Written by: Jeremy Alderman, ZOG Digital, Inc.
Albuquerque, New Mexico is defined by its living history museums, green chile, salsa dancing, hot air balloons, baseball, nearby ski slopes, and Native American jewelry. Have you ever experienced an authentic Native American pow wow? You can here at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow festival in April.
The downtown area of the city is home to a newly remodeled convention center, 12-screen movie theater, robust Entertainment District, Civic Plaza that hosts many concerts and free public events and famed Route 66 – the main thoroughfare that is now called Central Avenue.
Things to Do in Downtown Albuquerque & Cultural Events
If you want to experience all this city has to offer you may just have to come live here. There are many things to do in Albuquerque, the difficulty will be deciding what to choose.
Downtown Entertainment District – Entertainment area located at First Street and Central Avenue. Have a cold one at one of the brewery taprooms, go watch a film or listen to live music. The new Alvarado Transportation Center is here that connects Amtrak, Greyhound, commuter rail and local bus service all in one spot. Current developments in-the-making include a fancy, 10-lane bowling alley, 60 residential units and parking garage with space for 429 cars.
Gathering of Nations Pow Wow – World-renown cultural event that celebrates traditional song and dance customs of Native people of New Mexico and the world. Held every year in April, includes the crowning of Miss Indian World, Native American music performances and the Indian Trader’s Market with large selection of native foods. You can learn more and view a photo gallery here: Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.
Dreamstyle Football Stadium – Located at the University of New Mexico. The big leagues don’t play here – New Mexico has no professional sports teams – but they still know how to have a good time. It can seat 39,224 people. Since 2006 has been the host of the NCAA post-season college football game the New Mexico Bowl, now called Gildan New Mexico Bowl after its sponsors.
KiMo Theater – Ninety-year theater that is another happening spot in the Entertainment District. Current events include a one-night tribute to the music and life of the artist Prince and free showing of the 1993 film The Age of Innocence. Also hosts a screening of seven-minute long films and awards ceremony of the 48 hour film project. Your ticket also gets you into the after-awards party with the filmmakers. Learn more about this and other events here: KiMo Theater.
Cliff’s Amusement Park – For a family day out and fun for all head to Cliff’s. This is a classic American amusement park featuring a water park, roller coaster and other thrill rides, games and food stands and restaurants. Located seven miles northeast of downtown.
Downtown Albuquerque Civic Plaza – Hosts many concerts and free public events such as free film showings on Fridays during the summer, yoga classes at lunchtime and a kids rock fest. Is an outdoor area connected to the Convention Center.
Nightlife in Downtown Albuquerque-Downtown Albuquerque may have been low-key and fun to visit before but is now a cutting-edge tourist destination. Beginning in 2012, 300 million dollars has been invested in an extensive renovation of the downtown area. New features include: revamped Convention Center and connected outdoor Civic Plaza to host local and regional events, mixed-use entertainment hub in the Entertainment District and commercial space for new eateries, taprooms and retail stores.
There is a large selection of various types of cuisine and restaurants downtown. You can spend a little or a lot, depending on what strikes your fancy. More expensive, fine dining can be found at Antiquity Restaurant, MAS – Tapas y Vino, Farm & Table and the Artichoke Cafe.
Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro has an eclectic weekend brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dishes include: salmon-scallop eggs benedict, crispy duck confit eggrolls, beefsteak tomato and blackened onion salad, spicy Korean chicken sliders and chocolate peach melba crepes.
Less fancy and less pricey meals can be had at Frontier Restaurant, Owl Cafe, Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen, Central Grill and Coffee House, Backstreet Grill or the Dog House Drive In. Save cash to buy drinks and hear live music at Sister Bar or LaunchPad – both located downtown on Central Avenue.
Most mid-sized cities in the U.S. have a brewery or two. In Albuquerque you say ‘taproom’ and they’ve seemingly turned the experience of ordering a frothy cold draft or craft beer into an art form. It is a popular afternoon or nighttime pastime and there are quite a few taprooms to choose from. And quite a few beers. Duel Brewing ABQ, for example, has 80 beers on tap ready to pour into a frosted pint mug for you.
A few other taprooms in downtown Albuquerque to check out are: Tractor Brewing Company, Marble Brewery, Abbey Brewing Company and Red Door Brewing Company.
What about a casual evening spent at the movie theater after you’ve had a few drinks? There are many to choose from. Cinemark Theaters Century 14 is located downtown at 100 Central Ave. To find out what is playing click here: Century 14 Downtown Albuquerque. Other theaters in the area include: AMC Albuquerque 12, Icon Cinema, Guild Cinema, United Artists Cottonwood 16, Century Rio 24 and Cinemark Movies 8.
The Weather in Albuquerque, Ski Slopes & Best Times to Visit
You can sum up the weather in Albuquerque in one word: sunshine. Sunny skies are present 310 + days a year and humidity stays below 50%. It’s hot in the summers but bearable with temperatures in the high 80s and 90s and winters are mild. The city has a dry climate with only nine inches of rainfall or less per year.
The coldest months are December and January with average high temperatures of 47 degrees and lows in the mid-twenties. Winter sports fans love the area as the Sandia Mountains are only a 40 minute drive away. The Sandia Peak Ski Area has skiing, a ski school, miles of trails for cross-country skiing and a snowboard park.
For those who want the mildest weather during their visit – sunshine and blue skies but not too hot – come check out the city in the Fall. From September to November the average temperature is in the 70s and rarely drops below 50 degrees. Winter is high-tourist season with ramped-up prices and fewer hotel deals.
You now have an idea what’s going on in downtown Albuquerque and the exciting, new public-private spaces and businesses created with the 300 million dollar facelift. Now it’s time to check it out for yourself, and spend a few days exploring and enjoying this southwest gem of a city.