Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Portales, NM

  • Published 2023/04/04

Do you want to go on a lovely holiday to a place that makes you feel like you’re in another country?

Ditch the overly crowded tourist destinations and head to the lovely city of Portales in New Mexico, the seat of Roosevelt County.

This place is considered a significant economic contributor, thanks to its strategic location near Clovis City and the Cannon Air Force Base.

Portales, from the name itself, you will already know that Portales teems with Spanish influence since it was under Spanish rule during the 1600s.

In the past, the area was also known as Llano Estacado, which is Spanish for “staked plains.”

The yucca plant abounds in the area, too.

The Comanche Indians settled the area in the 1800s.

In the late 1800s, cattle herders moved in and made the area their territory.

In 1909, Portales finally became an established city.

One of the city’s strongest draws is its history, which you can better understand and appreciate with a visit to the Blackwater Draw Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Aside from that, you can also visit the Blackwater Archaeological site nearby.

However, Portales is not just all about history, as it is also as fascinating in the area of recreational activities, with state parks and a golf course waiting for you.

Ready to take that trip now?

Consider these 15 best things to do in Portales, NM.

Discover Evidence of Early Culture at the Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark

Marker of the Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the country’s most popular sites for North American archaeology is the Blackwater Draw.

Experts first discovered the Clovis Culture in the area, which is now listed as a National Historic Site.

This place was regarded as the site of North America’s oldest identified culture for many years.

You can find the stratigraphic record in the site’s sedimentary layers, giving a history of the area’s activities that go back as far as 13,000 years ago.

The Eastern New Mexico University manages the site and continues research efforts, consistently attracting students and experts from across the globe.

Admire Historic Exhibits at the Blackwater Draw Museum

Residing in the Eastern New Mexico University’s old university dining hall is the Blackwater Draw Museum, which first welcomed the public in 1969.

It’s an exciting place to visit, featuring artifacts and museum displays that show what life was like from the Clovis period to recent history.

Find exciting displays in their Exhibit Hall, whose exhibits regularly change and always cover the Blackwater Draw site’s archaeological history and highlights.

Find stone tools, animal bones, historical pieces, and Southwest pottery.

Aware of the significance of the artifacts, the museum employs curatorial staff who protect and preserve the collections using only the best practices.

It also hires interns and student workers to aid in categorizing, cataloging, and digitizing artifacts.

Explore the Oasis State Park with Your Family

Located on Base Line is the lovely Oasis Park, considered a true oasis of Portales.

Get ready for cottonwood trees, a small fishing lake, and shifting dunes.

Many visitors and locals are always drawn to its fishing lake.

It brings together families who want to take a break and breathe in the ambiance of the peaceful park.

However, there are many other things to do in Oasis State Park, including walking the trails, camping in the shady campground, and birdwatching.

For camping, you can choose from any of its 29 developed campsites within walking distance of the dunes and fishing lake.

These offer convenience and comfort with vault toilets, drinking water, a dump station, and a playground.

Bring the children out together at night and enjoy stargazing in the clear night skies.

Taste Excellent Portales Wines at the Enchantment Vineyards

Enchantment Vineyards is a family-owned and run vineyard created from the family’s shared passion for travel, wine, and time spent together.

The family believes that growing vineyards is an excellent opportunity to get back closer to nature and create something exquisite out of it.

After learning that New Mexico is the oldest wine-growing region in the United States, they decided to start the winery here.

Enchantment Vineyards prides itself in producing excellent New Mexico wines, with 15 varietals shipped to most US states.

Each bottle celebrates the diverse cultures and rich history of the state.

With an open tasting room and vineyard, you are most welcome to come and visit with your family and toast to great times and wines.

Travel Back in Time at the Roosevelt County Museum

Here’s another must-visit site in Portales if you want to understand the beginnings of Roosevelt County as a whole.

The Roosevelt County Museum, situated on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University, takes you back in time to see and feel the early life and beginnings of the county.

Founded in 1940, it has an extensive collection of artifacts, which have all been donated by the residents.

