Make the most of your time when you only have 24hrs in Old Town Albuquerque.
New Mexico’s largest city is Albuquerque and often referred to as ABQ. Alburquerque is split into districts. Today, I am talking about the Old Town District, which in my opinion, is the district that offers travelers the most! Come along with me, and I’ll show you a few options to spend 24hrs in Old Town Albuquerque.
Albuquerque is one of those cities in the United States that needs no state behind it. Likewise, many know the city as simply ABQ.
Old Town Albuquerque, with its narrow streets and century-old adobe houses, New Mexican eateries, and shops by the dozen, visitors will have plenty to do in this area of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
My trip to ABQ was hosted by Visit Albuquerque. All opinions are my own.
24Hrs In Old Town Albuquerque
My solo trip to Albuquerque was four nights and three full days. I stayed in a quaint place in Old Town (more info below), and my time in ABQ was unforgettable. I was able to do quite a few activities and attractions, from hiking and biking to green chile dishes, tasting New Mexico wines, and taking a balloon ride. Not everything was in Old Town, but everything I did was minutes from each other.
I read that the best time to visit Albuquerque is from September to November, but I went in August and had the best time. But if you’re going to the balloon fest, make plans for October.
Related: Best Way to Enjoy Hot Evenings Outdoors
Old Town Plaza
Old Town District is the city’s cultural center. With over 150 artisan shops on and around the plaza selling jewelry, rugs, clothing, and pottery, it’s the perfect spot to find that one-of-a-kind gift for yourself. I’ve wanted a turquoise ring for the longest time, and I finally found it on the square …and a few more pieces!
Local artisans line up under the awning on the plaza Fridays and Saturdays to sell their handmade turquoise jewelry. Besides the ring I found in a permanent store on the plaza, I also bought a wrap-around turquoise and silver bracelet and two anklets from these artisans. Now, I’m set with my turquoise jewelry.
There are other things to do in Albuquerque that are not in Old Town. If you want to adventure out to the Sandia Mountains on the Tram or go hot air ballooning, give yourself at least three days to get a vibe of this New Mexico city. More about these activities and attractions are below.
How To Spend 24hrs In Old Town Albuquerque
There are many fun things to do in this area of Albuquerque. And, no matter how you spend your day, these options may benefit you to get in the most of your 24hrs in Old Town.
1st Option: 24hrs in Old Town
- Morning: Breakfast at Central Grill & Coffee House
- Mid Morning: Explore the grounds of Old Town (try to find hidden gems)
- Afternoon: Lunch & shopping in Old Town Plaza
- Mid Afternoon: Visit Noisy Water Winery & Sheehan Winery in Plaza Don Luis (the newest shopping area in Old Town Plaza)
- Evening: Rooftop dining at Level 5 – Hotel Chaco
2nd Option: 24hrs in Old Town
- Morning: Enjoy breakfast at Golden Crown Panaderia
- Mid Morning: Visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
- Mid Afternoon: Tour 18th-century San Felipe de Neri Church (the oldest building in the city [M-F])
- Afternoon: Take a Bike & Taco Tour (3 hrs+). Go hungry
- Late Evening: Sawmill Market for dinner (closes at 9 pm & 10 pm on weekends)
Noisy Water Winery
Brenna and I had such a fun time here sampling wine. Believe it or not, the Green Chile Wine was good. It had a little kick to it at the end. I liked it better than the red. Noisy Water Winery serves only New Mexico wines. This was my first time tasting NM wines. I’m impressed!
Level 5 Rooftop Restaurant – Hotel Chaco
The rooftop dining was an experience. It’s not every day I get to dine overlooking beautiful mountains. Though I was up there solo, I managed to be happy at the moment with a lovely appetizer of hummus & avocado dip, wine by the glass, my delicious salmon plate, and most of all – the view of the Sandia Mountains. This place is hard to beat. Rooftop dining is mainly for hotel guests, but they allow guests up there on special occasions. Be sure to call ahead, and reservations are a must. Level 5 Restaurant is top class.
