Touring The Southwest Part 1 : New Mexico

Today I want to share more with you about our trip to the Southwest that we took in May. I wrote a little bit about it here so be sure to check that post out first. 

Dave and I were gone for a total of 8 days. We spent 5 days in New Mexico, 1 1 /2 days in Arizona and 1 1/2 days in Utah. And I can tell you, it wasn't long enough! We love love love that area and feel like we barely scratched the surface. We spent the most time in New Mexico because our missionary friends from Thailand were there and we got to spend time with them in Albuquerque and taking them around the state as well. We had a really good time. 

I will share as much info as I can but if you have questions please ask me! I think the SW is a very affordable place to travel. For 8 days, including lodging, gas, food, etc. we spent $1084.27 which is $135.53 a day or $67.77 a person per day. I think that could have been cheaper had we found a camping spot in Utah but they were all taken and we were forced to stay at a Motel 6, which oddly enough, is expensive in Moab. 

In Albuquerque we stayed one night in Uptown and the rest of the nights at this AirBnb. The AirBnb is up in the mountains and you take dirt roads to get there but if you are looking to get out of the city this is your place. If you want in the city we recommend staying by Uptown as there are lots of fun things around that area. Do check locations when picking lodging in ABQ as crime is a bit higher there. 

I plan to share ideas of places for you to go. New Mexico will for sure be my longest post because we have visited there the most. Each numbered item is a link so you can get more details and directions on that specific place. Holler at me with questions. 

New Mexico


I have been to NM so many times but had yet to go to Old Town. Old Town has shops, museums, churches, food and lots of local architecture. It was fun to walk around and see the sights in that area. 

Aren't these tea cups the cutest ever?! I found these in Old Town but just took a picture and didn't buy them.
2. ABQ Botanic Gardens
I must be 90 years old at heart because we always go to the gardens when we visit a city. The gardens in Albqueruque did not disappoint. They had everything from peonies to cacti and so much more.
3. Sandia Peak Tramway
This is a must if you are visiting Albuqueruqe for the first time. We didn't ride the tramway this time as we had lots of other times. I already wrote an entire blog post about that which you can check out right here.

4. Albuquerque Rose Garden
The ABQ Rose Garden was a place I literally, ran into, while I was running near Uptwon ABQ. It was amazing and is definitely worth the visit!

5. El Pinto Restaurant
If you go to New Mexico and don't eat Hatch Chiles you might as well have not visited at all. The best place to experience culture, food and the most amazing sopapillas that you fill with honey is at El Pinto. And oh my word my mouth is watering right now!

6. The Balloon Fiesta
I can't recommend the balloon fiesta enough. It requires planning though and you MUST get up super super early or you will miss it by waiting in traffic. Do your research before heading there but do head there. It's worth it. You can read my post on that right here.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is the Capitol of New Mexico and is full of charm, sights and tourism. It's about a 45 minute drive from ABQ or if you don't mind walking a bit you can take the Road Runner Rail to Santa Fe. Here are a few things we did while there:

1. Visit The State Capitol
Not only is it is a beautiful building that you can tour but it really is neat to see where history is made. Our missionary friends were so fun to take because where they are from (The Philippines) you aren't allowed to tour places like this. They even let Reu sit in the Lieutenant Governors chair and he thought it was incredibly neat, which it is! I just take it for granted because we are used to this. It was neat to be reminded that we really do live in an awesome county where we can be a part of our government.

If you visit Old Town you will basically see a massive area of Santa Fe. We love visiting that area. 

The Oldest Home in the US. It's Adobe with a teal door. Super cute and fun to see.
There are three big chapels you should check out there but my favorite is Loretto Chapel because it has an amazing staircase that they still don't know how it was built. You can visit San Miguel mission too. It's supposedly the oldest church in the US. I personally just really loved all the flowers by the churches. =)

5. Frito Pies! 
You better believe it! You can go to the Five & Dime store in Santa Fe and eat a Chili Frito Pie supposedly invented in Santa Fe. We took our friends from the Philippines there because it's just classic American and fun. We also ate at little food stations around the Plaza. It was much cheaper than a sit down restaurant.

6. Photos! 
Santa Fe is so incredibly beautiful! I love walking around and taking photos and I highly recommend that. We also drove to this lookout and really enjoyed the pretty views. 

White Sands

We drove from Albuquerque to White Sands, which I believe is a 3+ hour drive. There were some fun stops along the way so the drive wasn't as long and boring as I had thought it would be. Here are a few of the stops:

Valley of Fire is on the way from ABQ to White Sands. It's literally a huge valley filled with lava flow. It's beautiful and fascinating. You can also see White Sands way in the distance from these fields. 

This is right off of the highway. Seriously, you can't miss the world's largest pistachio. ha! All jokes aside, this pistachio farm is really fun. I had no idea pistachios grew on trees like they did. There is a large store here where you can sample all kinds of flavored pistachios and they have a Blue Bell Icecream bar inside, which is super nice in the New Mexico heat. 

We love White Sands! I've mentioned this before but if you plan to visit a few National Parks go ahead and buy the yearly pass. They are $80 and pay for themselves very quickly. Our NP fees for this trip was well over $80.

White Sands is literally like the name. Big white sand dunes! There is also a military bomb testing sight here where planes practice dropping bombs so some days the park is closed. Be sure to check the White Sands NP page for details. 

You can hike the dunes, run down them, sled and just look at them. They are fascinating. Now, hot New Mexico sun reflecting down on white sands will dehydrate you before you know what has happened. If you plan to go, go early! Drink 2-3 times the amount of water you normally drink and be smart. I don't really recommend visiting this place in summer. We went in May and it was too hot to hike. People have died from the heat here so I'm not just exaggerating on this one. All the scares aside, we love the White Sands! It's definitely worth a visit. 

That sums up New Mexico (for now). =) If you have any questions about any of these places let me know. I also plan to share about Utah and Arizona but they won't be as long as this post.

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