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Cheap of the Month gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. Courtesy of a4gpa.

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. Courtesy of a4gpa.

Born from Pueblo Indian culture and shaped by a mixture of Spanish influence, oldwest culture, Route 66 travelers and Bugs Bunny references, Albuquerque is a great deviation from the hum-drum, sick-of-winter lives we’re all living elsewhere.

Courtesy of ABQ Museum Photoarchives.

Courtesy of ABQ Museum Photoarchives.

Plane, train or automobileAlbuquerque has two airports and is a major Amtrak stop between Los Angeles and Chicago, so getting there shouldn’t be a problem. Check Cheaptickets.com for some hotel and flight packages under $500. Bring a friend and split the hotel costs.

Bus leaving ABQ station. Courtesy of Brett VA.

Bus leaving ABQ station. Courtesy of Brett VA.

Cheap local transit – Once you’re there, grab a pass for the ABQ bus system to get you around town. Adults ride for $1, or opt for the unlimited three-day pass for $6 to cover you for the whole weekend.

Sandia Mountain sunset. Courtesy of John Fowler.

Sandia Mountain sunset. Courtesy of John Fowler.

Sunset in the Sandia Mountains – “Sandia” means watermelon in Spanish, and historians believe the mountain range that lies to the east of the city was named for the pink hues it takes on at sunset. Hike the Sandias in the day for a free activity, but make sure you’re back in time to catch the sunset.

Old Town shopping. Courtesy of Michael D Martin.

Old Town shopping. Courtesy of Michael D Martin.

Old Town Albuquerque – This section of town today hosts about 10 blocks of shopping and other tourist destinations, but this is where the city began in 1706. The historic adobe buildings are situated around a plaza in true Spanish nature, and many old homes have been converted to shops and restaurants. Check out San Felipe de Neri Church, built in 1793. 

Breakfast burrito with green chiles at Java Joe's. Courtesy of ammanteufel.

Breakfast burrito with green chiles at Java Joe’s. Courtesy of ammanteufel.

Green chiles galore – Albuquerque’s culinary scene is dominated by green chiles and new Mexican food. Head toward the University of New Mexico for some authentic and reasonably-priced grub.

Rio Grande Valley State Park in the fall. Courtesy of littlemoresunshine.

Rio Grande Valley State Park in the fall. Courtesy of littlemoresunshine.

Picnic along the Rio Grande – The famous river that cuts through the city offers some greenery in an otherwise arid climate. Rio Grande Valley State Park is free to enter and offers access to trailheads and the river. Rent a kayak and take float.

Pillow fight. Courtesy of Jan Papas.

Pillow fight. Courtesy of Jan Papas.

Pillow fight anyone? Word on the street has it that some Albuquerqueans are looking to take part in International Pillow Fight Day on April 5. I’m sure your hotel won’t mind if you borrow a pillow.

UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. Courtesy of Frank Pierson.

UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. Courtesy of Frank Pierson.

Take to the road – If you’re staying for more than a weekend and feel like a little day trip, drive an hour north to experience the culture of Santa Fe, or three hours southeast to check out Area 51 and the aliens at Roswell.

 

Tagged: Cheap of the Month, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Food & drink

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