Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Albuquerque, NM

  • Published 2022/11/12

Downtown Albuquerque is the business hub of the city of Albuquerque in Bernalillo County.

It’s where most of the city’s skyscrapers are, such as the Albuquerque Plaza and the Compass Bank Building.

It’s also the center of public transport served by the ABQ RIDE, the state’s largest public transportation system.

The neighborhood is known as a prime dining spot and nightlife district, with upscale restaurants, local eateries, and hip dance clubs with live bands and DJs.

Downtown Albuquerque has come a long way from its beginning in 1880 when it was known as New Town.

The arrival of the railroad in the city brought development to the area.

Today, it is home to eclectic shops, art galleries, and entertainment spots.

Here are the best things to do in Downtown Albuquerque:

Catch a Show at the Kimo Theatre

Exterior of the Kimo Theatre

EQRoy /

Kimo Theatre is a historic landmark in Downtown Albuquerque.

Located on Central Avenue Northwest, the theatre was built in 1927 in the Pueblo Deco architecture style, a mix of elements from the Pueblo Revival style, Art Deco, and indigenous motifs.

Oreste and Maria Bachechi built it as a tribute to Native Americans who treated them like family.

Ticket booth of the Kimo Theatre

Logan Bush /

A competition was held to select its name, and “Kimo,” which means “mountain lion,” ultimately won.

Today, you can watch performances by local and national acts at Kimo Theater.

The restored movie house also screens classic movies and hosts ballet performances, plays, concerts, and more.

Signage of the Kimo Theatre

Anne Richard /

Join the Albuquerque Artwalk Tour

The Albuquerque Artwalk (ABQ Artwalk) is an arts organization founded by a group of artists who aim to promote the local arts and artists of New Mexico.

ABQ Walk mixes arts and business with its support of emerging artists, brick-and-mortar establishments, and small businesses in the area.

The group annually conducts a walking tour featuring local artisans, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, pop-ups, and art exhibitions.

Watch out for Albuquerque Artwalk’s Artist of the Month, where the organization highlights a New Mexico artist in one of the tours.

You can also do the tour independently by downloading the Artwalk Map and customizing your experience.

Shop Fresh Produce at Downtown Growers’ Market

Downtown Growers’ Market is set up in the historic Robinson Park on Copper Ave Northwest.

It’s available every Saturday morning from mid-April through early November.

DGM was established in 1996 and is the city’s oldest farmers’ market.

Find high-quality fresh produce from over 70 local farmers and sample delicious food prepared by local artisans.

There are freshly baked bread and pastries that you can munch on while shopping.

You can also bring your picnic mats and feast on the food items you bought.

Get a bunch of beautiful flowers to decorate your hotel room, or buy homemade scented candles for a relaxing nightcap.

Smell the aroma of chilis being roasted at Downtown Growers’ Market.

Try Every Food Stall at 505 Central Food Hall

Located on Central Avenue Northwest, 505 Central Food Hall is a food court that houses nine local restaurants that cater to every palate.

From Mexican tacos to Japanese ramen, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Tino’s Tacos offers authentic Mexican street tacos, quesadillas, and burritos that go well with their homemade agua fresca.

If you’re craving burgers and sandwiches, there’s Meateor Burgers for the classic charred beef patty and fresh-cut fries or Kukri Chicken for fried chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders.

Naruto Ramen serves authentic Hakata-style ramen with pork bones, homemade chashu, and eggless noodles.

For a nice pick-me-up, grab a cup of locally roasted coffee at Humble Coffee.

Can’t decide where to eat?

Go to 505 Central Food Hall.

Chug on Freshly Brewed Beer at Marble Brewery

A party in Marble Brewery

Abqbeergal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Marble Avenue is Marble Brewery, which prides itself on serving beer brewed on-site which you can enjoy while listening to live music.

There are also food trucks and outdoor seats on the estate’s grounds.

The brewery was founded in 2008 to satisfy the locals’ craving for premium craft beer.

