Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in El Paso County, TX

  • Published 2023/06/18

El Paso County is a border area in the truest sense, lying between two countries—the U.S. and Mexico.

With the influence of two countries and three states, El Paso has turned out to be a peaceful binational community.

In fact, the county actually lets you experience a seamless blend of the rustic Old West and Mexican vibrancy.

This mixed culture and heritage shine brightly in its eclectic mix of tourist spots, entertainment options, and even restaurants!

Let us go ahead and explore some of the best things El Paso County, Texas, has to offer.

Explore Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, the Ultimate Natural Paradise

View of the Hueco Tanks State Park

Rosemary Woller / Shutterstock.com

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site is a popular area in El Paso County, known for its historical significance.

But allow me to show off its fascinating geology first! It dates back to the prehistoric era and features an interesting shape of huecoes, or hollows.

These hollows were great for catching and storing rainfall, which in turn made flora and fauna flourish in this otherwise desert area.

This phenomenon attracted people back in time, too—the evidence lies in the hundreds of pictographs carved on the rocks. And it attracts people now as well!

Landscape of the Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site

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But Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site now offers fun activities for all visitors! Make sure to stop by the interpretive center to learn everything about the park.

You can go on a guided or self-guided tour, rock climb, go bird watching, set a picnic, or just stargaze.

While it is a day-use park, you can still stay overnight, thanks to the 20 campsites. It offers a dump station, hot showers, and restrooms!

Pool water at the Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site

Rosemary Woller / Shutterstock.com

Splash Head First in the Aquatic Fun of Chapoteo Water Park

El Paso has tons of water parks, but the best of them happens to be Chapoteo, a fiesta-themed water park!

The park is full of vivid colors, quirky décor, and invigorating lights, all tailored to excite you for the rides.

There are many rides you can try out! Some of these are the twisting Calavera Plunge, Rio Sereno, which takes you on a river adventure, and El Valiente, the climbing wall.

You can also jump in the calming Chalupa Springs leisure pool and the exciting Lago Azul pool for aquatic fun.

There are designated play areas for kids as well as a plaza and cabanas available for rental.

Tired and hungry from all the water fun? Chapoteo has a solution for that too! The on-site café, La Olla café, will vanish your hunger with its delectable menu of snacks and drinks.

Learn about the Local History at Chamizal National Memorial

Entrance to the Chamizal National Memorial Cultural Center

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If you are a history buff or naturally curious about the subject, Chamizal National Memorial is the best spot for you!

It is a National Park Service unit, as well as a monument dedicated to the significant 1963 Chamizal treaty.

The Rio Grande River changed course, and with it, so did the border. This caused a dispute between El Paso and Juárez that spanned for almost a century!

Murals at the Chamizal National Memorial

Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

It was this treaty that maintained the peace between the US-Mexico international border. Doesn’t it make sense to have an impressive facility to commemorate this event?

This park is spread over 55 acres and acts as a cultural center, complete with a theatre, art galleries, and an amphitheater.

Chamizal National Memorial’s on-site museum features informative exhibits about the dispute and the treaty.

Admission to the park is free, has helpful staff milling around, and offers an experience unlike any other.

View of the Chamizal National Memorial

Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Taste the Taste of Japan at Sushi Itto

With Sushi Itto, you can get a taste of Japanese cuisine right in the middle of El Paso city!

Located on Mesa Street, the restaurant is infused with minimalist elements, featuring a sleek seating arrangement, wooden adornments, and an impressive bar counter.

Surprisingly, these inviting interiors pale in front of the scrumptious menu. There are varieties of starters, rolls, ramen, rice, and temaki. But that’s not all—it also serves skewers, tacos, salads, sashimi, and many other Japanese main dishes.

Wash it down with classic, signature, and Japanese cocktails, as well as sake, beer, wines, and spirits.

Thankfully, I can’t recommend any one dish—but that’s because each delicacy bursts with flavors you can never hate!

It also offers a fantastic Teppanyaki experience, where you see the restaurant’s own preparing your order on a hot steel plate.

There may be many Japanese restaurants around the county, but what Sushi Itto offers is unique and a must-try!

Let your Hair (and Worries) Fly on the Scenic Drive—Overlook

Memorial at the Scenic Drive Overlook

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You know those winding roads that offer stunning views of their surroundings that make you stop and click pictures? The Scenic Drive happens to be one such road!

This drive spans from Richmond Avenue and blends into E Robinson Avenue, passing through the edges of the mountains.

Both sides of the road offer something to feast your eyes on!

People enjoying the view from the Scenic Drive Overlook

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One side of the road is lined by tidy houses, whereas the other provides you with picturesque views of Juarez and El Paso.

