Lonely Planet Writer

Breaking Bad tourism gives Albuquerque a boost

Just as art imitates life, sometimes life imitates art, as the townsfolk of Albuquerque, New Mexico are discovering. An Albuquerque tour company that has been offering Breaking Bad-themed tours since mid-2012 is starting to see the show’s spin-off series Better Call Saul beginning to make an impact on the New Mexico city.

Albuquerque has seen a rise in visitors thanks to the TV show
Albuquerque has seen a rise in visitors thanks to the TV show

“People are starting to come,” says ABQ Trolley Tour Company co-founder and tour guide Jesse Herron, “and we’re even starting to see people who only know Better Call Saul, and who have never seen Breaking Bad.” So much so that the company plans to resume the Better Call Saul tours it began last year when the new series kicks off.

Herron says the Breaking Bad phenomenon has waned since the show’s final episode first screened in 2013, but not by much. The show’s Netflix presence keeps interest in the tours alive. The three-and-a-half hour, 38-mile tour includes Walter White’s house and condo, Jesse Pinkman’s house and duplex, the car wash, Saul Goodman’s law office, the Crossroads Motel and Los Pollos Hermanos fried chicken outlet.

Los Pollos  is in fact an Albuquerque chain Twisters
Los Pollos is in fact an Albuquerque chain Twisters

It’s fair to say the groundbreaking series about Walter White, a high school math teacher-turned-crystal meth maker and dealer, gave Albuquerque a profile it hadn’t known since Bugs Bunny rued not having taken a left turn in the city. “It definitely helped put us on a national platform,” says Herron.  “On our tour, for example, we’re getting people from all over the world – Australia, Germany, France, Korea, China, the UK. When we ask them, ‘What brings you to Albuquerque?’, nine times out of 10 it’s the series. For a lot of them, it’s their first time in the United States, and they’ve come to Albuquerque. That never used to happen.”

Jesse Pinkman's house is a popular stop-off on the tour
Jesse Pinkman’s house is a popular stop-off on the tour

But Herron says there are many more reasons to visit the city, including Pueblo and Hispanic cultural centres, the Rio Grande, nearby mountains that include five dormant volcanoes, and the largest cottonwood forest in the world, located in the heart of the city.

Read more:  A do-it-yourself Breaking Bad tour of Albuquerque