Car Free Journey: Albuquerque

Albuquerque-NM1This month, our car free journey spotlights Albuquerque.

Despite its old age, Albuquerque is nothing short of a funky, eclectic, sunny getaway. The city boasts a great mix of art, culture, outdoor recreation and family fun. It is situated in the high desert which means four distinctly mild seasons and beautiful sunrises and sets against the backdrop of the beautiful Sandia Mountains.

It is a getaway that is affordable as well as accessible for weekend travelers. Because most major attractions are within walking distance of a downtown hotel, or along a bus route, the city is a good weekend getaway choice for visitors who don’t want to drive.

Getting Here

The Alvarado Transportation Center (ATC), located in downtown Albuquerque, serves as the hub for Amtrak, Greyhound Lines and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail line (to Santa Fe). It is also the main hub for Albuquerque’s public transit service, ABQ Ride, and is therefore an easy place to catch a bus while in Albuquerque.

A daily ABQ RIDE pass is $2 per day, up to 3 days for $6, and can be purchased on the bus. For more information about routes and schedules, visit http://abq.gov/transit, or call (505) 243-7433 every day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time.

From the Albuquerque International Airport (airport code ABQ), ABQ RIDE provides shuttle service to the Alvarado Transportation Center every day except Sunday.

ABQ Ride’s Route 50 operates weekdays, every ½ hour from the airport to the Alvarado Transit Center in downtown Albuquerque between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. From 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., Route 50 ends at Yale and Central. There, you can connect with ABQ Ride’s Route 66, or visit the University of New Mexico. One way fare is $1.

On Saturdays, Route 50 operates every hour, from the airport between 9:45 a.m. until 6:50 p.m.

Because transit is so affordable, but unavailable on Sundays, consider returning home on Monday morning.

If you need to catch a flight on Sunday, the most affordable transportation from downtown Albuquerque to the airport (by reservation only) is Sunport Shuttle (www.sunportshuttle.com, or call 505/883-4966.) The shuttle costs $11 one way + $5 for each additional person and operates from 4 a.m. until 11 p.m. Make your reservation the night before you want to leave. The shuttle will pick you up two hours before your plane is scheduled to leave.

Now that you’ve arrived, let’s being our visit to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Kelly Ryan, from Albuquerque’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, is our guide.

What to Do After You Arrive

Here are tips from Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.itsatrip.org, call (505) 842-9918):

  • Enjoy the view. This city is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country – And you’ll want to have a front row seat. The color of the mountains at sunset is really spectacular.
  • Try something hotter than you think you can handle. (I’m referring to chile, of course.) Chile has a different type of heat than you are probably used to – heat really does add to the flavor here. Start with something mild, but see if you can’t work your way up to something a little bolder.
  • A great resource here is 311. (Call 311 on your phone.) This can really come in handy when you need to figure out the best bus route. Don’t forget to check out our calendar as well for what’s happening around town while you are here: http://www.ItsATrip.org/events.

Where to Stay and What to Do

The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends Downtown Albuquerque and Historic Old Town as great neighborhoods for visitors who don’t want to drive. Here is a brief list of attractions and places to stay in each neighborhood:

Albuquerque-New-MexicoDowntown Albuquerque

http://www.itsatrip.org/travel-tools/neighborhoods/downtown.aspx

Downtown is home to the Albuquerque Convention Center as well as several major hotels, nightclubs, theaters, art galleries and restaurants. It is also home to the Alvarado Transportation Center – which can serve as your hub if you are seeing the city on foot. The Albuquerque Civic Plaza hosts many concerts and outdoor events – taking in all of the sunshine the city has to offer.

Where to Stay

Budget Accommodations:

America’s Best Value Inn

615 Central Ave. NE

(505) 247.8897 www.abvidowntown.com

This is a conveniently located hotel with exterior corridors.

 

Chain/Flag Hotels:

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Albuquerque

201 Marquette NW

(505) 247.3344 www.DoubleTreeABQ.com

The DoubleTree Hotel, located downtown, is just a quick walk to the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Albuquerque Embassy Suites Hotels & Spas

1000 Woodward Place NE

(505) 245.7100

www.albuquerque.embassysuites.com

261 spacious 2-suite rooms + spa.

Albuquerque Hyatt Regency

330 Tijeras Ave. NW

(505) 842.1234 http://www.albuquerque.hyatt.com

This is a 4-Diamond, full-service hotel property adjacent to the Convention Center.

The property features a Starbucks, lounge, restaurant and is conveniently located.

Luxury:

Hotel Andaluz

125 Second St. NW

(505) 242.9090 www.hotelandaluz.com

This is also a 4-Diamond property, recently named Lifestyle Hotel of the Year and a top hotel for business travel. The hotel features complimentary Wi-Fi, a 4-Star restaurant and live entertainment every weekend. It’s influences are Moroccan and Spanish from the Andalucian region of Spain. It was Conrad Hilton’s first property (obviously, it is no longer a Hilton Hotel).

