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Daily Destination: Albuquerque, N.M.

Compass

Before a certain television show about a former teacher turned drug dealer, Albuquerque was known mostly for its hot-air balloon festival, its mountain-desert scenery and the difficulty many people found in spelling its name.

These days, though, the city is hotter than the chili peppers all of New Mexico is known for, thanks partly to “Breaking Bad.”

The cable-TV series, which just opened its fifth and last season to the highest number of viewers yet (5.9 million), has some of TV’s most loyal fans. Some of them make pilgrimages to the city to tour filming locations, buy blue crystal bath salts or indulge in doughnuts topped with blue sprinkles in cheerful homage to the deadly-dark subject of the show, crystal meth.

But there’s a lot more to Albuquerque than drugs, desperation and criminal machinations. Like nearby Santa Fe, the city is full of art galleries and restaurants serving fresh New Mexican cuisine. With 310 sunny days a year, Albuquerque is also a prime golf destination.

Not far away are the rocky deserts that appear often in the TV show (which is filmed on location in and around Albuquerque). But the verdant mountains that form the city’s backdrop and are home to a handful of ski resorts are also close. Visitors seeking relief from summer heat in the valley often ride a tram to the top of 10,378-foot Sandia Peak on the east side of town.

Albuquerque also pays homage to its former inhabitants: the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center displays artifacts from Native American history, and the Museum of Art and History can teach you about the area’s Spanish colonial settlers.

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