A Perfect 24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Albuquerque. Those who are not very familiar with the Southwest might not understand why anyone would want to spend 24 hours in Albuquerque.

It’s the largest city in New Mexico, but it’s never been the most popular for tourists. Most artistes who come to the Land of Enchantment hit up Santa Fe or Taos, not Albuquerque.They don’t think Albuquerque has as many unique things to do.

But to those in the know, Albuquerque is an enchantment all on its own because of its unique things to do. Albuquerque has delicious New Mexican cuisine, amazing museums, and the world’s prettiest theater. Plus it’s the only place where you can throw a pizza on Walter White’s house, if you want to do that. (But please don’t do that.)

24 hours in albuquerque

24 Hours in Albuquerque

How To Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of New Mexico’s finest green chiles. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your 24 hours in ABQ.

But I can tell you that you can use a lovely airplane to get from many cities to the Albuquerque airport, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Albuquerque at the best time of day. You probably won’t be able to get a direct flight and will need to have a layover in a city like Dallas or Salt Lake City, but that’s pretty easy.

You can even use Expedia to rent a car so you’ll be all set when you arrive at your destination. (I can’t drive, but if you can, this must be helpful.)

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to ABQ ASAP.

24 hours in albuquerque

24 Hours in Albuquerque

Where to Stay?

I love the Bottger Mansion in Old Town. It’s run by a friendly couple who know everything about Albuquerque. There’s a delicious, multiple-course breakfast served every morning and fresh cookies available during the day. Plus it’s within walking distance of Albuquerque’s charming Old Town!

If you want to book a room in this wonderful place, you can do so by clicking here. And if you’d rather explore great deals on almost 200 other hotels in Albuquerque just click here! This search engine will help you find the most convenient and affordable hotels available during your Albuquerque itinerary.

24 Hours in Albuquerque

What to Pack?

  • A great pair of sandals that will keep you comfy all during your 24 hours in Albuquerque, if it’s sunny
  • A cell charger so you can keep your cell phone charged for the entire itinerary
  • New Mexico is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen if your time in Albuquerque is during the summer. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply.
  • My favorite guidebook to New Mexico.
  • The most famous work of fiction set in ABQ isn’t a book or a movie, it’s a TV show! It might even be against the law to visit Albuquerque without seeing Breaking Bad.
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly why travel is better than a man.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country without help. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you are attacked by a chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin during your 24 hours in Albuquerque.

24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do

Morning: The ABQ Trolley Tour

The ABQ Trolley tour is what first convinced me to love Albuquerque. I took it for the first time several years ago on a trip to visit my aunt who lives in Los Alamos. It’s run by two local guys, and their passion for Albuquerque absolutely shows through on the tours. Allow them to take you around on their stucco-painted Albuquerque trolley and you’ll find more than…

Approximately top 5: ABQ Trolley edition

24 hours in Albuquerque
1) Frontier restaurant

OK, so technically this doesn’t take place ON the trolley tour itself. But the Frontier Restaurant gets a shout-out on the tour. And you’re going to need breakfast, so just grab it here before your tour. There’s no better place to start your 24 hours in Albuquerque.

The Frontier Restaurant is the definition of a casual local spot. It’s near the University of New Mexico, so college kids like to come here all the time. I’m not in college any more, but if I were, I’d probably eat one of the Frontier’s giant cinnamon rolls every day.

Look at that thing! It was definitely the size of my actual head, and my head is so large that the Victorians would have assumed I’m a genius (or possibly a criminal) because of phrenology. I think if I put a little brown wig and lipstick on that cinnamon roll, it could go undercover as me.

24 hours in albuquerque
2) Filming Locations

Albuquerque has become one of the top filming destinations in the Southwest. Our guide, whom I will call Duke, said that it’s partially because ABQ gets over 300 days a year of sunshine. Movies from The Avengers to Wild Hogs have been shot in the hardest city to spell in New Mexico. But most people interested in film locations in Albuquerque have one show in particular in mind: Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad is so popular that the ABQ Trolley company has a whole tour just dedicated to Breaking Bad sights. But they do feature a few BB homes on this smaller trolley tour. For example, above is my closeup of the home of Ted Beneke. Breaking Bad fans will know him as Skyler White’s lovah, and the T of the episode IFT. (Not telling you what IFT stands for because this is a family blog.)