You can drive through at any time of the day. The sun in the morning drenches everything in a honeyed glow. While driving at night, the road shows you the lit city in all its glory.

Scenic Drive also offers a handful of viewpoints and a little park—Murchison Rogers Park—to soak in the scenery!

View from the Scenic Drive Overlook

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Walk around the Haunted Areas of El Paso with Ghosts915 Tours

Believe me or not, El Paso is believed to be one of the most paranormal and spookiest places in the country.

You can explore this by going on haunted tours with Ghosts915—The Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society.

The building in which it stands has withstood a lot of history to become the Paranormal Research Center it is today.

It assists The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) with paranormal investigations and fundraising around the area.

But let’s circle back to why you must step into this place—the tours!

The center organizes a number of tours, such as the Haunted Brothel Tour, Concordia Cemetery Ghost Tour, and Chinatown Ghost Tour.

These tours usually last for two hours, and you go on a walking adventure across El Paso and dive into its haunted history!

Spend an Eventful Time at Cielo Vista Mall

El Paso’s Cielo Vista Mall gives you a chance to unwind and also shop for souvenirs to take back home.

Standing tall on Interstate 10 and Hawkins Boulevard, the mall has five anchor stores and more than a hundred specialty shops.

There is a multi-screen theatre—Cinemark Theater complex—where you can watch the latest movies comfortably!

The place’s food court features famous restaurants such as Hooters, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Chick Fil A.

The mall offers many amenities, including baby changing stations, bike racks, children’s play area, WiFi, and mobile device charging stations.

The mall is always bustling with people; it is understandable, as it is one of the largest malls in the city.

Cielo Vista Mall is a great spot when you don’t want to explore but instead want to spend a lowkey time!

Visit Franklin Mountains State Park, the County’s Natural Wonder

Franklin Mountains State Park during winter

Richard J Roberts / Shutterstock.com

When you want to be in nature, make your way to one of the largest urban parks in America—Franklin Mountains State Park!

It is nestled in northern El Paso County, with four entry points, but most people use the Tom Mays Access Road.

It is a historically rich place known to be a temporary home to many Native American groups. Their signs are evident in the pictographs and petroglyphs on the rocks!

Plant at the Franklin Mountains State Park

Piotr Kalinowski Photos / Shutterstock.com

Accompanying this history is the impressive wildlife of the park! You can see squirrels, mule deer, as well as coyotes, and mountain lions here walking around in typical desert plants.

But the Franklin Mountains State Park is more famous for bird-watching, as it attracts more than a hundred species of birds.

As you can imagine, visitors love to explore the 24,000 acres of wilderness by hiking or mountain biking. Other amenities include tent camping, RV campsites, and rock climbing!

For any help in navigating this lovely yet intimidating park, I advise you to visit the visitor center before planning anything.

Narrow pedestrian bridge at Franklin Mountains State Park

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Enjoy the One-Of-A-Kind Dining Experience at Anson11

Want to have a unique dining experience in Downtown El Paso? Then Anson11 is the right choice!

The restaurant is named after Anson Mills, one of the most prominent figures in the city. Not only did he lay out the city, but he also called it El Paso.

Another one of his creations is the building of the restaurant, which was the highest in the city when it was completed!

This historic building consists of two restaurants in one. The first floor has a casual bistro where you can have lunch, brunch, and dinner. The menu here ranges from salads and sandwiches to flatbreads and entrees.

The second one features a luxurious fine dining room with an exceptional seafood and steak menu and quick service.

If you climb to the upper floors, you will find event rooms and private dining spaces.

So, if you can’t choose fine dining or a casual restaurant, Anson11 will help you with that decision!

Celebrate Art at the El Paso Museum of Art

Front view of the El Paso Museum of Art

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The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) was established when Samuel Kress Foundation gave an impressive collection of artworks to the city.

When it opened in 1959, this collection consisted of works by Botticelli, Zurbarán, and Artemisia Gentileschi, among other notable figures.

Over time, it has grown considerably—and now features more than 7000 art pieces! This permanent collection also makes space for temporary exhibitions that are equally as fascinating.

One of the most impressive elements of this museum is the Art School. It has four studio classrooms and an art gallery solely for the students.

Interior view of the El Paso Museum of Art

Susan Barnum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Along with art lessons, the museum also conducts film series, lectures, interactive sessions, and concerts.

You can opt for a self-guided tour to explore this creative space and get a Family Activity Guide to alleviate the experience. Guided tours are available, and so are the tours taking you through the art studio.

If you are eager to have a quintessential artistic experience, it is time to visit EPMA on 1 Arts Festival Plaza!

Experience Movies and Beer in an Exciting Way at the Flix Brewhouse

Flix Brewhouse brings the best of both worlds—a place to watch movies and enjoy beer.

