Wednesday, September 17, 2014

6 Reasons to Head for Albuquerque this Fall

You need to visit Albuquerque this fall. This is the season locals call “magical” and the one that’s looked forward to throughout the year. New Mexico is beautiful in any season but the fall leaves, the chile and those colorful balloons will give you great excuses for making a visit.

Here are six reasons that you’ll fall head-over-heels in love with Albuquerque’s amazing autumn:

1. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - More than 500 hot air balloons dot the clear blue skies during this annual event, creating a feast for the eyes. Early risers can witness the mass ascension events, eat world-famous breakfast burritos, and see the sun rise over the Sandia Mountains. In the evenings, balloons stay on the ground for “glow” events, allowing visitors to see these beauties up close. There will also be concerts, competitions and new special shapes, including an orca and a snail. This year’s event runs October 4-12.

2. Chile Roasting Season – Snap, crackle and pop! It’s what you’ll hear when exiting your vehicle at any of the dozens of locations throughout the city where chiles are roasting. Fall is chile harvest season, and visitors will see roasters set up everywhere, from the grocery store to farmers markets and restaurants. If native New Mexicans had to pick one smell that reminds them of home, most would choose roasting chiles in the fall. See the roasting in action, then go to one of the many local restaurants that incorporate them into dishes, from donuts to stuffed sopapillas.

3. Fall colors from many angles – Most people don’t think of the Southwest when they think of vibrant fall colors, but Albuquerque’s location in a river valley and altitude – more than a mile high – means that the city has many deciduous trees, from cottonwood to aspen. To see the trees up close, take a bike tour along the Rio Grande on the city’s well-known Bosque Trail, a paddling tour on the river, or a breathtaking tram ride to the top of the more than 10,000-foot-high Sandia Mountains. Those who enjoy driving can also take the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway to reach the range’s highest point.

4. Balloon-themed cocktails – Whether celebrating your first hot air balloon ride or winding down after an activity-filled day, there are two balloon-themed cocktails that will fit the occasion perfectly. Ibiza, the hip rooftop bar at historic Hotel Andaluz, is offering Pilot’s Punch, a champagne-based cocktail that’s a nod to hot air balloon pilots who frequently pop a bottle of bubbly to celebrate a flight. Just a few minutes away, another historic hotel with a hip rooftop bar, Hotel Parq Central’s Apothecary Lounge, has created the Chile Berry Glow. This warm cocktail celebrates the flavors of the season, with red chile powder, raspberry and chocolate, and is made tableside in an infuser over an open flame, inspired by the flame in a hot air balloon.

5. Weather – Simply put, Albuquerque’s October weather is spectacular. Most days are clear and sunny, with highs in the 70s and lows around 50. Humidity is nearly nonexistent, meaning conditions are ideal for spending time outside. If you’re up early to take in a balloon ride or hike, dress in warm layers for the cool mornings that can be peeled off as the sun comes up. And, don’t miss the sunsets – some of the most stunning in the world, due to big skies, beautiful clouds and a landscape featuring mountains that turn a watermelon pink as the sun goes down.

6. Events – Aside from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque has many more events happening in the fall. From pumpkin patches to corn mazes and ghost hunts, it’s a great city for fall traditions. There are also several arts and cultural festivals, including events with a Native American focus and a Greek-inspired celebration. One of the most colorful events in fall is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is used to honor deceased loved ones in a celebratory fashion. Brightly decorated skulls can be seen everywhere, from jewelry and art, and even as face painting!

Come celebrate the “magical” season in Albuquerque. Start planning today at

Information courtesy: Albuquerque CVB