No trip to Albuquerque is complete without a drive on a piece of storied Route 66. It's the Mother Road; America's Main Street; the Road to Opportunity; the one of the song. In the 1930's this was the only continuous, paved route from Chicago to LA - reaching across 8 states. Started in 1926, much its length was completed by unemployed workers during Roosevelt's depression-era CCC and WPA programs. In the desperate years of the Dust Bowl, thousands of migrants fled poverty and hopelessness in Oklahoma and Texas via this road for the dream of better lives in California. During WWII, it was a critical artery for the transport of troops, workers and equipment between military bases and munitions plants.
But its real heyday was in the prosperous time after the war: the automobile was affordable for most American families, new highways made travel quicker and easier, and the tourist industry exploded with gas stations, motels, restaurants and wayside attractions to capitalize on the millions who'd begun to explore the country in earnest. Roadside architecture of this era was unique - designed to grab the attention of and entice travelers with brilliant neon, colorful paint, quaint appearances or fantastic, oversized icons.
Time marched on and, gradually, new superhighways were built that bypassed old 66 and large parts - abandoned by sightseers and the trucking industry - fell into disrepair. By 1985, US 66 was officially decommissioned although the road still exists and you might see the famous black-and-white signs posted along sections of this legendary way in most of the states it once served so well.
One of these sections ran through southeastern portions of Albuquerque known Highland and Nob Hill. The road is now called East Central Avenue and here you'll find some ghosts of bygone days. See the 2nd attached website for maps, locations of the more notable historic landmarks and shopping/dining options in this area. There's much more to the route, though - see the first of the two websites for other interesting sights within the Albuquerque area.
The University of New Mexico campus features several outstanding museums including the wonderful Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. Established in 1932, it was actually the first public museum in Albuquerque. Its displays chronicle four million years of human history and 11,500 years of human settlement in the Southwest. The museum gift shop sells traditional and contemporary Southwestern Native American pottery, rugs, jewelry, basketry and beadwork. There is also a selection of folk art from around the world for sale.
OPEN: Tue.-Fri. 9-4; Sat. 10-4
The Nob Hill section of East Central Avenue (see previous tip) has fun shops, restaurants and bars for browsing, noshing and tipping. Antique lovers will find treasures in the Highland/Upper Nob Hill section of E. Central - east of Nob Hill.
Nob Hill is roughly a 7 block stretch from Carlisle to Grand (look for addresses from 3500 - 2900) and Highland/Upper Nob Hill is a 17 block section from San Mateo to Carlisle ( addresses from 5200-3600). The attached website has a list of retailers, eateries (look for addresses from 3500 - 2900) parking information and maps.
The park of University of New Mexico is a nice walk... a spot with trees, ponds and lawns in the desert.
There are several collateral activities to do... a lot of museums, theatres and cinemas can be enjoyed.
Get your kicks on Route 66.
There are 66 miles of road which is why they named the highway Route 66.