Albuquerque, NM; Small Town with big-city vibe

Many Albuquerque visitors land at the city’s convenient Sunport airport, rent a car and promptly drive an hour north to Santa Fe, seeing Albuquerque only from the freeway. That’s a pity because Albuquerque is one of the most delightful small towns in America, full of regional character, delicious New Mexican regional cuisine and plenty of local color. It is a small and attractive city that welcomes visitors with an endless supply of attractions that are worthy of exploration.

It is quite practical to combine your Albuquerque trip with a visit to stylish Santa Fe because the convenient and economical RailRunner commuter-rail service makes it easy. Trains runs frequently between downtown Albuquerque to downtown Santa Fe daily.

Home to the world-famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta where hundreds of hot air balloons take to the skies for over a week each October, Albuquerque is close to the imposing Sandia Mountains and is surrounded by history and recreational opportunities from golf courses, hiking, biking and skiing. There are many microbreweries, wineries, a kitschy Old Town, good shopping for Native American and western items, lots of Native American culture and fascinating displays of the city’s western heritage in museums, shops and architecture.

Bisected by historic Route 66, New Mexico’s largest city has 310 days of sunshine annually and is a simply smart place to explore.

Albuquerque can be easily reached by highway, air, cruise ship or train.

• By car, Albuquerque is on I-25 and I-40.

• By air, the nearest airport is Albuquerque Sunport (ABQ). It is four miles from downtown.

• By train, Albuquerque is served by Amtrak and connected to Santa Fe and Belen via New Mexico Rail Runner. Seniors ride free on summer Wednesdays on the NMRR.

• Albuquerque is inland, with no cruise ship service.

• Stroll around historic Old Town

• National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center or one of our many world-class museums

• Checking out the zoo and aquarium at The ABQ BioPark

• See the Acoma Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America

• Spend a day in Santa Fe, connected by RailRunner train and highway

• Explore Taos’ museums, galleries and pueblo (a 133-mile drive including the scenic Rio Grande valley)

• Journey to Los Alamos, center of the U.S. nuclear weapons development in the 1940s

Laid back with good shopping and many museums, Albuquerque is welcoming to the over 50 set.

Albuquerque has good accessible public transportation and no special mobility issues

When to go: year-round. Autumn has the best weather and numerous festivals. Winter is ski time in the nearby mountains, Spring is dry and windy. Summer is hot but still pleasant.

Where to stay: Old Town and downtown have scores of hotels at almost any price range. Resorts are nearby as well. Most national chains are well represented.

Jeffrey R. Orenstein and Virginia Orenstein

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