Man, oh man. Never did I think I would fall in love with New Mexico like I did. It wasn’t a top place on my bucket list but when our friends invited us to join them to the balloon fiesta, we had to go! Now i’m smitten and can’t wait to go back.
We started the trip driving from Santa Rosa Beach (where we live) to New Orleans (where Frontier airlines departed from). From NOLA, we touched down in Denver where we stayed the night and drove 6 hours to Albuquerque. On the way to Albuquerque, we stopped at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs & Great Sand Dunes National Park. Both must do’s! If you’re in Colorado Springs, PUH-LEASE stop at this drive through taco place. It’s called Taco Express and our chicken tacos were the BEST.
A key note about Frontier Airlines: not only does this airline have affordable airfare but also BRAND NEW airplanes. This was the nicest plane i’ve ever been on. I’m talking new seats and all. Also, the customer service was incredible. I would recommend them to anyone. We originally chose to fly with them because we saved money rather than flying out in our own city and we do not regret it. I want to fly with them everywhere!!
Our AirBnb was the absolute coolest, so if you’re planning on going to Albuquerque, you must stay here! The owners are some of the nicest people and will give you all kinds of recommendations as well as fresh empanadas from a restaurant down the street. This AirBnb was by far my favorite. It had so much history and charm with lace curtains, adobe walls, creaky old floors and really neat artifacts. I would stay here again and again! Photos don’t do justice (and you’ll read that in others comments!)
If you’re attending the balloon fiesta, chances are it will be a little nippy outside. Bring a jacket and a scarf! Also, it’s smart to bring cash because a lot of the food vendors don’t take cards. In addition, bring a blanket to sit on because there aren’t many picnic tables and they get taken up quick! Lastly, the best decision of the trip was riding bikes to the fiesta. So many people arriving by car missed the Dawn Patrol (when the first set of balloons go up at sunrise) because they were sitting in traffic. We bypassed ALL of those cars because we were on bikes and we got to park right outside of the park. It was seriously epic. Reserve your bikes way ahead of time because they book up fast. And don’t forget to get your tickets online! Keep them on your phone and someone will scan them when you enter the park.
New Mexico’s terrain is easily the most beautiful i’ve seen. It definitely ties with Jackson, WY. We hiked so many places on this trip: La Luz trail and Tent Rocks are two MUST SEES. You CANNOT leave NM without hiking them both. La Luz is very exhausting, steep and challenging so bring water, food, good shoes, thick socks and a jacket for when you reach the chilly top of the mountain (9 miles). The best part is you get to reward yourself with a beer at the restaurant on the tippy top! If you’re not hiking, there is a 15 minute tram ride to the top. We tried to eat after a long, long hike, but everyone who took the tram got to the tables before us …so the most we could do is get a beer. If you want to eat at the restaurant (small menu), reserve it ahead of time!
We also visited Santa Fe (a 2 hour road trip – highly recommend) where we ate at Santa Fe Bite (seen on Food Network). Such great burgers! Also, see the vendors on the town square. And Taos was our other road trip where we sipped beers in the middle of nowhere. SO MUCH FUN!!!
Ask away if you have any questions about New Mexico (Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos are the three towns we visited).