Cheapest Destinations Blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Cheap Travel USA – Albuquerque

It’s been an ugly year for tourism in some international destinations, with European travel down by a third in many countries because of the economy and spots like Honduras, Argentina, and Mexico suffering from political woes or H1N1 scares. Many domestic U.S. destinations are doing fine and dandy though as Americans stay closer to home this year and are taking advantage of great deals.

I met with a slew of U.S. tourism bureau people last week from different areas and am going to highlight some of the best bargains here over the next few months for those readers not ready to hop on a flight to Bangkok. I’m starting with a city I visited in April and found to be one of the best values around: Albuquerque, NM. It’s a Southwest Airlines market, which always helps the flight prices stay low. It’s a college town, which is always a good thing when it comes to cheap eats and happy hours. Plus this is one city that doesn’t shy away from being called a good value: they have a section on their official tourism website with Albuquerque activities for $10 and under.

Here are some of the especially great deals in Albuquerque if you go there on a vacation.

Cheap public transportation
The public buses are $1 adults and free for kids under 10. A trolley services the route between Downtown and Old Town during the summer months from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They hit most of the places you want to go or you can splurge for a $10 guided tour. Taxis are inexpensive for going out at night. The cool new development is that the New Mexico Rail Runner Express train now runs on weekends. For $6 you can ride a nice train from downtown Albuquerque to downtown Santa Fe. Yes a real city-to-city passenger  train, in an area that is not anywhere near the east coast!

Value-priced museums
Only one museum is more than $7 for adults (the newly rebuilt National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, which is $8). For $12 adults/$5 kids you can get a combo ticket at the Biological Park that covers the zoo, the aquarium, the botanical gardens, and a train ride! One of my favorites, the Rattlesnake Museum in Old Town, is $3.

Lots of freebies
Follow this link for free stuff in Albuquerque, including the Petroglyph parks (you just pay a couple bucks for parking at one of them), free museum days, outdoor festivals, Tingley Beach lake park, and more.

Inexpensive hotels
This city is on the old Route 66 route, so there are plenty of inexpensive motels going for under $50 double. Just don’t try staying at the one pictured below, even if it is “the purest route 66 mhotel surviving.” If you want to step up without spending much more, go book a room at Hotwire. When I pulled up rates for this weekend there was a 4-star hotel in Old Town going for $67 a night and several 3-stars going for $63. Places with fewer amenities were under $40.

For more info:

Albuquerque on the cheap site

Affordable Albuquerque

Related post: Native American food in Albuquerque

Sharing is caring!

Sean Bradford

Monday 8th of May 2017

I've always wanted to visit Albuquerque mostly because I just love the name haha. But in all seriousness I've been wanting to plan a trip and it is great to find out it's an affordable destination. Is it a walkable city or would I need to rent a car to get around?

Travel Lady

Monday 15th of February 2010

Thanks for the tip Gary. Albuquerque has a lot to offer at a reasonable price.


Friday 18th of September 2009

I used to do consulting work in ABQ, and became very fond of the town, along with NM cuisine.

One tip: the LESS you spend on platos típicos (green and red chili creations, etc.), the BETTER the quality.

Splurge for a nice-sized rental car, and visit the pueblos, cruise up to Angel Fire, and visit Las Vegas (NM, that is) for outstanding NM cuisine. All in a day. Or two.

Regarding accommodations, there is a plethora of hotels around the airport that can be had on the cheap via Priceline. And still, you're only 10-15 min. from downtown.

Once again, another great post, Tim. Thanks!