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Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

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Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?


We're planning to go to Roswell NM, via Albuquerque and Tucson on the way back. We're trying to figure out which place is more happening on the weekend...Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson? Since we only have only 1 weekend (total of 8 days travel)...if anyone have any suggestion, I'd appreciate it much!

Thank you, Efi.

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1. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Having lived in Roswell, I would mark that one off of the list. It is not a happening town for a weekend. Both Albuquerque and Tucson are large cities with lots to do and see while Roswell is a small city whose claim to fame is the UFO incident and the population is more of a retirement age.

Edited: 17 August 2011, 19:49
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2. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Hi SusieLou,

Thank you for your input. My daughter (11 yr old) is interested in "the UFO" so that's why we're going there. So we'll spend weekday in Roswell then. If you have any other suggestion in Roswell, please let me know...

Now down to 2 cities for weekend, Albuquerque and Tucson? Suggestion anyone? Thanks!

Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Albuquerque, and not just because I live here. We have wonderful museums, Old Town, Sandia Mountain Tram, Petroglyph National Monument, and much, much more. Good weather this time of year, with occasional afternoon thunderstorms that last maybe at most an hour, and which cools off the air. Lots of good restaurants here And, you have I-40 from here right in to Los Angeles, with Petrified Forest, the mountains of Northern Arizona, and if you have time, Grand Canyon.

Tucson is nice, but other than Old Tucson (a movie set) and Saguaro National Monument, that is pretty much it. I know that Tucson posters, if they read this, will disagree, but that's O.K.

Give Albuq. a try, you'll love it.

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4. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Roswell is not exactly a "fun" town. The Alien Museum takes all of 1 hour to see and that's about it! I would consider adding on a visit to Carlsbad Caverns south of Roswell. A great place to visit for a day. Hike in the natural entrance.

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5. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Gotta agree with CasaAzul - Roswell is not a winner. Personally, I hated the UFO museum when I visited a couple weeks ago and thought it was a complete waste of time and money.

But I suppose you gotta do what you gotta do. SO if you do go, be aware that the museum and "research center" is primarily newsprint articles and photographs. Mostly on the conspiracy. A couple cheesy displays. Let your daughter know...maybe she'll want to read everything or maybe that won't interest her after all. (I've written a review that has not posted yet on TA. Should be up in a couple of days. I've attached a picture of the main "cheesy" display.)

If you end up in Roswell, here are some recommendations. The Roswell Museum and Art Center is quite nice, varied and free. If you like contemporary art, I'd also recommend the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art which is free as well.



For lunch in Roswell I found a GREAT hole in the wall diner, the Cowboy Cafe. Open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch. Very friendly. Very good food. Very inexpensive. Located at 1120 E. 2nd Street. (I haven't been able to find a website...don't think they bother with one.)

I went through Roswell because I was heading to CasaAzul's recommendation, Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This is an absolutely amazing place to visit. You can do a lot in a day. I'd recommend renting the audio tour, although it's not necessary. It covers the Natural Entrance Self-Guided Route and the Big Room. These are the first two things you should do at Carlsbad. Then perhaps visit the gift shop, the book store, the theater and the cafe for a break. Finish up with the King's Palace Ranger-Guided Tour. This costs extra but will take you to the most stunning decorations in the caverns. Pre-booking is advised. Depending on the time of year, there may also be bat flights from the natural entrance to see around sunset.


If you end up spending some time in Carlsbad, you might want to also visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. Definitely a worthwhile stop (and probably the only other one in the area).



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6. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

what time of year?

There's plenty to do in Albuq and Tucson, but... if you're traveling before Oct, I'd leave Tucson off the list. Too hot.

Roswell has been covered and I would agree :)

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7. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

What exactly do you mean by "happening"?

All things being equal...IMO, there's just more to see and do in Albuquerque whether it's the weekend or a weekday, than in Tuscon. I really like Tuscon and we spend quite a bit of time there visiting my wife's parents.....but there's really not a whole lot to see and do.....of course my opinion on that may be due to the fact that it's usually so hot in Tuscon that all I want to do is hang out by my in-law's pool.

There's quite a bit to do in Albuquerque.....our zoo is very nice, we have some great museums....there's always Old Town.....and an afternoon/evening around Nob Hill is always pleasant. One thing I highly recommend is a trip on the world's longest tram to the top of Sandia Mountain.

I agree with others in RE to Roswell....personally, I wouldn't make that so much of a destination. IMO if you're down in that area and you completely bypass Carlsbad Caverns, you're making a huge mistake. Roswell is fun and quirky....for a couple hours or so. My opinion....stop off and check out the museum as it sounds like your daughter is interested....take a couple hours around town.......but get yourselves to Carlsbad Caverns.