I actually met the actor who plays Ted back when my dad wrote for the soap opera One Life to Live. His character, a con man named Cain Rogan, got involved with one of the main characters, Tina, because her husband Cord had disappeared in the fictional Middle-Eastern country of Jaba.  Cain’s terrible con artist disguises involved wearing atrocious mustaches and wigs and taking fake names like “Kaiser”. Soap operas are very strange.

24 hours in albuquerque
2) Kimo Theatre

I think the Kimo Theatre is just the prettiest theater in the United States. It’s built in the Pueblo Deco style, which you can’t find outside of New Mexico. This just means that it looks like Art Deco but certain elements of New Mexican design, like Native American symbols and brown and blue colors have been left in. Any time I have 24 hours in Albuquerque, I always stop here.

You can certainly walk inside the Kimo after the tour. Sometimes they even have docent led tours available. Just be aware that you might see symbols that look like swastikas inside, but there’s no cause for alarm. The theater was built before the Nazis came to power and has nothing to do with their evil. The design in the theater represents a Native American sun symbol.

24 hours in albuquerque
3) Bart Prince Houses

Bart Prince is a local architect and character. (Albuquerque is full of those.) He is known for creating houses that resemble spaceships. He doesn’t like it when people come up to his home and randomly ask for a tour, but he has been known to make an exception.

Apparently one night, he got a buzz on his door. When he went to check and see who it was, he saw William Shatner standing outside. “Beam me up, Scotty!” Shatner called out. Prince had no choice but to let him in.

24 hours in albuquerque
4) Bill Gates

That’s not a picture of Bill Gates above. It’s a beast from the Albuquerque Science Museum. Allow me to explain. Not everyone knows that Bill Gates started Microsoft in Albuquerque when he was a young man. Apparently he had a little too much fun one evening, one thing led to another, and he got arrested for a traffic violation. If you Google “Bill Gates Mugshot”, you’ll see something that will both instruct and delight you.

Oh what the heck, Internet Stranger. I like you and I won’t make you do the work. Enjoy Bill Gates’s mugshot on me.

24 hours in albuquerque
5) Albuquerque Sports

Albuquerque does not have any major professional sports teams. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a sports town. Who doesn’t love rooting for the University of New Mexico? Their mascot is a wolf and their cheer is, “Everyone’s a Lobo! Woof, Woof, Woof!”

I know that lobo is Spanish for wolf, but what’s with the woofing? Is it because wolves are related to dogs? But wolves don’t woof, do they? Have I been hanging out with the wrong kind of wolf? Please help!

Albuquerque does have a Minor League baseball team called the Albuquerque Isotopes. That name has nothing to do with the nuclear industry in Los Alamos.

Apparently there was a joke on The Simpsons about the Springfield Isotopes baseball team moving to Albuquerque. So when the ABQ Minor League team let the public vote on a new name, Isotopes won. The moral of this story is: Never let the public decide anything.

24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do

Afternoon: Albuquerque Museum

Now that we’ve spent the morning learning all about Albuquerque, it’s time to…continue to learn about Albuquerque! Only this time we’ll be confined to one space! The Albuquerque Museum is dedicated to the art and history of the only city in New Mexico that has three Us in it.

OK, I’m nt actually sure that it’s true. But it seems like a safe bet. The only other cities in New Mexico I can name are Taos, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, and Las Vegas and none of them have any Us.

As usual, I will be your invisible docent with…

Approximately top 5: 24 hours in Albuquerque

24 hours in albuquerque
1) Lunch at the Blackbird Coffeehouse

Before we exhaust ourselves staring at art, we’re going to need a little lunch. Why not try a tofu burrito at the Blackbird Coffeehouse? I’m not a vegetarian, but all of those spices made the tofu so flavorful that I didn’t miss the meat at all. I mean, not very much. Everything is made in-house, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy whatever sandwich-type contraption you decide to order.

