Modern Nomad is a weekly column dedicated to mobile gear, must-see world destinations, tips for life on the road, and traveling better through technology.
Albuquerque (or “ABQ” as it’s affectionately known locally) was hardly a blip on the tourist radar as recently as ten years ago. Fast-forward to the insane success of Breaking Bad and the New Mexico city has become a destination in its own right. While that’s a great reason to visit, there’s so much more to see, do, and eat in this Southwestern city.
Kitschy tours, Walter White hats, Jesse Pinkman “Let’s Cook!” chef’s aprons — there’s no way of getting around Breaking Bad culture in Albuquerque. Love it or hate it, a visit to the city’s The Candy Lady is well worth a stop. The shop was the official provider of the show’s infamous “blue meth” and visitors are welcome to buy a dime bag of the rock candy or see how it’s made.
In a place where chilies are served with every meal, the words “food” and “spicy” are almost inseparable. Sadie’s is a New Mexican institution with a passion for chilies and educating their guests on the often subtle differences between Poblano, bell pepper, and Scotch Bonnet. They also offer a wide array of authentic and legendary Southwestern dishes including enchiladas, carne adovada, burritos, stuffed sopapillas, and some of the best-selling independent salsa in the country.
For many enthusiasts, Albuquerque is the epicenter of hot air ballooning. ABQ’s Rainbow Ryders has been flying for more than thirty years and their pilots are literally the best in the world. Book a private sunrise ride with Troy Bradley — one of the world’s most preeminent balloon pilots with more than sixty world records under his belt. It’s worth a ride with him just to hear the stories behind his many record-setting flights.
The state has a long history of scientific innovation, making it incredibly popular with geeky travelers as well. Today, it’s home to some of the world’s most unique museums, including the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, and the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.
From the outside, Nativo Lodge may look a bit like a pint-sized Indian Casino. Inside, however, it offers a perfect slice of New Mexican life, complete with authentic Native American decor and artwork. The property’s eight special Artist Rooms are all uniquely designed by local Native artists with a variety of local flair and inspiration that ranges from classic to contemporary.
For more modern, upscale accommodations, check out Hotel Parq Central. The former hospital and psychiatric facility has a long, sordid (and some say haunted) history that’s reason enough to make it worth a stay. As an added bonus, the hotel’s rooftop Apothecary Lounge offers an excellent classic cocktail menu along with stunning, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and downtown Albuquerque.