A Guide to the Strange Side of Albuquerque
Tread lightly on this offbeat adventure through ABQ.
New Mexico might be the Land of Enchantment, but in Albuquerque, it’s the Land of the Weird. Whether you find yourself pondering the meaning of ancient petroglyphs, spending the night in opulent mansions, or attempting to escape from devious traps, This Ultimate Offbeat Guide to ABQ will have you exploring the strangest corners of the city.
The Candy Lady
The Candy Lady has been serving up sweets to the local community for three decades, but when the producers of Breaking Bad came knocking, the shop suddenly became known for whipping up batches of the iconic blue “meth” used on the series. Fortunately for us, they’ve continued producing it, and have made it available to fans in their shop. Tips: Grab their readily-available “Heisenberg” disguise and the staff will snap a photo of you holding the candy.
Founded in 1706, historic Old Town contains some of the oldest buildings in Albuquerque, and they’ve gone to great lengths in order to keep them looking just as they did hundreds of years ago. With five museums and loads of historic architecture, a walk through Old Town is like a stroll through the past – except these days, Old Town is also home to the best grub in town. Tip: Be sure to take a peek inside the San Felipe de Neri church, an adobe church with walls five feet thick, the oldest building in Albuquerque! And get this – it’s still functioning!
As the center of television’s Breaking Bad universe, an iconic landmark from the show is always just a stone’s throw away, which means coordinating your pilgrimage can get a little tough. Fortunately, the BaDTour will have you treading lightly to all of the best filming locations, including the hard-to-find hidden secrets. The best part? They’ll do the driving.
Bottger Mansion of Old Town
Ever wanted to spend the night in a mansion? Now’s your chance! The Bottger Mansion Bed & Breakfast, located in historic Old Town, features photographs, antiques, and more memorabilia dating back to the arrival of the railroad in 1879. Don’t worry, though, the looks are deceiving. They’ve still got all the modern amenities. Their guest rooms, all named for prominent Albuquerqueans, come decorated and furnished with biographies and historic photos of the influential citizens, so you’ll know the exact identity of the ghost that comes to haunt you later in the evening. Tips: Be sure to book your reservation well in advance – as one of the best B&Bs in the city, they fill up fast! Also worth nothing is that not every room has an air conditioner, so if you’ve visiting in the summer months, you might want to request a room with A/C.
The American International Rattlesnake Museum is an awesome attraction that won’t just educate you on one of the Southwest’s most misunderstood creatures, it’ll give you a good primer on just what to do should your run-in with a rattlesnake go south. Tips: The museum only consists of a few rooms, so you probably won’t spend more than half an hour here unless you’re lucky enough to meet Bob, the owner, who is a killer storyteller. Come early when the snakes are especially active!
Petroglyph National Monument
Hidden in the Boca Negra Canyon, this 2-mile hike will put you face-to-face with over 100 ancient petrogylphs. In fact, Petroglyph National Monument holds one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, which features arcane symbols carved by Native Americans as long as 700 years ago Tip: Bring your hiking boots. The climb can get tough and rocky, but it’s totally worth the effort.
Jose La Rivera, the manager of Twisters, a South Valley burrito joint, counts between 30 to 40 fans a day who pull up in cars and cabs, sometimes straight from the airport, all of them curious to meet the real-life Gus Fring. The popularity of Breaking Bad has been great for La Rivera, as the fan interest in the restaurant has brought an estimated 10% extra profit to the joint, and loads of new customers excited to sit in the most coveted seat in the place: “Walt’s Booth”. Tip: When you visit, be sure to have Jose snap your picture next to the huge Los Pollos Hermanos mural.
Enchanted RV and Trading Post
Located along historic Route 66, the Enchanted Trails park is about as scenic as a campground can get. Flanked by three extinct volcanoes, the location offers campers incredible views of the surrounding desert vistas and unbeatable sunsets. Don’t have an RV? No problem! They’ve got a wide variety of vintage trailers from the 40s through the 80s that are fully restored and available to rent!
For an authentic Route 66 meal, make a pit stop at the 66 Diner in Albuquerque, where you can load up on classic grub like burgers and fries, strawberry shakes, and the biggest banana split you’ve ever seen. The 66 Diner doesn’t just serve authentic 50s-style food either, they go out of their way to look the part too. Chrome tables, a jukebox loaded with period-appropriate 45 records, and wait-staff in 50s-style outfits make this a place out of time. In fact, this diner is so accurate, local photography clubs often make use of it for pin-up calendars! Tip: The sundaes here are comically giant. Get one to share – the banana split has eight scoops!
Imbibe Bitcoin ATM
You want to get a glimpse into the future? Head to the Imbibe cigar bar to check out their new Bitcoin ATM. The machine, manufactured by Lamassu, is operated by Enchanted Bitcoin, run by Eric Stromberg. What is Bitcoin? Completely anonymous currency that can be traded freely for goods and services. In other words, it’s the future of a cashless society. Tip: Already got a nice wallet of Bitcoin? Good news – you can actually spend it at Imbibe!
