Set fire to all your maps, forget how it’s always been. We’re explorers of the heart, learning to dream again. The adventure of a lifetime, with Love alone as our guide.Exotic places beyond imagination — ones we’ve longed for deep inside.John Mark Green
To date, I’ve been to Albuquerque four times to visit my boyfriend’s family. Each time we go, we always visit a favorite spot from the trips before and find entirely new things to do. In Albuquerque that’s not hard to do. The city is buzzing with energy and constantly expanding and reinventing itself with new shops and experiences. While it can get a bit congested, it’s one of my favorite places to visit in the Southwest.
I wrote a previous post on some of the best places to visit when you’re in the Land of Enchantment (we like to call it the Land of Enchiladas because YUM and puns) if you want more. This post is geared towards our last trip and all of the amazing sites we visited and food we ate. It was truly a very shop/visit local experience and one of my favorite trips so far. Enjoy!
We’d gotten up at 3:30AM to catch a 6AM flight from PA to NM. It hurt. What’s it like flying in a covid-19 world? Weird. I can’t speak for other airlines, but I was a bit concerned with how the did the seating on our flights. Will and I bought our tickets together and didn’t want to pay the extra fees to choose our seats… no one should have to pay to sit together. We only had one flight out of four total where we sat next to each other. We would’ve appreciated American Airlines having the forethought to stick passengers traveling together (and presumably living together or quarantining together) next to each other as an extra safety precaution. Didn’t happen.
Hi. My airplane seating TED talk is over. Back to your regularly scheduled travel post!
We landed, got our rental car in record time, and immediately went in search of food. Did we eat at a normal restaurant that anyone would forget about the minute they left? Oh nooo. No, no, and no. We arrived at Tin Can Alley around 1PM and couldn’t be more excited. The building is basically a food court on steroids and with much more interior an exterior design thought.
Tin Can Alley is built out of shipping containers stacked on top of each other. There’s indoor seating on two levels and even outdoor second-floor seating. Inside you could find a coffee shop, Asian cuisine, pizza, Latin cuisine, Santa Fe Brewing, BBQ, a juice bar, and even a creamery. I treated myself to a pernil sandwich and just about died from joy at how delicious it was.
After some rest and hanging out with Will’s grandparents, we headed out for dinner. Sadie’s started out as a small restaurant associated with a bowling alley. The food was so amazing that it beat out the bowling and opened several locations. I highly recommend getting anything with green chiles (a staple of New Mexico) and sopapillas. Come hungry. The amount of food you get on your plate is impressively large.
The Sandia Tram is one thing we’ve always tried to do, but have never been able to until this trip. It was either too windy, snowy, or the tickets were sold out. Since the tickets are limited, we decided to buy ours the day before, just in case. We ended up with one of the most perfect experiences and best timing known to travelers.
We drove over to the tram at the base of the Sandia Mountains for our 9AM lift time. From there we ascended to 10,500 feet above sea level in a glass tram with views that were well worth the years of waiting. The morning clouds were breaking up to a drastically cloudy, but sunny day and it even warmed up a bit on the top. I saw warmed up, but it went from about 29 degrees to 38.
There are several miles worth of trails along the mountaintop and we wanted to make the most of the morning. We set off for the Kiwanis cabin that was built ~1930 as a weather shelter for the nearby workers. The hike was a little over a mile one way, but it took us to the edge of a cliff with miles of views of Albuquerque, the reservation, and the surrounding desert. The high altitude didn’t bother us, but it is something to keep in mind if you’re planning a visit. I know I can’t do the views justice with words, so I’ll just share my pictures which do a much better job.
As we were walking back through the trees (it’s part of Cibola National Forest) the weather decided to add a light snowfall to our hike and it was magical. We didn’t even start to see other people on the trails until we were almost back at the main tram and skiing area. It was such a nice morning getaway.
Until it started looking like it was about to storm. Since the tram will shut down if the weather gets to dicey we decided to skip another trail hike and head back down the mountain instead of walking down several miles in a wind/rain/snow storm. At the base of the mountain it was the perfect weather again and a comfortable 80 degrees.
