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5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Norwich, United...
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5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

My Wife and I are coming over to the USA again in August and have planned a 3 centre break, San Diego, New Mexico and finishing up in Las Vegas (the Nevada one), where we will meet up with my Brother.

Obviously San Diego and Las Vegas are cities, New Mexico is my way of saying we'd like to visit Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and maybe see a bit inbetween the two cities.

I had initially thought of booking a hotel in each city, i.e. plan was 2 nights in Albuquerque and 3 nights in Santa Fe (if we have 5 nights, which is more likely at the moment). However I wonder if if it would just be easier to base ourselves in North Albuquerque for the whole time and visit the various attractions in both cities from there? We will have a car for use the whole time, and an hours drive to Santa Fe really doesn't concern me at any time of the day.

Would like to see the Sandia Tram for starters in Albuquerque, plus the historic areas/old towns of both cities, some museums, shopping, sample great food etc etc.

So, do you think I should split the time between the two cities and stay 2 nights in one, 3 nights in the other, or just book 5 nights in one area and commute from there?

Currently I have reservations for the La Quinta Suites in Midtown Albuquerque and the Quality Inn on Cerollios (sp) Road in Santa Fe. Both can be cancelled though without charge.

Look forward to your help

New Mexico
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1. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

I think you have a pretty good plan in mind in terms of a couple nights in ABQ and 3 in SF. Having a few nights in SF will give you more opportunity to see some of Northern NM by day trip than just base camping in ABQ.

Definitely check out the Sandia Tram. There is a little restaraunt up top, which I don't particularly recommend the food, but my wife an I like to stop by after an afternoon of hiking to grab a beer. It's also a great place to stop and wait for the sunset before heading back down; that is if you plan on being up there that late. As you will be here in August, this will also be a great way to escape the heat for an afternoon. August is quite hot; mid 90s or so. It can be 10-20 degrees cooler on the mountain.

Albuquerque Good Eats - We have a number of great places to eat here in ABQ. Of course, you will want to try some local New Mexican cuisine (at least once). For this, I have a couple recommendations as follows:

- El Pinto, great food and exceptional atmosphere. El Pinto has one of the best dining patios in all of ABQ and is frequented by tourists and locals alike. Smother your burrito in red or green chili (or combination of both), wash it down with a margarita, and you're good to go.

- Gardunos (4th Street) - A local New Mexican chain with at least 4 locations, 4th street is my favorite. Great food and great atmosphere to go along with it. Try the Carne Adovada with red; margaritas here are exceptional.

- Sadies - If you're feeling a little adventurous, give Sadies a try. It is one of the many establishments favored primarily by locals. There is not much in the way of atmosphere, but the food is exceptional; exceptionally good and exceptionally HOT!!! IMO Sadies has the best salsa on the planet. Try the green chile chicken enchiladas. Just ask a local, and they can tell you directions.

Santa Fe - You could easily spend an entire week in Santa Fe, and not take it all in; I love the place. There is great shopping and dining, as well as a wealth of historical sites to visit. Santa Fe is also a great place to base out of to see more of Northern NM. I would plan on at least one day just tooling around SF. From SF, there are numerous day trip options, so I'll just run down a couple:

- Bandeliere National Monument - Roughly 30-45 minute drive from SF up through Los Alamos and into the scenic Jemez mountains. Here, you literally walk through the living rooms of ancient Anasazi indian caves ruins; it's a breathtaking experience.

- Taos - I always recommend Taos to out of town visitors. I don't really think it's a place where one needs to spend more than a day, unless they have some activity planned like skiing or white water rafting, but it's a great place to visit for the day. Who knows, you may also run into a movie star. The Taos Pueblos is worth a look also.

- SF Opera - If you're an opera fan, and even if you're not, this is worth it. I'm not really into opera at all, but even I had a good time at the SF Opera. My wife bugged me and bugged me to go, so I finally caved (I've been here 20+ years and hadn't gone). It wasn't as I expected at all; I was expecting a bunch of tuxedos, etc, but found that for the most part it was quite casual. Certainly there were those who dressed up, but were just as many wearing blue jeans. It was a pretty unique experience and was sorry I hadn't done it earlier. I won't be getting season tickets or anything mind you, but I'll be back.

I hope at least this gives you a reasonable starting point. Enjoy your stay!

Kitchener
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2. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Thank you for asking the question -- and thanks to all of you who responded. Once again on TripAdvisor, many benefit from the posts of some. We are also planning a trip in the summer and I too, was wondering how to break things up and how much time to allocate. Thanks. ju123-- enjoy your holiday!

Norwich, United...
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3. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Thanks for a great and in depth reply to my question NMdesertdiver.

It looks as though my gut instinct to spilt 2 days and 3 days between Albuquerque and Santa Fe respectively was the right decision then!!!! The good thing is as well that as we are coming from the UK and heading to San Diego first, our body clock will be adjusted to USA time by the time we get to Albuquerque so we will be able to hit the ground running as soon as we land. Plan is to fly from San Diego to Albuquerque on Southwest Airlines and hire a car for the 5 days, before heading back to Albuquerque and flying onto Las Vegas.

