A cultural amalgamation of people, languages and cuisine, El Paso is located in the state of Texas on the Rio Grande. The socio-cultural richness of the area is owed to the fact it borders Mexico. This diverse terrain of desert is home to minor league baseball and Tex-Mex cuisine. With its backdrop of Franklin Mountains and the warmth of the locals, El Paso is a welcoming and inclusive place with a lot to offer.
Here are 40 things you can do and enjoy during your visit to El Paso:
Support local artists at the Downtown Artist and Farmer’s Market
Located in Union plaza district and open on Saturday mornings, this farmer’s market is a great way of understanding the socio-cultural life in El Paso. This is an outdoor market that sells arts and crafts made and sold by local artists and vendors. Here, you will be delighted to find regionally and organically grown products. A few of the many stalls at the farmer’s market include Tlachiual crafts and homestead farm EP.
Take a hike at the Keystone Heritage Park and Botanical Gardens
This picturesque site is located at the foot of the Franklin mountains and occupies a space of 52 acres. The keystone heritage park is the ruins of a 4,000 year old village which was discovered in the 1970s. This is an ideal location for hiking and bird watching owing to the 206 species of birds that inhabit this rustic landscape. The other spots of interests in and around the area include the majestic amphitheatre, moonlight garden and children’s garden.
Marvel at the natural beauty of the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
At this historic site, you can hike around the area and find fascinating pictographs of a hunter on horseback at the North Mountain. The rugged and naturally carved surface of syenite granite form ravines, arches, boulders and cliffs. The word ‘Hueco’ means cavities on top of a mountain that collect rainfall. There is one summit open for unaccompanied hikers in this difficult terrain that boasts of breathtaking views.
Let the past unfold at The Mission Trail
This extraordinary relic of the preserved past dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The county’s mission valley contains a few magnificent buildings such as the Ysleta Mission that is active since the year 1660 and has a gift shop for visitors to enjoy. Another is the Socorro Mission started by Piro Natives and the Presidio Chapel of San Elizario. A quiet stroll along these buildings will serve as a lesson of El Paso’s rich history.
Feel inspired at the El Paso Museum of Art
This museum is arguably El Paso’s most ambitious one as it houses 7,000 works of art starting from the Byzantine era till present-day. This art paradise has free admission for visitors and hosts classes and workshops for interested amateurs. The Museum of Art at El Paso contains a diverse range of work: American, Renaissance, Mexican and Baroque. You can admire the work of well-known artists such as Van Dyck and Tom Lea.
Stay for the view at the Wyler Aerial Tramway
Even though the legendary Tramway has been closed by local authorities for safety reasons, the site itself and the views afforded by the mountain range is worth your time and physical effort. Located at Franklin Mountains and open during the weekends, the Wyler Aerial Tramway has a famous Ranger Peak from where three different states and two nations are visible. The half-mile trail is tough on the legs but a treat for the senses.
Watch a musical performance at the Plaza Theatre
This legendary theatre was built in the year 1930 and is as known for its one-of-a kind musical performances as it is for the magnificent architecture. The stage is draped in luminous red curtains and the golden hues present throughout belongs to the Spanish colonial Revival architecture and gives the space a royal feel. The Spanish courtyard and the Alcantar sky garden are part of the theatre and open to the public. You can also catch a glimpse of the mighty Wurlitzer Blaban 3 organ, one of six in the entire world.
Breathe in fresh air at the Municipal Rose Garden
The garden serves as an escape from the busy city life and gives you a moment to breathe in the scent of rose bushes belonging to five hundred varieties. Located at Aurora Avenue, the municipal rose garden has tours for visiting the Koi garden and the spectacular waterfall. At the plaza area, you can eat at a restaurant or indulge in some retail therapy. If you visit in February, you can witness a public pruning demonstration.
