There’s one landmark in downtown Albuquerque that any serious road-tripper should see: the corner of Central and 4th. It doesn’t sound all that impressive, until you realize that this is the point where Old US Rte. 66–the country’s most famous highway, the main street of America–crosses paths with el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro–the “Royal Road” used by Spanish explorers to connect New and Old Mexico. There’s a nice town square here, complete with a clock tower and mileage signs.
Downtown Albuquerque has all the US 66 fanfare you’d expect to find along the Mother Road.
The downtown area has also undergone a successful revitalization. There’s now plenty of restaurants and night clubs with trendy neon signs out front, and a giant new theatre complex.
Some classic touches remain in downtown Albuquerque, like this overpass for the Santa Fe Railroad.
Albuquerque’s Old Town
Just like most other New Mexico towns, Albuquerque preserves its history in its Old Town district, complete with a town square. Dominating one side of the public space is San Felipe De Neri Church, a beautiful old adobe building adorned with white crosses.
Early April is a great time to visit, as the trees surrounding the church reach full bloom.
Around the old town square you’ll find a few restaurants and shops, as well as one sidewalk (in front of the La Placita Dining Room) where Native Americans sell jewelry.
Back on Central Avenue, and just a few blocks away from Albuquerque’s Old Town, you’ll find Garcia’s Cafe. I stopped to take a picture of the restaurant’s colorful neon sign, but I also heard from my New Mexico insider that Garcia’s serves up some great food as well.
Note: This trip was first published in 2006.