ISO cheap things to do in Albuquerque without a car
June 21, 2014 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I am taking a short train trip from CA to Albuquerque next weekend for a few days. I'm on a very tight budget and I won't be able to afford a car. How can I get around and what should I see?

I'm going through some major life changes and have had some crappy things happen to me over the past 7 months. I need to get away for a few days and clear my head.
It's always been my dream to take a train trip. For some reason, Albuquerque seems like a good place even though it's summer. It's not too expensive of a train trip, and I'll probably rent a highly rated place on Airbnb in Corrales. I'll be there 3 or 4 days.

What free or cheap places are there to visit? What's the public transportation like? Anyone in the area want to meet up? (If yes, I'll post something in IRL.)

(FWIW, I did read the recent thread related to Albuquerque, but the person who asked the question has access to a car and I don't.)
posted by luckynerd to Travel & Transportation around Albuquerque, NM (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We usually are game for meetups yes!

Corrales is sort of far from most of town though. Here is our public transit site though. Here is the info on the train that goes through ABQ and to Santa Fe, if you want to go to Santa Fe, but everything is expensive there. The train is called the Rail Runner though and it does make the "meep meep" Roadrunner sound when the doors open, so that's pretty cool. Corrales isn't technically a part of ABQ proper and so not much transit goes all the way out there. If you still have the chance to find a place to stay and can get anywhere from Nob Hill to Downtown that's near Central, you'll have access to the Rapid Ride, which is the easiest form of public transit in town to figure out and goes to a lot of the cool stuff. We did just get Lyft, but it's not exactly cheap. ABQ's a pretty sprawling city. (If any mefites live in Corrales and have experience with how to walk to the nearest buses and stuff though please add to this because it might be possible and only a pain in the ass. Or I might be entirely wrong.)

I'm not sure what your range for "cheap" is, but if you're looking for food, Gil is the best food reviewer in the state and possibly the whole entire world. The Frontier on Central across from the University is pretty cheap and also basically The Albuquerquian Restaurant, so be sure to go there and admire their collection of spectacularly bad art and its somewhat intense security system. If you enjoy meat, potatoes and cheese, order the carne hashbrowns, which are not on the menu but are hashbrowns covered in cheese and red chile meat and are basically the best food in the entire world, especially if you are drunk or were recently drunk. They also have great tortillas, which you can buy by the dozen and then put into your bag to snack on while you are riding the train home. Our Biopark (zoo/aquarium/botanic garden) is pretty cool (especially the botanic garden) but costs money, but Tingley Beach is free, pretty close to the rapid ride or 66 central bus route, and provides pretty good access to the trails by the river. It's usually a bit cooler there because of the shade and water.

If you bike or scoot, there are some bicycle and scooter rental places in town if that would help with getting around carlessly. The University has some fun public art and is nice to wander around, though it's generally sort of weirdly empty in summer.

If you have any specific interests you're looking for I might have more specific recommendations. Also it'd be nice if you could post the aims for your budget, because Albuquerque cheap is often different than what is considered cheap in other places.
posted by NoraReed at 2:32 PM on June 21, 2014

You can take the bus to Old Town and walk around. It's nice to walk around, grab a bite to eat, and just people watch. There's tons of tourist traps over there, but it's interesting too. Other than that, I've found that if you don't have money and a car, there isn't much to do around here.
posted by patheral at 2:34 PM on June 21, 2014

OH OH if you do go to Old Town go to the Old Town Basket Shop because it is basically THE touristy crap store and it is RIDICULOUS and has you know the kind of crap you see in little gift shops but it's HUGE and they have shit like tiny sombreros

and don't get any food while you're down there because it all costs twice as much as it does in any reasonable part of town

oh and stop by the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel because it is so pretty
posted by NoraReed at 2:39 PM on June 21, 2014

I don't live in ABQ right now, but I did until a few years ago, and didn't really have a car. The advice I have for you is very similar to previous responses, but I'm chiming in from the experience of someone who either walked or biked around the city for several years.

Corrales is quite pretty, but it's really far from everything, and not at all easy to get to sans automobile. If I were you, I would stay somewhere near Central Avenue in either downtown or Nob Hill near UNM. That's by far the easiest place to be in the city without a car -- you can either walk to take the bus to plenty of things to do, and both are easy to get to either from the train station downtown. I personally think there's more interesting things to do in Nob Hill/UNM area than downtown (at least in terms of food and people watching, plus the Guild Cinema), but either might work for you.
posted by heurtebise at 3:07 PM on June 21, 2014

Oh, do propose a meetup! I'm sure someone can pick you up, if necessary. I will, if no one else can. Out of my way, so it'd be nice if someone closer to your area could do it.

Sunday mornings in Corrales there's a growers market. There's frequently entertainment and free tastings.
There are trails all along the river great for walks and biking. Totally free. It's got big trees, so the heat is more tolerable. Rio Grande Nature Center is along the river, and free. They charge for parking, a couple of dollars. There's a small museum/visitor center, and a nice pond observatory.
The Albuquerque Museum is $4, plus parking isn't free anymore. I am bitter, why do you ask?
The Maxwell museum is free, and really great. On UNM's campus.
I have never been there, but the Balloon Museum is $4 admission.

*The museums are presuming you can figure out some form of transport to get there.
posted by annsunny at 4:24 PM on June 21, 2014

Looks like I'm going to have to postpone my trip a week or two. But when I have my plans set, I'll update this. I appreciate all the answers!!!! :)
posted by luckynerd at 5:11 PM on June 21, 2014

If you want to just chill and be somewhere pretty and not really do all the touristy things, don't be scared away from Corrales. Spending a weekend down there is beautiful and refreshing and small town. Uber is brand new to Albuquerque, and there are free rides until the end of summer (let me know if you want me to MeMail you the Uber code), which will get you down to Corrales and anywhere else you want to go. Public transportation is really good along the old Route 66 - Central Ave - so if you find somewhere to stay quick walking distance to Central you're pretty much set.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:34 PM on June 21, 2014

I'm currently car-free in ABQ. The busses are fine during the week, but they seem to be "best effort" on the weekends-- A few weekend bus trips that should've taken ~40min each direction including transfer ended up taking over 2 hours each way, and busses stop at 6pm on Sundays.

There are also neighborhoods I wouldn't walk through alone, and I don't have a good handle on where all of them are (I almost took the bus down Central to go to the Railyards yesterday-- luckily I got a ride instead; the area between Central and the yards is rougher than I would feel comfortable walking through solo after dark).

There are a lot of nice parks in ABQ. The bosque trail is great for biking if you bring/rent a bike.

There are also a variety of free community events-- Tasty Tuesday at Hyder Park (food trucks for cheapish grub, music, yoga) and Film & Food Trucks Sunday nights at Bataan Park (free movie, food trucks selling food), off the top of my head (and I also just ate a leftover Supper Truck burachito for breakfast, so...)
posted by worstname at 11:03 AM on June 22, 2014

Corrales is lovely, but seconding the proposal that if you want to go out and do things without a car it will be a lot easier if you are staying near the University or pretty much anywhere near Central Avenue (aka old Route 66).
posted by forkisbetter at 12:26 PM on June 23, 2014

A meetup is being planned, not sure if it's in the time you're thinking of visiting.
posted by NoraReed at 2:04 AM on June 27, 2014

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