Albuquerque on the cheap
Albuquerque is the least expensive place in the U.S. to take a family vacation, said Andrea Sachs in The Washington Post. Don’t take my word for it. That’s the conclusion of the Automobile Association of America’s annual survey of where a family of four’s vacation dollars stretch the furthest. A few examples: a visit to the Petroglyph National Monument ($1); a pumpkin empanada at Golden Crown Panaderia (85 cents); and tango dancing at Kelly’s Brew Pub (free). Many visitors to this central New Mexico city use it as “a landing pad for Santa Fe.” But Albuquerque has just as much to offer as that overpriced city. The Old Town, anchored by an 18th-century adobe church, is packed with galleries and restaurants. Nearby, local artisans display handmade jewelry along a section of shaded sidewalk. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center features a display of pueblo life and stages weekend tribal dances.

San Francisco in middle age
San Francisco, the former capital of youth counter­culture, has slipped into prosperous middle age, said Rahul Jacob in the Financial Times. A “silent army” of yoga adepts takes classes in Grace Cathedral, that “most liberal of churches.” Gay couples concern themselves with establishing retirement centers. On the once-smoldering University of California campus in Berkeley students now form long lines for ice cream. But the city’s “egalitarian instinct” and generosity remain apparent. When I showed up in late afternoon for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, I was still allowed to order. At the Hotel Rex, books are left in the corridor, and the clerk thanked me for wearing a “lovely shirt.” Later I strolled to the Weinstein Gallery on Geary Street “to look at its museum-quality Chagalls.” The director, unconcerned whether I was a prospective customer, launched into an animated conversation about Tibet.