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Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

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Redondo Beach...
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Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Planning early for Balloonfest 2013. We are three couples in our early 50s who like history, nature, shopping, eating, exploring, relaxing, and the unique. Scenic driving would be fine, but we are looking to avoid a "road trip" trip type vacation.

We will be staying 6 to 9 nights in the area depending if we drive or fly in.

How many nights should we stay in Alburqueque vs. Sante Fe? If we have 9 nights, should we incorporate another City into our trip? If so, which one?

For Alburqueque and Santa Fe, is it worth the extra expense of staying in the downtown area. While we are not big hikers, we do like to walk to/through historic areas


Albuquerque, New...
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1. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

If you are staying in Santa Fe, staying somewhere walking distance to the plaza can be a good idea as there are museums, galleries, shopping, and lots of great restaurants. If you are not downtown, most of the motels are on Cerrillos Road. You can drive into the downtown area easily, but parking can be a pain. For Albuquerque, you might consider staying near Old Town. There are museums near Old Town and plenty of shopping, galleries, and restaurants. The downtown area can get a bit rowdy at night as it is where there are a lot of clubs and bars that cater to folks in their 20s and 30s. But, during the day it can be worth a visit. The Hotel Albuquerque is a convenient place to stay near Old Town, and there are a couple of less expensive places nearby. You will want to make reservations in Albuquerque early for Balloon Fiesta.

If you have a car, there are many interesting places to visit. I recommend you contact the New Mexico tourism office and get copies of their visitor guides.

You might want to add a night in Taos. You can drive there via the High Road and come back down along the Rio Grande.

From Santa Fe you can easily drive to Bandelier National Monument and Pecos National Historical Park. Albuquerque has Petroglyph National Monument. Both cities have a number of great museums.


West Chicago...
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2. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

You're going to find everything you're looking for in Northern New Mexico!

First, I would normally say to apportion more nights to Santa Fe than to Albuquerque. I love both cities, but in terms of opportunities for the visitor, Santa Fe has more. (Albuquerque definitely has its charms, too, and should not be skipped.)

However, you really should base your plans around what you intend to do with the Balloon Fiesta. It's always good to plan on possibly being there more than one day. Weather can impact whether the mass ascensions will in fact ascend. Having more than one possible day may help avoid disappointment.

In Albuquerque it is definitely not necessary to stay in Downtown. In fact as a visitor, that wouldn't be my first choice. I always stay near Old Town (Monterey Non-Smokers Motel) when I visit Albuquerque. But essentially Albuquerque is much more spread out and you'll need to drive to most places you plan to go anyway.

In Santa Fe, though, I highly recommend staying in walking distance to the Plaza (downtown). Definitely worth the higher price tag IMHO for dining, shopping, sightseeing, etc.

If you make it a 9 day trip, I'd suggest adding Taos to the mix with at least a 1 night stay and preferably 2. Taos is a different experience. More laid back and I think opens up its charms better when overnighting. There are many who are disappointed when they just head up as a day trip from Santa Fe (although many others do enjoy it as well). Key places to visit include Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and the Millicent Rogers Museum. Lots of shops and galleries (although not on the scale of Santa Fe) and terrific places to eat. Also check out the church in Rancho de Taos.

When travelling to or from Taos you have the option of the low road or the high road. Its recommended to travel on each. My own preference is the low road TO Taos and the high road FROM Taos. Others prefer the other way.

When travelling to or from Santa Fe you also have two options, I-25 and the Turquoise Trail. Again, do both. My own preference is to go north on I-25 and south on the Turquoise Trail, but its not critical.

In Santa Fe lots of historical options with the museums, especially the New Mexico Museum of History/Palace of the Governors and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Several excellent art museums as well.

Consider a drive out to Bandelier National Monument from Santa Fe. DO take the hike in the separate Tsankawi section, my favorite part of Bandelier. Perhaps visit Los Alamos on this day. (Los Alamos Historical Museum and Bradbury Museum are small, free and worthwhile.)

If you're up for a 3 mile round trip hike I highly recommend Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument between Santa Fe and Albuquerque (could fit in when driving the I-25 portion between Albuquerque and Santa Fe).

Lots more I could recommend, but a little short on time (otherwise I would have give you the links above...just Google!) But here are three helpful sites to help you in your planning:

http://www.itsatrip.org/ (for Albuquerque tourism)

http://www.santafe.org/ (for Santa Fe tourism)

http://taos.org/ (for Taos tourism)


Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

I would divide my time equally between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I am partial to ABQ, of course because I live here, but there are some incredible things to be seen and done in Santa Fe. However, Santa Fe does tend to be more expensive for lodging, impossible to park your car, and difficult to navigate. They have incredible museums not to be missed, and many fine eating establishments.

Albuquerque is easy to navigate, has many more places to eat, and is much less expensive, not only for dining and lodging, but also for shopping. Plus...you can hop a train to Santa Fe from ABQ for about $8 round trip, and tour around town on the free shuttles. Mass transit in Albuquerque leaves a lot to be desired.

While in ABQ plan a day to travel West to Acoma (Sky City) Pueblo. The BEST Pueblo to visit in NM. Try http://www.nmbba.org and http://www.abqbandb.com for great lodging.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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4. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

I have to say that I have never had an issue parking in downtown Santa Fe. Plenty of parking lots, meters and some are free. Yes during Balloon Fiesta it is busy, but not so much that you can't drive around. Many hotels/motels near the Plaza offer free parking too.

Also getting around downtown Abq, Old Town and the UNM area is very easy with public transportation and affordable. You can't get to the tram though, you will need a car.

I'd look at 4 nights in Albuquerque, 3 in Santa Fe and 2 in Taos.

Santa Fe, NM
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5. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

I agree with a lot of what KthSch has recommended. The mass ascensions on the weekends are a big draw for Balloon Fiesta- the first weekend tends to be more crowded. You could bookend your trip in ABQ and spend a few nights in Santa Fe. If you do the 9 nights - spend one in Taos. Each place has a distinct flavor. Most of the downtown hotels in Santa Fe do charge for parking- a few include it. There are a number of B & Bs in walking distance to the plaza in a wide range of prices and they have free parking. There are hotels in all price ranges, too, but that time of year tends to have premium rates/

You may want to include a Pueblo in your visit. Tsankawe, part of Bandelier National Monument offers ancestral cliff dwellings in a more secluded setting. If you're interested in Georgia O['Keeffe, you can visit both her home and Ghost Ranch. The ranch has a wonderful O'Keeffe landscape tour- both need advance reservations.

The area is loaded with history, culture, nature and great places to discover off the beaten path. Enjoy!.

Atlanta, GA
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6. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Wow, thanks for all the great advice! Planning a trip in May 2013 and stumbled upon your post. Will be checking out several of your suggestions.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

The Balloon Fiesta has little effect on Santa Fe, regarding parking, hotels, etc.

It does of course, on Albuquerque, but also, Albuquerque is much larger and spread out than Santa Fe.

Also, Santa Fe is more or less equidistant from ABQ and Taos, and affords more travel destinations (north - Taos, Abiquiu, Chimayo, south - ABQ, east - ranching country, Pecos, west, Bandelier, Los Alamos) and more

Redondo Beach...
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8. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Thanks all. Very helpful responses all around.

9. Re: Dividing days - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

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