Great restaurant recommendations. I'm guessing I am going to need to use the car to get to most of those places? I have no problem with that, I am not a big alcohol drinker in the USA anyway (or am I saving myself for Vegas.........!!!! :) )

I have got the latest visitor guides from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe so its just a case of letting the planning commence really.

Thanks again for the tips.

New Mexico
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4. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Yeah, unfortunately you will probably be using your car quite a bit. Albuquerque is the very definition of western urban sprawl, and our public transportation is sub-par at best, though we're trying to fix that.

New Mexico
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5. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Also, for starters, you may want to look in to the Hotel Albuquerque (used to be Sharaton Old Town). It is not really close to the balloon park, but walking distance to Old Town and museums. Also, the zoo and botanical gardens are very near by. This is a neat area of town to stay in, as it is for the most part, along the Rio Grande, and therefore a little greener and very pretty, especially if you drive up Rio Grande Blvd.

As another poster stated, if you want to be closer to the balloon park, you will want to be on the North side of town. Your options will be primarily along I-25. Not really very pretty, but convenient to the interstate which will get you just about anywhere you want to go.

Book soon, rooms fill up quick.

New Mexico
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6. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Oops, I was thinking of a different thread. As you are not going to be here for balloon fiesta, ignore my prior comment. You may still want to look into the Hotel Albuquerque though, and being that it is the two of you, I would also recommend the Los Poblanos Inn on Rio Grande Blvd. This is a beautiful part of town to stay in.

Norwich, United...
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7. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

Thanks again.

Well the Hotel Albuquerque is coming out at $129 a night for our 2 nights in August on Expedia, or a cancellable rate of $149 booked direct with the hotel. This compares to $99 a night for the La Quinta that I have already booked but which I can cancel.

I must admit I do like the look of the Hotel Albuquerque and the ability to walk to the Old Town area is a plus. At the same time we will have a car, so any safe area of the city is going to be manageable. I'm guessing that Downtown Albuquerque is a bit more business and convention orientated? Are there any attractions in the Downtown area of note?

I think our plan would to be arrive and then have 2 full days and nights sightseeing in the city itself, then on the day we head north to Santa Fe, head along to the Sandia Tram and do that on the way to SF. From the map it sort of looks like we won't need to detour too much out of our way to get to the Tram?

That would then leave us with say an afternoon and two full days in Santa Fe before heading back to Albuquerque and our flight to Vegas.

Does that sound about right?

Thanks again for your hints and tips. Much appreciated.

New Mexico
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8. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

The Tram is not out of your way at all; maybe 10-15 minutes. You will take the Tramway exit off of I-25 as you're heading north out of town; just follow until you see the sign for the Tram. There's not much to do downtown in the way of shopping, etc. There are some pretty decent places to eat and a great movie theater. Other than that, it's pretty business oriented, and geared towards the college crowd on Thurs, Fri, and Sat nights. Unless you're into bar hopping, there's not much else going on.

Norwich, United...
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9. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

NMdesertdiver,

Good news!!! We are now having 8 nights in New Mexico split evenly between Albuquerque and Santa Fe but obviously with side trips to the surrounding areas (we will have a car the entire 8 nights).

San Diego was just too expensive in August. $259+ tax a night for the Marriott Marina and $200+ for a Comfort Inn!!! With plans to do some much need work on our house this and next year we just couldn't go that high on accommodation. Vegas is still on though, managed to get $89 rate at the MGM Grand, so it's fly London to LV and then onto Albuquerque, 8 nights in Alb/Santa Fe and then fly upto Vegas on Southwest, 5 nights in the MGM, and fly home from Vegas to London. Sounds very good that.

Main reason for bringing up the old post apart from the amendment to the trip plan is that I just wanted to get your thoughts on the area northeast of Albuquerque (I think it's Hotel Ave) about 7 miles outside of Town off the I40 exit 165. The Days Inn there is quite highly rated on TA at 13 (not a major amount of reviews though) and is coming out at $55 a night for our 4 nights. I've stayed in Days Inn before and appreciate it is a budget provider but I found them to be fine, and the pictures of the rooms look very nice at this property in particular.

Would that be a safe(ish) area to stay? From the reviews and the hotel details I gather there are quite a few restaurants close by, not that is a problem anyway as we will have the car. I'm guessing its a fairly easy ride into Old Town Albuquerque and all the attractions from this area? Any advice/comments greatly appreciated.

In Santa Fe we have opted to stick with our original choice the Quality Inn on Cerrillos (sp) Road. That is coming out at $79 a night for our stay in a king bed.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Belmont...
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10. Re: 5/6 nights for a trip to New Mexico, where to stay?

The area is safe enough but if you could find a place for a similar rate in the I-25/Jefferson area, I'd recommend that. ( There is still some construction going on I-40 that might slow you down if you tried to use that to get to Old Town, and most of the hotels there are a little older. The immediate neighborhood is okay, but has some questionable parts.) Any of the chain hotels along that part of I-25 should be okay from Jefferson up to Alameda. Tons of restaurants nearby. There's a new Holiday Inn Express that opened maybe a year ago that looks good, I think it's listed on the Holiday Inn Balloon Fiesta Park.