Be a Backyard Tour Guide: Preservation Travels in Albuquerque, NM

Posted on: August 1st, 2012 by Priya Chhaya 7 Comments

Historic San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town Albuquerque.

This summer I've been writing a lot about travel: dreaming about the perfect summer, living along a river, imagining what a life of leisure would be like (if only, right?).

Now, in two weeks, I'm heading off on my last vacation for the season -- this time to Albuquerque, NM, where for one week I'll be enjoying the beauty of the Southwest in the days leading up to a high school friend's wedding.

I've been to the Albuquerque area before. I've ogled the view from Sandia Peak and meandered through the streets of Sante Fe, all the while eating some of the best food in the country.

This time though ... I've got a whole week. And while some of that time will be spent doing typical wedding tasks, the rest of it is begging to be spent on exploration. Plus, I'll be celebrating my 30th birthday that week, so what better way for a historian to mark the occasion then by spending time in a city as culturally rich and beautiful as Albuquerque?

So this is one of the posts where I turn to you for advice. What are the places, restaurants, hikes, and museums that I should check out? What makes Albuquerque special? Let me know in the comments and I'll report back when I return!

[Ed. note: Nobody knows places better than the people who live there, and Priya's post has inspired us to gather recommendations from all over the country. Want to brag about your town (and convince people to visit it)? Email us at and tell us what sets your town apart -- buildings, activities, restaurants, cultural events, itineraries, etc. We just might feature you in an upcoming post!]

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Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.


7 Responses

  1. Brittany

    August 2, 2012

    I spent 3 months living in Albuquerque as I was working for an architecture firm. One of the coolest things to do is about 45 mins outside of the city, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks national monument. Its a really nice hike, not too strenuous, and you can see some of the most beautiful rock formations and natural landscapes in New Mexico! Definitely check out Old Town to see historic buildings, although its pretty touristy. Drive down Central Ave. to see old Route 66 buildings, and some great restaurants in Nob Hill area.

  2. Shawn

    August 2, 2012

    Come up to Ohkay Owingeh, one of the 19 NM pueblos. This timeless village is in the midst of a major restoration effort. 20 of the centuries-old homes have been rehabilitated and 10 more are underway. Planning for the project was partially funded by an NTHP Favrot grant several years ago. Less than 2 hours north of ABQ. I’d be happy to show you the project.

    some info here:

    a great short film here:

  3. Brittany

    August 2, 2012

    And for a truly authentic Albuquerque dining experience, go to Frontier restaurant, across from the University of New Mexico campus. In terms of quality New Mexican cuisine, it’s not great, but it’s cheap and quite an experience! They are known for their cinnamon rolls, oddly enough.

  4. Jonathan

    August 2, 2012

    Sadie’s is a good (if overwhelming) experience of New Mexican food. The National Hispanic Cultural Center is also a decent museum. And save some time to just get lost exploring! It’s a gorgeous city.

  5. Bruce Hays

    August 7, 2012

    In Old Town, Church Street Cafe is housed in what may be the oldest building in Albuquerque. It’s behind San Felipe Church. Heading East, to Downtown, be sure to see the Kimo Theater at 5th St. and Central Ave, the only 1920’s movie palace built in Pueblo Deco style, we’re especially proud of the newly installed reproduction of the original sign. Just to the East of Downtown is Historic Huning Highland Neighborhood, Albuquerque’s finest collection of Victorian homes, and also one of our best restaurants, the Artichoke Cafe, at Central and Edith. Directly across Central from the Artichoke, is the completely renovated old Main Library, in Spanish Colonial/Pueblo Revival style.

  6. Priya Chhaya

    August 17, 2012

    Thanks everyone for the suggestion! We’ll see what I can see and I’ll report back to you in a few weeks!

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