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I had a sweet friend come to visit me a few months ago while my husband was away for training (army life, y’all) and let me tell ya, we had a blast! She was in town for a week so we decided it would be fun to take a quick little weekend trip to see a few of the sights in New Mexico. Because we were starting from El Paso, TX, we could drive to pretty much anywhere in New Mexico in less than 7 hours. So we mapped out our route and hit the road. After much planning about how to most efficiently see all of the places on our “need to go to” list, of course.
We decided to do the bulk of our driving on day 1, so we left around 8 in the morning so that we could be in Albuquerque by lunchtime. We drove the first leg of the trip straight through, but there really weren’t many opportunities to stop anyways.
Driving through New Mexico is like driving into an old western movie. So much of the land is undeveloped and undisturbed. Even though we were driving on a major interstate, their was very little traffic and we would go miles between seeing other cars.
It was absolutely breathtaking, and we just couldn’t get enough pictures of the big open dessert, snow capped mountains, and long, traffic-free, roads. It was a really beautiful drive, but we were ready to get out of the car, stretch our legs and EAT once we arrived in Albuquerque.
Route 66 Diner
Our first stop was Route 66 Diner, which was the perfect quintessential diner, complete with Elvis wall clocks, a jukebox and waitresses in knee socks. This place is a nonnegotiable stop in Albuquerque if you ask me. The menu was pretty extensive, but we both went with a burger, fries and shake, because really, what else would you expect us to get at THE Route 66 Diner?? And we were both very satisfied with that choice. The diner was so adorable, it was hard to drag ourselves away after lunch, but we contented ourselves with snapping a few photos both inside and outside the diner.
Tent Rocks National Monument
Next we hopped back in the car and headed up to Tent Rocks National Monument. Tent Rocks was a really interesting, other-worldly place. The tent-shaped rock formations (well-named, are they not?) appear out of nowhere and make for an interesting sight after hours of seeing the typical New Mexico desert landscape. We opted to take the (slightly) longer hike so that we could walk through the canyons between the rock formations.
We really enjoyed the exercise after a long morning in the car, and scenery was truly one of a kind. I highly recommend this hike – it wasn’t very long, and you get a really unique experience of exploring between the rocks. We loved the hike and the opportunity to take some unique pictures. We spent a good bit of time here, and were both really glad we included it in our trip, even though it was a little bit out of the way.
Kakawa Chocolate House
From here we drove a little further north to Santa Fe. I had been to Santa Fe once before and the one place that I had on my list was Kakawa Chocolate House. This adorable little shop specializes in drinking chocolates. They have some more subtle european chocolate flavors, as well as some spicy, traditional aztec blends, and they are delicious. They seriously taste like drinking a candy bar. My mouth is literally watering as I write about this delicious treat.
If you’re ever in Santa Fe (or anywhere nearby) you MUST stop by this place. They even let you sample the various flavors before you buy. And the chocolate comes in the most adorable little cups.
After drinking our yummy chocolate, we took a walk downtown. Santa Fe is such a beautiful town. There is so much history to take in – including the oldest church and oldest house in the US. Most of the buildings are adobe, giving the town a very traditional, old world vibe. There’s also a lot of art galleries, neat shops, restaurants and the NM State Capitol, all within walking distance from one another.
From here we went back to our AirBnB near Old Town Albuquerque. This was the first time I’ve booked an AirBnB, so I used a referral link to get $40 off. (You can do the same by signing up through this link www.airbnb.com/c/julieg16349)
We opted to stay in a cute little studio apartment/casita near downtown Albuquerque. This allowed us to save money, and have the whole place to ourselves. The best part by far was getting to watch Princess Diaries, eat popcorn and laugh until we cried. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip. This was a great, relaxing ending to a very busy day.
Old Town Albuquerque
The next day we went to breakfast at the Farmacy, a tiny little coffee shop nearby. They had a great, unique breakfast menu, but I didn’t think to take a picture of my meal, because lets face it, I was HUNGRY.
After breakfast we went to Old Town Albuquerque and walked around the various shops. There were a lot of souvenir type shops, which we weren’t particularly interested in. But we both adored the Old Barrel Tea Shop. This was just the type of store we were hoping to find, and we both enjoyed tasting the different tea flavors and browsing through the wide array of teacups, teapots and, of course, tea!
Petroglyph National Monument
We then spent the afternoon at the Petroglyph National Monument, just north of Albuquerque. This was a really interesting stop. There were tons of volcanic rocks with carvings on them that are hundreds of years old. The layout of the monument allows you to see the carvings up close and explore the landscape, so we were able to get in a fun little hike while we viewed the monument. If you enjoy history, geology or the great outdoors, this is a really cool place to visit.
After this stop we hopped in the car and headed back to El Paso.
Although our trip was short, it was full of so many neat stops and I know we’ll be talking about this roadtrip for a long time to come!
I hope this gives you some ideas for your next trip through New Mexico – it was such a great state to visit!
A lot of these photos were taken on our phones – but for my Nikon I mainly use these lenses: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F/1.8G Lens (portrait) Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Digital Zoom Lens (AF-S Motor) (for Nikon) (wide angle)