Though simply a fact of life to those who call Albuquerque home, the city’s profusion of Pueblo Revival architecture came about due to an unlikely confluence of Spanish, Mexican, and Native American cultures. New Mexico’s largest city also happens to be one of its most diverse, a fact that you can validate with a visit to historic Old Town. The neighborhood’s cobblestone streets are lined with centuries-old adobe buildings that now house art galleries, high-end restaurants, and plenty of things to do and see.
Just a mile or so northeast of Old Town, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center hosts an impressive collection of artifacts that trace back to pre-Columbian settlers. The museum’s own architecture is inspired by the Pueblo Bonito ruins of Chaco Canyon. Before you leave, make sure to grab a loaf of traditional Native American bread from the bakery.
To explore a real-life example of pueblo architecture, head to Acoma Pueblo. Set atop a 367-foot mesa about 65 miles west of the city, this ancient complex is one of the oldest of its kind. In its centuries-old adobes, Acoma artisans craft pottery with distinctive black-and-white designs. Located at the nearby [Sky City Cultural Center, Y’aak’a Cafe serves traditional Native American dishes such as green chile pork stew.
After a tour of such historic adobes and ancient pueblos, the hip hangouts that line Albuquerque's Nob Hill can seem remarkably modern. Neon Route 66 signs shine on the crowds that bustle past the neighborhood’s retro clothing shops, trendy restaurants, and tattoo parlors. Students from the nearby University of New Mexico can often be spotted lounging on the front patio of Kelly's Brew Pub, which brews more than 20 beers inside its refurbished 1939 Ford service station.
During the International Balloon Fiesta, the real attractions float high above the city. Throughout this nine-day festival, Albuquerque’s vivid blue skyline swarms with more than 700 hot-air balloons in every color, shape, and size imaginable. Visitors from around the world gather at Balloon Fiesta Park in the crisp early morning to snap photographs of the balloons taking flight. Throughout the year, ballooning companies such as Skyspan Adventures offer balloon tours high above the Rio Grande, complete with snacks and champagne.