Golden Crown Panaderia
If you follow Guy Fieri on The Food Network and love his show and his food stops, you’ll want to stop at Golden Crown Panaderia. Guy’s favorite here is the blue corn pizza – never mind the toppings, he just loved how the basis of the pizza was made. I was told I had to try the green chile bread, which they are famous for – so I did. I brought a loaf home with me in my suitcase. They are open Tues-Sun from 7 am to 8 pm, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Museum
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center was founded in 1976 by Pueblo tribes and is a world-class museum. I wondered through aimlessly, not knowing what I would find or see. I saw a world of Indian culture on every wall. This museum went on and on in different rooms and different buildings. Be sure to stop at the gift shop, where you’ll find Native jewelry and art. Also, Executive Chef Davida Becenti cooks traditional and contemporary Native cuisine flavors in the Indian Pueblo Kitchen – a full restaurant open to the public.
Albuquerque has several museums, but the above is the only one I visited on this trip. ABQ is full of history, and you’ll see it at all the museums in the city.
Albuquerque Bike And Taco Tour
I could talk for hours about our bike & taco tour. Of course, they have other tours, but who doesn’t like tacos!! Josh, the owner of Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals, took Brenna and me on a bike tour that will go down in my book of memories – it was that special!
Josh and his wife own this business and offer its services in their Old Town location. We started in Old Town and went by a few hidden gems, then onto the streets of ABQ before we stopped at our first restaurants and had the best tacos ever! BUT …. look at the watermelon and drink in the picture above. O.M.G. is the best watermelon salad and watermelon spritzer I’ve ever had. This is at Old Town Farm and is one restaurant always on his Bike & Taco Tour.
This bike tour stops at three restaurants for tacos and will be very satisfying at the end – no need to schedule dinner reservations afterward – only if you want to.
The newest food mall in ABQ is in Old Town at Sawmill Market. This place has at least 27 different eateries to choose from – from Mexican dishes to pasta to gluten-free bakeries, a coffee bar, and everything else. And, you can eat your meal outside. There are many tables and chairs, covered and not covered, plus family games. It’s a nice place to go to. You’ll have difficulty choosing what you want – well, I did.
If you can spend more than 24Hrs In Old Town Albuquerque, here are the must-dos while in ABQ!
Attractions In Albuquerque Not To Miss
Take The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
The Sandia Peak Tramway is the longest aerial tramway in North America. This is a must-do while in Albuquerque. The tram goes up all day long, but you might want to take the sunset atop the Sandia Mountains to see the pink sunset. I hear that’s a fabulous view. I went in the morning time and had to wear a light sweater. It was the coolest thing ever up there. I would go again and again and never tire of it. Actually, locals go up all the time.
Pro Tip: If you wait to go during the Balloon Fest in October, plan on waiting 3 hours to get into the tram – yes, it will be hectic. I went in August, and there was barely a line. Also, it’s best to purchase tickets online.
Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Rides
I am so blessed to go on a hot air balloon ride. This was my first time, and I would do this repeatedly. Rainbow Ryders was top-notch and in line with everything I was told. The flight was remarkable, and we even had a laugh or two.
As you probably know, Albuquerque is mostly known for its International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place the first full week in October. The balloon fest will fill your day and night with awesome activities if you visit during that time of the year.
It’s an excellent time to go to ABQ during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, but expect long lines and lots of traffic. Just be aware, and you’ll have the best time ever. It’s their 50th year, and the 2022 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will begin at 7:00 am on Saturday, October 1 – October 9. Have fun!!
Where To Stay In Old Town Albuquerque
Need a place to stay? If you spend more than 24Hrs In Old Town Albuquerque, you’ll need a place to stay. I stayed at the Desert Compass for four nights in the Cowgirl Suite. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to feel comfortable and secure.
There are six suites, and you’ll share common grounds outside with a pool and a lovely area with grass, tables, lounge chairs, and a hammock.
The Desert Compass is a retreat located in the heart of historic Old Town Albuquerque.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my options on how to spend 24hrs in Old Town ABQ. Here’s to the good times!!
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