Visitors seeking regional specialties will find many local artists and galleries of interest in Albuquerque, although not as many as in Santa Fe and Taos. The galleries and regional fashion designers around the plaza in Old Town comprise a kind of a shopping center for travelers, with more than 40 merchants represented. The Sandia Pueblo runs its own crafts market at the reservation, off I-25 at Tramway Road, just beyond Albuquerque's northern city limits.

Albuquerque has three of the largest shopping malls in New Mexico, two within 2 blocks of each other on Louisiana Boulevard just north of I-40 -- Coronado Center and Winrock Center. The other is the Cottonwood Mall on the west mesa, at 10,000 Coors Blvd. NW (tel. 505/899-SHOP [7467]). But the city's best mall is the new ABQ Uptown at Louisiana Boulevard NE and Indian School Road NE (tel. 505/883-7676;, an outdoor mall with such anchors as Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Sharper Image, Chicos, and Ann Taylor.

Business hours vary, but shops are generally open Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm; many have extended hours; some have reduced hours; and a few, especially in shopping malls or during the high tourist season, are open on Sunday.

In Albuquerque the sales tax is 6.875%.

Best Buys

The best buys in Albuquerque are Southwestern regional items, including arts and crafts of all kinds -- traditional Native American and Hispanic as well as contemporary works. In local Native American art, look for silver and turquoise jewelry, pottery, weavings, baskets, sand paintings, and Hopi kachina dolls. Hispanic folk art -- hand-crafted furniture, tinwork and retablos, and religious paintings -- is worth seeking out. The best contemporary art is in paintings, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, and fiber art, including weaving.

Other items of potential interest are Southwestern fashions, gourmet foods, and unique local Native American and Hispanic creations.

By far, the most galleries are in Old Town; others are spread around the city, with smaller groupings in the university district and the northeast heights. Consult the brochure published by the Albuquerque Gallery Association, A Select Guide to Albuquerque Galleries, or Wingspread Communications's annual The Collector's Guide to Albuquerque, widely distributed at shops. Once a month, usually from 5 to 9pm on the third Friday, the Albuquerque Art Business Association (tel. 505/244-0362 for information) sponsors an ArtsCrawl to dozens of galleries and studios. It's a great way to meet the artists.

You'll find some interesting shops in the Nob Hill area, which is just west of the University of New Mexico and has an Art Deco feel.

A Taste of the Grape

In addition to everything else New Mexico has to offer, wineries seem to be springing up all over the state. Call to find out about their wine-tasting hours. Wineries in Albuquerque or within a short driving distance of the city include Anderson Valley Vineyards, 4920 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107 (tel. 505/344-7266;; Sandia Shadows Vineyard and Winery, 11704 Coronado NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122 (tel. 505/856-1006;; and Gruet Winery, 8400 Pan-American Hwy. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113 (tel. 505/821-0055;

All That Glitters Is on Gold

For years, downtown Albuquerque has been reinventing itself and nowhere is the luster more brilliant than on Gold Avenue. A funky boutique street, it's the home of many unique shops and restaurants, well worth a morning or afternoon perusal. Look for "fine, fun, and funky" functional art at Patrician Design, 216 Gold Ave., SW (tel. 505/242-7646). Down the street, step into Ooh! Aah! Jewelry, 311 Gold Ave. SW (tel. 505/242-7101), to find a wide selection of contemporary jewelry and handbags. If you work up an appetite, head to Gold Street Caffè, or for a creamy snack try Cold Stone Creamery, 101 Gold Ave. SW (tel. 505/843-9456), for a serious selection of ice cream flavors made in-house.

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.