Breaking Bad Tour
- This article is an itinerary.
The Breaking Bad Tour will take you past many of the most iconic filming locations for AMC's highly acclaimed television series, Breaking Bad. Set and produced almost exclusively in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the show follows the rise and fall of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer and turns to cooking meth.
The show, along with its spin-off series "Better Call Saul," make extensive use of Albuquerque's scenery, so much so that you're likely to happen across a familiar vista or location from the show just by passing through town. This tour focuses on the most prominent filming locations, which are scattered across the city. Expect to spend a full day to see all of them, or better yet work them into a longer trip to Albuquerque.
The obvious first step is to watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad. This tour guide will contain major spoilers in the descriptions of its stops, so be forewarned.
Because Albuquerque is located in the high desert, take the normal precautions for the climate: drink lots of water, don't exert yourself before getting used to the high altitude, and wear the appropriate clothing. In the summer, wear sunscreen and shades, and don't be surprised if a thunderstorm occurs in the afternoon. Winters are chilly, with temperatures frequently falling below freezing at night, so bring an extra sweater.
Other than that, the only other thing you really need is a car with a full tank of gas. You might want to take timing into consideration to avoid heavy traffic: though Albuquerque doesn't have traffic jams nearly as bad as many other Western cities, the weekday morning and afternoon rush hours still involve some congestion, with Saturdays being another high traffic time. The freeways and the river crossings are the most prone to congestion.
Get in and around
Detailed information on getting into and around Albuquerque is located on the respective city page. If you're flying into town, the Albuquerque International Sunport, the city's major airport, has itself been used as a filming location, with the entrance and the parking garage just across from the front doors used in a number of scenes.
For this tour, you will need a car, as the locations are simply spread too far out to make other options feasible, save for the handful of private tour operators who will drive you around (a far more expensive option, and generally reserved only for those who really want to leave the driving to someone else).
There are three clusters of filming locations: one in the Northeast Heights, one in the Nob Hill/University area, and one in the Downtown area, with plenty of other locations scattered throughout the city. Despite the sprawling nature of the city, the good news is that it's hard to get truly lost in Albuquerque, thanks to the looming presence of the Sandia Mountains: just remember that the mountains are east and you'll be able to work your way around. Street addresses contain a NE/NW/SE/SW suffix that denote where in the city they are located, with the quadrants split by the railroad tracks and Central Avenue, which run roughly parallel to the two interstate highways, I-25 (which runs north-south) and I-40 (east-west).
"Better Call Saul!"
We'll start our tour—where else? Where it all began: Walter White's house at 3828 Piermont Dr NE, home of Walter, Skyler, and Walt Jr. Note that this is a private residence; though the owner has been a good sport about gawking tourists, don't enter the premises or, God forbid, try to throw a pizza on the roof.
From here it's an quick ride to Saul Goodman's office in a strip mall at 9800 Montgomery Blvd NE, at the corner of Eubank and Montgomery. The place has changed hands a few times since the show aired, and obviously Saul's inflatable Statue of Liberty is no longer present, but the place remains and the storefront windows with Saul's name on them have even been saved by the current occupants.
Heading east up Montgomery Boulevard, you'll come across the Savoy Bar & Grill at 10601 Montgomery Boulevard NE, an upscale restaurant that served as the place where Walt and Gretchen Schwartz met for lunch in Season 2, a meal that concludes with him telling her to "fuck off." Nearby, a little ways north on Juan Tabo Boulevard just off Montgomery, is the John B. Robert Dam, a bizarre-looking set of concrete structures that serves to slow floodwaters, as well as the backdrop for two Season 5 scenes where Jesse and Walt wait for "the Disappearer" when they need to flee town.
Continue up Montgomery Boulevard, make a left on Glenwood Hills Drive, and then a right on Trailhead Road, and you'll get to Hank and Marie's house at 4901 Cumbre Del Sur Ct NE, at the end of a cul-de-sac in a lovely subdivision in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, with a nearby hiking trail into the mountains. Tread lightly... and try not to crush any toy cars with your vehicle as you proceed through the neighborhood.
