Ten Things to Love About Albuquerque

There are so many reasons to love Albuquerque. Whether you're a local, a transplant, a sightseer or just passing through, here are some of Albuquerque's sights, traditions and reasons to come, stay and live in Albuquerque.

  • 01 of 10

    The Sandias

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    The Sandia mountains serve as a geographic GPS marker that point east and mark one of the city's boundaries. They're a haven for recreational hiking and biking trails, skiing, snowshoeing, picnic areas, and the Sandia Tram, all just a few minutes drive away from the city. From the top of Sandia Crest, the view stretches for 11,000 square miles. Sandia means watermelon in Spanish, a reference to the rosy hue the mountains take on at sunset. Albuquerque was named one of the 10 best places to watch a sunset by 10Best.com's readers, a division of USA Today.

  • 02 of 10

    Arts & Culture

    Museum Entry
    ••• Photo Aileen O'Catherine

    Thanks to the Natural History Museum, the Albuquerque Museum, and other museums, art galleries, and Art Bar, a non-profit that matches arts to the community, Albuquerque is on the creatives map. We have more theater per capita than any other city its size, with musical and theater performances taking place downtown, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and other spots around town. We even have a thriving dinner theater scene.

    Albuquerque has also ranked as one of the top film locations in the world for the past several years, with Breaking Bad, The Lone Ranger, The Avengers and more being shot around its environs. We have the natural landscapes as well as the sound stages, high tech equipment and trained workers to make the city a magnet for television and the silver screen.

  • 03 of 10

    Rio Grande

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    The river that intersects the city has bosque woodlands on either bank that provide walking trails, biking and hiking opportunities as well as a place to relax and enjoy nature. River expeditions can include kayaking and paddleboarding as well as canoeing. The waterway begins in Colorado and cuts its way down the state to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. In a city located in a desert, the river symbolizes the frail nature of life in such a climate, and of how the precious resource of water brings food via agriculture to the people who live along its borders.
  • 04 of 10

    Affordability

    Adobe Home
    ••• Photo © Aileen O'Catherine

    Albuquerque provides an affordable destination to travelers, but it's affordable for locals as well. The median sales price for housing in 2013 for the greater metro area was $174,000, while nationally it was $188,900, making our housing refreshingly affordable. Rents are also below average, at 74% the national costs. Our neighborhoods contain brand new green housing as well as school buildings converted into luxury lofts. We have turn of the century neighborhoods in places like east downtown, a rural lifestyle minutes from the city center in the north valley, and fantastic views of the Sandias from places like Taylor Ranch on the westside. Whether it's cozy neighborhoods, rolling riverside, or city views, Albuquerque has it all.  

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Chile & Sopapillas

     The official state question of "red or green" puts you in the mindset of kind of food we love in the city. Enchiladas, tamales, and green chile stew are just a few of the dishes we order time and again. 

    Sopapillas, those little pillows of puffed pastry that are something akin to an after dinner doughnut, are the perfect size and shape for sopping up any chile sauce that's left over from a typical New Mexican meal. Albuquerque's green chile made #1 for the 10 Best Iconic American Regional Foods.

  • 06 of 10

    Open Space

    ••• © Aileen O'Catherine

    Thirty percent of Albuquerque is devoted to parks and open spaces. Biking trails crisscross the city, nature centers provide tranquil spaces for bird watching or hiking, and explorations are made easier because the city has such clean air. Albuquerque was named #1 on Weather.com's 10 Best Urban Destinations for Nature Lovers, and locals enjoy the opportunities under more than 300 days of sunshine.

  • 07 of 10

    The Lobos

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    Albuquerque's colors are red and silver, and fans hearts lie with the University of New Mexico's college teams. Whether fans are cheering on the Lady Lobos in a basketball game, taking part in March madness, the football season, or tuning in to the ski, golf or other sports teams, the Lobos provide our mid sized city with a big helping of homepride.

  • 08 of 10

    Traditions

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    Albuquerque's traditions come from a fusion of the area's cultures. On Christmas eve, luminarias light walkways into homes, a tradition that has its roots in the early Spanish settlements. Feast day traditions at nearby pueblos such as Jemez and Acoma remind us that our past is part of our today. The annual pilgrimage to Tome Hill happens every Easter season. Traditions such as Summerfest, the Fiery Foods Show, the Greek Festival, Arts and Crafts Festival and the New Mexico Jazz Festival are just some of the city's events that entice visitors from around the world.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Recreation

    Recreation abounds in the Duke City. The Sandia foothills have hiking trails as well as the Elena Gallegos picnic area, where families and friends can set up for a leisurely afternoon. The bike trails through the city can have you wheeling from the mountains to the valley in a matter of minutes. Skiing and snowshoeing are just a drive to the other side of the mountains in winter. In summer, the Rio Grande offers paddle tours and leisurely walks along the bosque. Places like Petroglyph National Monument and Coronado Monument become weekend excursion points. Day trips to Madrid, Jemez Springs and Santa Fe mix culture with the sense that you're far away from the city. Free activities are easily found. There's always something going on in this vibrant city, offering a chance to feel like you're far from home when just minutes away. 

  • 10 of 10
    2013 October 05,Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
    ••• Gardener41 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

     The annual International Balloon Fiesta flies high in early October, when hundreds of gas and hot air balloons inflate to fill the skies with colors, sounds and a special kind of magic. The largest festival of its kind, the Balloon Fiesta features mass balloon ascensions, morning and evening balloon glows, food, arts, crafts, entertainment and an ever expanding array of activities that make for nine days of packed family fun. The Albuquerque Balloon Museum provides year round exhibits on the art and science of ballooning.