Upon entering the museum, you’ll immediately swing your gaze to its displays, including its antique furniture and the Edison phonograph.

The museum also features the exciting technology of the past as exhibited by its medical instrument collection and an old printing press.

This is an exciting place to bring the kids, as they will be amazed to see the things that barely exist today.

Bring your family to the museum for a historical excursion.

See a Real Rodeo Arena at the Lewis-Cooper Rodeo Arena

If you haven’t seen an actual rodeo arena, this is your chance to see one.

The Lewis-Cooper Rodeo Arena is located on the Eastern New Mexico University rodeo team’s home facility.

It holds the country’s largest collegiate rodeo, which the university hosts every fall.

The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association recognized the rodeo in 2015-2016.

The arena has seen several upgrades added throughout the years, including bathroom installations, additional seating, animal stalls, a coach’s office, a covered facility, and a video replay board.

Admire Great Mineral Collections at the Miles Mineral Museum

The Miles Collection is now housed in the Miles Mineral Museum, situated in the Eastern New Mexico University, specifically in Roosevelt Hall.

Formerly owned by Fred and Gladys Miles, the collection started when the couple explored the Pecos River.

They found the Pecos Valley Diamonds, which are beautiful quartz crystals.

The first museum stored the collection in the back room of Fred’s Texaco service station, featuring Native American artifacts.

In August 1966, the university entered into a deal with the couple to purchase the collection, including an estimated 2,500 anthropological, archaeological, and geological specimens.

Three years later, the university opened the museum on the campus, initially in a space adjacent to Lea Hall.

Experience the Fun and Excitement of the Roosevelt County Fair

Witness the fun-loving people of Portales as they hold the Roosevelt County Fair at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds.

It’s an exciting celebration that combines fine arts and home arts show and competition, vendors, music, livestock, and carnival in one place.

Every local awaits this annual event as it has become a tradition that speaks about the city’s culture.

Bring the kids and the entire family to this celebration and let them experience the fun and excitement of a place that loves to enjoy and have fun.

Visit the Premier Craft Brewery of New Mexico—the Roosevelt Brewing Company

Taste the craft beer of New Mexico at the Roosevelt Brewing Company on the city’s main street.

It’s the premier craft brewery in the state, specializing in lagers and craft ales.

Of course, you can pair your beer with a delicious dish created and served by the restaurant.

Take note that they only use locally sourced products and cook delicious wood-fired dishes guaranteed to make your mouth water just by looking at their menu.

Indeed, there is something for everyone here at the Roosevelt Brewing Company.

Get into a Groove at Dance Studio Extreme

Who says all you can do during your holiday is explore places and eat delicious food?

You can also go dancing and learn a new dance move or two.

You can register at the Dance Studio Extreme and join dance classes, as it is a Leap ’N Learn licensed dance studio.

Whether you dance professionally or have little to no dance experience, you are welcome to come and join their classes.

Dance Studio Extreme offers dance lessons for all skills and ages, starting from 3 years old to adults.

So, moms can bring their kids along and bond over some movin’ and groovin’.

Shop ‘Til You Drop at the Dollar Tree

You cannot deny that shopping is always an essential part of any holiday.

Do your shopping at the Dollar Tree, where you can find extreme deals daily, with exciting new items arriving each week.

You can find most things you need here at discounted prices, including household items, floral supplies, cleaning items, school supplies, toys and crafts, beauty products, and everything else you can imagine.

Shopping doesn’t have to be expensive, and Dollar Tree proves the idea.

Enjoy Some Time Outdoors and Laze at the Rotary Park

Take a break from exploring Portales’ tourist destinations and spend a day just lazing with the family at the Rotary Park.

This 10.5-acre park is a great place for enjoying the outdoors and soaking up the relaxing atmosphere of Portales.

Its excellent amenities allow kids and adults to have a great time relaxing or having fun.

The park has a minor league field, basketball hoop, ball fields, and a swing.

Kids will love playing in the equipped playground while you prepare a delicious barbecue lunch in the park’s barbecue area.

