15 Free Things to Do in El Paso, TX

Free Things to Do in El Paso, TX
Sean Pavone / shutterstock.com

El Paso is a beautiful and historic county on the western tip of Texas.

As the county seat of El Paso County, El Paso is the largest city in the region and one of the most important cities in Texas.

As a city with a distinct culture and history, El Paso is known for its food scene, which has become increasingly popular recently.

With many excellent restaurants, museums, and theaters on its roster of cultural attractions, it’s worth getting to know this town.

Here’s a list of free things to do in El Paso, Texas, to help you plan a budget vacation!

Enjoy a Beautiful Panoramic View at the Scenic Drive Overlook

View of Scenic Drive Overlook
Bill Chizek / Shutterstock.com

Scenic Drive Overlook is a park and road in El Paso’s West Central neighborhood.

The Scenic Drive Overlook is one of the most popular free places to go with family, friends, or a partner.

It’s also one of the most beautiful places in the city.

It has some of the best panoramas of El Paso and the surrounding area, including the nearby mountains.

View from Scenic Drive Overlook
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

This attraction offers well-maintained paths for those who want to go on a pleasant hike, as well as chairs where one can rest and take in the breathtaking view of the sunset.

This tourist destination is an excellent choice for family holidays since it is easily accessible by car, making it far less stressful to travel with small children.

Discover 300 Years of Tribal History at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Cultural Center

The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Cultural Center is in El Paso’s South Loop neighborhood, about 20 minutes from the city’s business district.

It is a trendy tourist spot.

The Tigua tribe is the oldest continuously recognized group in Texas, making this the finest spot to learn about the Tigua people’s everyday lives, history, and culture.

You can watch or actively participate in various crafts, such as bead weaving, gardening, producing pottery, and many more.

Explore displays that show more than 300 years of indigenous culture through pottery, films, artifacts, photographs, items, and other multimedia elements.

Are you and your travel buddies interested in learning a bit about the history of tribe members of Texas?

You should put a trip to the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Cultural Center on your to-do list!

See Artifacts at the Military Museum of Fort Bliss

Display at Military Museum of Fort Bliss
ForgottenColorado, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Military Museum of Fort Bliss is a great place to learn more about the history of Fort Bliss and the American soldier.

The museum’s exhibits include an indoor area with artifacts from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.

The outdoor display has tanks, artillery, and helicopters that you can climb on or sit in.

If you have time for a tour, guides will be happy to show you around the fort grounds, where there are many historical buildings.

The buildings include an original adobe house built in 1849 by Kit Carson’s troops during their conquest of New Mexico Territory.

You can also try out artillery devices like cannons used in battle during these wars and see how many soldiers fit into each tank!

Spend the day at the Military Museum of Fort Bliss!

Spot 200 Bird Species at Feather Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

Feather Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is a 43.5-acre wildlife sanctuary located along Socorro Road.

The City of El Paso built the sanctuary in 1969 as a runoff retention basin on the site of a 40-acre marsh.

Since 1976, when the city and the El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society signed a lease agreement, the society has taken care of this land.

People go to the Feather Lake Wildlife Sanctuary mainly to see the birds.

In its history, the sanctuary has been home to 220 different bird species.

It shouldn’t be surprising that a big share of the bird population comprises birds living near water.

During the beginning of fall, groups of yellow-headed blackbirds, groups of up to 4,000 ducks, and squadrons of white-faced ibis may visit the same area.

If you and your family love birds or wildlife, this beautiful bird sanctuary will not disappoint.

Surround Yourself with Culture and Art at the El Paso Museum of Art

Entrance to El Paso Museum of Art
Marisol Rios Campuzano / Shutterstock.com

The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) is a great place to visit if you’re interested in some culture and art.

The EPMA offers free admission, parking, and many hands-on activities for children.

In addition, there’s a donation box inside the museum, so feel free to throw some money into that whenever you can!

Celebration at El Paso Museum of Art
J. Martin / Shutterstock.com

The El Paso Museum of Art also hosts exhibits that change every six months, meaning there’s always something new.

You’ll love this museum if you want to experience new things!

Enjoy a Free Concert Series at Alfresco! Fridays

Alfresco! Fridays are one of the most fun and free things to do in El Paso, so you should go if you’re in town.

Alfresco! Fridays is a weekly event at the One Civic Center Plaza, where musicians play live concerts weekly during the summer.

Listen to the finest local and regional musicians as they perform songs from various musical genres, including blues, jazz, reggae, salsa,  classic rock, and more.

El Paso has many great options for listening to live music, but free outdoor concerts are the best way to enjoy live music in the city.

Spending time with family and friends while dancing is the best way to complete a fun night out while enjoying free music!

Take a Stroll at the El Paso Mission Trail

View of Socorro Mission
Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com

The El Paso Mission Trail is a series of missions built in El Paso.

It’s along Alameda Avenue and is part of the National Park Service.

It’s open year-round and free to visit, so there’s no excuse not to go!

The El Paso Mission Trail starts at Ysleta Mission (or Mission San Antonio de Valero), one of three missions on the path built by Spanish settlers around 1681.

Interior view of Socorro Mission
William Silver / Shutterstock.com

The other two are Socorro Mission and San Elizario Church, built around 1750 and 1789, respectively.

Spanish explorers named the Ysleta Mission when they visited Mexico City; Ysleta means “place where grapes grow.”

Several plaques around the area explain what happened during this period.

The plaques also describe the unique architecture inside each building, including an outdoor water fountain made of rocks!

