Who would have thought? The Mexico adventure of the Miller family in We’re the Millers was not actually filmed in Mexico, but in the Southern US state of New Mexico. So were scenes from The Lone Ranger (2013), The Homesman (2014), Jane Got a Gun (2015), A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014), Gambit (2012), The Last Stand (2013), Due Date (2010), and almost the entire series of Breaking Bad (2008–2016).
Thus, New Mexico is the perfect destination for film fans. And there is, in fact, a lot more to discover than just the filming locations…
Road view in Albuquerque
1. Get your Mexican food fix in Santa Fe
Some people may say it’s actually American-Mexican fusion and not the real thing… but that will soon be forgotten if you go for lunch (or dinner) in Santa Fe. We stopped by there on the Southern Adventure Tour I did last year with touring company Contiki.
On the lookout for a good place to eat lunch, we discovered Tia Sophia’s (210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501) more or less by chance. Okay, the waiter might try to impress you (especially the girls) with some slightly weird “dad jokes”, but don’t let that bother you. He doesn’t mean any harm, I’m sure.
Mexican food in Santa Fe
The food, however, is absolutely delicious, yet totally affordably priced. I would even go as far as to say that the veggie filled tacos and bread with cinnamon I had there were the best Mexican-American fusion food I ever had!
2. Get your history fix at New Mexico’s fabulous museums
A lot of the fascinating landscape in New Mexico still looks like in the days of the wild, wild west. No wonder the Hollywood film studios like to shoot their Westerns in New Mexico! But if it gets too hot outside, just head back to Santa Fe get your history fix in one of the cool air-conditioned museums.
White Sands Monument, New Mexico. Source: Wikipedia
In the New Mexico History Museum, you can learn everything about New Mexico's and America’s turbulent past and imagine what the tough frontier life of the characters from recent cinema adaptations such as The Homesman or Jane Got a Gun was actually like. In addition, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture will give you a good overview about how the native Americans tribes have lived and still live in this region.
Scene from the Homesman. © EuropaCorp Distribution
3. Get your Breaking Bad fix in Albuquerque
Here is one for the hardcore TV junkies of Breaking Bad! Nearly the entire series was filmed in Albuquerque so you can see many original film locations scattered all over the city. To trace these, you can either do it yourself or book a guided tour such as the Trolley Tour (65 USD per person, departure from the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town).
Hardcore fans also shouldn’t miss The Candy Lady shop in Old Town. Here you can get your fix with your own special piece of the iconic “blue ice candy” – all totally sweet and innocent of course.
Jesse's house from "Breaking Bad"
When I was in Albuquerque with the Contiki tour, I shared a cab with four of my travel buddies and the driver then showed us all around the famous seen-on-screen sites. And trust me, you will need a driver here as Albuquerque, like most North American cities, is very widely spread and by no means walkable! An alternative to the traditional cabs might be Uber – a car sharing / cab style service increasingly popular in the US.
"Breaking Bad" filming location in Albuquerque
Be careful with the house of main Breaking Bad character Walter though. The cab driver had already warned us that the owner of the house is not particularly happy about tons of tourists making a pilgrimage to her home. So when we arrived there, she was sitting in front of her house and had an eagle eye on us. Just bear that in mind and take photos from a safe distance.
Walter's house from "Breaking Bad"
Have you ever been to the US state of New Mexico yourself? What were your favourite spots (both in terms of film locations and non-film-location-wise)? I'm all ears for your comments!
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com