Known for being the setting of Breaking Bad, its world-renowned International Balloon Fiesta, beautiful mountain scenery and rich Native Pueblo Indian culture, Albuquerque is a worthwhile destination with much to offer.
That being said, the city is also home to a number of offbeat experiences, making it the perfect place for anyone looking to have an unusual vacation. To help you plan an itinerary, here are the top quirky things to do in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Above: X-rated chocolate lollipops at The Candy Lady.
1. Sample Breaking Bad Candy And X-Rated Chocolate At The Candy Lady
The Candy Lady in Old Town Albuquerque is one of the quirkiest sweet shops I’ve ever seen. Spend some time in her x-rated candy room, full of chocolate penis, sex and boob lollipops. She also has a number of chili-infused specialties like green and red chili fudge, red chile truffles, red chile rock candy; and piñon brittle with chile. As she once made the crystal meth (made of candy) used on the show Breaking Bad, she sells baggies of crystal blue rock candy, although only to people who’ve seen the show. For a fun photo, shop staff will let you don an incognito hat and sunglasses while you hold the candy.
2. See Bread And Latte Art At Golden Crown Panaderia
Golden Crown Panaderia is a family-run establishment and the state’s only New Mexican bakery. Their products pay homage to local culture, with their signature product being Original New Mexico Green Chile Bread, which is made with green chile, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, Parmesan cheese and spices and decorated with a coyote howling at the moon. They’re also one of two bakeries in the world whose bakers are also bread sculptures, creating six-foot tall life-sized bread people, bread castles, bread carriages and bread turkeys on Thanskgiving (great for vegetarians, as you can stuff it with a number of delicious ingredients). Order a latte and see the beautiful latte art designed into the froth. They’re also one of the few bakers to take the official state cookie — the Biscochito — and make it in numerous varieties like chocolate, cappuccino, blue corn, sugar free and original.
Blue Sky Donut. Photo courtesy of Rebel Donut.
3. Have A “Breaking Bad” Donut at Rebel Donut
Officially called the Blue Sky Donut, Rebel Donut sells a treat inspired by the hit show Breaking Bad. The donut features blue frosting topped with the blue crystal methamphetamine sold by The Candy Lady. Fun fact: Actor Aaron Paul from the show was the first to try the sweet treat.
4. See Unusual Folk Art At The Tinkertown Museum
For those who want something more unusual than your usual art institution, Albuquerque’s Tinkertown Museum is a great stop. Initially collecting wooden carvings was nothing more than a hobby for Ross Ward, until a growing public interest led him to turn his collection into a museum. Today, more than 50,000 glass bottles form the walls that compose this 22-room museum, which holds wagon wheels, antique toys, Old West dioramas, bullet pencils, wedding cake couples, fortune telling machines, wooden figures and much more, all displayed in an old layout with fun quotes written along the way.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
5. Hike Tent Rocks
Located in between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rock National Monument, home to some of the country’s most striking geology. Visitors have the opportunity to hike through hoodoo formations, slot canyons and tent rocks — cones of soft pumice and tuff beneath harder caprocks — that in this case can reach up to 90 feet (27 meters). You’ll feel like you’re on Mars instead of in New Mexico.
6. Sip Trendy Cocktails In A National Historic Landmark
Part of the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, Casa Esencia is the city’s hottest nightclub. The venue, which is open only on Fridays, makes you feel like you’ve been transported to South Beach to drink and dance at the home of a rich friend. What’s unique about this place is that despite its ultra modern decor, reflective pools, grand pianos, fireplaces and contemporary artwork it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, in certain spots underneath the pristine white walls you’ll see exposed adobe. It’s one of Albuquerque’s most unique drinking experiences.
Green and red chile (AKA “Christmas style”). Photo courtesy of garloncannon.
7. Have A Chile-Inspired Spa Day
At the Tamaya Mist in the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa spa-goers can enjoy a day of relaxation and chile. Their “Ancient Drumming” treatment features a Jemez Mountain mud mask infused with red chile to detoxify the body as your therapist gently drums your stress away. A body scrub is also part of the experience. In the spa’s relaxation room you can munch on green chile-infused granola and red chile chocolate.
8. Go Back In Time To The 1950s On Route 66
The 66 Diner in East Downtown (EDo) on Central Avenue — which was formerly known as Route 66 — is a throwback diner to the 1950. In a streamline-style building, waiters and waitresses wear traditional ’50s attire, walls are adorned with Marilyn Monroe and Elvis posters, ’50s rock plays in the background and thick malts flow like water. Along with being quirky, 66 Diner is a lot of fun.
Their menu features options like a Fiesta Burger covered in Texas chili and cheddar; chicken pot pie with cream gravy; taco platters; fried catfish; chicken and dumplings; frito pie; and apple cobbler topped with ice cream, while shakes and malts come in flavors such as caramel apple, s’mores, mid pie, dreamsicle and PB&J. Make sure to take a walk around the old time space as there are tons of fun Route 66 maps, vintage signs, PEZ displays, Betty Boop cutouts and much more.
Disclosure: My trip to Albuquerque was sponsored by the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau. I was not required to write this post nor was I compensated. All opinions are my own.
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor’s, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn’t really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.