The New Mexico
Staying in Albuquerque for the Weekend?
It's fairly simple to get around without a car. From the Marriot the Red Line bus will take you to Old Town. (Get off at Rio Grande Blvd.) Old Town is a Mecca for visitors and has numerous shops and restaurants. On the Plaza is San Felipe de Neri Church (1793), the oldest surviving church in Albuquerque. The Children's Museum, The Albuquerque Museum of Art, and the Atomic Museum are adjacent and within walking distance.
Just a little father west from Old Town on the Red Line are the Aquarium, Botanical Park and Zoo (Get off at Tingley). The Zoo and Aquarium are a delight for children and the Botanical Park now contains a Japanese Garden.
The Rio Grande Nature Center is a little out of the way and mostly for birders or for those who like to get up close to the river and canals. The Sand Hill Cranes are leaving us in March, but might still be seen. The Center is an interesting building designed by Antoine Predock and has a small nature museum and a gift shop. There is a tranquil room with a comfortable couch and a glass wall that allows you to look out over the wet land and spend a peaceful hour. There are always a variety of ducks and Canada geese. (Again, take the Red Line to Rio Grande Blvd. Transfer to the to the Rte. 36, Rio Grande/12th Street bus. The route is a loop and you will first head back east. Careful! Service is only once an hour and does not run on Sunday. Get off at Candelaria and walk west on Candelaria to the Center. It's about a half mile through a pleasant North Vallley neighborhood. (Well, you really need to like birds.)
.Want to leave town, but still no car?
The Rail Runner is our new commuter train that runs to Santa Fe. As usual, start your trip on the Red Line and get off at the Alvarado Transportation Center downtown where you connect to the Rail Runner. Santa Fe's ambiance, galleries, and restaurants make it New Mexico's premier destination. There is public transportation in Santa Fe that connects to the Rail Runner and will take you to the Plaza, museums and around town. You can stay overnight or return the same day.
Off the Beaten Track
Las Vegas, NM, about 65 miles east of Santa Fe, is not well known to visitors despite a recent article in the New York Times. Las Vegas was originally a stop on the Santa Fe trail, (adobe "Old Town", 1835) and then a division point on the railroad (Victorian "New Town", 1878). They really were two independent towns separated by the Gallinas river and not joined until the 1970s. During the heyday of the railroad Las Vegas was home to outlaws, including Doc Holliday and Bill the Kid. Teddy Roosevelt recruited a number of his Rough Riders there. The city has over 900 structures on the National Register of Historic Places and has been little disturbed since early in the twentieth century when the railroad division point relocated to Albuquerque. There are some interesting shops, galleries and a weaving center. But please read the Times article for details.
About 6 miles northwest of town is Montezuma's Castle, originally a grand hotel with adjacent hot springs built for railroad passengers, and now the home of the American campus of United World College. Dwan Light Sanctuary which cannot and should not be described in words is on the campus and is New Mexico's best kept architectural secret. It is always open but must be visited only on a bright sunny day. Ask the guard at the entrance to the campus how to get there.
Las Vegas can be reached on Amtrak. Again take the Red Line bus to the Alvarado Trnasportation Center. The Amtrak station is just to the south on 2nd street The eastbound train leaves Albuquerque just before one o'clock and the westbound train leaves Las Vegas at about the same time. The trip is scenic and about three hours each way. The shops in Las Vegas are closed on Sunday as are many restaurants in the evening. So you need to plan to spend two nights probably at the Plaza Hotel. A good walker can see the sights of the town on foot, but a car is required to visit the Castle. There is an Enterprise rental car agency at the Amtrak station.
Other Possibilities with a Car
Las Vegas, NM (see above) If you drive there are several opportunities for lunch along the way. Harry's Road House on the edge of Santa Fe has an eclectic menu and is frequented by locals (exit I25 at Old Pecos Trail, turn right on the Old Las Vegas Highway toward Harry's). An alternative is to continue on the Old Las Vegas highway about three more miles to Bobcat Bite, voted to have the "best hamburgers in America". Farther on, closer to Las Vegas on I25, is La Risa Cafe at the Villanueva exit. Superb New Mexican food in a funky Northern New Mexico rural atmosphere.
Acoma Sky City
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
(and many more)