Northwest of Las Cruces and tucked against the Pinos Altos Range and the Gila Wilderness (pronounced “hee-la”) lies an old mining town, affectionately named Silver City. It’s a quaint destination, rich in culture. While there are 10,000 people in the town and 30,000 in Grant County, this land mass covers almost 4,000 square miles. Silver City is the destination for wonderful art and outdoor activities.
Silver City isn't the kind of town people just stumble onto. Silver miners sought it out in the late 1800s, and more recently the town's Old West charm and high-desert location made it a magnet for outdoorsy and creative types. The historic district is home to casual restaurants that put the area's green chiles to good use. Silver City was recently selected as one of the healthiest places to live and retire.
It has a colorful history boasting tales from the early days of Billy the Kid, Geronimo, Judge Roy Bean, "Dangerous" Dan Tucker, and the Hearst family. You can explore the ancient cultures and see collections of distinctive black-on-white pottery that was developed 1,000 years ago by Mimbres Indians inhabiting the Silver City area. Among the numerous festivals and community events is the coveted Annual Blues Festival, which brings in talent from around the world and the Tour of the Gila, the five-stage iconic American bicycle race that is known internationally as a training destination for Tour de France competitors. It also has more art galleries per capita than Santa Fe. Enjoy fantastic, authentic Mexican food, explore museums and shop the day away for unique Southwestern art and souvenirs.
High in the Sierra Blanca Mountains sets the village of Ruidoso, which offers cooler temperatures and verdant trees in the Lincoln National Forest. For a more exciting time, take to the slopes at nearby Ski Apache resort or a day of racing at Ruidoso Downs Race Track. Just south of town is the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino, which offers golf, boating, hunting, and more.
Truth or Consequences and Riverbend Hot Springs
Just north off Interstate-25 is Truth or Consequences, a city known for its numerous hot springs, amazing food, and a funky atmosphere. Truth or Consequences is the county seat of Sierra County. In 2020, the population was 6,052. It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names for having chosen to rename itself in March 1950 after the Truth or Consequences radio show. Since before recorded history, the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs in this area have drawn people here. The hot thermal water flows out of a rift along the Rio Grande that appeared more than 50 million years ago. Located in the downtown Hot Springs Bathhouse Historic and Commercial District, the spas and bathhouses of Truth or Consequences are central to its history. The region gained recognition as a health center at the turn of the century, and in the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, motorists flocked to area resorts. Today, the charmingly restored hotels, motels, RV parks, and spas reflect a rich history and offer travelers a wide range of accommodations that retain the flavor of this bygone era, along with healing treatments including massage, reflexology, mud wraps, reiki, and more. Enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs with scenic views. Enjoy the social common areas, private pools, or rent a private room that comes with all-day access. RV hookups are available.
100 Austin St., Truth or Consequences, NM
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Elephant Butte Lake is the largest and most popular lake in New Mexico. It provides a setting for every imaginable water sport. The mild climate of the area makes this park a popular year-round destination. Besides sandy beaches, the State Park offers restrooms, picnic areas, playgrounds, and developed sites with electric and water hook-ups for RVs.
101 Hwy. 195, Elephant Butte, NM
Annual Cherry Festival at Nichols Ranch and Orchards
Celebrate everything cherry at this annual festival that includes picking, pies, cider, live music, arts and crafts, and much more. Outside of the two-day festival, enjoy breathtaking views during picking season for cherries and apricots while collecting a delicious, locally grown treat.
236 Cottonwood Canyon Rd., La Luz, NM
Diamonds in the Desert
Palomas, Mexico, and The Pink Store
The town of Palomas rests just across the border in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The town is safe. This mainstay of the region offers a true taste of the border with ceramics, jewelry, silver, and other folk art alongside an authentic Mexican restaurant and shopping at The Pink Store. This vibrant spot was once a camping site for the infamous Pancho Villa, and today its store and restaurant welcome thousands of visitors each year who take the easy day trip from across the border. The Pink Store is quite the jolly place. Adults and kids alike enjoy the spirit of the Mexican setting. The popular restaurant is surrounded by artisan products, pottery, carvings, jewelry, and textiles that have been shipped from all over the country. You can also enjoy a wandering mariachi group that serenades visitors from far and wide. Just a one-minute walk from the U.S.-Mexico border, this is one stop that will keep you coming back again and again. Don’t forget to try the margaritas. You don’t need to drive into Palomas. Just before the port of entry, there are several parking lots. They’re safe. Simply park and follow the pedestrian path into Mexico.