My only complaint is that I don’t think the coffee was made with real blackbirds. I’m a big believer of truth in advertising!

24 hours in albuquerque
2) Star Road and White Sun

This is a painting by Ernest Blumenschein, who was a member of the Taos School. Not the Taos Public School, which I’m sure is a fine institution, but the Taos artist colony.

This colony was populated by transplants to New Mexico. They were all wandering souls who had fallen in love with the area and wanted to capture its beauty. The Taos colony didn’t have to adhere to one style. All they needed to do was paint the wonders they observed around them.

I definitely think Blumenschein is a fascinating person for founding this community of misfits. But I still would like to know more about Star Road and White Sun.

Who are they? Why did they agree to have Blumenschein paint them? Or are they not real at all, and just Blumenschein’s conception of what local Native Americans looked like? It’s interesting that museums usually provide more information about the artist and not the subject of the art.

24 hours in albuquerque
3) the burning of albuquerque

This painting by John Fincher is a much more contemporary look at New Mexico. You can tell it was done in the 70s because the color of the sky is exactly that of a lava lamp. I like how the painting resembles a picture postcard you could buy at the airport.

I’m always interested in high-class versions of low-brow things. But look how much New Mexico has changed since the 1920s! Instead of nature and Native Americans, there are skyscrapers and electric lights and blue meth! You’ve come a long way, ABQ!

24 hours in albuquerque
4) Duke of Albuquerque coat of arms

˜The Albuquerque Museum is just as dedicated to history as it is to art. And what better place to start than at the beginning? Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as a Spanish colony. This makes it older than many cities on the East Coast, like Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama.

My home town of New York is only a few decades older. ABQ was named in honor of the Duke of Alburquerque. That’s not a typo. His name had another R in it. I don’t really think we need to go around making Albuquerque even more difficult to spell, do we?

This 17th century tapestry with the Alburquerque coat of arms was a gift from the Duke of Alburquerque to the city back in the 1950s. It was meant to honor Albuquerque’s 250th anniversary. Let me tell you, I never want to type the word Albuquerque ever again as long as I live.

24 hours in albuquerque
5) Sculpture Garden

You can have fun at the Albuquerque Museum even after it closes. Just spend a pleasant hour strolling among the bronze sculptures lurking outside. (I’d say you should if it’s raining. But this is Albuquerque we are talking about. No way it’s raining.)

I had loads of fun at the sculpture garden, but I got a little distracted by this man and his dog. I kept asking him if I could pet his dog and he just ignored me. RUDE! And people say New Yorkers aren’t polite…

24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do

Late Afternoon: Seasons Rotisserie and Grill

Seasons Rotisserie and Grill is one of my go-to spots in Albuquerque. It’s not easy to find a good restaurant in Albuquerque’s Old Town, so once I found this place I stayed loyal. The cuisine is more American than New Mexican. You can get simple and high-quality pieces of meat or fish that haven’t been froo-frooed up with a lot of sauce so the flavors can shine through.

We need to have an early dinner because we’ve got plans at 8. So no lingering over dessert and coffee!

24 hours in albuquerque
24 Hour treat: gruet wine

I don’t always post about my drink choices on this blog, but here I make an exception because Gruet is a local winery. It was founded by a real French winemaker who decided to experiment with planting a winery outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Hey, that’s another New Mexican city! But it only has two Us in it, so Albuquerque still wins.

Gruet specializes in sparkling wine so I ordered pink champagne. I’m definitely enough of a girl that pink champagne always puts me in a good mood. It takes me back to my My Little Pony days.

24 hours in albuquerque

Because you’ll likely be getting a heavy main course, I suggest going with a salad for an appetizer. Otherwise you won’t have room for dessert! I selected the peach and blackberry salad because fruit is always better than vegetables. Also, I’m a fiend for contrasting flavor combinations, so I always enjoy the way sweet stone fruit taste when combined with salty cheese and vinegar.

24 hours in albuquerque
24 hour treat: beef sirloin

The first time I was at Seasons, I got salmon, so this time I opted for this sanguine steak. Look at how pink that is! I always get my steak medium-rare. Something about the pink meat brings out the vampire in me. Also I enjoyed the fun of having mashed potatoes topped with crispy potatoes. Same taste, different texture! And more potatoes are always better.

