When exploring a new city, I always recommend hopping on a bus or trolley tour. Not only is this a great opportunity to get the lay of the land, but to discover more parts of the city. One that’s sure to have you feeling like a local is the Best of ABQ City Tour when you visit Albuquerque.
As a first timer in the “ABQ,” I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond delicious food and hot air balloons. While that’s definitely part of the appeal, it’s only the beginning. If you love fun facts and pop culture, read on to find out a few tidbits I learned while on the Best of ABQ City Tour last year.
Albuquerque has the Only Locally Owned Starbucks in the USA
If stopping into a Starbucks is a “must” for you while traveling, New Mexico may have the most unique location. Located on Twelfth Street is the sole freestanding Starbucks owned by a Native American company in the United States.
With over 4000-square-feet of space, the coffee shop offers authentic souvenirs and coffee mugs along with your latte and Fraps.
New Mexico was Originally Known as the “Sunshine State”
When you hear “Home of the Sunshine State,” I bet you think of Florida. New Mexico was the original Sunshine State, but in the 1950s, Florida came along and legally made that their state’s slogan. New Mexico returned strong with the “Land of Enchantment,” and they made sure to copyright the nickname this time.
They’re the Only State to Have a Question as the State Motto
“Red or green?” is New Mexico’s state motto, and it also serves as an important question. Red or green indicates which kind of chile sauce you want on your decadent New Mexican foods.
While you can pick a side, those in the know prefer to say, “Christmas,” and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Albuquerque is Home to the Third Largest Film Crew “Ready to Go”
Think all movies are made in Hollywood? Not necessarily. Albuquerque is the third largest city in the United States that’s ready to go with film crews. Top industry names like Netflix have studios in town and film quite often.
Action movie buff? Several films, including the Avengers and Transformers, filmed at the old train station. For Breaking Bad junkies, you’ll know the AMC favorite filmed in town. The trolley takes you by many iconic film locations like Jesse’s house and the Candy Lady…. yes, home of the series’ “meth” factory. You can even buy your own at her real-life candy shop. Don’t worry, it’s only sugar, so TSA won’t detain you.
For Classic TV Fans
“Who here is an I Love Lucy fan?” Eric, our outgoing trolley guide asked. I eagerly raised my hand. It seems that Ethel Mertz herself, Vivian Vance, got her start at the Albuquerque Little Theatre. The local venue even held a fundraiser for Vance to head to Hollywood to be in pictures.
When the theatre is open, take a look inside their lobby to spot Vance’s Emmy Award and other memorabilia paying tribute to the comedic icon.
This answered so many questions as fellow Lucy fans will recall the famous episode that takes the Ricardos and Mertzs to Albuquerque. They visit Ethel’s family and she gives an unforgettable performance of show tunes at the town theatre.
Smokey the Bear is from Albuquerque
The forest fire prevention icon was born over 75 years ago in nowhere else but the Captain Mountains of New Mexico. It was 1944 when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council created a fictional bear to go along with the “only YOU can prevent forest fires” slogan.
Then in 1950, a scared bear cub was recused from a New Mexican forest fire, and thus, Smokey the Bear became a real life legend. Who knew?
Microsoft was Founded in Albuquerque
In 1975, a young Bill Gates decided to ditch Harvard and head west. Gates and Honeywell programmer, Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in Albuquerque. After four years, they moved to Washington as recruiting like-minded techs in the ABQ proved difficult.
While the mogul may beg to differ it’s his most iconic photograph, that infamous mug shot of Gates took place in none other than Albuquerque.
Learn More about the ABQ
While city tours may be on hiatus for 2020, there’s still plenty of ways you can visit Albuquerque. Take a virtual tour, or purchase a gift certificate to enjoy the trolley at a later date. Several BOGO deals on their website make it the perfect time to plan for the future.
(Many thanks to Tour ABQ for hosting me on this wonderful experience.)