We wanted lunch, but we didn’t want to eat at a big chain restaurant. We live in a place that’s almost exclusively small, locally-owned restaurants and honestly the food is always better that way. After a quick consultation with Google we decided to try a place we’d never heard of before but had an awesome-looking menu and great reviews.
Alicea’s NY Bagels and Subs is one of my new favorite places in town. Sandwiches and bagels are some of my favorite foods on the planet and I’m pretty sure I could happily live off of them for the rest of my life if I had to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a bagel from Alicea’s but THEY LOOKED AMAZING and massive. I always appreciate a place that gives you a big bagel instead of one a bird could eat in one bite.
I ordered the Southwest Panini Sub and oh man was it good. Chipotle sauce isn’t usually a favorite, but this was homemade to perfection and I loved it. It was such a satisfying meal that I came back the next day just to order one of the massive brownies they had for sale. I didn’t get one the first day since we already had dessert plans that day, but I knew I needed one. Do yourself a favor and get one too. So much chocolatey goodness in every bite.
We had a bit of car trouble and had some unexpected time to kill while we waited for the car. Will loves trying new beer and new breweries so we found ourselves at The Local Brewhouse. My favorite part was the massive patio. We came in between lunch and dinner so we had the place to ourselves which was really nice. I’d definitely go back and try the food as well!
Next stop was a favorite of ours, Marble Brewery. We had no idea they had multiple locations, so we decided to visit the one we’d never been to before. This location was super cozy on the inside and they did a fantastic job of social distancing and even had a great contact tracing system in place. Marble is always an awesome stop that we look forward to every trip. Plus they have great drinks, food, and service.
Speaking of great food, Dion’s pizza was on the menu for dinner that night. The slices were massive and massively delicious!
Our last day turned out to be more of a shopping day. We managed to flit around town in all sorts of directions, but we visited a bunch of new places we can’t wait to see again on our next trip. The day started with a few miles of walking throughout the Pueblo Montaño Trailhead and Park. Part of the trails suffered from a wildfire and one of the firefighters who helped put out the fires decided the charred stumps should be turned into something more beautiful.
As a result, he carved amazing sculptures with a chainsaw and they were later painted. Head over to the trail even if you aren’t going for a hike because the sculptures are amazing.
After exploring that sculptures for a while we followed a path towards the Rio Grande. We walked along the river, in the forest, and the grass. There are SO many miles of trails we could’ve chosen, but we only explored 3 miles. We saw a lot of variety and it was a gorgeous day for walking.
Not surprisingly, we were hungry after hiking. We found a nearby brewery and restaurant called Hops Brewery. We stopped our adventuring to sit outside, grab a bite, and a pint. I got a turkey sandwich and black cherry cider and holy crap it was good. We had such a great time relaxing and eating good food that we really didn’t want to leave. The food also came out in less than 10 minutes even when they were serving an entire wedding reception. They also did a fantastic job of keeping everyone socially distanced.
As a book lover, I knew I needed to track down one of my favorite bookstores. Page1 Books has an amazing subscription book service that every raves about and I had no idea they were even based in Albuquerque until a friend in my book group asked me if I was going to visit while I was there. Funnily enough, we even visited on national independent bookstore day!
Supporting local small businesses is a huge passion of mine, so of course I had to get something while I was there. I got two books (I only had a carry on so I had to limit my inner book nerd’s screams of MORE) Max Brooks’s Devolution and B.A Paris’s The Dilemma. Can’t freaking wait to dive into those.
Will wanted a pair of outlandish cowboy boots, so we went to Dan’s Boots and Saddles. My first thought of the place was yeehaw. It felt like we had just dropped into the heart of Texas, but it was fun to look around. I ended up leaving with flats decorated with cacti and succulents. Will got his pair of obnoxiously endearing boots. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture!
We spent all of Sunday traveling back to Lancaster. The best part of leaving a vacation is coming home to your pets. It made my day to be greeted by my two dogs and two cats. I wish they could come with us every single time.