Albuquerque, New Mexico
Julie Kenneth is from Alexandria, VA, and works for CACI in Arlington, VA. She traveled to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October 2012 with her mother, Laura Jones, a Fairfax County technology specialist.
I went here to: See the balloon fiesta with my mom. It was a thank-you gift for all the planning she did for my wedding last year.
The best way to travel here is: By plane.
I stayed at: The Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown. The hotel was very clean and quiet. They even had fun cookies out each afternoon.
When it comes to packing, be sure to bring: Warm clothes and sunglasses. It is in the 40s in the morning and 70s in the afternoon. If you are going to the balloon fiesta you will want to bring a hat and gloves too.
The best thing I ate was: Sadie's breakfast burrito. They have a few restaurants but we ate from the stand at the balloon fiesta. There’s nothing like a hot egg, potato and bacon burrito to warm you up at 5 a.m.
When I travel here, I always eat at: This was our first time in Albuquerque. We will definitely eat again at the Quesadilla Grille in old town. They are known for quesadillas and have many different options.
I wish I hadn't: Eaten at Church Street Cafe. The wait the day before we went to eat here was long and led us to believe the food was amazing. A few people had recommended this place as well. Not sure if we ordered the wrong food, but we will never go back there. The server was friendly and the patio out back was nice – those were the only 2 things that place had going for it.
Don't miss: The Sandia Peak Tramway. There is a restaurant at the bottom of the tramway and one at the top. We went up there to see the sunset. Once the sun sets, you get an amazing view of downtown Albuquerque and its city lights. Be aware that the elevation at the top of the peak is 10,000 feet above sea level.
Next time I will definitely: Eat at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. They have dances going on throughout the day and a beautiful museum on the different pueblos in New Mexico. The restaurant looked nice and we wish we had experienced the Native American food served there.
My favorite part of the trip was: Being on the launch field and watching the balloons inflate all around us. The special shaped balloons were our favorite. They had everything from Darth Vader to an elephant to Simba from The Lion King. All of those beautiful balloons with the blue-sky backdrop made this trip extra special.
My advice would be: To wear warm clothes and to take a shuttle to the balloon fiesta. Get to the fiesta early so you can explore before the crowds get there. Take note that nothing starts on time so be prepared to wait around for a while.