But it is not an ordinary place; it is, in fact, the only one-of-a-kind Cinema Brewery in America!

To experience this place, make your way to North Desert Boulevard, where the brewpub stands in all its glory.

It offers many original beers that the staff brews on-site every day; the process is free for you to observe! You can pair this fantastic selection with delicious snacks.

But the most appealing part is the cinema, designed like a normal theatre, with a big screen and comfortable chairs. But this space goes one step ahead by adding tiny tables in front of every chair!

Flix Brewhouse plays every movie released under the sun, from classics to the latest releases.

If you are in El Paso, don’t forget to visit this fascinating brewpub to experience movies and beer in a new way!

Experience the Enchanting World of Fauna at El Paso Zoo

Signage of El Paso Zoo

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When it comes to El Paso Zoo, you can expect only the best zoo experience ever!

It is easily accessible from E Paisano Drive, where you will find more than 200 species milling around in a 35-acre park.

The animals are divided into four sections, depending on where they are from. These are from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Chihuahuan Desert.

There are African lions, meerkats, red river hogs, and giraffes in the African section.

Pretty little bird at El Paso Zoo

Michael Lubinski, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Americas feature alligators, spider monkeys, and ocelots, while you will find elephants, tigers, and orangutans in the Asian section.

The Chihuahuan Desert section is one of the most interesting, where you can encounter Mexican wolves, mountain lions, and jaguars.

Apart from the animals, the zoo has many attractions, such as African Star Train, Wildlife Amphitheater, and Foster Tree-house Playground.

It also offers a handful of facilities, such as family restrooms, first aid, and picnic areas.

But that’s not all! El Paso Zoo has two cafés, a drinks kiosk, and a themed gift shop!

View of the Asia exhibit at El Paso Zoo

B575, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sip on Delicious Wines by Zin Valle Vineyards

If you want to get a taste of authentic Tuscan wines without going to Italy, then Zin Valle Vineyards is the best choice!

The vineyard, located in Canutillo, tries to restore the rich wine history of Western Texas. And it has done so successfully for more than two decades.

It stands apart from the rest because it offers a variety of red and white wines. Some of these are made at the facility, while the rest come from the famed Fattoria Svetoni!

You can taste these in their tasting room—those offer 3 complimentary tastings. Based on what you like, you can get a glass of wine or a bottle to go.

The vineyard provides a lovely little picnic area, which you can use to enjoy a picnic with the wine.

In case you didn’t carry food, you can also get their charcuterie trays, s’more boards, and other small snacks.

Zin Valle Vineyards also help enhance this experience by organizing live music, food and wine events, exercise classes, movies, and wine-tasting classes.

What’s more? The place is also pet-friendly!

Learn about the Influential Magoffin Family at Magoffin Home State Historic Site

Exterior view of the Magoffin Home State Historic Site

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Magoffin Home State Historic Site—or Magoffin Home—is a house located on Magoffin Avenue. But as you can guess by now, it is not an ordinary building!

It is a Territorial house designed in two styles—Greek revival and local adobe design. The architecture is aesthetic yet functional, as the adobe walls regulate the temperature inside according to the weather!

The building’s three wings are subtly different from each other, owing to the fact that they were built in different periods. The place features big ceilings, more than 10 rooms, around 8 fireplaces, and an almost 12-foot-tall tester bed!

This phenomenal house was built in 1875 and belonged to Joseph Magoffin and his family. Two generations after him continued to live there for as long as 1986.

The house’s decades of history, heritage, and the legacy of the family is free for you to explore with guided tours.

The best way to end this tour is by enjoying a picnic in the soothing landscape of the Magoffin House!

Have a Mesmerizing Indoor Skydiving Experience at iFLY

If you are afraid of skydiving, then this county has the perfect solution—iFLY’s indoor skydiving!

Located on Vin Rambla Drive, the place provides an exhilarating diving experience in its advanced yet safe tunnels.

The tunnels are safe for everyone—from toddlers to adults. All you need is some courage and the readiness to learn from the on-site experts.

You will learn to be stable on your front and back, perform maneuvers, and fly with your family and friends!

The organization also puts out competitive diving and flying with virtual reality; these are experiences you will never get anywhere else.

The place accommodates all types of groups, from families and friends to even girl scouts and the military!

Diving doesn’t take much time, but that short span is enough to give you an experience of a lifetime.

Final Words

There is no one theme in the things to do in El Paso, and that is because the county offers a little bit of everything.

Great restaurants, fascinating historic sites, and tons of activities that friends and even families can enjoy.

Want to explore everything the county can truly offer? The only way you can do that is by visiting El Paso, duh!

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