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Lifestyle

The colorful sights of Albuquerque

Albuquerque is more than just where "Breaking Bad" was filmed.

Go beyond the tours and shops based on the hit TV show, and you'll find new breweries, amazing restaurants, plenty of Native American culture, a thriving performing arts scene and of course, the famous New Mexican green chili.

There is a grittiness that separates this New Mexico city from the posh and popular Santa Fe, something that New Yorkers will find familiar. Yet, you won't for one moment forget you are in the great Southwest.

Where to go

Tap into the rich history of the region
Photo Credit: Jay Blackwood

Tap into the rich history of the region by visiting the Petroglyph National Monument for one of the largest collections of images and symbols carved into volcanic rock by Native Americans and Spanish settlers some 400-plus years ago. Also take the nearby Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway ($20 adults, $17 seniors and teens ages 13-20, $12 ages 5-12, free under 5), pictured, to the top of the 10,378-foot mountain for the best view of the city and beyond.

Once back on flat ground, take the brewery bike tour with Routes Bicycle Rentals & Tours ($50 with bike rental, generally held third Sunday of each month). It?s a great way to see a side of the city off the beaten path while sampling Albuquerque's craft beer from places like Marble Brewery and Red Door Brewing Company. A more family-friendly option occurs at the ABQ BioPark (combo admission $20 adults, $10 seniors, $6 ages 3-12, free under 3), home to a zoo, aquarium and botanic garden. It's all in the same complex so hopping between them for a day is easy.

Where to eat

Genuine New Mexican green chili is easy to
Photo Credit: Linnea Covington

Genuine New Mexican green chili is easy to come by in Albuquerque, especially the end of August through October when the local peppers are harvested and found roasting all over the city. Diners will see these chilies folded into the biscuits and gravy (pictured) and smashed into the burgers at Cafe Bien (400 Central Ave. SW, 505-246-2436), mixed into the macaroni and cheese and on the club sandwich at Standard Diner (320 Central Ave. SE, 505-243-1440) and smothered on any menu item you may desire at one of the four Sadie's of New Mexico.

But it's not all just the chili pepper. To sample other wholesome fare grown in New Mexico, make a reservation for brunch al fresco at Farm & Table (8917 Fourth St. NW, 505-503-7124). Chef Carrie Eagle whips up fresh egg and seasonal veggie scrambles and breakfast tacos with carne adovada and heirloom tomato salsa. For a more casual spot, head to The Grove Cafe & Market (600 Central Ave. SE, Suite A, 505-248-9800), where you can order homemade granola, a perfect croque monsieur and gourmet cupcakes all day and get a cup of its super strong coffee to-go if you ask nicely.

Where to shop

Carve out time to explore Old Town (between
Photo Credit: Visit Albuquerque

Carve out time to explore Old Town (between Mountain Road and Central Avenue), pictured, where you'll find tons of great shops that sell locally made candles, souvenirs, Native American jewelry and crafts, Mexican wares and other colorful goods in classic adobe buildings. Another place to stock up on honest-to-goodness Native American handicrafts and turquoise-laden jewelry is Skip Maisel's (510 Central Ave. SW, 505-242- 6526). The collection here cannot be beat and each piece tags the artist who created it.

Where to stay

If you want to be in the heart
Photo Credit: Linnea Covington

If you want to be in the heart of downtown Albuquerque book a room at the historic Hotel Andaluz (125 Second St. SW, 505-242-9090), which was built by Conrad Hilton and maintains a Spanish charm. At night it opens Ibiza, a festive rooftop bar perfect for enjoying the warm desert nights. Another historic property can be found at Los Poblanos (4803 Rio Grande Boulevard NW, 505-938-2183), an inn and farm (pictured) known for its lavender yield. While there, try the restaurant, an elegant farm-to-table spot with elevated entrees, superb desserts and impressive cocktails made with lavender pulled from fields.

Fall fests

The fall is a great time to visit
Photo Credit: Ron Behrmann

The fall is a great time to visit Albuquerque, thanks to warm temperatures and the city's many festivals. Coming up next month is its famed International Balloon Fiesta, a week-long event from Oct. 3-11 that will fill the sky with hundreds of colorful hot air balloons.

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