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Best Albuquerque Shopping

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If you have a serious shoe fetish or a craving for famous labels, the Albuquerque shopping scene is not for you. But if you have a taste for offbeat treasures, strange souvenirs and good wine, then this casual city will seem like a jackpot. If you want to make a day of shopping in Albuquerque, head first to Nob Hill. In just a few short blocks, you can furnish your apartment, pick out a mask for your Mexican wrestler alter ego, nab a vintage frock and buy a rubber chicken. In short, it's the city center for quirky boutiques. If you really like digging, don't miss the weekend flea market—even if you don't find anything good, you'll surely eat well. Glamour girls and boys can get their fix in one area, though: jewelry. The famous Southwestern combination of turquoise and silver is everywhere, in both traditional styles and cool modern re-interpretations. Look for both at some of the shops recommended here, as well as the arts and crafts store at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Prices are quite reasonable, because you're buying close to the source—and in the case of the vendors on the plaza in Old Town, you're really buying direct.

A, the Albuquerque Store

Neighborhood: University & Nob Hill

This cool housewares store is typical of Nob Hill's consumer thrills. The stock is a quirky mix of high and low, from grand hand-carved dining-room tables to beeswax candles in every color of the rainbow. It's a great place to pick up gifts that have a touch of the Southwest without veering into cheesy howling-coyote territory. Mexican flower-print tablecloth fabric is available by the yard, and there's also a great selection of jewelry by local designers. Don't miss the sale room upstairs.

Albuquerque Flea Market

Neighborhood: Albuquerque Metro Area

Albuquerque's trash might be your treasure at the city flea market, held at the fairgrounds every Saturday and Sunday from 7AM to 6PM—though many stalls aren't set up till about 9AM (enter at Gate 9 on Louisiana Boulevard, just north of Central Avenue). For the most part, it's somewhat commercial vendors, specializing in socks or beef jerky, but in the northwest corner are the folks selling off their personal junk. On "jewelry row," you can pick through silver and turquoise (some of it in loose nuggets), and you can also find some fine cowboy boots here. Shopping can easily veer into snacking, as there are many vendors doling out things like Mexican-style watermelon juice and Navajo fry bread. If these don't sate you, then head kitty-corner across the street to Talin Market, an international food emporium with a mini food court that's great for Asian food. It's on the southeast corner of Louisiana and Central.

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Albuquerque Flea Market  

Gruet Winery

Neighborhood: Albuquerque Metro Area

In 1987 a brother and sister moved to Albuquerque from France, intent on reviving the wine industry here. (Vines planted by the Spanish in the 17th century had been wiped out by floods and disease in the 1920s.) Luckily for wine lovers, the Gruet siblings hailed from the Champagne region, and they applied their knack for bubbly to local grapes, to produce exceptionally good (and good-value) sparkling wine. You can taste all the varieties in the winery's tasting room (perhaps after a tour—at 2PM every day but Sunday), then stock up on a case in the shop. And that's easy to do, as bottles are less than $15, even the delightfully crisp and complex nonvintage rosé.

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Gruet Winery  

Old Town Plaza

Neighborhood: Old Town

Old Town is a warren of little shops selling Southwestern jewelry and crafts, but some of the best work is right out in the open on the plaza. Every day under the portal on the east side of the plaza, Pueblo artisans set up their wares on blankets. Most of it is jewelry, from the familiar turquoise-and-silver combinations to less-common coral and shell work, such as heishi, a specialty of San Felipe Pueblo, in which thin disks of shell are strung together to form a subtly colored rope. But you can also find small craft items, such as baskets, bowls or tiny carved animal fetishes—it all depends on which artisans win the day's lottery to sell. It's a great opportunity to buy directly from the person who crafted the piece by hand. Mild bargaining is acceptable.

Skip Maisel

Neighborhood: Downtown

This giant emporium of all things American Indian has survived since Downtown was Albuquerque's commercial center, back in the 1930s. Before plunging into the stock inside, stop to appreciate the murals above the display windows in the entryway. The murals are the work of some of the best local painters of the time, including Awa Tsireh, whose work is shown in the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Inside, friendly staff will help you pick out those deerskin moccasins you've always wanted, or perhaps a handmade drum or even a feather-trimmed war bonnet.

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