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Arriving

Albuquerque is the transportation hub for New Mexico, so getting in and out of town is easy.

By Plane -- The Albuquerque International Sunport (tel. 505/842-4366; www.cabq.gov/airport) is in the south-central part of the city, between I-25 on the west and Kirtland Air Force Base on the east, just south of Gibson Boulevard. Sleek and efficient, the airport is served by most national airlines and two local ones.

Most hotels have courtesy vans to meet their guests and take them to their respective destinations. In addition, Airport Shuttle of Albuquerque (tel. 505/765-1234; www.airportshuttleabq.com) runs services to and from city hotels. ABQ Ride (tel. 505/243-7433; www.cabq.gov/transit/index.html), Albuquerque's public bus system, also makes airport stops. There is efficient taxi service to and from the airport, and there are numerous car-rental agencies.

By Train -- Amtrak's "Southwest Chief" arrives and departs daily to and from Los Angeles and Chicago. The station is at the Alvarado Transportation Center, 300 Second St. SW (at the corner of Lead and Second; tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245] or 505/842-9650; www.amtrak.com).

By Bus -- Greyhound/Trailways (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) and TNM&O (tel. 505/243-4435; www.tnmo.com) arrive and depart from the Alvarado Transportation Center, 300 Second St. SW (at the corner of Lead and Second).

By Car -- If you're driving, you'll probably arrive via either the east-west I-40 or the north-south I-25. Exits are well marked.

Visitor Information

The main office of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau is at 20 First Plaza NW (tel. 800/284-2282 or 505/842-9918; www.itsatrip.org). It's open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm. There are information centers at the airport, on the lower level at the bottom of the escalator, open daily 9:30am to 8pm; and in Old Town at 303 Romero St. NW (Ste. 107), open daily 10am to 5pm. Tape-recorded information about current local events is available from the bureau after 5pm weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Call tel. 800/284-2282.

City Layout

The city's sprawl takes awhile to get used to. A visitor's first impression is of a grid of arteries lined with shopping malls and fast-food eateries, with residences tucked behind on side streets.

If you look at a map of Albuquerque, you'll notice that it lies at the crossroads of I-25 north-south and I-40 east-west. Focus your attention on the southwest quadrant: Here, you'll find both downtown Albuquerque and Old Town, site of many tourist attractions. Lomas Boulevard and Central Avenue, the old Rte. 66 (US 66), flank downtown on the north and south. They come together 2 miles west of downtown near Old Town Plaza, the historical and spiritual heart of the city. Lomas and Central continue east across I-25, staying about half a mile apart as they pass by the University of New Mexico and the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. The airport is directly south of the UNM campus, about 3 miles via Yale Boulevard. Kirtland Air Force Base -- site of Sandia National Laboratories -- is an equal distance south of the fairgrounds, on Louisiana Boulevard.

Roughly paralleling I-40 to the north is Menaul Boulevard, the focus of midtown and uptown shopping, as well as the hotel districts. As Albuquerque expands northward, the Journal Center business park area, about 4 1/2 miles north of the freeway interchange, is expanding. Near there is home to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and the new Balloon Museum. East of Eubank Boulevard lie the Sandia Foothills, where the alluvial plain slants a bit more steeply toward the mountains.

When looking for an address, it is helpful to know that Central Avenue divides the city into north and south, and the railroad tracks -- which run just east of First Street downtown -- comprise the dividing line between east and west. Street names are followed by a directional: NE, NW, SE, or SW.

Maps -- The most comprehensive Albuquerque street map is distributed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, 20 First Plaza NW (tel. 800/284-2282 or 505/842-9918).

Getting Around

Albuquerque is easy to get around, thanks to its wide thoroughfares and grid layout, combined with its efficient transportation systems.

By Public Transportation -- ABQ Ride (tel. 505/243-7433) cloaks the arterials with its city bus network. Call for information on routes and fares.

By Taxi -- Yellow Cab (tel. 505/247-8888) serves the city and surrounding area 24 hours a day.

By Car -- The Yellow Pages list more than 30 car-rental agencies in Albuquerque. Among them are the following well-known national firms: Alamo, 3400 University Blvd. SE (tel. 505/842-4057; www.alamo.com); Avis, at the airport (tel. 505/842-4080; www.avis.com); Budget, at the airport (tel. 505/247-3443; www.budget.com); Dollar, at the airport (tel. 505/842-4224; www.dollar.com); Hertz, at the airport (tel. 505/842-4235; www.hertz.com); Rent-A-Wreck, 2039 Yale Blvd SE (tel. 505/232-7552; www.rentawreck.com/nm.htm); and Thrifty, 2039 Yale Blvd. SE (tel. 505/842-8733; www.thrifty.com). Those not located at the airport itself are close by and can provide rapid airport pickup and delivery service.

Parking is generally not difficult in Albuquerque. Meters operate weekdays 8am to 6pm and are not monitored at other times. Only the large downtown hotels charge for parking. Traffic is a problem only at certain hours. Avoid I-25 and I-40 at the center of town around 8am and 5pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.