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New Mexico Bowl: The Wildcats' Guide to Albuquerque

Going to Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl? Let's talk about where to go, where to eat, and where to stay.

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You're thinking about making the trek to Albuquerque for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl to watch the Arizona Wildcats take on the New Mexico Lobos? Great! Let's take a look at what all the things you can do and see while you're in Duke City.

What's Albuquerque? Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. It has a little over 900,000 people in the metropolitan area, which means it's slightly smaller than Tucson. The town, though, has a very Tucson vibe. Like Tucson, there are large mountains just outside of town that give residents excellent views. There are also lots of parts of Albuquerque that have immediately recognizable counterparts in Tucson - for example, Nob Hill has a Fourth Avenue feel to it and ABQ Uptown is a diet version of La Encantada. One key difference is that Albuquerque has multiple freeways that make it easy to get around town, which is something Tucsonans have never, ever experienced before.

How should I get there? From Tucson? You don't have very many good options. Flying from Tucson to Albuquerque is difficult and usually requires changing planes. You could drive to Phoenix and then fly from there to Albuquerque, but at that point, it's probably easier just to drive. Tucson to Albuquerque is about six and a half hours by car. A boring six and a half hours, to be sure, but that's not terribly far.

What's the weather going to be like? It's been cold in Tucson lately, but it'll be even colder in Albuquerque. The high temperature on December 19 is projected to be 49 degrees and frankly, that seems optimistic. It'll probably be 45 degrees or so at kickoff, so you may want to consider leaving the flip flops at home if you go to this game.

Where should I stay? You basically have two discrete options - you can stay in the downtown area (which is a couple miles west of campus) or in the ABQ Uptown (a few miles north). ABQ Uptown is a little farther away, but I'd stay there - there's a nice outdoor mall, plenty of restaurants within walking distance, and more hotel choices. In any case, your options close to campus are limited, so you're better off staying a few miles away and just driving to the stadium that morning.

Where should I eat and hang out? Nob Hill. Nob Hill (UNM's Fourth Avenue, really) is just east of campus on Central Avenue and is packed full of great bars and restaurants. A few great choices are Matanza (a gastropub with a ridiculous craft beer selection, which includes root beer on tap), Zacatecas (a Blanco-esque Mexican restaurant), and B2B Bistronomy (a sit-down burger place with loads of options). If you're looking for a place to just hang out after the game, you'll find something you'll like at Nob Hill.

Did I see a hot air balloon in the distance? Yes. Hot air balloons are big business in Albuquerque. Albuquerque hosts the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a once a year event with hundreds of hot air balloons all flying at the same time. The weather conditions in Albuquerque are good for hot air balloons year round, though, so you might see a couple floating in the sky if you look north on Saturday morning.

What's the pre-game situation? The New Mexico Bowl is hosting a FanFest which starts at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. If you want to hang out with Arizona fans, though, ZiaCats (the alumni group in Albuquerque) and Rio Grande Cats (the alumni group in Las Cruces, El Paso, and Juarez) are co-hosting a tailgate before the game. So if you're feeling a little out-numbered by UNM fans, you can always retreat to the safety of the alumni tailgate.

When I'm not watching football, what is there to do? Well, where there are hot air balloons, there are opportunities to pay people to ride in hot air balloons. There's also the Sandia Peak Tram, which will take you very high up into the Sandia Mountains east of town (weather permitting). If you grow tired of Albuquerque, you could also take a quick trip up to Santa Fe, which is less than an hour north.

Anything else important to know? No, this covered literally everything you could ever ask about Albuquerque.