Hotel Parq Central

806 Central Ave. SE

(505) 242.0040 www.HotelParqCentral.com

Built in 1926, this hotel is an urban oasis located at the gateway to downtown in the EDo district (East Downtown). It is a blend of contemporary comfort and historic elegance, and is Albuquerque’s newest boutique hotel. Their rooftop lounge, Apothecary, offers panoramic city views.

Bed And Breakfast

Downtown Historic Bed & Breakfast

207 and 209 High Street NE

(505) 842.0223

www.downtownhistoric.com

Beautifully restored Victorian home in downtown Albuquerque. 9 luxurious rooms full of heirloom antiques and custom-made bedding. Beautiful backyard with a fountain, stream and 100 year-old barn wood arbors. Mornings feature a bountiful homemade breakfast. Free internet and cable.

What To Do

Downtown Highlights:

– 516 ARTS: www.516arts.org

– GFAB (Great Face and Body) www.GreatFaceAndBody.com

– Ibiza Lounge at Hotel Andaluz – www.HotelAndaluz.com

– KiMo Theatre – KimoTickets.com

– Marble Brewery – www.marblebrewery.com

– Routes Bicycle Rentals and Tours – www.RoutesRentals.com

– Sumner & Dene Creations in Art – www.SumnerDene.com

Historic Old Townhttp://www.albuquerqueoldtown.com

From the Alvarado Transportation Center, the Historic Old Town neighborhood is a quick bus ride up Central Avenue. This is where the city was founded back in 1706. It has traditional adobe-style architecture and lots of shops and restaurants to explore and enjoy. This is a true taste of the Southwest and a don’t-miss on a trip to Albuquerque.

Where to Stay

Budget:

Route 66 Hostel

1012 Central Ave. SW

(505) 247-1813 www.rt66hostel.com

This is Albuquerque’s only hostel. It’s technically located between the lively downtown district and Old Town, so it’s a great location. It’s an easy walk to the bus station and located right across from Robinson Park, where there is a grower’s market on Saturdays at various times throughout the year.

Chain/Flag Hotels:

Best Western PLUS Rio Grande Inn

1015 Rio Grande Blvd. NW

(505) 843.9500 www.RioGrandeInn.com

This is an AAA 3-Diamond full service hotel. It features a restaurant (no breakfast buffet), bar, pool and complimentary shuttle to/from the ABQ Sunport. It is a short walk from St. Clair Winery, Starbucks and the Old Town shopping district.

Hotel Albuquerque (Part of Heritage Hotel Group)

800 Rio Grand Blvd. NW

(505) 843-6300 www.HotelABQ.com

This is about as close to Old Town Albuquerque as you can get. A hop across the parking lot brings you into the heart of Historic Old Town. The hotel features free Wi-Fi, 2 restaurants, 2 bars, and an outdoor pool. It is known to have one of the most popular nightclubs in town and features a traditional Southwestern cultural design.

Bed and Breakfast Option:

Bottger Mansion of Old Town

110 San Felipe Street NW

(505) 243.3639 www.Bottger.com

This historic mansion was built in 1910 and features a two-course gourmet breakfast, shady courtyard oasis and warm hospitality. They even have a pet-friendly room. Located just off of the Old Town square.

What to Do

There are MANY museums in Old Town in addition to the ones listed below (19 in total).

Here are a few highlights:

ABQ BioParkwww.ABQBioPark.com

ABQ Trolley Cowww.ABQTrolley.com

Albuquerque Little Theaterwww.albuquerquelittletheatre.org

American International Rattlesnake Museumwww.rattlesnakes.com

Discover Balloonswww.discoverballoons.com

Explora Children’s Museumwww.explora.us

History and Ghost Tours of Old Townwww.toursofoldtown.com

Turquoise Museumwww.turquoisemuseum.com

Weems Gallerywww.weemsgallery.com

Consider a walking tour through the Albuquerque Museum (Tuesday-Sunday at 11am, only offered from mid-March through mid-December. : http://albuquerquemuseum.org/plan-visit/museum-tours

A Few Ideas for Interest-Based Self-Guided Outings and Excursions from the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

Bike and Brew

Albuquerque is a very bike-friendly city, with 400+ miles of bike paths and trails (and more in the works!). Our sunny climate offers an opportunity to bike year-round, and many visitors as well as locals are taking advantage of the great biking options we have in town. A popular afternoon bike activity would be to take a Bikes & Brews Tour with Routes Rentals & Tours.

The tour offers a unique bicycle experience that combines the spectacular scenery of Albuquerque’s bike paths with professionally guided beer sampling, local culture and VIP back-room brewery tours. The trip itself is 12 miles and lasts for 3.5 hours. Included in the tour is a bike and helmet, VIP brewery experience including beer samples at each brewery, light snacks and bottled water. The cost is $45 with bike rental or $35 if you BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike). It’s a great afternoon adventure.