If you don’t feel like cooking your food, there’s also a snack bar that lets you pick delicious snacks and treats for everyone.

Untangle Your Muscles at Massages by Kimberly

Massages by Kimberly offers various services, including Swedish massage, head and shoulder, deep tissue massage, acupressure massage, hot stone massage, healing touch, face massage, four-hand massage, and more.

You will receive superb massage services and hospitality, with the staff taking care of your needs.

Relax and free your mind from every thought, leaving only the memories of this holiday.

Feel the Cool Breeze at the Lindsey Park

Lindsey Park is just one of the many parks in Portales that you can visit.

This park might be smaller than Rotary Park, with an area of 3.33 acres.

However, it still has excellent amenities for adults and kids, including a playground with equipment, a picnic area, restrooms, and a minor league field.

Moreover, it also has a snack bar serving food and drinks for everyone.

However, what sets it apart from the rest is the sheer abundance of trees, making the breeze cooler than in the city’s other open spaces.

This is one of the park’s draws because it has more shade and more excellent areas to rest under.

Taste the Delicious Wings at AJs Wings

According to many locals and tourists, AJs Wings is a slice of heaven for its mouthwatering wings—something that you don’t want to miss when in Portales.

The restaurant serves wings in tossed, plain, or on-side with many different flavors for the sauces with a choice of dressing, as well as extra spicy sauce.

You can have 12 to 16 pieces per serving and some extras on the side.

AJs Wings is popular in Portales so you should include it in your travel itinerary.

You can find the restaurant at West 2nd Street.

Get Your Coffee Fix at Sip & Savor

Nothing beats hot coffee in hand in between your trips around Portales, and a delightful cup from Sip & Savor means everything!

The coffee shop offers many coffee varieties, including latte, cold brew, as well as espresso. hot chocolate, specialty teas, and many more.

If you need cold refreshments, you can choose from its smoothies, squeezed lemonade, boba, and frappuccinos.

Don’t miss out on its delicious drip coffee in decaf, as well as espresso in decaf—hot or cold!

Take your coffee break, and head to Sip & Savor on East 2nd Street.

Read a Book at Portales Public Library

Traveling bookworms can take refuge in the cozy corners of Portales Public Library, which can provide you with something new to read.

The library keeps a great selection of books in many different genres for kids, teens, and adults.

Apart from books, there are magazines, DVDs, e-books, audiobooks, and many other resources that can be helpful for reading, research, and study.

Private study rooms are available on request.

Also, there are different programs for all ages in the community, including Storytime and Reading Clubs, among others.

Visit Portales Public Library at South Avenue B.

Have a Picnic at City Park

Picnics are always a memorable and fun activity to do while traveling, and City Park doesn’t disappoint!

Friends and families can use one of the park’s picnic tables to share lunch or snacks while enjoying its relaxing atmosphere.

It’s a small park and many tourists love it because it’s quiet and peaceful.

If you have little ones, they can also enjoy the play area with a jungle gym, swings, slides, and wide space for running around.

There are also athletic fields at the park, which are used by local athletes for practice or a friendly game.

You can find City Park at East 9th Street.

Beat the Heat at Portales City Swimming Pool

During the summer season, Portales City Swimming Pool opens to the public for a chance to take a dip and beat the heat on a hot day.

During this season, you can enjoy swimming at one of the pools with your family and friends.

And if you have young children, the baby pool is available for use.

There are concessions to grab your snacks like nachos, fries, and hotdogs, as well as a soda machine for cold drinks.

Lifeguards are also on duty although you still have to keep an eye on your little ones while swimming.

Portales City Swimming Pool opened in 1942 and is located off East 7th Street.

Final Thoughts

Portales is a great place to explore, whether alone, with a partner, or with the family.

Its offerings are varied and unique, where each day takes you to a different kind of experience.

You can focus on heritage and culture or history and recreation.

You are guaranteed a great time in Portales, NM, whichever way you want to spend your vacation.

Start planning your Portales trip today!

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