Remember and reflect at the El Paso Holocaust Museum
The term ‘Never forget’ is the guiding principle of the El Paso Holocaust museum, the only bilingual Holocaust museum. This unassuming building understands the importance of remembering and reflecting on the harsh past by organizing group tours to learn about the history of the Holocaust along with survivor testimonies. The museum has free admission and is an unforgettable experience.
Revisit family life at Magoffin Home State Historic Site
Built in the year 1875, this historic site is designed in the spectacular Territorial style architecture. The site has preserved the history of a multicultural family that was active in U.S expansion and settlement and participated in trade relations on the Santa Fe-Chihuahua trail. A visitor can learn about the fascinating stories of the house's earliest occupants such as Jose Sierra and Uncle Charlie. The large expanse of lush gardens is ideal for an afternoon stroll.
Say a prayer at St. Patrick Cathedral
The imposing structure of the St. Patrick Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese and was built in the year 1917. The Italian Renaissance style architecture has alluring frescoes and vibrant stained glass windows. Having settled down on the wooden bench, a visitor can marvel at the Sacred heart of Jesus statue and the golden eagle and take in the quiet atmosphere of the Cathedral.
Be disciplined at the National Border Patrol Museum
The National border patrol museum cannot be missed because it is the only one of its kind in the entire country. Built in 1985, the museum showcases the tough and resilient history of the U.S border patrol. The location does not charge an admission fee and displays jeeps, helicopters and snowmobiles. The museum has a soft side that includes adorable dogs and art shows.
Learn about the Army at Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museum
Before the Second World War, Fort bliss was the first armoured division in the country. On display are mind blowing specimens of an interesting past such as the German V2 rocket, artillery pieces, helicopters and a total of forty tanks. You can also stroll around a detailed reproduction of the first post of Fort bliss. This is perfect for families with children and history aficionados.
Visit the versatile H & H car wash and coffee shop
Owing to its name, this is an unconventional spot for drinking coffee or eating a piece of warm pie. Nevertheless, it offers a one-of-a-kind American dining experience that takes you back in time with its vintage and rustic interiors. Part diner and part car wash, some of the most loved dishes are burritos and green chili steak soup. While you enjoy your meal, your car will be getting a good wash.
A symbol of peace at the Chamizal National Memorial
The legendary site of the Chamizal national memorial is built to remember the peaceful settlements of the Chamizal boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico. The site serves as a reminder of the geopolitical negotiations of this country and contains a lush urban park for visitors to enjoy. There are art galleries, theatre and a museum to visit in the area.
Eat Tex-Mex at L & J cafe
This Texas culinary institution was started in the year 1927 and serves a wide array of mouth watering Tex-Mex dishes. Some of the loved dishes are nachos, guacamole, tortilla, enchiladas and tres leches. After trying their food, you will be compelled to purchase a bottle of their homemade red salsa sauce. The cafe has a laid-back atmosphere and strives to serve the most authentic Tex-mex cuisine.
Spin around at the Roller Bomb Ice Skating Rink
A visitor may be surprised and relieved to find an indoor ice skating rink in this very hot and rugged terrain. The roller bomb ice skating rink is a perfect opportunity to spend fun quality time with your loved ones at an affordable price. The rink regularly hosts ice hockey games that are thrilling and go well with their in-house pizzas, drinks and snacks. You can also spend an evening skating to retro tunes on Old school Sunday events.
The majesty of the Franklin Mountain State Park
The famous Franklin mountains of Texas are a breathtaking beauty. Their magnificent desert terrain has a hundred mile trail where visitors can hike, bike, camp and enjoy a picnic with their family and friends. At the Mckelligon Canyon, you can do rock climbing and indulge in bird watching and sightseeing. The charming views and vast expanse will make it hard for you to leave.
Picture perfect at McKelligon Canyon Park
The awe-inspiring McKelligon canyon park is located on the South East side of the Franklin mountains. It has a famous amphitheatre that can seat more than a thousand people and hosts Viva El Paso! A musical performance that has to be seen to be believed. The Ron Coleman trail provides an opportunity for long walks, hiking and biking. With the backdrop of the mountain range, you can do rock climbing and gape at the views.
