬†(population: 750,000), I thought two days would be enough time to see the sights. Instead, I found myself juggling to see as much as I possibly could. Read on to discover why Albuquerque is one of the few places where I’ll get up by four AM!

Arrive and Stay
Flying into town is a breeze thanks to Albuquerque International Airport. Once you’ve arrived, grab yourself a¬†zTrip, the city’s preferred taxi service. Call or book ahead online, or just hail a ride at the airport.¬†

For the weekend, I’d be resting my head at the exquisite¬†Hotel Chaco. One of the most ideal hotels of Albuquerque, Hotel Chaco lays in the heart of the up and coming Sawmill District.¬†

With most parts of the state on sacred ground, it’s hard not to recognize the spirits’ presence, especially at the hotel. Inspired by Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site, it serves as a tribute to Chaco Canyon’s history and the role the site played as a central hub for the ancient Pueblo people of those lands. With five room types, there are at least 25 various room configurations. Several offer a unique custom layout instead of a standard box design of some hotels.¬†

Breakfast is Served
Begin your day at the welcoming and bright Grove Cafe and Market. Little bit mercantile, a lot of mouth-watering plates and drinks to enjoy.

Despite it was a busy Saturday morning, the staff keeps the line of eager eaters moving and happy. Catering to the conscious diner, ingredients used are locally sourced, organic and everything is made in-house, from scratch, daily. While their lunch menu includes sandwiches, soups, and salads, late risers will be glad to hear breakfast is served all day.

Take a Tour of “ABQ”
The Best of ABQ City Tour¬†is a 90 minute to two-hour tour highlighting all of Albuquerque’s historic landmarks, notable buildings, and exciting pop culture facts. Fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad flock to see all of the groundbreaking series filming locations. The tour will take you by several iconic spots including Jesse Pinkman’s house and even the opportunity to buy some infamous “meth” at The Candy Lady Shop.

Wine Tasting
Begin an afternoon of New Mexican wine tasting at¬†D.H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro as you enjoy lunch paired with some of their award-winning varietals. The Lescombes family has been crafting wine in New Mexico since 1981, following their emigration from France. What makes D.H. Lescombes such a unique experience is its cozy, comfortable dining atmosphere. It’s the ideal choice to begin or end your wine adventures.

While over at¬†Sheehan Winery, you’ll be right at home. Literally. Sean Sheehan keeps it a family affair with the clan’s small vineyard and winery right behind their house. While I was fortunate to experience many varietals of New Mexican wine, Sheehan proved to have some of the most memorable. The labor of love that goes into their dedication to their winery truly comes through in the glass.¬†

Dinner and an Early Night In
Start the evening with some vino at Hotel¬†Chaco’s Crafted Wine and Spirits¬†Tasting Room. Crafted serves as a casual yet chic choice when you’re looking to catch up with colleagues or pop in to try some terrific wines and spirits local to the state of New Mexico during your stay.

As getting a taste of local color is crucial, make a reservation for an authentic New Mexican meal at¬†El Pinto. A local tradition for over 50 years, El Pinto allows its guests to feel apart of the spirit that is New Mexico. With its western fixtures and colors, and some of the best margaritas in town to boot, El Pinto is where you’ll find the locals after a hard day‚Äôs work.¬†

Now, it’s about time to get some sleep. As you’ll have an early start come in the morning…

Enjoy a Hot Air Balloon Ride
One should never pass up the chance to take a hot air balloon ride in Albuquerque. With the wind currents and air temperature some of the best in the world for hot air balloon flying thanks to the “Albuquerque Box,” a set of wind patterns that’s pretty predictable, thousands have flown over “The Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World.”

We met up with¬†Rainbow Ryders¬†just in time to watch the sunrise. While the early call time may not sound inviting, it’s an experience you’ll remember forever.

Once in the sky, enjoy views of the Rio Grande River, Rocky Mountains and all else the “Land of Enchantment” has to offer. You’ll be in flight for an hour, and upon landing, a celebratory champagne toast is held to commemorate the morning.¬†

Brunch and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
It’s always a good time for brunch, but isn’t it an¬†especially¬†good time after a balloon ride? Despite a usual wait on the weekend,¬†Campo at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm¬†are worth it. An inviting 25 acres nestled among cottonwood trees and lavender fields are your surroundings when you pop into Campo or stay at Los Poblanos.¬†

Come prepared to indulge at the impressive farm-to-table Campo. Generous plates of pancakes, eggs Benedict and seasonal favorites await for brunch.

A visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a beautiful and eye-opening look into the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. On the weekend, enjoy cultural dance events featuring dance groups from the 19 Pueblos. The IPCC is the only place in North America to offer traditional Native American dances every week year-round.

Visit the Land of Enchantment
While it’s a hard place to say goodbye to, there’s certainly enough to see in Albuquerque for return trips. As you work on your travel bucket list for the new year, make sure to take a look at the “Land of Enchantment” and¬†Albuquerque!

Mary is a Los Angeles native who has been writing on her popular travel and lifestyle blog, www.AlongComesMaryBlog.com, since 2012. In addition to Along Comes Mary, she also contributes to a variety of online magazines including Local and FWT. Mary loves to highlight all a destination has to offer, while also offering resources for where to find the best gluten-free dining. Mary is also on the board of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association.   

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association


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About the Author:

Mary is a Los Angeles native who has been writing on her popular travel and lifestyle blog, www.AlongComesMaryBlog.com, since 2012.

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