At this point, backtrack down Montgomery and south on Eubank, then make a right on Menaul; you should immediately see the Octopus Car Wash, where Walt worked a humiliating second job in Season 1 and which Walt and Skyler later purchase as a front for their growing meth empire. This location also serves as an excuse to wash your car for all the driving you have left to do.
This is just as good a time as any to visit Walt's other workplace, which is relatively isolated from most of the other filming locations. Head northwest clear across town into the suburb of Rio Rancho, where you'll find the Rio Rancho High School, where Walt teaches chemistry. The fastest way to get there from the Northeast Heights is going to be to take the freeway: take I-40 to northbound I-25, exit west onto Paseo del Norte, then exit at Coors Boulevard and turn right, and you'll head north into Rio Rancho; make a left onto Northern Boulevard and another left onto Loma Colorado Drive to get to the high school. To make all this driving worth your while, you can also drop by a couple of locations that feature in the show's pilot: just up the road from the school is the Loma Colorado Public Library, which stood in for the credit union where Walt gives Jeese the money to buy an RV, while nearby is the Drug raid house at 3400 Lockerbie Drive, where Walt rides along with Hank on a drug raid and witnesses Jesse climbing out of a window.
On your way back to Albuquerque from Rio Rancho, you can see a couple of locations which relate to the character of Gus Fring. The first is where he died: the Casa Tranquila Nursing Home at 8820 Horizon Blvd NE, where Hector 'Tio' Salamanca lived and where he took his own life to kill Gus. To get there, backtrack out of Rio Rancho, exit onto Alameda Boulevard as you leave Rio Rancho, cross the Rio Grande and make a left onto Horizon Boulevard.
Continue south on I-25 and get off onto Candelaria Road (Exit 227), make a right and you'll see Delta Uniform & Linens at 1617 Candelaria Road NE, which stood in for Gus Fring's laundry business-slash-cover for his massive underground meth lab. Nearby is On the Spot Vacuum at 2714 4th St NW, the stand-in for the vacuum cleaner repair business where Walt and Saul hid in the penultimate episode while their new identities were set up.
Get onto Menaul Boulevard and head east, and make a quick detour to Beneke's office at 2241 Phoenix Ave NE, where Skyler works for portions of Seasons 2 and 3. Continue east on Menaul, make a right onto Washington Street, a left onto Sunningdale Avenue and another quick left onto Jefferson Street, and you'll see Gus Fring's house at 1213 Jefferson St NE. Just a little further south is Danny's Auto Service at 5018 Lomas Blvd NE, where Walt blows up the car of a Bluetooth-wearing jackass at the end of a Season 1 episode.
Continue south to Central Avenue and enter the Nob Hill area; here you'll find several notable locations from the show. The first is Loyola's Family Restaurant at 4500 Central Avenue SE, a favorite eating spot of Mike in Seasons 4 and 5. Loyola's also makes an appearance in "Better Call Saul" as the diner where Jimmy meets the Kettlemans. Just a couple of blocks west is the De Anza Motor Lodge, an abandoned motel that served as the location where Walt delivered the first large batch of meth to Gus' people. Head west on Central Avenue and make a left onto Morningside Drive, and you'll see Walt’s apartment at 3932 Silver Ave SE, which Walt occupies for much of Season 3. Continuing west on Central Avenue, you'll reach Gertrude Zachary Jewelry at 3300 Central Avenue SE, where Marie shoplifts the baby tiara that Skyler is nearly arrested over.