Tewa Motor Lodge
With its bright neon signs and funky architecture, the Tewa Motor Lodge looks straight out of a wistful dream of the 40s era of Route 66, but that’s because it is. Built in 1946, this incredible relic of the Mother Road is a beautifully-restored motel will send you back in time. It’s such an iconic piece of Route 66 that it’s actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Tip: Rooms cost less than $40, so don’t expect any crazy amenities, just a cheap room on the Route with some amazing classic architecture.
Get ready to learn everything you never knew you wanted to know about the benefits of nuclear energy… and its potentially devastating effects. The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History offers an amazing collection of artifacts from full-size Cold War aircraft to miniature nuclear power plants. Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Most of the tour guides are retired military personnel with hands-on experience working with nuclear science!
The Owl Cafe is a classic diner that oozes quirky Route 66 charm, but it’s the food that’s the star here. Home of an incredible green chile cheeseburger (a Southwest staple), they offer over 20 flavors of milkshakes, breakfast all day, and a legendary coconut cream pie.
Tip: Be sure to bring extra quarters so you can spin your favorite 50s tunes from the mini jukebox at your table!
Inexpensive rooms, lots of amenities, and, oh yeah, waterslides that whip in and out of the building! The Hotel Cascada definitely isn’t a luxury resort, but the killer indoor waterpark and Jacuzzi are a weird addition that make this place a great home base for your ABQ adventures, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Tips: The waterpark is only open from Friday to Sunday, so if you want to hit the slides, plan accordingly.
Nm Escape Room
Do you and your friends want a challenge you’ll never forget? How about escaping from a locked room by solving a series of brain-busting puzzles in under sixty minutes? NM Room Escape offers three distinct challenge experiences that will put your problem-solving skills to the test. If you and your team manage to escape in under an hour, you get bragging rights and a special prize. Good luck!
Walter White’s Grave
Pay your respects to Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg with a visit to Walter White’s final resting place, a headstone that was erected a few years back as a way of giving fans of the series a little extra closure. Tip: The headstone can be a little tough to find, but poke around the back of the strip mall, and you’ll discover Walt’s headstone mounted to the wall.
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, which is designed to look like a hot air balloon resting on its side, houses artifacts that tell the story of hot air ballooning, from crossing the Atlantic Ocean to crossing the planet. Tips: Never been on a hot air balloon ride? You can try out their simulator and decide whether the heights are for you. If you visit during October, you’ll be able to catch the awe-inspiring sights of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, when hundreds of hot air balloons fill the skies above the city.
Tim’s Place is open 7 days a week, from 7AM to 3PM, serving breakfast, lunch and hugs! The minute you walk into the restaurant you’re greeted by an incredibly friendly staff and treated to a tasty home cooked meal, but it carries a pretty great distinction: Tim’s Place is the first and only restaurant owned by someone with Down Syndrome. The Albuquerque, New Mexico restaurant proudly carries the motto: Comfort. Food. Hugs… and it’s just that. What is a “Tim Hug” you might ask? It’s “Calorie Free, Guilt Free. Sweet, but not too sweet. Guaranteed to improve your lease on life! Ask your server.”
An amazing attraction for people of all ages, the Tinkertown Museum is the result of one man’s obsession with tinkering. Throughout the museum
are hundreds of intricate carvings, painstakingly-crafted mechanical doo-dads, and tons of funky coin-operated machines that will bring a smile to anyone’s face. While you might have a hard time describing this hidden gem, one thing is for certain: you’ll never see anything else like it. Tip: Be sure to bring a few quarters! Admission to the amazing Tinkertown Museum is only $3, but many of the coolest pieces are coin operated and well worth the scratch.
Giant Red Arrow
While you’re cruising around ABQ, you might do a double take when you see a gigantic red arrow embedded into the landscape, like it was mysteriously dropped out of the sky. Don’t worry, your GPS isn’t coming to life, it’s just a quirky piece of Albuquerque’s art that’s always been there, making people smile. The weird part? No one seems to remember how it got there. Don’t think about it, just take a picture with the weird ancient arrow and move on.
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa
The Tamaya Mist in the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa offers visitors a very unique relaxation experience. Three words: Chile. Spa. Treatment. Their “Ancient Drumming” treatment features a full-body rubdown made from Jemez Mountain mud infused with red chile, which the resort says will detoxify your body. If that doesn’t do the trick, the spa’s relaxation room is fully stocked with green chile-infused granola and red chile chocolate.
With all of its quirky roadside attractions, incredible food, and Route 66 icons that will transport you back in time, Albuquerque is practically built for weekends of offbeat exploration. With this guide, you’ll have no trouble tracking down all the bizarre hidden gems. Now hit the road, weirdo!
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