The Marble Avenue location is the brewery’s main facility and houses its 30-barrell brewhouse and fermentation hall.

It’s also where they keg their award-winning beers for distribution to Colorado, Texas, and Arizona.

Marble Brewery regularly hosts events in the taproom and invites local food trucks for the perfect beer match.

Appreciate American Southwest Art at the Albuquerque Museum

Located at the heart of Old Town is the Albuquerque Museum which aims to preserve the art and history of the American Southwest.

The museum is showcases items from the 400-year history of Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

It has three permanent exhibits that house thousands or artworks, artefacts, and photographs that depict the beginnings of New Mexico and the city.

On display are early maps, battle gears, textiles, and other items from the state’s colonial past.

You can also visit a Plazuela-style rancho called Casa San Ysidro where you can see a collection of New Mexican art and furnishing.

Visit the Albuquerque Museum and appreciate the Southwest art and culture.

Admire Works of Up-and-Coming Artists at 516 ARTS

Located on Central Avenue, 516 ARTS is a contemporary art museum that showcases artworks with a focus on Latin America.

It was founded in 2006 and features a mix of local, national, and international artists.

It includes public art projects, murals, forums, and collaborations with museums worldwide.

There are also workshops discussing the art and culture of the Southwest and beyond.

See paintings, sculptures, videos, and sound installations from up-and-coming local artists.

You can do guided or unguided tours and have free access to educational materials that will help you appreciate the thought-provoking arts at 516 ARTS.

Commemorate Holocaust Victims at the New Mexico Holocaust Museum and Gellert Center for Education

Exterior of the New Mexico Holocaust Museum and Gellert Center for Education

John Phelan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Holocaust survivor Werner Gellert established the New Mexico Holocaust Museum and Gellert Center for Education on Central Avenue.

Together with his wife, Frances, Werner aims to educate people about the horrors of the Holocaust and eliminate racial discrimination.

The museum has artifacts, photos, documents, and books on the genocide and conflicts that led to the tragic event.

Most of the exhibits focus on the Holocaust and the crimes of Nazi Germany against Jews and non-Jews, but there also are portions dedicated to other genocides and human rights abuses around the world.

Have a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and commemorate its survivors at the New Mexico Holocaust Museum and Gellert Center for Education.

Join the Albucreepy Ghost Walk

If you’re up for some thrill, the Albucreepy Ghost Walk is a must-try.

The tour starts inside Hotel Albuquerque on Rio Grande Boulevard and takes you on a two-hour walk exploring the city’s dark side.

The 1.3-mile-long walk has three stops at Sawmill and Old Town: The Taproom, Ponderosa Brewing, and Garduno’s.

A guide tells ghost stories about each haunted site and some personal accounts about New Mexico’s creepiest buildings.

Learn about the El Chupacabra, La Llorona, El Cucuy, and other creatures that terrified every New Mexican growing up.

The Albucreepy Ghost Walk is not for the faint of heart, so brace yourself for a heart-racing experience.

Enjoy Drinks at Apothecary Lounge – Hotel Parq Central

Located on Central Avenue is an upscale hotel bar that serves handcrafted cocktails and small plates.

Apothecary Lounge sits on the rooftop of Hotel Parq Central and offers scenic views of the Albuquerque skyline.

It specializes in seasonal cocktails with the finest spirits and locally made liquors and beers.

Some signature drinks include classics like The Sazerac, The Pink Lady, and the seasonal Prickly Pear Margarita.

Apothecary is also known for its wide selection of flavored bitters that go well with any cocktail.

Pair your drink with a plate of cheeses, cold cuts, or fresh regional produce.

Enjoy Happy Hour with panoramic views at Apothecary Lounge.

Marvel at Beautiful Gemstones at the Turquoise Museum

Located on 2nd Street is a castle that houses one of the most comprehensive turquoise collections in the world.

The Turquoise Museum started when Jesse Zachary Sr. returned to his native New Mexico from managing the Villa Grove Turquoise Mine in Colorado.

