Trip Report | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Happy Halloween! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend, and are excited for the night to come. We finally settled on appropriate costumes for both kids, and we’ll have a bookworm and a ‘throwback’ coach (think short-shorts and sweatbands!) headed out tonight. I’ve got my sights set on all the Twix and Kit Kats…what about you?

A few weeks ago, Mr. Sugarplum and I slipped away for a quick getaway to a spot I’ve been anxious to explore for awhile. I’ve been to Santa Fe and Taos a few times, but had never really explored Albuquerque. My aunt has been raving about this often-overlooked town in New Mexico for years, so we finally had a chance to check it out for ourselves…and it did not disappoint!

Flying in over the Sandia Mountains gave us an exciting peek of what was to come…gorgeous terrain, amazing hiking, jaw-dropping sunsets, and endless sunshine. It was an active-lover’s dream. In fact, had it not been for the excessive amount of New Mexican food we inhaled, I might have actually lost a pound or two!

Just a quick drive out of town, and it feels like you have the whole world to yourself…with nothing but wide-open views. Our favorite site in the area was definitely the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument….only two formations like it in the world! 
The unusual (and slightly phallic, or maybe that’s just me?!) cone-shaped formations were produced by volcanic eruptions almost 7 million years ago! The views from the top are a breathtaking (and windy!) 360-degrees…and the best part, is it’s a pretty easy 1.5 mile hike up there!

Our hotel had cruiser bikes available, and the entrance to the Rio Grande River Trail just a short ride away. I preferred pedaling through the nearby stunning neighborhood of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and Casa Rodeña Winery.

{What We Did}
Sandia Peak Tramway
For a sunset to remember, ride up the mountain on the second longest aerial Tramway in the world. It takes about 20 minutes to ascend the 10,000 feet to the top, where it’s deceptively cold. Sandia is Spanish for watermelon…the color these mountains glow as the sun sets over ABQ (as the locals call it, because who can spell it!!??)

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Less than an hour out of town lies a small, unassuming parking lot at the trailhead of of two easy hikes. But less than a minute into your walk, you’re treated to stunning formations, canyons, and Apache tears at every step. 
There are tons of trails & gorgeous neighborhoods to explore.
Casa Rondeña Winery
A local winery in a beautiful setting. They offer tastings & spots for picnics.
Walter White’s House
Yes, we actually drove by…only to find two very annoyed homeowners parked in plastic lawn chairs on the lawn, littered with signs warning people of trespassing. 

Old Town Albuquerque
Albuquerque’s Old Town is rich with history and unique culture. There are thrilling ghost tours, galleries and shops, museums, and several small cafes with patios.

Sugarplum Travel Tip: ABQ is 5,000 feet above sea level, with some of the mountain peaks at 10,000 feet. So make sure to stay hydrated and go easy on the alcohol your first few days. We all know I get a little puny with altitude, so I stayed mindful of it while we were there.

{Where We Stayed}

This property is a destination in itself, and part of why we loved our time in ABQ so much. See all the pics & read our review in this post.

{Where We Ate}
Inn Restaurant at Los Poblanos
Our stay included breakfast, so we were treated to new dishes everyday, inspired by the day’s harvest right off the farm. It usually included a choice of sweet or savory (we always had one of each!), plus house-made granola, fresh fruit, baked goods, and just-squeezed juices. Dinner looked magical and smelled delicious, but we didn’t have a chance to try it.
A great spot in Old Town with the best views. The patio upstairs offers more casual food & live music, while downstairs is more fine dining. Guess which one we did? 🙂
Antiquity Restaurant
This tiny place tucked away in Old Town smelled amazing, and is voted the #1 restaurant in ABQ on Trip Advisor. And while it was a great ambiance, we didn’t love the food & experience.
Sadie’s of New Mexico
This spot was so highly-recommended by several readers, and we kept hearing about their salsa, so while we didn’t have a chance to eat here, we did get chips & salsa to go, and enjoyed it on our little hotel patio. It’s a massive restaurant with not much ambiance, but the salsa was the best I’ve ever had. 
Church Street Cafe
This spot in Old Town is very unassuming from the front, but it actually extends back an entire city block, in the oldest house in ABQ. The patio is a charming spot to sit day or night, and the green chiles were amazing.
El Pinto
This is honestly the first spot I’d go if we get the chance to return to ABQ. I saw a darling reader here (hi, Erin!), and she said her family eats there every single trip, too. The patio is huge, with a giant pile of Mexican blankets to snuggle in on chilly nights…plus the margarita and queso were the best I’ve ever had. 
Sandiago’s Mexican Grille
A festive restaurant at the base of the Sandia Peak Tramway…and perfect spot for a quick drink overlooking the lights of ABQ below, but I’d skip the food. We were also told repeatedly to avoid the restaurant at the peak of the Tram.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: It’s all about the chilies with New Mexican cuisine, and the biggest question is ‘red or green?’ Chances are, you’ll firmly be one or the other, and both will do a number on your untrained digestive system. #worthit I’m a green girl, all the way!

