Like any large city, Albuquerque has crime, but several of the reviews here are too old. Over the past decade the city has worked hard at making Central Avenue from Nob Hill through Downtown much safer. Adding in the tremendous economic growth and increased prosperity of the city over that time, these areas are more vibrant than ever. Yes, East of Nob Hill Central remains less desirable and yes 2 am downtown isn't for walking alone, but the worst days seem behind us.
When driving down Central Avenue (Route 66) at night on the weekends don't turn north and south into the area of town between Wyoming and Eubank. These streets are named after various Generals ie. General Chenault, etc. This area of town is rampant with gang violence and crime on the weekends which is why it's called the War Zone.
I used to live on Texas west of Wyoming and south of Central. I moved out after the War Zone started bleeding over into my neighborhood by Kirtland AFB.
This is only one area of Albuquerque so don't let it scare you off from a truly magnificent city and area.
There is an increased incident of purse snatching, and unfortunately, the Albuquerque Police Department is understaffed. Some women have been injured as they either fought to keep their purse or the car in which the thief was riding in continues as they grab the purse dragging their victim with them. The criminals are both men and women. There is not one area in the city more prone to this than another, it is a danger throughtout the city. I was a victim in a Wal-Mart parking lot on Academy, in the far NE heights. A car loaded with thugs came up from behind and the one in the back jumped out, dumped my cart, grabbed my purse and took off hooting and cheering. It took the police over five phone calls and three hours to respond (low priority). This is not an isolated incident, I know there were snatchings at adjacent strip malls that same week (verified by substation). One Wal-Mart on Eubank N.E. had over 18 such incidents one day in March. The brazen criminals went back into the store and wrote a stolen check while one of the victims was outside giving her statement to the police! I was told by the police id's are quickly sent down to Mexico where persons wanting to enter this country use them. Pay attention to your surroundings and keep your id, money, credit cards and cell phone on your person! If you must carry a purse, use a concealed fanny pack, or only put in it what you don't mind losing.
Tourist: So are cactus needles really that sharp?
Local: Yes. Don't touch them.
Tourist: [touches a cactus] YEEOUCH!!
For some reason, people unfamiliar with the desert always feel the need to touch the plants. It's always the first thing they do after you tell them not to. Well, don't touch means DON'T TOUCH! Desert plants are not nice. You can't just brush past them and expect your jeans to protect you; they will come right through your toughest clothes and sometimes even the soles of your shoes. Most of the potted plants you'll see in office buildings, hotel lobbies, etc, are native desert plants with their needles removed to avoid lawsuits. But if you're going to be doing anything outdoorsy, make sure you give the plants a wide berth, and try to wear shoes with Vibram soles (most good hiking boots have these). You're probably going to get a cut or poke anyway, and some of the plants have poison in their needles (nothing serious, just a little sting), so make sure you have a first aid kit--band-aids, antiseptic, etc.
Some of the mean plants are nice to look at from a distance, though. The long-spined prickly pear cactus has gorgeous yellow flowers.
If your are asked if you want Red or Green Chili go with both. You never know which will be hotter and they both have a great flavor. If the Chili is to hot your mouth will nume after a few bites and you will only crave more. I warned you!! You can get hooked on Chili!!
The Downtown Abq. area is increasingly becoming more secure. The Downtown Action Team employs a dozen or so Downtown Ambassadors that roam the Downtown district helping lost tourists, recommending restaurants, and providing safety escorts at night (or day). Downtown is definitely safe during the day. Common sense suggests that Albuquerque is not unlike any other big city; don't venture down dark alleys, don't be flashing your cash around, etc...At night, I would recommend coming in groups (better chance of surviving the rough Albuquerque streets! hahaha!)
Walking off alone into dark alleys are not a good idea when explroing the city. I was looking for a restaurant at night and a drunk older man approached me. I sat and talked with him for a while until he tried to bring Jesus into my life and then I had to go. Other times I was constantly being asked if I was Kathy or Sandra, or whoever else. It just seems like there are more men in that city than women.
Be very careful after dark if you're going to be on Central or anywhere south of Central. Some areas have gang activity, are easy to get lost in, and carry a high risk of car-jacking. Make sure that if you are downtown that you stay in well-lit areas, and don't wander off alone.
Women should NOT be walking around ALONE anywhere in Albuquerque! Especially downtown, even during the day as I walked for breakfast. I was stalked on two seperate occasions and harrassed by men constantly - I guess my track pants and baggy sweater was too provactive for them?
Even the cab drivers hit on me (6 out of 9 of them) even though they were all very friendly and non-threatening, it makes me think Albuquerque is composed largely of single, lonely men. I never left my hotel room past 6 p.m.
Avoid downtown Albuquerque (Central Ave area). Even during the daylight I was freaked out by the sights, the sounds and the smells not to mention there wasn't another woman in sight. Several cab drivers told me that this area is high in criminal activity and a place for prostitution even though they are in the process of cleaning up the area.
So if you must go to this area, women must NOT travel here alone. The enormous orange ant population on the sidewalks in late August was frightening too!
We stopped at the Museum of Archeology and Material Culture. It was a small museum near Sandia Crest and it was closed that afternoon. There was a nice looking cholla in front of the museum. We had seen many of them as we drove in New Mexico. I asked Becky to stand by the cholla for a photo. Becky stood just a little too close and got half a dozen cholla spines in her hip. Warning! Watch out for the jumping cholla if you don't want to get spines in your hip.