Continuing west along Central Avenue, you'll enter the University area. Across from the university campus at the corner of Central and Columbia is the former Denny's where Walt gets his free birthday breakfast and purchases a machine gun in Season 5. This particular Denny's location has closed down, but the exterior is still recognizable. Continuing down Central, turn left onto Yale Boulevard and you'll pass the University Heights Methodist Church at the corner of Yale and Silver, where Jesse's drug rehabilitation group meets. Continue south on Yale and make a right onto Lead Avenue, and you'll pass by Jesse & Jane's duplex at 323 Terrace St SE, a prominent Season 2 location. Make your way back onto Central Avenue and continue west into the Downtown area, which has the densest collection of filming locations from the show.
Continuing down Central Avenue, you'll pass by the Crossroads Motel at 1001 Central Avenue NE, which was the setting of Hank's talk with Walt Jr. about drugs as well as the spot Wendy the prostitute frequents in a memorable musical sequence from Season 3. Actually staying at the motel is not recommended, as it has a reputation befitting its role in the show, but it's worth a look. A little further down Central and on the opposite side of the social spectrum is the rather upscale Grove Cafe at 600 Central Avenue SE, allegedly Aaron Paul's favorite place to eat in town and the cafe Lydia frequents in Season 5, always putting that Stevia crap in her tea.
In the midst of the small collection of highrises that make up Albuquerque's downtown is Civic Plaza, the setting of a Season 5 scene where Jeese aborts an attempt to meet Walt while wearing a wire. However, unless there's a special event going on, don't expect the Plaza to be nearly so populated as it was in that scene!
While we're in Downtown, this is an excellent opportunity to see a few locations from the spin-off series "Better Call Saul". Mike's Tollbooth, where Mike works as a parking attendant after first arriving in Albuquerque, is at the end of 1st Street around the back of the Albuquerque Convention Center, a short walk or drive from Civic Plaza. The southern end of the attached Convention Center Parking Garage is where Mike meets up with an employer for a side job, beats up a guy and takes his guns. Another nearby filming location is the Sunshine Building, a historic brick building on Central Avenue that stood in for a Chicago alley where "Slippin' Jimmy" and Marco work their Rolex scam.
Continuing on, a block north of Central Avenue is a Parking garage on Copper Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, marked with a neon sign that reads "Very Special Arts Garage" at the corner of 5th and Copper; this was the setting of the climatic scene of Season 4, where Gus Fring's car was parked and where Walt calls up Skyler to tell her that he won. A couple of blocks south on 4th Street is the Simms Building at 400 Gold Ave SW, which served as the DEA office where Hank works.
Directly south of Downtown, the Albuquerque Rail Yards sit on 2nd Street alongside the railroad tracks (note that 2nd Street is a one-way street heading north, so you'll have to head down 3rd or 4th Street and turn around). The Rail Yards have been used for many scenes, including a Season 4 scene where Jesse saves Mike from a robbery and as the stand-in for a Philadelphia railyard in "Better Call Saul" where Mike kills two dirty cops, but fans might more readily recognize the green stained-glass windows of the massive old locomotive shop for their use in multiple promotional images for the show. In front of the Rail Yards is another highly recognizable location from the show: Combo's Corner, where 1st Street splits off from 2nd. This is the street corner where Combo gets shot by a young kid working for Gus' rival outfit, and where said rivals typically stake out in later scenes. It is also here where Walt runs over and kills two of Gus' men near the end of Season 3.
"This... is not meth."
We're not leaving the Downtown area just yet. Make your way back north to Central Avenue and continue west, and you'll come across a roundabout at 8th Street; continue onto Park Avenue, the street directly opposite as you approach the roundabout (Central Avenue heads off in a different direction). A block later, you'll come across one of the most memorable locations from Season 1: Tuco's hideout at 906 Park Avenue SW, which in reality is a coffee shop named Java Joe's. This is the place that Walt blows up in order to collect his money from Tuco in Season 1.
Less than a block away is another location from early in the series: Washington Middle School Park at the corner of Park Avenue and 10th Street. Remember the Season 2 scene where Badger and the undercover cop talk on the park bench, with the cop trying to convince Badger he's not a cop before busting him? That took place here.
