Albuquerque is a city of diversity, with geographic and historic circumstances that brought Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures together to create a unique multicultural community. The land awes and inspires with the Sandia and Manzano Mountains to the east, the river valley cutting through the city and the West Mesa escarpment with its ghosts of volcanic activity. In spite of the size of the city and all of the amenities that go along with big city life, Albuquerque manages to retain a small town charm.
Whether you stroll through this historic district on your own, or take a tour with the Albuquerque Museum, Old Town is the perfect place to begin exploring The Duke City. At the heart of this district is the original central plaza that is lined with over 100 quaint little shops. Like everything else in Albuquerque, a visit to Old Town is a delightful mix of old and new, with sights that range from Civil War cannons to the Church of San Felipe de Neri. Stop in at The Candy Lady for a delectable chocolate. Go further back in time with a trip through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, or satisfy your childlike curiosity in the Explora! Science Center. You can stay in the area in the modern luxury of the Sheraton Old Town, or in the elegance of a bed and breakfast like the Bottger-Koch Mansion.
The hub of business and government activity in the city is the bustling downtown area. The Civic Plaza also plays host to a myriad of other activities and during summer months, Summerfest is held. This is a celebration of New Mexico's many cultures that showcases the food, music and dance of a different ethnic group every Saturday. While the Civic Plaza is downtown's outdoor venue, the KiMo Theater, renovated in 1999-2000, is the city's crown jewel of indoor venues for the performing arts. The Hyatt Regency, one of the city's newest luxury hotels dominates the downtown skyline. With two lounges and a restaurant that offers fine dining, this is the ultimate hotel for the business traveler.
This region of Albuquerque boomed following the Second World War when Route 66 became an artery for interstate travel and migration to the west. The residential neighborhoods are quaint, tree-lined streets with sprawling, 1950s ranch-style homes and a sprinkling of well-groomed parks. The uptown district is the retail center of the city, home to the Coronado Center. Restaurateurs have taken advantage of the traffic generated by these centers. The Japanese Kitchen sushi bar caters to local businessmen and shoppers alike. The Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown offers a range of rates for all levels of business travelers.
Nob Hill and University
This eccentric area is a mix of art deco, Spanish colonial, Pueblo and modern architectural styles. It has undergone a recent facelift and the Nob Hill Merchants Association has revitalized and reclaimed this formerly run-down neighborhood. Once-bland strip malls now house a mix of retailers, galleries and coffee houses that cater to students from the nearby University of New Mexico as well as the locals who drop in for a little gossip. Closer to the university are a variety of restaurants, delis and sidewalk cafes that offer fare from the far reaches of the world. The award-winning Olympia Café has served authentic Greek cuisine from the same location since 1972. Just east of the Nob Hill area lie the New Mexico State Fair grounds, home of the sixth largest state fair in the US.
The sheer, pink granite Sandia Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for this sprawling area, which contains some of the newest developments within the city limits. One of Albuquerque's landmark features is the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. For an unforgettable evening, punctuated by one of the most awe-inspiring views in the western United States, catch a ride on the tram to the top of the mountains where you can enjoy a sunset meal at the High Finance Restaurant. A drive past the opulent mansions that perch on the boulder-strewn foothills of the mountains will take you to the hikers' Mecca of Albuquerque. Elena Gallegos Park offers miles of trails through the sage and juniper hills. On the north end of the mountains, La Luz Trail winds to the soaring heights of Sandia Crest, where hang gliders ride the warm air currents that rise from the valley floor.
The silicon age drives the economy of one of the fastest growing regions in the country. The Intel Corporation has sparked a massive boom on the city's west side. As new neighborhoods sprawl across the mesa, their growth is steered by the basalt escarpment of Petroglyph National Monument. A hike down the trails of this unique treasure offers visitors a glimpse into New Mexico's prehistoric past. Shopping abounds at the new Cottonwood Mall, the state's largest indoor mall. The Hilton Garden Inn, across the street from the Intel complex, offers a central location for the visitor with business on the west side. A drive down Coors Boulevard after dark offers a remarkable vista. The city becomes a sea of light that stretches from the distant mountains to the cottonwood Bosque of the Rio Grande.
North Valley/South Valley
The Rio Grande Valley offers the visitor a glimpse of what the Spanish explorers saw in the 15th century when they rode north along the Rio Grande del Norte. The economic diversity of the city unravels as you follow Rio Grande Boulevard from north to south. Some of the homes in the South Valley have withstood the test of time for hundreds of years. Nestled among these ancient dwellings are the Albuquerque Country Club. A new addition to the South Valley is the Rio Grande Botanic Gardens, where you can dine with the sharks in their exclusive restaurant.
The North Valley is home to some of the city's more prominent families. The world famous racing family, the Unsers, have an estate here. Set in the adobe walls that surround the estate are wheels from cars that actually ran at the Indianapolis 500. Giant, ancient cottonwoods shade bridle paths and walking trails. A nice way to end the day is a visit to the Anderson Vineyards, where you can taste one of New Mexico's premier wines.
Surrounded by majestic Ponderosa Pines and expansive vistas, this area is growing faster than some people like. Populated with a mix of income brackets, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds, the east mountain area is seen as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city. You can ski Sandia Peak Ski Area in the morning and golf at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in the afternoon. Lodging in the East Mountains is limited to bed and breakfasts. The frenetic pace of the city is forgotten as visitors can enjoy a hot drink by the fire or sit on the porch watching the hummingbirds chase each other among the pines.