113 Av. 5 de Mayo, Puerto Palomas, Mexico
City of Rocks State Park
This natural wonder is about an hour and a half west of Las Cruces. The otherworldly landscape of sculpted rock columns, some as high as 40 feet tall, are separated by erosion into paths resembling city streets. With 5.5 miles of trails for hiking and biking and camping on-site, this is a popular destination for lovers of the desert beauty.
327 Hwy. 61, Faywood, NM
Sparky’s Burgers & BBQ + Hatch
Iconic Hatch, NM is known as the chile capital of the world. More than 30,000 tourists and natives flock to this small community situated along the fertile Rio Grande river valley in southern New Mexico each year. Any time of year, visitors can find stockpiles of roasted chile. During harvest time, you can hear the sizzle of chile skins searing and smell the sweet roasted fruit pods with every inhale. You can see ristras being made and may catch a glimpse of the glamorous Chile Queen.
Hatch is a relaxed place to pass through any time of year. Be sure to stop at Sparky’s Burgers, Barbeque and Espresso where oversized pieces of Americana grace his roof, restaurant, and grounds, and you can pose with life-sized statues of celebrities like Col. Sanders. Widely regarded as one of the finest burger joints in New Mexico, enjoy their famous green chile cheeseburgers made with fresh Hatch chile or traditional wood-fire barbecue and a milkshake! Then stroll through the chile stands so you can pack a little of the flavor of New Mexico to bring back to your new home.
When you hear the question, "Red, Green, or Christmas?" — you need to decide whether you’d like your plate covered with red chile, green chile, or both.
115 Franklin St., Hatch, NM
Chope’s Bar and Café
Historic Chope’s was established as a restaurant in 1915 by Longina and Margarito Benavides, when Longina began selling her enchiladas to locals. It was named for José "Chope" Benavides, their son, who took over in the 1940s. He wore chopos (overalls) often. The restaurant and bar remain in the family to this date. It has become a kitschy spot serving Mexican food, beer, and margaritas in the family’s converted house with a bar/cantina side.
16145 NM-28, La Mesa, NM
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park was established on October 25, 1923, in order to preserve the more than 100 known limestone caves. Exploring the massive cave system makes for a memorable day trip, and plan to stay into the evening! The flight of Mexican free-tailed bats from the entrance of Carlsbad Cavern is one of the park’s principal visitor attractions.
727 Carlsbad Caverns Hwy., Carlsbad, NM
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest deposit of gypsum sand, creating rolling dunes for miles and miles. This is truly a beautiful place to visit and admire sand that looks like fallen snow. It’s a great place to take the kids for a day while you relax, read a book, get a tan, or go on a hike.
Hwy. US-70 between Las Cruces and Alamogordo, NM
Mesilla Valley Maze
This is New Mexico's original corn maze and pumpkin patch right here in our hometown. This 30-acre facility ramps up annually for every fall season and is the place to be when you’re ready to welcome the fall season. This 30-acre facility is the home of a fantastic corn maze, hayrides, duck races, gem mining, farmer golf, face painting, picnicking and more. Definitely put it on your radar and don’t forget that this is a great place in town to buy your pumpkins!
3855 W. Picacho Ave.
La Union Maze
The Maze offers the Big Maze, a kids’ flower maze, family jumping pillow, big slide, pedal cars, target practice, sports throw, horse walk swing, rubber ducky races, sandbox, and picnic tables all under a huge tent. Rides to the pumpkin patch, cow train, and pig races are also offered during daylight hours. Concessions offered as well.
1101 Hwy. 28 (Mesilla Avenue), La Union, NM
El Paso Zoo
The El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure. Bigger and better than ever, the El Paso Zoo is an expansive green space that is home to exotic animals from around the world and features family attractions, such as the African Star Train, the Hunt Family Splash Pad, Foster TreeHouse Playground, and the Hunt Endangered Species Carousel.
4001 E. Paisano Drive, El Paso, Texas
New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum
For at least 4,000 years, people have been growing food in this region.
The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum tells this incredible story
through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, oral histories, objects, and educational programs. The 47-acre campus features several barns, animals, a greenhouse, play areas for children, an amphitheater, and the Heritage Garden.
4100 Dripping Springs Rd.
El Paso Chihuahuas Baseball
The El Paso Chihuahuas are El Paso’s minor league baseball team in the Pacific Coast League. They are the Triple-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres. The team plays its home games at Southwest University Park.
1 Ballpark Plaza, El Paso, Texas
Wet ‘N’ Wild
This oasis in the desert is an aquatic amusement park fashioned around a huge volcanic garden theme with mammoth fiberglass water slides, shady picnic areas, restaurant and snack bar.
8804 S. Desert Blvd., Anthony, Texas