Visit Albuquerque In 2018 For A Glimpse Of A City On The Come Up

“Where are the cool people and places in Albuquerque?” I ask my fifth Uber driver since arriving in the city. Settling into the black SUV, desperately thankful for the air conditioning and reprieve from the sun, I wait for the intel I need.

“Cool places?” the driver asks. “Yeah… we don’t have those.”

Again? God. Damn. It. And, I am oh-for-five.

With full confidence, I can say that the City of Albuquerque needs to host some sort of summit with their Uber drivers, because they do not upsell the city. There’s not even any Breaking Bad chat, though there is plenty of griping about neverending mass transit projects.

“A lot of people call the orange construction barrel our state monument,” says driver Randy with more resignation than humor.

* * *

When I decided to go to Albuquerque, part of the draw was the swagger-filled attitude with which my hosts repeated that ABQ is poised to be the next Austin or Portland. I live in Portland. I love Portland. Could Albuquerque give me the cool kid magic that Portland had before the present rental boom began pricing out young families and creative weirdos?

Well, no. Not exactly.

My trip to Albuquerque was built around the SOMOS ABQ festival, an event organized entirely by the city’s young professionals. The goal was to boost the local economy and increase connection for the larger community.