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Rebecka May 30th, 2010 09:23 PM

Albuquerque Balloon Festival accommodations?
Hi Fodorites,

My friend and I plan on attending the Balloon Festival Oct. 6-Oct. 12, 2010, and we are looking for either a hotel or a B&B, but there seems to be few accommodations in the Old Town for those dates. Would you recommend staying near the airport, northeast of town or near the Balloon Festival. Are there any areas of town to avoid?

Is there public transportation to the Old Town? Is there public transportation to the Festival from the city? Would you recommend renting a car for our stay? We also plan on visiting the Carlsbad Caverns.

Thank you!

DebitNM May 31st, 2010 04:54 AM

Absolutely rent a car! Public transportation is available [bus] but it isn't the easiest or most convenient for visitors wanting to go to popular sites in and around ABQ.

Most of the busses are really for locals going to and from work etc. There is a rail line that runs from ABQ to Santa Fe and would work well. But to have the most flexibility, rent a car. I am sure you will want to go to Taos, maybe Bandelier, and some of our other wonderful sites, so get a car and enjoy.

I would suggest making use of the the Park and Rides to get to the park for early morning or evening events as it gets very crowded and the busses can get you in and out easily.

Don't stay near the airport, nothing there really and some areas are less desirable than others. Don't stay downtown either as most hotels there will charge for parking.

Uptown area is a good place to stay, lots of good quality places like Marriott, Hyatt Place, Sheraton. There are also quite a few nice restaurants near by in Uptown Shopping Center. There is an express park and ride stop in the mall next door, Coranado Mall [see link below]

Staying near the festival is more money and it can be hard to actually get to the park because you are so close, but not walkable, so you have to drive and get right into the thick of the traffic. Feel free to ask about any specific hotels you are thinking about, I'd be happy to help.

There are some B&B's, they are scattered around so again, feel free to ask about them.

There is also a nice Holiday Inn Express in Bernalillo, which is about 15 minutes north of festival. You can get it on hotwire for $75 as of this morning. You have to use Santa Ana Pueblo as the location and it should come up as a 2* hotel. I use this for overflow guests, it is 5 minutes from my house. There are several nice restaurants in area, a Rail Runner station nearby and it puts you just 45 minutes from Santa Fe.

Hope this helps.

Rebecka May 31st, 2010 11:28 AM


We are trying to find accommodations for not more than $150 or so per night.

We looked at a few B&B's near old town, but they are booked. Is old town really worth going to?

Also, since it is so crowded, is it better to stay outside of the city, and drive to one of those Park & Rides pickup places?

We are thinking of flying into Carlsbad, renting a car there, and after seeing the cave, then driving to Albuquerque.

Thank you very much for your detailed reply earlier!

ElendilPickle May 31st, 2010 09:12 PM

I'll second Deb's suggestion - use the Park and Ride system to get to the Balloon Fiesta. The busses have their own entrance to the park, and it's much easier than driving there yourself.

Uptown would be a good area to stay. There's a Marriott, a Hyatt Place, and a Sheraton in the area.

You don't need to stay outside Albuquerque. It's easy to get around.

Lee Ann

DebitNM Jun 1st, 2010 05:54 AM

Not sure where you are coming from, but I don't think you can fly into Carlsbad except using a small commuter plane that only comes from a few places in NM, so I am not sure why you would do that, it would be difficult and expensive.

Whether Old Town is worth going to is hard to say - what are you interested in seeing and doing? There are some good docent led tours arranged by Museum and the old buildings and the history of the square is interesting.

IF you are going to stay out of town, I suggest Bernalillo/Santa Ana Pueblo [as I mentioned above] You can take a Park and Ride from Rio Rancho, which would be a 15 minute ride to the lot.

The ABQ Ballon website [link above] has a list of hotels with set prices that THEY say are the lowest rates for those hotels, there were several that were in your price range.

If you are going to use Park and Ride from the city proper, stay in Uptown area and use Coranado Mall lot.

DebitNM Sep 30th, 2010 12:11 PM

You wouldn't be in some way connected to that hotel, would you since the poster is looking for a hotel in NEW MEXICO and not in FLORIDA!

DebitNM Sep 30th, 2010 03:25 PM

Please disregard my last post, as the offending post was removed, but not my snide reply.

Rebecka Oct 1st, 2010 05:41 AM

Didn't even see the offending post, DebitNM. Anyway, my friend and I will be staying at Best Western in the Old Town. We'll be flying out this coming Tuesday. Can't wait!