Head a block north to Central Avenue and turn left; pretty soon you'll see another iconic filming location: the Dog House at 1216 Central Avenue SW, a drive-in hot dog stand with a neon dog sign that has been used in a few scenes from the show: it features in a montage of Jesse slinging meth, it's where he purchases his gun, and much later in the series it's where he gives a bunch of his money to a homeless man out of guilt. Get a hot dog while you're here; they're really good.
From here, it's a quick jaunt over to the lovely Country Club neighborhood, where you'll find Jesse Pinkman's house at 322 16th St SW. Keep your distance, as the current owners aren't all that accommodating to visitors; in fact, they've added an addition to the house since the show was filmed here, so it looks a little different. However, it's still worth a look and the neighborhood is too nice to skip. Right across the street is a notable location from "Better Call Saul," Chuck's house at 1607 San Cristobal Rd SW, which Jimmy's brother Chuck rarely leaves due to his condition.
Now we're heading to Albuquerque's South Valley, which has several widely scattered filming locations that are among some of the most iconic from the show. Most of the industrial locations and a lot of the stand-ins for Mexico locations were filmed here: this is where the scenes for Gus' chicken farm, Southwest Aniline (where Walt and Jesse steal a barrel of methylamine), the Mexican meth lab and the makeshift Mexican hospital, and the underground meth lab for the white supremacist gang from Season 5 were all filmed; unfortunately, all of these locations have either been dismantled since filming or are inaccessible to visitors. However, there are a few others that are still accessible:
Head south down 2nd Street, and the first location you'll come across is the Reynolds Auto Services at 120 Woodward Road SW, which served as the storage yard that Jesse breaks into to retrieve the RV in a Season 2 episode. Continue down 2nd Street, make a right onto Rio Bravo, cross the Rio Grande and make a left on Isleta Boulevard, and eventually you'll reach Los Pollos Hermanos at 4257 Isleta Blvd SW, the fictional fried chicken chain which is the front for Gus' drug empire. In reality, this place is a location of Twisters, a local burger/burrito chain. Feel free to pop in and find Walt's booth; the owners really enjoy the attention their restaurant gets from the fans.
Back track along Isleta and Rio Bravo Boulevards, crossing the Rio Grande again before turning right onto Broadway Boulevard/NM 47. After about a couple of miles, you'll come across Ace Metals at 5711 Broadway Blvd SE, a salvage yard that was used as one of the locations for "Joe's Salvage", where the RV is destroyed in Season 3. Right across Broadway is the Junkyard where the climax of Season 1 occurred, where Tuco beats one of his men senseless during a meeting with Walt and Jeese.
Continue down Broadway/NM 47 out of town, crossing over I-25, and you won't miss the extremely prominent Isleta Casino & Resort, a sprawling resort which served as the spa where Jesse recovered after the death of Jane and where Walt's family stays in a Season 5 episode when Jesse douses their house in gasoline. If you're looking to sleep overnight in a filming location from the show, this is gonna be your safest bet.
"Say my name."
Finally, if you have any daylight left, head north for the last leg of the tour, where you'll see perhaps the most emblematic locations from the show, the ones that made Breaking Bad unique among television shows: the stark desert scenery where much of the meth cooking and many of the show's most intense scenes occurred.
Take I-25 north back into Albuquerque and exit at Rio Bravo Boulevard, turn right and make another right onto University Boulevard. Keep driving and you'll ascend Mesa del Sol, a flat landscape at the edge of the city where many of the most famous moments from the show took place. At the end of University Boulevard, amidst some ongoing urban development, is Albuquerque Studios, which served as a headquarters for the film crew, who used the dirt roads atop the mesa for most of the show's desert shoots. This is where Walt and Jesse typically camped out with their RV. This is where Gus threatened to kill Walt's family. And this is where Walt told a drug dealer to say his name.
