First Plaza Galeria is one of Albuquerque's best kept secrets. Discovering this upscale shopping center, while strolling through the underground parking facilities of the Downtown area, can be somewhat of a surprise. Located beneath the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau offices, you can get in some shopping in the fancy art galleries or fine clothiers, dine in one of the restaurants, or plan your next vacation at the travel agency. The atmosphere is bright and elegant, and the shopkeepers' association strives to maintain a reputation of quality service and merchandise.
Housed in the first public school building in Albuquerque (1881) this co-op gallery in Old Town is an outlet for some exceptional local talent. Joy Easton creates watercolors of almost touchable terrain. Mary Madsen uses oil and watercolor to take Southwestern scenery a step beyond the usual. It is well worth a visit to Yucca Art Gallery, just to view the colorful stoneware of Pat Stolgren or the oil miniatures of New Mexico's ancient churches by George Hight.
There is a great deal more for sale than sweet-smelling potions in Perfumes of the Desert. There are books, for example, hundreds of them, and each one having to do with the history, geography and/or people of the Southwest. There is also a wide selection of silver and turquoise jewelry, as well as nativity sets, figurines, Native pottery, leather goods, and stained glass. Out of film? This store carries a wide variety of sizes and speeds.
Whether you are looking for a gift for someone special, or looking for a piece of jewelry to accentuate your own wardrobe, Mark Diamond's Jewelers has a fantastic selection of fine jewelry. The inventory of watches alone is impressive. You can choose from chronograph, analogue, mechanical and quartz. Gold, platinum and silver rings, bracelets and earrings sparkle in the showcases. If you are in search of a gift for any occasion check out the sterling silver selection.
Locals in the know get their massages at the NM School of Natural Therapeutics. The treatments are with students and therefore inexpensive, although they also therefore vary in standard depending on the individual and their level of training. The facility is not as luxurious as a spa but is attractive and pleasant. One hour treatments are $28 with a student or $40 with a recent graduate collect the cute hand-shaped stamps on their punch cards and your seventh massage is a free hot stone. You can also browse through or solicit advice at the Natural Remedy Store, which stocks herbal, homeopathic and flower remedies.
The influence on New Mexico arts, crafts and architecture by Mexican artisans is evident at Potteryland. You will find an amazing assortment of home decorating items that have been imported from Mexico. Check out the Chimineas. These patio fireplaces, made from pottery in different shapes and sizes, are a wonderful addition to a backyard gathering. You can spend hours here strolling through the handmade garden tables and benches that sit alongside bird baths, flower pots, sun faces, fountains and statues. You will not find better prices unless you go to Mexico.
Located on Central Avenue just east of the University of New Mexico, Nob Hill Business Association was established on Route 66 in the 1950s. In the 1980s, members of the neighborhoods combined forces to refurbish and reclaim this once run-down area. It is now popular among shoppers with its upscale and trendy stores and restaurants. Here you can dine at Scalo, then admire and purchase some fine jewelry.