Breaking enchanted

Many, including myself, associate Albuquerque with the hit series Breaking Bad, which is fine because the city has embraced the tale of Walt and Jesse in many ways, including unveiling statues near the main entrance of Albuquerque Convention Center. But “Burque” as the locals call it did break my limited scope of knowledge of the region.

Resting at an elevation slightly higher than that of Denver, Albuquerque is the largest city in the Land of Enchantment and is steeped in a rich history that extends far beyond New Mexico’s statehood or the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In fact, Spanish missionaries began making wine in the region in 1629, 158 years before the signing of the U.S. Constitution—making it the oldest winemaking region in the country.

Travel Secrets

Event space at Hotel Albuquerque
Event space at Hotel Albuquerque

Albuquerque offers endless activities from air ballooning, touring the area’s cultural sites and unique landscape, to exploring a stunning food and beverage scene showcasing Albuquerque’s prowess for growing award-winning chiles. And despite the beautiful and sprawling landscape, nearly every point of interest is easily accessible with minimal traffic.

Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) is located just 15 minutes from the city’s downtown and the city is home to Heritage Hotels and Resorts—an independent hotel group featuring Albuquerque’s first AAA Four-Diamond property, Hotel Chaco, the business-forward Clyde Hotel and the expansive Hotel Albuquerque. Albuquerque Convention Center is just a stone’s throw from these properties and offers planners access to over 270,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space.

Read MoreNew Mexico: Some Enchanted Meeting

Must Do

Route 66 nostalgia is one of the attractions drawing 6.9 million visitors to Albuquerque annually, tickling the imagination with gasoline-scented visions of yesteryear. Many of the original structures and motels are still standing and have been refurbished in a chic fashion such as Teddy Roe’s Bar—a classy speakeasy built into a hidden space behind a 1930s gas station. Those looking for intellectual stimulation can find it at Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum of Albuquerqueone of the many examples of how the city takes a hands-on approach to STEM-based experiences that ties in meeting spaces with hot-button topics and activities such as learning about sustainability and participating in makers workshops. Explora also hosts adult night and features special themes such as “The Science of Beer,” among other events.

Eat This

The question, “Would you like Red, green or ‘make it Christmas’ (a mix of both green and red) was posed to every diner at nearly every restaurant I visited and refers to the local staple of red and green chiles served with New Mexican cuisine and grown in the fertile Hatch Valley.

Smart Tips

facade of albuquerque museum
Albuqerque Museum

Albuquerque has an immense depth of history, the state of New Mexico didn’t receive statehood until 1910, lending unique cultural characteristics through the strong presence of the Pueblo tribes and the deep influence of Hispanic cultures. These cultures never dissipated despite Western expansion, but were woven into the fabric of the people and the state. Albuquerque offers planners the opportunity to join rare cultural activities with meeting spaces as well as unique dining experiences. Events can be hosted at the Indian Puebla Cultural Center with 24,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, National Hispanic Cultural Center with 219,000 sq. ft. of meeting space or the 4,000-square-foot Albuquerque Museum.

Read MoreEssential List: Meet with Artistic Flair

This article appears in the May 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.