To get there: The tours take off from the Routes Rentals location at 11th and Mountain. Take Route 36 to 12th and Granite. It is a less than .2 mile walk then to the Routes Rentals Shop. Routes Rentals also offers a free pick-up and drop-off bike service within the Albuquerque area. You’d just need to give them a call: (505)933.5667

Kids

Explora! Science Center & Children’s Museum – http://www.explora.us/en/

This museum is designed for kiddos, but will keep the whole family entertained and learning. From their website: “Explora is a new kind of learning place, providing real experiences with real things that put people’s learning in their own hands. Explora is part science center, part children’s museum, part free-choice school, part grandma’s attic, part grandpa’s garage, part laboratory, part neighborhood full of interesting people, and part of many people’s lives. Exhibits are designed to engage visitors of all ages.”

How to get there: Explora is located in Old Town Albuquerque.

From the East: ABQ RIDE Bus #766 to Rio Grande and Central. Walk North on Rio Grande, then East on Mountain (.6 miles).From the West: ABQ RIDE Bus #790 to Rio Grande and Central. Walk North on Rio Grande, then East on Mountain (.6 miles).

ABQ BioPark – http://www.cabq.gov/culturalservices/biopark

Albuquerque is a very affordable city, and the ABQ BioPark is one of the reasons why. It consists of the Zoo, Botanic Garden, Tingley Beach and Aquarium, and in the summer is home to some great family-friendly concerts at very affordable prices. Whether your family decides to dine next to the sharks at the Shark Reef Café, check out the animals eating with the Feeding Times and Activities Chart at the Zoo, or check out the Butterfly Pavilion at the Botanic Garden … there is something for everyone.

Public Transportation to the BioPark: From the Downtown stations (bus and train), you have options:

  • Walk through downtown to the Zoo–just over 1 mile.
  • Bus 66 or 766 stops at Central & Tingley Drive, just outside the Aquarium & Garden.
  • Bus 66 stops at Central and 10th — about 8 blocks (1/2 mile) from the Zoo entrance.
  • Bus 53 stops one block from the Zoo entrance.

For tickets and more information: http://www.cabq.gov/culturalservices/biopark/tickets

American International Rattlesnake Museum – http://www.rattlesnakes.com

This museum is home to more species of live snakes housed under one roof that anywhere else in the world! A walk through the museum will introduce you to information about snake skins, fangs, tail rattles and more. The best part might be the certificate of bravery that you receive after completing the tour. It is fun – and informative!

How to get there? Take ABQ RIDE’s Route 766 for access to Old Town. The Rattlesnake Museum is located at 202 San Felipe NW (they are located 100 feet south of the southeast corner of the main plaza in Old Town).

When the Sun Goes Down: A few Ideas for Evening Activities

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Theatre

A great evening option is the KiMo Theater – located in downtown Albuquerque. The theatre has a steady stream of evening performances and events, and is easily accessible via the bus.

www.kimotickets.com – 423 Central Ave. NW

Comedy

If you are looking for a nice improv show, The Box performance space offers live comedy improv every Friday and Saturday night at 9pm. The tickets are only $8 and the show is open to anyone over the age of 13. The box is located at 100 Gold Ave. SW. and is a one minute walk from the Alvarado Transportation Center downtown. www.theboxabq.com – 100 Gold Ave. SW

Nightlife

Ibiza at Hotel Andaluz. www.hotelandaluz.com/eat-drink/ibiza – 125 2nd St. NW

Ibiza has a roof-top bar and patio overlooking the eastern Albuquerque sky and mountains, and is open every night. It’s just a three-minute walk from the Alvarado Transportation Center.

Hotel Parq Central’s Apothecary Lounge

www.hotelparqcentral.com/apothecary-lounge – 806 Central Ave. SE

The view of the city from this lounge, specializing in seasonal cocktails, is stunning. The lounge also has some Prohibition-era classic cocktails on the menu, following suit of the hotel’s Prohibition-era theme. It is elegant and great for a date night. Hotel Parq Central is accessible via the 66 bus (7 minute ride) getting on at the Alvarado Transportation Center and getting off at Central Ave. @I-25.

Outings and Day Trips

Visit http://www.itsatrip.org/accp2013/thingstodo/tours-day-trips/day.aspx for ideas.

For More Information

Visit www.itsATrip.org, or call (505) 842-9918.

For information about local public transit, including fares and schedules,

http://abq.gov/transit, or call (505) 243-7433 every day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time.

Next month, we will cover bicyclists and bike trails, tips from ABQ RIDE for visitors who don’t want to drive, and a day trip to Santa Fe.

Steve Atlas enjoys hearing from readers. To contact Steve, share feedback about this or other “Car Free Journey” columns, or suggest destination for future columns, e-mail steveatlas45@yahoo.com

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