Facade of Ysleta Mission
Marcos Casiano / Shutterstock.com

The Flor de Barro Gallery is a family-run El Paso business with Mexican art on display.

This is the place to go if you want to see high-quality art from Mexico.

Their collection of handmade and painted traditional Mexican art is impressive.

The gallery’s goal is to teach people about the artists, how they make art, and the cultural significance of the displayed pieces.

Some artifacts in these collections are lithographs.

Collections displayed at the Gallery include Wixarica yarn paintings and beaded works, contemporary Mata Ortiz pottery, Casas Grandes-style pottery, Day of the Dead, hammered copper, and Mexican paper mache.

Whether you want exquisite art or Mexican décor, you will find something at the Flor de Barro Gallery that makes you remember Mexico and fall in love with it all over again.

Learn the History of Immigration Enforcement at the National Border Patrol Museum

View of National Border Patrol Museum
Susan Barnum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Border Patrol Museum is along the Woodrow Bean Transmountain Road in El Paso.

The museum opened in 1976, showing exhibits on the history of Border Patrol and immigration enforcement.

The Border Patrol Museum has several exhibits on Homeland Security Operations, one of which is the Sign Cutting exhibit.

This diorama explains how law enforcement uses sign-cutting and tracking to detect people illegally entering the United States.

This would be a great place to start if you want to learn more about U.S.-Mexico relations.

The National Border Patrol Museum also includes information about the shared border history of the United States with Mexico.

Learn about the Mexican-American War at the San Jacinto Plaza

Alligators sculpture at San Jacinto Plaza
Grossinger / Shutterstock.com

San Jacinto Plaza is a historic city park in downtown El Paso, Texas.

The plaza was established in 1882 and was designed by architect Henry Trost.

It was named after the Battle of San Jacinto, which occurred at the plaza during the Mexican-American War.

Aerial view of San Jacinto Plaza
Visit El Paso, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1891, a monument to commemorate the battle was erected in San Jacinto Plaza.

It has been relocated several times since then due to street widening efforts or other construction projects.

Learn about the Holocaust at the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center

The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center is in El Paso’s downtown district.

The museum is dedicated to the memory of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

It is one of three permanent museums in Texas that focus on this historical tragedy.

The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center has a permanent collection of over 1,000 artifacts, including photographs, documents, audio recordings, and oral histories.

Educational programs include school activities and adult workshops focusing on Jewish history and culture.

Study Prehistory at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology

Signage of El Paso Museum of Archaeology
Grossinger / Shutterstock.com

The El Paso Museum of Archaeology is where you can learn and discover El Paso’s past.

The museum offers a wide variety of educational programs and has an extensive research library that you can use to learn more about local history.

The El Paso Museum of Archaeology also hosts an annual archaeological symposium, where experts from around the world gather to share their findings and the public.

Landscape of El Paso Museum of Archaeology
Grossinger / Shutterstock.com

This remarkable museum gives free guided tours, but you must schedule them at least two weeks in advance.

El Paso is known for its extensive collection of artifacts found throughout the area.

You’ll see items dating back as far as 8,000 years ago!

Thorny cactus at El Paso Museum of Archaeology
Susan Barnum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Smell the Roses at the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden

Bridal photoshoot at El Paso Municipal Rose Garden
Grossinger / Shutterstock.com

The El Paso Municipal Rose Garden is a great place to visit year-round in the Medical Center District.

The garden has a variety of roses, including over 1,000 types!

You can also see a pond with swans and ducks.

There are plenty of benches throughout the property, so you can sit down and enjoy the scenery or take pictures.

Colorful roses at El Paso Municipal Rose Garden
Visit El Paso, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A rose garden is an excellent place for a picnic or a date.

You’ll have plenty of privacy as you enjoy each other’s company in this romantic setting.

The El Paso Municipal Garden is next to the majestic Rio Grande River!

Learn about the Chamizal Treaty at the Chamizal National Memorial

Boundary marker at Chamizal National Memorial
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

If you want to learn more about El Paso’s history or spend the day outside, take a trip to Chamizal National Memorial.

Located in downtown El Paso’s Historic District, this memorial commemorates the Chamizal Treaty signed between Mexico and the United States in 1963.

The memorial has a plaza, gardens, and a museum that’s free to enter.

Name board of Chamizal National Memorial
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

The treaty ended a century-long dispute over where the Rio Grande River began, whether at its mouth or source.

You can walk through a peaceful garden and learn how this agreement was reached through bilateral negotiations between Mexican President Adolfo Lopez Mateos and U.S. President John F Kennedy.

Spend the day at the Chamizal National Memorial!

View of Chamizal National Memorial
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Deepen Your Knowledge of History at the El Paso Museum of History

El Paso Museum of History on a stromy night
Bill Chizek / Shutterstock.com

The El Paso Museum of History is in El Paso, Texas.

The El Paso Historical Society established the museum in 1948, becoming one of the oldest museums in Texas.

The museum houses over 20,000 artifacts and documents relating to the region’s history.

You can also do various things at the El Paso Museum of History.

Exterior view of  El Paso Museum of History
Bill Chizek / Shutterstock.com

For instance, you can view exhibits about the area’s history, including those focusing on the Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial periods.

Other exhibitions include photos from around El Paso and artifacts from Native American tribes in the region.

There is also an art gallery at the museum that houses various paintings by local artists!

Final Thoughts

Whatever you do in El Paso, you will find something unique and enjoyable.

From museums to parks and historic sites, there are always new things to see and do in El Paso.

Plan your trip today and discover the free things to do in El Paso, Texas!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.