Thanks to all of you for your feedback! :-)

ChileAddict Oct 1st, 2010 10:53 AM

Hi, Rebecka: I have just come across your post, but I'm hopeful you know that Balloon Fiesta actually begins tomorrow the 2nd and will end the following Sunday morning! It is a wonderful event, but is completely dependent upon the weather. Current forecast is for a drastic change from the last 6 weeks of gorgeous, very warm weather to much cooler temperatures and the chance of rain every afternoon. The balloon field can get pretty chilly in the early morning. Make sure you are there before balloons inflate--Dawn Patrol is beautiful (like Christmas tree ornaments hanging in the dark sky). Must see events are a mass ascension (Sat, Sun, Wed), Special Shapes mass ascension (Thurs, Fri am)and a Balloon Glow (1st Sun night and following Sat night). There are usually more balloons here on the first weekend than the second, with the smallest mass ascension the last Sunday. My personally favorite event is the key grab, usually held Fri morning. After the special shapes mass ascension (more fun than a barrel of monkeys--crowd favorite include "The Bees" and Aire-A-Belle, the enormous Creamland cow), balloons launch from all over the city and try to navigate their way to the balloon field to grab a key to a new truck from one of the poles hoisted onto the field. It's quite a sight--balloons lined up for hundreds of yards, people hanging out of gondolas, etc. When the last of the special shapes has lifted off (clearance is given by "Zebras," the launch officials on the field visible in their black and white stripped shirts), the other balloons will be ready to come in, so find a good viewing position ASAP or you'll be back in the crowd and may have a hard time seeing. I wish you weren't staying in Old Town--it's pretty inconvenient for most things and the Best Western there isn't particularly distinguished in any way, but enjoy a quick tour through that area. Two good places to buy authentic indian jewelry (besides under the portal at La Hacienda in Old Town) are Gertrude Zachary's and The Palms Trading Post, both located about a mile east of Old Town on Lomas Blvd. Favorite food at the balloon park is the Indian Tacos made with fry bread. Yum. The question you'll hear most in Albuquerque is "Red or Green?" This refers to red or green chile. If you can't make up your mind, you can ask for Christmas, which is both. If you're afraid of the heat, you can always ask for the chile on the side. We New Mexicans eat chile on everything and you can even get your Wendy's burgers with green chile! There are lots and lots of things to do in the immediate vicinity--if you have any more ?'s, please write and I'll try to answer.

Rebecka Oct 1st, 2010 01:17 PM

Thanks so much for the information, ChileAddict. Yes, we do know the dates of the Fiesta but all we have is a week and we wanted to schedule our vacation so that we could save some $$$ on our balloon ride Oct. 11.

As for hotels, there weren't many affordable options for us and we will be renting a car. I'm a little confused about you comment about the Old Town being inconvenient as according to Fodor's own description of the area, many of the museums and cultural sites are found in this area and surrounding blocks.

After sharing the ominous weather report with my "glass is half full" travel companion, she reminded me that even if the weather disappoints there will still be plenty of fun things to do there and in Santa Fe. Great attitude! :-)

ElendilPickle Oct 1st, 2010 02:15 PM

Rebecka, you'll be fine where you are staying. Welcome to Albuquerque!

Lee Ann

Rebecka Oct 4th, 2010 10:05 AM

Thanks, ElendilPickle! My friend and I are also excited about this find in the city:

Have you ever visited this tearoom? It is rated among the top 5 in the country. I've been to two of the others. Anyway, the St. James looks gorgeous and so does their food!

DebitNM Oct 4th, 2010 10:10 AM

I went to St James for my birthday with my daughter 2 years ago. It was lovely and the tea and food was really nice.

ElendilPickle Oct 4th, 2010 03:55 PM

I haven't been to their new location (they used to be within walking distance of your hotel), but their food is delicious and they have an extensive selection of teas.

Lee Ann

DebitNM Oct 4th, 2010 06:49 PM

I did not know they had moved, I went to the old location. Thanks for the heads up, Lee Ann.

ElendilPickle Oct 5th, 2010 03:22 PM

You're welcome, Deb! Their new location is a bit off the beaten path, unless you're going to our mechanic. :-)

Lee Ann

rikki0212 Nov 5th, 2012 11:26 AM

This is all great info, my husband and I are currently looking for <a href="">hotels albuquerque</a> for our trip. We are very excited. Thanks to you all for great reviews.

tomfuller Nov 5th, 2012 12:27 PM

rikki, this post is over 2 years old. Post a new question if you are planning on heading to ABQ for the balloon festival.

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