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13 Reasons Albuquerque is the Greatest City in the World

New York, London, Paris. They’ve got nothing on my hometown. Though Albuquerque may not be the biggest, most hopping, or richest of cities, there are many reasons why I would argue that it is the best place in the world.

1. Just look at those mountains.

The Sandias are hands-down the most beautiful mountain range I have ever seen. Mt. Rainier may be iconic, the California hills may be abundant land-waves, and Everest may be the tallest peak, but the Sandias are unsurpassable. They never look the same from one minute to the next, going from blue to purple to pink to gray to covered with clouds and back to crystal-clear blue. And all that is the constant backdrop to the city, visible everywhere you go, a shape unforgettable to anyone familiar with the city.

2. It’s the best of both worlds.

Albuquerque is a big city, but also a small town. It’s got all (most) of the resources of any other big city—a nightlife, rapidly growing malls, museums, a tourist trap (Old Town, anyone?), even an IMAX, now. But at the same time, the people don’t have to deal with traffic like L.A., or with constantly being surrounded by a cacophonous hubbub like New York. Go anywhere else in the country, meet another person from Albuquerque, and you will find that you have no more than one degree of separation from this random stranger. Seriously. It’s pretty cool.

3. It’s one of the least polluted cities in the country.

Another perk of not yet making it as big as the “big cities” is that Albuquerque can maintain its clean air nearly as well as the rest of the state does. Albuquerque is ranked ninth in the nation for cleanest air for year-round particle pollution. So breathe deeply here and enjoy.

4. All that sunshine.

Albuquerque boasts an average of 310 days of sun per year. That’s so much that the other rare 55 days seem like a rare treat of experiencing true poor weather like the east coast complains of all the time. Move over, California sunshine! Albuquerque is where the true sun-induced happiness lies.

5. Natural disasters are almost non-existent.

Wind damage in downtown ABQ. Via KRQE

Okay, if you disregard the forest fires that flare up in the rest of the state and sometimes threaten to burn Albuquerque down, you would be hard-pressed to think of a true disaster of Mother Nature that has terrorized the city. Earthquakes are for California, tornados are for the mid-west, hurricanes are for the suckers by the ocean, tsunamis aren’t even a question. Aside from the raging dirt devils (and that crazy wind we get in the spring...) we’ve got it pretty good here.

6. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

As a result of the above listed fantastic weather conditions we generally experience here in Albuquerque, the city has become home to the largest hot air balloon fiesta in the world, and one of the top must-attend festivals in the world. I can’t explain how awesome it is to wake up to a sky filled with giant balloons in all different colors and shapes. It’s just one of those things that you have to see with your own eyes, even if it is only once. Pictures never even do this event justice.

7. Everything is less expensive.

Sure, New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the country, so that probably has something to do with this. But it’s still a major perk to have lower taxes, lower gas prices, lower food prices, and a lower cost of living than the majority of the rest of the country. Going anywhere else just hurts because it costs so much. I cried every time I had to fill my tank in California.

8. It’s a city of getting fit.

via Bike Works ABQ

Albuquerque has ranked in the top ten on a number of lists of fittest cities in the country, most notably as No. 3 last year in Men’s Fitness Magazine’s list of the top 25 fittest cities. This is likely because Albuquerque’s got so much to offer to an active person, or a person wishing to become more active. There are 22,493 acres of parks, miles and miles and miles of trails leading up the mountains and around the Bosque, and due to the high altitude and relatively mild weather of the city, Albuquerque is home to many runners in training. Not to mention, the city is home to the top MMA gym, owned and run by Greg Jackson.

9. It’s centrally located…

…on many levels. We’ve got one ski/snowboard resort just in our backyard, and the rest accessible within one to five hours by car, depending on where you want to go. Denver is less than six hours north, Phoenix is about six hours west, Los Angeles and San Diego are each about 12 hours west, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio are all within 9 to 10 hours east, and Mexico is a mere 3 hours south. Aiding our travel anywhere we want to go is the fact that I-25 and I-40, two of the country’s major cross-country interstates, intersect right here in Albuquerque.

10. The movie industry is booming. Not to mention—Breaking Bad, anyone?

All the production companies are coming to realize what we’ve known all along: that the land here is more beautiful and unique than you can find anywhere else. Not to mention cheaper to film. More and more movies and TV shows are coming to film around Albuquerque, which means more and more awareness of us, the underrated, neglected child of the States. Plus, it’s pretty cool to sight celebrities in ABQ Uptown. (As for Breaking Bad, it was filmed here…need I say more?)

11. The University is reputable and highly affordable.

The University of New Mexico has an unbeatable in-state tuition of about $6,000 per year (while out-of-state attendees pay closer to $20,000), and top-ranked schools of medicine, engineering, and law. You just can’t beat that.

12. New Mexico has one of the most distinctive cultures out of all the states in America.

Step aside, everyone else. The Lone Star State’s got nothing on our version of Mexican cuisine. Arizona can’t compare with our embracement of Hispanic and Native American cultures. Where else can you find this fine mix of desert vistas, turquoise jewelry, Navajo tapestries, adobe architecture, Native American pottery and symbols, Spanish, Spanglish, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, Mexican food with a New Mexican chile twist? USA Today and 10Best even acknowledged our dominance as a unique American entity, calling New Mexico’s green chile the best iconic food in America. (I’d say best iconic food in the world, but I can settle for that.)

13. Of course, the chile. New Mexico has the best chile in the entire world.

No one could ever possibly persuade me otherwise. What USA Today and 10Best finally recognized, we’ve known here all along. Once you’ve had New Mexican chile (red or green, whatever your preference is; I personally go with “Christmas”) introduced to your diet, you get actual withdrawals when it is taken out. Take it from someone who grew up here and left for a few years—there is no comfort food like New Mexican. Which really sucks when you aren’t in New Mexico, because you literally can’t find anything like it anywhere else, in the U.S., and most certainly the rest of the world.