Albuquerque doesn’t get the same attention as nearby Santa Fe, but neither does it have the crowds. It’s also really easy to get to since you fly directly into ABQ, so it makes the perfect home base for exploring much of the beauty New Mexico has to offer. Can you believe many of these pics were captured on my iPhone? And no filters necessary…Mother Nature does her own technicolor filter for you.

See more of our Travel Adventures here.

{What I Packed for Fall in New Mexico}

*This post was created in collaboration with Nordstrom, but all styles, opinions, & alarming green-chili reactions are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!

Leave a Comment


  1. What a great little trip! Absolutely LOVED the pic of you in the dress in front of that white doorway!

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  2. Summer wrote:

    Looking so lovely ♥

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  3. Okay, this was not a place on my bucket list, but you make it look so delightful. Maybe I should go???

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  4. Ummm-sign me up! We ski in Santa Fe every February, but have never been to ABQ. It looks incredible and like a perfect spot for a long weekend. Oh, and it's not just you–those formations look phallic to me as well (hee hee)!

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  5. Omg, your comment about the rock formations killed me! In grad school during a critique, I commented that another student's desktop accessories all came off as really phallic, and she didn't understand the term, so then I had to explain "phallic" and pretty much died.

    Also, super inspired to take a trip to ABQ, those views were incredible!! Thanks for living a pretty cool life and sharing it 🙂

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  6. Momma wrote:

    I'm dying to see pics of the old school coach's outfit! That's such a funny, creative idea! Happy Halloween!

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  7. Patricia wrote:

    Looks like a fun trip. You always share what you wear (and eat!) on a trip, how about a packing post? How you decide what to take, wear on the plane, what shoes/boots to wear for all that walking … packing well is something we all struggle with. #overpackingitsathing

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
    • Thanks Patricia! I try to post pics of everything I wear, and hopefully that also shows what I packed! The outfit pics are true depictions of what I had on throughout the trip. Would it be helpful if I showed flatlays of all of it, too, or a pic of everything together? Let me know how you'd like me to incorporate more of the packing aspect and I'll work on it! 🙂 xo

      Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  8. Jenny wrote:

    What a fabulous trip! Sedona, AZ is my favorite place on earth, but this looks like a good option too–and a little closer to home!

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  9. We love El Pinto too! It's been several years since we've been to ABQ, you're making me want to go back. I hope you got to see some hot air balloons while you were there!

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  10. gorgeous pics! our family went last year to the hot air balloon festival, and their photos are just amazing. this place is on my list, so can't wait to try those restaurant recs.

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  11. Lovely photos! The first one you posted looks like a post card! Love all your outfits too. It seems as though I should add this to my travel list. I love vacations that involve beautiful landscapes and hiking.

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  12. I lived in Abq. for 15 years and El Pinto is the BEST for both food and ambience; glad you found it!
    The photo of you facing the sunset is absolutely beautiful!

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
  13. Will wrote:

    OK, adding Albuquerque to my must-visit list! I would love to take my drone there to capture those amazing landscapes. Although, I would be so scared of seeing rattlesnakes on those hikes! 😉

    Posted 10.31.16 Reply
    • Oh, don't think I didn't have my eyes glued to the ground when we were hiking!!! 🙂

      Posted 11.3.16 Reply
  14. Julie wrote:

    So much fun and so pretty there! Love all the outfit ideas and activities/food tips! We are headed there on Sunday and can't wait! Thank you for this trip post!! : )

    Posted 11.2.16 Reply
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Cassie! Thank you so much for the shout-out! It was surreal for me to see you at El Pinto, as I've been a long time reader, but never commented. I must say that you and your hubby were seriously even more adorable in person (if that's even possible!). Thank you for being so kind and sweet–it was fun to chat with you two, and so crazy to run into you there considering neither of us live in NM! Loved reading your recap of ABQ, and thanks again for being such a darling blogger who inspires so many!

    Posted 11.3.16 Reply
    • Erin!! You're the best…it was so fun to see you and your darling girls! Let's meet at El Pinto every year! 🙂 xo

      Posted 11.3.16 Reply
  16. Kristen wrote:

    The landscape looks gorgeous! I've always wanted to go to the hot air balloon festival that ABQ hosts every year but your pics make me want to see even more than balloons! 🙂

    Posted 11.7.16 Reply