I went out to Albuquerque in June for 5 days to visit my best friend and her husband. They moved out west last November after they’d visited New Mexico and liked it. I’ll be honest, had they not moved out there, I’m pretty sure I would never have traveled to New Mexico. It was kind of at the bottom of my list, just above Mississippi and Kansas. But they were there and I missed them and I was able to get a cheap flight. So, off I went!
I’d done some Googling on what there was to do in ABQ (how all the locals refer to Albuquerque) and it was a lot of outdoorsy things. But I did find out there was a zoo and a center dedicated to “holocaust and genocide studies,” which I found odd considering it was New Mexico and I didn’t think many Jews ended up there. I put a bunch of pins on my Google map and by the time that Friday rolled around, I had a whole day planned while my friends were at work.
I ended up seeing almost all of Albuquerque because I walked back to the house from the zoo. Now Albuquerque isn’t known for long distance walking and my friend and her colleagues were worried about me when I told her I was walking home, but I surprised everyone, I guess, and made it back in one piece. Suffice it to say, I was sunburned after. But here’s what I learned about the town from my travels:
- There is a large Jewish population in Albuquerque thanks to Russian Jews who’ve immigrated there, as well as Orthodox Jews who moved from Western Texas.
- Breweries are BIG in ABQ. I think I visited 4 during my five days there.
- The Albuquerque BioPark (aka the Zoo!) won an award called the “Quarter Century Award” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This specific award was “established in 2015,” and it, “acknowledges facilities that have maintained AZA accreditation continuously for 25 years or more, highlighting their commitment to animal care, welfare, conservation, education, and more.” Pretty cool!
- Denizens of ABQ are super proud of their city. People tattooed with the “zia sun” (the symbol of New Mexico) are pretty common.
- If you live near Central Avenue, it’s pretty easy to walk to and from some pretty good bars and restaurants.
- But if you don’t, Ubers and Lyfts are super cheap. My friends say it costs them about $4 to get to the airport.
- There are lots of locally owned coffee shops. I didn’t get to try them all but they all seemed pretty rad.
- Green chiles are all the rage. They put them on everything! There are also red chiles, which you are also expected to love after you first fall in love with the green chiles.
- There’s a ton of street art and a bunch of art galleries along Central Avenue. I walked into one gallery for a minute on my walk back from the zoo because I was dying of the heat. It was modern art, which I guess was neat, but I really just needed the air conditioning for a minute.
- The University of New Mexico is in Albuquerque so ABQ is basically a college town. One neighborhood is full of streets that are named after other colleges, which I thought was super neat.
- People let their pets roam around outside, in the street, etc. which drove me INSANE. If I ever moved there, I’d be a cat advocate to get people to move their pets inside (I’d be SO popular). I will never understand why people treat their family members like this.
- There is a homeless population, but it’s small, and they never approached me on my three mile walk.
- Hummingbirds and Road Runners (!) are critters you will see in your front yard there. I saw a road runner on my last day and it was SO pretty! It made a loud clicking noise though, not a “meep-meep” as I was taught during my childhood years watching Looney Tunes.
- There is an Old Town filled with adobe architecture, with a couple of good restaurants, but for the most part, there are just a lot of overpriced boutiques.
- The landscape is super pretty with the mountains in the background, but yes, it’s a desert.
I should also mention that people LOVE camping and they go camping every weekend. I say good for them, whatever makes them happy! Look for more posts about Santa Fe and more about Albuquerque coming very soon!
But if you’ve been to ABQ, what did you like the most? Let me know below!