He traded turquoise, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jesse handed his passion for these gemstones to his son Zack, and most of the stones on display at the museum today are from his and his wife Lillian’s collection.

Visit the Turquoise Museum and marvel at elegant pieces of turquoise jewelry mined from different parts of the world, such as China and Iran.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Journey Through Time at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Dinosaur skull in New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Located on Mountain Road Northwest, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science will take you back in time with exhibits showcasing Earth’s beginnings.

It has eight permanent displays that will walk you through the Universe’s beginning until the Ice Age.

Learn about the Universe’s formation at Time Tracks: A Walk Through Time and witness the origin of life at the Emergence exhibit.

Molluscs exhibit in New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

See dinosaur fossils dug up from the San Juan Basin at the Bisti Beast exhibit and observe how fossils are extracted from rocks at the Fossilworks display.

Explore the sky using the museum’s telescope and learn about astronomical concepts at The Hall of Stars.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is a four-minute drive from Downtown.

Interior of New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Lee Ruk from North Tonawanda, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See Animals from Around the World at the Albuquerque Biological Park

Located on Tingley Drive, along the edge of Rio Grande, near Downtown Albuquerque, is the Albuquerque Biological Park.

The park comprises four facilities: the Aquarium, Botanic Garden, Zoo, and Tingley Beach.

The Aquarium is an ocean tank containing 285,000 gallons of water and saltwater species from the Gulf of Mexico.

It showcases colorful fish native to the country.

At the Botanic Garden, you’ll see 32 acres of plants and flowers from the Southwest and around the world, as well as the BUGarium, which features exhibits of bugs and anthropods.

The zoo features more than 900 animals from all over the world, with many of them part of conservation efforts.

Tingley Beach has a mile-long trail that loops around three fishing ponds and a bike path that leads to the Rio Grande.

Albuquerque Biological Park is a seven-minute drive from Downtown Albuquerque.

Walk around Historic Old Town

Shops at Historic Old Town

Sean Pavone /

The Historic Old Town is Albuquerque’s first neighborhood and was the heart of the city when it was established in 1796.

Spanning around 10 blocks, it comprises historic adobe buildings such as the San Felipe de Neri Church, the oldest building in the city.

Most buildings have been converted into restaurants, shops, and art galleries while preserving the original architecture.

More than 100 stores and galleries in the area feature jewelry, pottery, sculpture, weaving, and painting.

Gazebo at Historic Old Town's plaza

stellamc /

The buildings have retained the Pueblo-Spanish-style architecture evident in the adobe’s flat roofs and soft curves.

Long porches are a common feature among the buildings in the Historic Old Town, with benches attached to the back walls, perfect for walkers who want to rest or those looking for shade.

It’s a five-minute drive from Downtown Albuquerque.

A church at Historic Old Town

FiledIMAGE /

See Different Species of Rattlesnakes at the Rattlesnake Museum

Exterior of the Rattlesnake Museum

Alizada Studios /

Located on San Felipe Street in Old Town is the Rattlesnake Museum, dedicated to conserving rattlesnakes.

The museum promotes rattlesnake education through its staff regularly participating in international research.

The museum has the most diverse collection of rattlesnake species in the world.

There are recreated habitats where rattlesnakes roam around freely.

Diamond rattlesnake in the Rattlesnake Museum

Steve Lagreca /

Also in the museum is a Gila monster and some species of venomous lizards.

You can also find snake artwork and artifacts and a gift shop where you can buy shirts, books, and photographs.

Conquer your fear of snakes and learn valuable information at the Rattlesnake Museum, just five minutes from Downtown.

South American rattlesnake in the Rattlesnake Museum

Steve Lagreca /

Final Thoughts

Downtown Albuquerque is a business hub that retains its small-town charms.

It has a unique mix of colonial buildings and trendy bars that marry two eras into one must-visit neighborhood.

Experience the history and culture of the Southwest by trying these best things to do in Downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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