Bear in mind that many of the dirt roads out here are kept in poor condition, which will prove a challenge if you're in anything less than 4-wheel drive. Still, even if you can't get the full off-road experience, just seeing the same scenery is often enough to capture the sense that you're experiencing something straight out of the show; squint your eyes and you may just see the RV on the horizon, belching fumes out the top.
This concludes the Albuquerque portion of the tour. However, there's one important site left, although you'll want to save it for a time when you have plenty of daylight to work with (at least a few hours) and if your car can handle dirt roads. Head even further west to the To'hajiilee Indian Reservation (also commonly marked on maps as the "Canoncito Indian Reservation"), where you'll find the place where the madness began and where Walt's empire unraveled: the First cook site, where Walt and Jesse cook meth in the pilot (which ends up with Walt standing in his underwear on the road pointing a pistol down the road) and where Hank and Gomez were killed in the antepenultimate episode.
Finding it might prove a bit tricky, since there's certainly no signs to help you along the way; pay close attention to the map and make careful note of how to get there. Firstly, head west on I-40 about 25 miles out of town, get off at Exit 131 (which will be marked "To'hajiilee") and make a right. Continue north on this paved road for 9.3 miles, then turn left onto a dirt road whose entrance will be marked with a yellow cattle guard (this road is marked "Trail 7089" on the map, but there won't be any signage to help you out when you're driving). Continue up this dirt road until you reach the site; the exact location is at coordinates 35.1025, -107.1377 (35°06'09.0"N, 107°08'15.7"W). Honestly, finding it is going to be a lot easier if your car has a GPS device which you can enter the coordinates into, or at least if you have a companion with a smartphone keeping track of where you are while you drive.
Eat and Drink
One of the nice things about this tour are that many of the filming locations are dining establishments, which offers an easy excuse to grab something to eat whenever you get hungry. Whether it's a quick hot dog from the Dog House or a burrito from Twister's, an early breakfast from the Loyola's Family Restaurant, or something more upscale from the Savoy Bar and Grill or the Grove Cafe, all of these places listed in the tour above are good choices if you're looking for something more fulfilling than a bag of Funyuns before you drive out into the desert.
However, there are a few places not included in the tour above that still have a Breaking Bad connection, and these are listed below. Beyond this, a more comprehensive list of dining options is in the Albuquerque guide; and really, no trip to New Mexico is complete without sampling the local cuisine.
- Garduño's, 2100 Louisiana Blvd NE, ☎ +1 505 880-0055. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 10:30AM-9PM. If you're looking for a place to have dinner after driving back into town, why not squeeze in one more filming location? This was the restaurant where Hank and Marie confronted Walt and Skyler in Season 5 after they found out their secret. While this restaurant strains the definition of "authentic" local cuisine (this is more the sort of touristy place that locals take their friends from out-of-town to), it still remains a local standby with plenty of New Mexican dishes as well as some Mexican options on the menu.
- Slate Street Cafe, 515 Slate NW, ☎ +1 505 243-2210. Breakfast/Lunch M-F, 7:30AM–3PM, Brunch Sa, 8AM–2PM, Wine Loft W–Sa 4PM-10PM, Dinner Tu–Th 5PM-9PM, F Sa 5PM-10PM. A favorite choice for the cast and crew during the filming. American cuisine, with a nice wine list and a wine bar loft.
- Marble Brewery, 111 Marble St NW, ☎ +1 505 243-2739. M–Sa 1PM–midnight, Su 1PM–10:30PM. A fine local micro brewery that was allegedly a favorite hangout of Bryan Cranston's during filming. There's a limited food selection, but then it's a taproom.
- Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro, 3009 Central Ave NE, ☎ +1 505 254-9462. M-Th 11AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10PM, F 11AM-2:30PM and 5PM-11PM, Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 11AM-2:30PM. Situated in Nob Hill, this bar was allegedly show creator Vince Giligan's favorite place to grab a drink during filming. Besides the downstairs wine bar that Giligan frequented, the pleasant and well-appointed restaurant upstairs serves American cuisine with a touch of French, with excellent appetizers. Reservations are advised if you plan on eating here.
