A Weekend Away: Albuquerque, NM

A WEEKEND AWAY

If you’ve followed my travels for the past few years, you know that I’ve taken a lot of weekend trips. For me, it is a normal to pack everything a city offers into less than 36 hours, but to others I look like a lunatic.

Why do I do it? After I graduated college, I wasn’t able to travel for long periods of time. Like many Americans, I had to work 5 days a week to pay bills, leaving only 2 days to relax… and in my case, travel. Instead of wishing I could be abroad (although I still do that), I decided to visit more of my own country, the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Growing up in the Midwest, I had only really visited the Midwestern states. I dreamed of lighthouses on the cliffs of Maine and rushing waterfalls in Oregon’s forests. But all I ever saw was two things: 1. Florida beaches and 2. farmland in every other state. You can only see so many cornfields before you start wanting to rip all your hair out. Since I began these short weekend adventures, I have been able to uncover a new love for America’s diversity while doubling the states I have visited.

I’m starting a series of places I travel to on weekends, A Weekend Away, to show that it has been and can be done successfully. And hopefully, it will inspire you to travel to some of these places… even if just for a short weekend! It’s a blessing to live in such a multifaceted country: we have cities, mountains, beaches, deserts, forests, and essentially every other type of ecosystem. Get out there and EXPLORE!


The first destination in this series is Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city that makes me feel like I’m competing in the 4th grade spelling bee every time I have to write it. This was my first spontaneous weekend trip, and its success spurred on many more.

PLACES TO GO

Sandia Mountains

The Sandia Mountains were definitely my favorite part of the trip. I took a short day-hike in the morning to a lookout point (pictured below). The hike was about 3-4 hours, so take some granola bars and bananas with you for some energy.

*If you have extra time: Madrid, NM – Just past the mountains on the interstate, in between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, is a small town called Madrid. Madrid only has a few hundred residents, but is an old ghost-town-turned-artsy community that features local foods and turquoise jewelry made by its residents.

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Shout-out to my husband for this awesome photo overlooking Albuquerque from atop the Sandias!

Old Town

Old town is a historic district in Albuquerque that was founded by the Spanish in the 1700’s. This area is composed of blocks of traditional adobe buildings. Most of them house little shops or restaurants that can take a whole afternoon to explore. Below is the church in this neighborhood, a great example of the adobe-style buildings in Old Town.

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Breaking Bad

If you’re a fan of this T.V. series, you’ll be excited about all of the scenes you can visit. I visited Walter White’s house, which has since been reoccupied by actual tenants. You may want to get directions to the house on the internet. Since it has been re-inhabited, there are no signs, and it’s easy to miss.

Apparently the new tenants cleaned the pizza off the roof.

Other Breaking Bad sites:

Twister’s (Los Pollos Hermanos)
Tuco’s headquarters
Crossroads Motel
A1 Car Wash

*These are a few Breaking Bad filming locations. There are many more, but for a short weekend trip, you’ll just have time to visit your favorites.

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GETTING AROUND

Public Bus System

From the airport, public buses run straight to the city center, where you can go to old town or explore the modern downtown. This is by far the cheapest option for travel within Albuquerque.

*Bikes are available for rent downtown, but you will need to take a the bus into town first.

Rental Car

As this was my first impulsive weekend trip, I decided to use a rental car in Albuquerque. It was much easier to customize my short vacation, and I knew I would need it to get to the mountains, which was the only activity I actually planned before going to Albuquerque.

WHERE TO EAT

El Pinto

I featured this restaurant on Top 5 Eats Abroad as my #1 meal I’ve ever had. It’s that good. Red chili ribs and beautiful courtyards made this an unforgettable experience. It’s pretty famous, though, so you may have a wait on a weekend night. There is plenty to explore on the grounds, including pictures of celebrities who have eaten there.

Then, when you’re back home, you may even find a jar of their salsa in your local grocery store!

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Have you visited Albuquerque before? What would you add to this list?

The Wayfaring Woman

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