Now that I’ve tried the fish and the steak, I clearly need to get the chicken next time I am at Seasons. That’s just science.

24 hours in albuquerque

For dessert I had a rich hazelnut chocolate parfait. I enjoyed the presentation as well as the taste. The martini glass makes it look as if Wolfgang Puck mailed it to me straight from the 1980s. Also this dessert tasted just like Nutella, which is a win in my book.

I could eat Nutella straight from the jar. But now I realize that instead of doing that, I should just spoon a container of Nutella into a giant martini glass and eat it that way. That’s what a real classy lady would do!

24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do

Evening: Ghost Tour of Old Town

Albuquerque’s Old Town isn’t as famous as Santa Fe’s but it’s still impressive in its own right. Some guides would tell you to take this tour during the “daytime” when you can “see things”. I say seeing things is overrated! Let’s get creepy with the Albuquerque Ghost Tour of Old Town!

For a reasonable fee, you can see all the major sights of Old Town and get spooked along the way! And you can book the tour and follow along with us if you click right here!

I’ll get you started with…

Three fun facts about albuquerque ghosts

24 hours in albuquerque
1) Who’s the scariest ghost?

The Chapel of Our Lady of Guadeloupe is one of the most sacred places in Albuquerque. But one mysterious lady in black has a problem with it. She likes to hang outside the chapel moaning, “Aaaaaaas youuuu wiiiiiish!!!”

My bad. I realize I was confusing her with The Man in Black from The Princess Bride. The Lady in Black is just a creepy lady who wears black and makes horrifying noises to scare unsuspecting tourists. It seems that the lady killed her lovah here and she gets especially angry when she sees couples in the area.

Our guide actually played a recording taken in the area and it really did sound like someone was screaming, “Get out of here!” I didn’t need to be told twice! I’m not one of those people who would stick around in a horror movie. If a ghost comes all the way back from the dead to tell me to go ‘way, I am gone in a flash!

Also, just note that none of the photos I took during the ghost tour came out at all. That’s why my pictures are all of Albuquerque Old Town from the daytime. You’re welcome!

24 hours in albuquerque
2) Who’s the most vengeful ghost?

Another ghost story about an unhappy woman concerns a prostitute named Scarlett. Apparently she was stabbed to death inside a brothel, which is now the Covered Wagon Shop where you can buy tchotchkes. Now her furious ghost haunts the alley behind the store looking for revenge.

Now two things. I don’t really understand why so many ghost stories about angry wronged women involve them attacking people who didn’t hurt them at all. They should get their vengeance on the people who actually hurt them! Random shoppers in the Covered Wagon Shop didn’t do anything.

Thing two: it sounds like Scarlett had a pretty tough life. Maybe it just bothers her to see so many tourists buying cheap souvenirs in a place where she was stabbed to death in a brothel. I suggest we all chip in and buy Scarlett a hot air balloon snow globe or something, just so she can feel included.

24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do
3) Who’s the saddest ghost?

The last story of our 24 hours in Albuquerque was the saddest. It concerns a young woman who worked at a local restaurant. She had a boyfriend named John who wasn’t worthy of her affections. He was violent, involved with crime, you get the picture.

I’m not going to spoil the whole story, but suffice it to say that it doesn’t have a happy ending. However, Mary’s ghost apparently still likes to haunt the restaurant, being helpful and cleaning up.

I just noticed that all three of the stories are about women being mistreated by men. This is so unfair! I think we need a #metoo for ghosts. (#meboo?) Ghosts need feminism too!

24 hours in albuquerque

That’s 24 Hours in Albuquerque: Unique Things to Do

What would you do with 24 hours in Albuquerque? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Albuquerque right now? Which Breaking Bad character’s house would you most like to visit? (I think I’d like Gus Fring’s because he’s an excellent cook.) And is it possible to be sexist to a ghost? Please leave your thoughts below.

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Albuquerque. If you have another 24 hours in Albuquerque, add this itinerary!

Recent Posts