Lastly, just curious about your route....also, is the weekend at the beginning or end of the travel plans? Are you planning on driving straight through to either Tuscon or Abq from Los Angeles? Tuscon is about 7-8 hrs and Abq is about 12-13 hrs if you're driving straight through.

I would do this:

Day 1 - Los Angeles to Tuscon (~ 7-8 hrs) (Monday??)

Day 2 - Spend day in Tuscon (Tuesday)

Day 3 - Tuscon to Carlsbad (~ 8-9 hrs) (Wed)

Day 4 - Carlsbad Caverns (Thurs)

Day 5 - Carlsbad to Albuquerque (~ 5 hrs) (Friday)

..............On this leg, from Carlsbad to Albuquerque you could stop off in Roswell and take a look at the museum and spend a bit of time in town if you like (that's seriously all I would really do with Roswell). Roswell is about 1.5 hrs from Carlsbad.

Day 6 - Albuquerque (Saturday)

Day 7 - Albuquerque/Santa Fe (Sunday)

Day 8 - Albuquerque to Los Angeles (~ 12 - 13 hrs) (used to do this one a lot and it's a long haul.) (Monday)

Edited: 19 August 2011, 16:56
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8. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Thanks everyone for your input! It really helps us to decide.

We're planning to go next week around thursday or so (8/25) using train from LA to Albuquerque (it's an overnight long train ride), rent a car, then possibly train back, or drive back (still haven't decided). We have about 7 days.

After reading lots of things about Tucson & Albuquerque, we MAY cross out Tucson, since it's still hot and not a lot of time left.

We may still go to Roswell for half day or so and explore another area after.

Carlsbad Tavern sounds interesting. We'll probably go there.

In Albuquerque, we try to decide whether to stay in downtown area or Nob Hill, which sounds more urban and cool.

Too many places around Albuquerque sounds interesting...hard to decide:

- I've been hearing about Chaco Culture National History Park a lot. It sounds very interesting place to visit.

- Sandia Mountain Tram is on my list, but my daughter is a bit hesitate about it.

- Blue Hole

- Taos Pueblo (sounds like the drive to go there is amazing, is it?)

We also is wondering if we drive back from Albuquerque back to LA, is there any interesting place to stop by & maybe spend the night on other route (besides Hwy 40)? We want to break the 12-13 hours drive...

Thanks for suggestions :)

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9. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

If you drive back to LA from Albuquerque, Flagstaff, AZ is a good stopping point and roughly half way between the two. It's a nice place and more of a "mountain" town and much cooler from a temperature standpoint than say Phoenix or Tuscon.

Another option would be to still do Tucson as this would make more of an actual loop trip rather than having to back track to Albuquerque.....remember, Roswell is about 3.5-4 hours south of Albuquerque driving, so not exactly a day trip.

As for Taos....it's a very pretty drive, especially the back way....but given the limited time you have, you will need to focus on whether you want to spend your time in the north or south otherwise you will be spending the bulk of your time in the car and on the road. Taos is a good 3.5 - 4 hour drive north of ABQ

You may want to consider the following then (if you decide to drive back to LA)

1.)Thurs - Train to ABQ

2.) Friday - Albuquerque...just relax, see some sites and acclimate.

3.)Saturday - Albuquerque and/or maybe day trip to Acoma or something if you're interested....otherwise see the sites in Albuquerque...good day to do the tram.

4.)Sunday - Drive to Roswell...spend the afternoon looking around and stay the night

5.)Monday - Up on off to the Carlsbad Caverns (1.5 hrs or so).....You can easily spend a day in/around the caverns. Stay the night in Carlsbad

6.)Tuesday - drive to Tuscon (~ 8-9 hrs)....probably won't be out and about too much after the long drive, but it is about halfway to LA.

7.) Wed - drive back to LA (~ 8-9 hrs)

You may want to also look into the cost of a one way car rental...it can be quite a bit more expensive than if you're returning it to it's origin. If you decided to take the train back, then #6 above would be the return trip to ABQ (5-6 hrs) and you would catch the train back I suppose on #7.

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10. Re: Which is better, Albuquerque, Roswell or Tucson for weekend?

Thanks for the itinerary, I think we will cross out Tucson for now.

From your itinerary, we will do #1 through #5.

Since we'll take train back home, we will go back up from Carlsbad Caverns to either Albuquerque or Santa Fe to catch the train. Is there any place you recommend between those 2 points?

How about Cloudcroft? Is it worth it to visit? Please let me know if you have any other suggestions...

thank you again!