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For many, Albuquerque is no more than an overnight stop along historic Route 66. But spend some time in New Mexico's most populous town, and you'll fall for its gritty charm. If you want to see the real New Mexico (not the glossed over version you'll find in Santa Fe and Taos), where real people struggle to make ends meet, then Albuquerque, complete with big city wows, should not be missed. The city has a lot going for it. The population is a vibrant mix of Native Americans, Hispanics, college students, and old timers. The city's location — where the desert meets the mountains and the Rio Grande River — is also magical. The Old Town Plaza, ...

For many, Albuquerque is no more than an overnight stop along historic Route 66. But spend some time in New Mexico's most populous town, and you'll fall for its gritty charm. If you want to see the real New Mexico (not the glossed over version you'll find in Santa Fe and Taos), where real people struggle to make ends meet, then Albuquerque, complete with big city wows, should not be missed. The city has a lot going for it. The population is a vibrant mix of Native Americans, Hispanics, college students, and old timers. The city's location — where the desert meets the mountains and the Rio Grande River — is also magical. The Old Town Plaza, with its many original 18th century buildings now filled with museums, galleries and excellent New Mexican restaurants, is the main draw. Hiking enthusiasts head to the 10,678-foot Sandia Crest, sacred to the local Native Americans and a revered hiking spot. Ride the world's longest tramway, the Sandia Peak, to the top. Also noteworthy is the fantastic Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Aaron Anderson
About the Expert

Aaron Anderson is coauthor of Lonely Planet's Washington, D.C. City Guide, a contributor on western states to Lonely Planet USA, and he wrote the Austria chapters for Lonely Planet's Western Europe and Europe on a Shoestring.

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Aaron Anderson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande.
  • Research: Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Come during the spring or summer. Winters can be cold and gray.