Albuquerque, New Mexico, locations via bike tour

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The temperature hovered near 100 degrees as we biked past seedy motels, drug dens, dive bars and abandoned warehouses.

It’s the most fun I’ve had on a two-wheeler in years.

Our group of eight – including guide Brad Frye – was on the Biking Bad tour through downtown Albuquerque to see a dozen sites where the iconic television series “Breaking Bad” was filmed.

The show, which aired on AMC from 2008-13 and can still be seen on Netflix, won 16 Emmys and is listed in the Guinness World Records 2014 edition as the highest-rated TV series of all time based on its ranking of 99/100 on 

“Breaking Bad” told the story of Albuquerque high-school chemistry teacher Walter White – played by four-time lead dramatic actor Emmy winner Bryan Cranston – who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. To secure his family’s financial future before he died, White partnered with a former student – Jesse Pinkman (three-time supporting actor winner Aaron Paul) – to build a crystal-methamphetamine empire.

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Java Joe's in downtown Albuquerque was used as the filming site for Tuco's hangout during the production of “Breaking Bad.”

True, the tour – which, according to the websitel lasts three hours and covers seven miles –tour took us past some of the less-attractive parts of Albuquerque’s downtown. Frye, who has been leading Biking Bad tours for six years for Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals and binge-watched the show three times, described the tour as an up-close look at the city’s “gritty Western charm.”

But we also pedaled past beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods with homes dating back more than a century and saw the progress of an ongoing downtown multimillion-dollar revitalization project. It’s led to the opening of upscale bars, theaters and art galleries along Albuquerque’s Central Avenue corridor – the historic Route 66.

‘Breaking Bad’ put spotlight on Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Biking Bad tour stops at the Albuquerque house where the parents of “Breaking Bad” character Jesse Pinkman lived. Built in 1909, the home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Albuquerque’s sunny climate, wide-open desert spaces with expansive views of the Sandia Mountains just east of the city, cultural diversity and generous tax incentives  have made it a popular filming location for movies and TV shows. No production has elevated the city’s visibility more than “Breaking Bad.”

“We definitely saw an uptick in tourism as a result of that show,” said Brenna Moore, communications manager for Visit Albuquerque, the city’s tourism board. “It raised the awareness of the city, particularly in international markets.”

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