Watch a baseball match at Southwest University Park
This spacious university park is located in downtown El Paso and is home to the El Paso Chihuahua baseball team. Located in Missouri Avenue, this is the place to witness minor league baseball. A visitor is guaranteed a few hours of constant adrenaline rush with a glass of beer and some glutinous snacks.
Get educated at the University of Texas
Located at Centennial Plaza, the University of Texas is an astonishing structure inspired by the architecture of Bhutanese monasteries. A stroll around the gigantic space will reveal the bountiful natural and cultural history of Texas. This binational community of students has an enriching and refreshing environment. The University offers various short-term and long-term educational programmes.
Visit the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert garden
This educational site is part of the University of Texas and the exemplary museum serves as a guide to the natural and cultural history of the desert. A visitor will be stunned by the Lhakhang, a Bhutanese temple with hand painted wall murals. The only one of its kind in the country. The botanical garden contains 800 species of plants for you to learn about. Next year, the garden will be hosting the Florefest, a festival showcasing the diverse range of plant life of the region.
A monument of love, Casa de Azucar
Casa de Azucar is a testament of the love and devotion a husband and artist of this structure has for his wife. Built over a period of 25 years, these white altar pieces have intricate carvings and amusing designs. It also pays a tribute to the 350th anniversary of the village of El Paso. This atypical tourist site is inspiring, intimate and spellbinding.
Satisfy your inner nerd at Sunland Park Dinosaur Tracks
If you were a dinosaur nerd growing up or watched Jurassic park a few too many times, this park is going to be your favourite of this list. The dinosaur fossil marks and trackways were discovered quite recently in 2003. They belong to the Cretaceous period. The heat ridden desert landscape is cinematic and unique. You can also opt for tours to learn about the biology and environment of this site.
Live a little at Cafe Mayapan
Cafe Mayapan is a much loved destination for food lovers and hungry tourists. The food served here is mainly Mexican such as enchiladas, soups and green chili with beef stuffing. The ambience of this cafe is lively and relaxing. A perfect getaway from the heat of El Paso and you can also visit the Lum Metik fair trade company located behind the cafe.
Encounter the unusual at Dave’s Pawn shop
Dave’s pawn shop is an unusual spot for any tourist to visit but it is an unforgettable one. You don’t need to empty your wallets to shop here. It offers a wide variety of quirky and unique artefacts that will make for offbeat souvenirs. You can find paraphernalia from the Second World War, skulls, mummies and wigs. If that isn’t enough to convince any visitor, the tunes of Elvis Presley are played here on loop.
Wine and ride at Miller Horse Farm
Miller horse farm is a charming location for horseback riding and an activity for a family or group to enjoy together. However, it gets better. As you ride a horse and witness the scenic views of infinite fields of Mexican crops such as cotton and pecan, you will be led to a winery. Here, you can indulge in a few glasses of wine and witness a glorious sunset.
Live large at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
If a casino in itself wasn’t exciting and intimidating enough, this location offers you a racetrack with the experience. This state of art building allows you to bet on a horse at the racing track and spend frivolously on slot machines. The venue hosts live performances and concerts. If you’re hungry, the eateries such as Ventanas bar and grill and Riley’s restaurant would be the ultimate spots.
More than a restaurant, the Cattleman’s Steakhouse
This restaurant deserves a special mention of anyone’s list. This family style eatery is located in a chophouse at a working ranch. You can eat freshly cut meat while enjoying the views of the lush green landscape. The steakhouse is well-known for its barbecue, seafood and you guessed it, steaks! In addition to the scrumptious meal, you will be left enthralled at their children’s zoo, snake pit and Indian maze.
Revisit a jail break at Billy The Kid Jail
Billy the kid was a famous outlaw and gunfighter during the days of the Old West. He was killed at the age of 21 but has since become a mythic figure for Americans. His reverence is shown through this historic site which used to be a jail in the nineteenth century. This was the place where Billy the kid broke into a jail, his only time and posing as a Texas Ranger successfully helped his friend escape. Today, you can find the black metal doors and brick walls that will transport you back in time.
