Albuquerque, New Mexico features plenty of natural beauty and romantic spots right in the heart of the city, but sometimes you might want a change of scenery. Fortunately, there are an abundance of other great weekend destinations just a short drive away. Whether you prefer a rustic mountain cabin or a trendy loft situated close to fine dining and culture, there are many Albuquerque vacation rentals to choose from. After spending an afternoon in the city, check out nearby destinations to visit during the remainder of your romantic weekend trip.

1. Chama

chama new mexico
Source: Flickr/Jerry and Pat Donaho

Stunning mountain vistas and a quirky local character are some of Chama’s best-known qualities. This charming little town is located just south of the Colorado border but still has a distinctively New Mexican feel. During the summer months, you can take an unforgettable ride on the historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, or enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and fishing during the day before relaxing over a quiet dinner at one of the many locally owned restaurants. Winter months tend to come with plenty of snow, which is perfect for cuddling up for a quiet weekend indoors or enjoying a peaceful day of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing together.

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2. Abiquiu

winter in abiquiu new mexico
Source: Flickr/David Schroeder

Dramatic red cliffs and diverse desert landscapes characterize this small town, which is located about two hours north of Albuquerque. It may be best known as the home of Georgia O’Keeffe, and many of her works were inspired by this area’s natural beauty. Her home and studio are open for tours, and you can even get a guide to let you explore the hills as she saw them and identify some of her favorite locations. Start from Ghost Ranch, a nearby retreat, for a more guided tour, or head out on your own on Forest Service and other public trails. Abiquiu Lake is a popular spot with swim beaches, boat launches, and other water recreation options.

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3. Cloudcroft

mexican canyon trestle
Source: Flickr/Allen Sheffield

Northern New Mexico isn’t the only spot with stunning natural beauty. Located in the southeastern portion of the state, Cloudcroft, as well as the nearby community of Timberon, may be one of the state’s most underrated vacation destinations. Since Cloudcroft’s elevation is over 9,000 feet, you can expect plenty of snow and chilly weather if you stay over Valentine’s Day or other winter weekends, so there’s plenty of great skiing and snowshoeing. It’s a particularly popular destination during the summer, as days often stay in the 70s or 80s. Cloudcroft has an old-fashioned business district that is perfect for strolling along while holding hands and taking in some local artwork before stopping in at one of the quirky local cafes for a bite to eat.

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4. Santa Fe

new mexico museum of art santa fe
Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

Living in Albuquerque makes it easy to see Santa Fe as just another city, but New Mexico’s capital city is also a historic treasure that’s perfect for a quick but romantic getaway. Many vacation rentals are old adobes, quirky artists’ retreats, or other unique homes that make it easy to cuddle up and create a romantic mood. The food can’t be beat, especially if you have a taste for New Mexican dishes. Head over to the Plaza to spend your days shopping, enjoying world-class art galleries, or simply taking in the atmosphere. There’s plenty of hiking, mountain biking, and skiing nearby if you prefer a more active vacation, or you can enjoy a spa day at one of the numerous options in town, including Ten Thousand Waves, Absolute Nirvana, or the Spa at Loretto.

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5. Silver City

gila lower box canyon new mexico
Source: Flickr/Bureau of Land Management

The Gila Wilderness is one of New Mexico’s greatest natural wonders, and Silver City is the gateway to that beautiful scenery. The town itself is a historic mining community, with old-fashioned brick buildings and an Old West feel. Rugged peaks surround the town, and the mild climate means you can often hike or bike year-round. There are several great day trips that work well for a quick weekend getaway, such as the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Despite its small size, this town is also home to a strong arts and music scene. Several regional art councils are based here, and local musicians often play at the numerous locally owned restaurants. Check out the Buckhorn Saloon, Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery, or Diane’s Parlor to catch an act.

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6. Taos

old adobe house taos nm
Source: Flickr/stevenpetty

Whether you want to hit the ski or snowboard slopes before retreating back to your cozy vacation rental or enjoy the quirky artist colony vibe, Taos has something for everyone. There are quite a few quick day trip options, which is excellent for an impromptu romantic getaway. Taos Pueblo is open to visitors most days of the year, and Taos Plaza and the San Francisco de Asis Church let you feel like you’re stepping back in time. Another famous local landmark is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which offers stunning views of the river flowing 650 feet below.

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7. Ruidoso

lincoln national forest street sign
Source: Flickr/tamasrepus

Ruidoso is often associated with Ruidoso Downs, the popular horse racing track, but there’s a lot more to this cool mountain town. It’s nestled among the tall pines and stunning hills of Lincoln National Forest, so there are countless miles of hiking, biking, and snowshoeing trails to explore. It is also just a short drive from Ski Apache, one of New Mexico’s top ski resorts. The entire town is fairly spread out and mountainous, so it’s common to see deer and other wildlife wandering through the yard of your vacation rental. Most of the town maintains a quaint, rustic feel, with plenty of log-style buildings and open spaces.

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