It may come as a surprise given the subject matter of the show, but Albuquerque has readily embraced the attention it gets from Breaking Bad and the local business community has proven quite savvy in their reaction to the show and its fans. Even the city's own tourism bureau has gotten in on the act, maintaining a webpage listing various local businesses selling show-inspired products and some private tour operators that can take you to some of the filming locations listed above.
Virtually any shop in Albuquerque that sells tourist wares carries some degree of Breaking Bad merchandise, but there are a few shops in town that offer a slightly more unique souvenir:
- The Candy Lady, 424 San Felipe NW (corner of Mountain & Rio Grande), ☎ +1 505 243-6239. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. In addition to the typical candy shop products of fudge, chocolates, caramels, and other sweets, this shop has a unique claim to fame: early in the series, it provided the blue-colored hard candy that served as the blue meth prop on set. Today you can buy a bag of a faithful recreation of "Blue Sky", which is now one of the shop's most popular products. The shop has capitalized on its Breaking Bad fame in other ways, selling merchandise related to the show (wanna buy a Heisenburg hat?) and running their own tour.
- Great Face & Body, 123 Broadway Blvd SE, ☎ +1 505 404-6670. Tu-F 10AM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM. A cosmetics shop that attained a certain fame with their "Bathing Bad" line of bath products; you can buy a bag of bath salts that look just like the blue meth from the show. They also do a line of "Los Pollos Hermanos" spices.
- Rebel Donut, 2435 Wyoming Blvd NE (secondary location at 9311 Coors Boulevard NW), ☎ +1 505 293-0553. M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa-Su 7AM-4PM. A popular local donut shop that sells, among their many other fun novelty treats, the Blue Sky donut—a donut with icing topped with blue "meth" crystals. Pick up a dozen of these addictive treats on your way around town.
Many of these tour stops are private residences and businesses where people actually live and work, so exercise common sense and don't enter these properties. The current tenants are used to a certain degree of gawking, but keep your distance, be respectful when taking pictures, and avoid trespassing. Much the same goes for the public businesses along the way; while they're happy for the attention they get from fans, show some courtesy towards employees and your fellow customers. Don't expect anyone to take kindly to you shouting "Yo, bitch!" in a public place or throwing a pizza on someone's roof—trust us, it's been done before.
For a place depicted as suffering from gang violence, a high murder rate, drug epidemics, and mid-air plane collisions, the only real dangers you're likely to encounter on this tour are getting a sunburn or running out of gas, and both of those are easily avoided with the minimal amount of preparation. Albuquerque does suffer from a higher than average crime rate for a city of its size, but it tends to be property crime of little worry to visitors. If you do get out of your car and walk around, take the typical precautions you would in any city: lock your car doors and keep valuables out of sight.
One thing to bear in mind is that, as a tourist, you will stand out, particularly in the more remote locations. New Mexicans tend to be friendly but reserved people, so be conscious of your conspicuousness. Usually this won't translate into any real danger, but you may suffer a few annoyed glares from people who have had to deal with inconsiderate tourists. As always, exercise common sense.
Albuquerque has a wealth of attractions beyond those related to Breaking Bad, with a lovely Old Town district where the city was founded over three hundred years ago, many excellent museums, and the Sandia Mountains to the east with a tramway that ascends to the peak. And if you're lucky enough to visit in early October, Albuquerque plays host to the world's largest hot air balloon festival, which fills the sky overhead with color.
Outside Albuquerque, New Mexico has plenty more to offer visitors, including its most popular tourist destination, Santa Fe, about an hour's drive north of town. If you're looking for more fantastic high desert scenery like that in the show, the northwestern portion of the state offers plenty of red rock country, as well as attractions like the Navajo Nation and Chaco Canyon. And if you want to really get out of town, pull a Skyler and head all the way out to Four Corners, and leave the next state you visit up to chance.