Embrace the eerie at Concordia Cemetery
The Concordia cemetery is located in an area of 52 acres and the graves of 60,000 individuals can be found here. This historic site is well-known for the grave of John Wesley Hardin, the infamous outlaw of the Wild West. The enchanting cemetery is divided in sections such as Jewish, Mormon and African American veterans among a few others. The best time to visit this cemetery is during the ‘day of the dead’ holiday.
Board a train at Union Passenger Station
The delightful interiors of the Union passenger station are a century old but are still as solid and polished as ever. This was the first International train station in the United States and connected the US with Mexico. The enclosed waiting area with high ceiling and woodwork has an old world charm and gives off a cinematic feel. While you’re waiting for your train to arrive, you can admire the clock tower that is inspired from South Western architecture.
Visit the ruins of B-36 Bomber crash site
This extraordinary tourist site is located at the Franklin Mountains and boasts of a generally unknown and forgotten part of history. In 1953, an airplane ferrying nuclear warheads from the US to Russia crashed on this spot. The accident killed nine people on board. Some of the ruins of the crash can be found here such as the engine, gear and tail fin. A relic of the casualty of the Cold War, the B-36 bomber crash site is one-of-a-kind.
Enjoy fine dining at Tabla
After all this sightseeing and hiking on rugged mountains and heat punching desert terrains, any tourist would be relieved to sit inside a laid back restaurant and enjoy the experience of fine dining. Tabla is owned by Chef Norberto Portillo and serves some of the best and most authentic Spanish cuisine in El Paso. A few of their on demand dishes include the shrimp, pork belly wraps, churros and gnocchi. Don’t feel guilty if you binge eat because you still have a few more mountains to climb.
Spend family time at the El Paso Zoo
The EL Paso Zoo is a favourite on the lists of both tired parents and bored children. The Zoo is spread over an area of 35 acres and houses 220 species of animals. This wide and diverse range of animals is enough to keep you and your little one’s entertained for a whole day. The Zoo is divided between three major sections: Africa, America and Asia. Some of the family related activities that you can enjoy are the African star train, Spring water and the Foster tree house.
Pay your respects at the Buffalo Soldier Memorial
Any country’s core values are upheld and preserved by it’s soldiers and the veterans and this is evident in the Buffalo soldier memorial that is a part of the vast Concordia cemetery. The aspect that makes this memorial unique is the burial of forty African American soldiers from the civil war of the nineteenth century. This historic site is flush with plaques and memorial markers that guide the visitor through the events and consequences of the past.
Escape the heat at Rock House Cafe and Gallery
The Rock house cafe and gallery presents a lively and amusing experience for any visitor by combining art exhibitions of new and local artists with mouthwatering comfort food and drinks. The cosy interiors hold poetry slams, entertainment programmes and musical performances for patrons to sit back and enjoy. The Cafe and gallery is the perfect place to unwind after a long and tiring day in the heat of El Paso.
Admire art at Ho Baron Sculpture Garden
Ho Baron is a well-known sculpture artist and a native of El Paso who has designed and maintained a sculpture garden of twelve of his artworks. The incredible garden is free for public viewing and has become a tourist site. The life-size sculptures are marvellous and eye-catching. They are bronze and stone sculptures that have an abstract and surreal narrative. If you’re lucky, you may meet the artist and have a discussion about his work.
Learn about our origins at the El Paso Museum of Archeology
The El Paso Museum of archeology attracts a substantial amount of fanfare from tourists and locals owing to its size of 15 acres that houses up to 200 plant species. The museum has free admission and focuses majorly on Native American history and early cultures such as Casas Grandes. You can also marvel at interesting dioramas that hold the treasures of 14,000 years of prehistory. Don’t shy away from entering the deep hole of human history and immersing yourself in it.