Best Things to Do in Las Cruces (NM)

Best Things to Do in Las Cruces, The Spanish name for New Mexico’s Las Cruces city is “The Crosses,” which is fitting given the area’s religious significance.

Whether or not the original name linked to crosses, the city’s location at the intersection of two major thoroughfares has cemented its nickname as “The Crossroads.”

The city and surrounding area gained notoriety as a safe haven for miners in the past, and it is also noted for having hosted historical figures like Billy the Kid and Mexican leader Pancho Villa.

Las Cruces’s rise to fame can be attributed in no small part to the city’s renowned New Mexican cuisine and its unique blend of southwestern hospitality, history, and culture.

Best Things to Do in Las Cruces

Best Things to Do in Las Cruces
Best Things to Do in Las Cruces

Picacho Avenue Antiques Mall

If you enjoy hunting for vintage goods and would like to spend a day doing so in the downtown Las Cruces area, Picacho Avenue is the place to go.

If you’re looking for a genuine memento from your time in Las Cruces, the best location to do it is in this neighborhood, which is packed with antique shops selling historical antiques from the region and is known for its great quality and reasonable prices.

Museum of Nature and Science

Although it is not as large as some of the other museums in Las Cruces, the Museum of Nature and Science nonetheless has a number of interesting displays about the local flora and wildlife.

To that purpose, there is a little zoo housing about 40 real-life creatures native to the area, with a concentration on desert species. If you’re curious about the desert ecosystems of the Las Cruces area, the Museum of Nature and Science is a great place to learn more about them and other topics related to science and nature.

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Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, located outside of Las Cruces, is committed to protecting the forested areas along the Rio Grande.

The park’s expansive 305 acres make it a great spot for outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking, as well as other options like fishing in the nearby Rio Grande.

The park’s marsh habitat attracts a wide variety of birds, making it a prime destination for nature lovers interested in bird watching.

Fountain Theater

The Fountain Theater, constructed in the state’s trademark adobe design in 1905, is widely regarded as the state’s oldest operating movie theater.

The theater is not just a historic landmark in the New Mexico community, but it is also fully operational and shows movies regularly, including the kinds of old favorites that movie enthusiasts seek out. If you enjoy Westerns, you should read this immediately.

Branigan Cultural Center

If you’re interested in learning more about the Las Cruces area, especially its artistic scene, the Branigan Cultural Center has something for you.

The Branigan Cultural Institution is home to several museums, including the Museum of Fine Art and Couture and the Las Cruces Historical Museum. The center also houses collections of local artists’ works, including sculptures, photography, textiles, and historical artifacts.

It would be a shame to miss out on this interesting display if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Organs Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Located in the Organs Mountains outside of Las Cruces, this monument protects about half a million acres and is a popular hiking destination.

The location is great if you want to spend a day exploring the beautiful landscapes that surround Las Cruces, and the trails here are clearly marked and simple to navigate.

Beautiful vistas of the Organ Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert may be seen from any of the trails in the area.

The monument can be accessed quickly and easily from Las Cruces, and visitors can also see some of the native flora and fauna that have adapted to the dry climate.


Old Mesilla

Mesilla, located to the south of Las Cruces, holds historical significance as the site of Billy the Kid’s trial.

Old Mesilla is the place to go for genuine Mexican cuisine and unique regional wares.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you may even take a walking tour of the downtown plaza area, which is claimed to be full with ghosts from the days when miners and historical figures lived and died there.

Fort Seldon State Monument

Fort Seldon, a United States Army fortress dating back to 1865, was erected to safeguard the growing population in the Mesilla Valley.

Although much of the original fort has been destroyed, visitors can still explore the fort’s adobe-style brick fortifications and learn about frontier life at the informative and interesting visitor center.

Weekends typically bring live demonstrations that will make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time.

Las Cruces Museum of Art

A primary goal of the Las Cruces Museum of Art is to increase public awareness of and appreciation for art in Las Cruces and the surrounding region of New Mexico.

The museum features both year-round permanent displays and changing temporary exhibits that focus on local history and culture.

Many of the displays, which can contain everything from sculpture to photographs to paintings, also have informative lectures.

The museum hosts demonstrations and art seminars, with a focus on contemporary art and the promotion of emerging artists in the area.

Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, from dawn to early afternoon, Las Cruces has a Farmers and Crafts Market where locals and visitors alike may buy and sell handmade goods.

You can pick up some great handcrafted jewelry, leather goods, and regional ceramics and pottery here, making it one of the greatest sites to pick up some regional souvenirs.

In addition to the usual assortment of tourist trinkets, this farm market boasts an abundance of delicious, locally sourced fare.

Railroad Museum

The Railroad Museum may be found in the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown Las Cruces and is a must-see for any railfan.

Multiple permanent exhibits and relics from the era are on display at the Railroad Museum, which charts the development of railroads in and around Las Cruces.

Model railroads, complete with miniature trains and route diagrams, are also on display.

The real caboose that was once the site’s highlight is now out of commission, but it still provides an excellent feel for what it was like to ride the rails in Las Cruces.


La Vina Winery

Although the dry heat at Las Cruces is ideal for growing grapes and ripening them into wine, few tourists are aware of this fact.

Consequently, Las Cruces is home to a plethora of wineries, including the world-famous La Vina Winery, which is responsible for organizing the city’s yearly October wine festival.

La Vina Winery, site of the festival, also offers tours, tastings, and information on the current vintage’s grape varieties and winemaking techniques at any time of year.

White Sands National Monument

To the east of Las Cruces, about 45 miles, is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.

The dunes provide a glimpse into the native plant and wildlife that manage to flourish in these arid and difficult conditions, and visitors have likened the monument to a scene from another universe.

There are undeveloped white sand dunes here where you may go surfing or tobogganing, and there are also picnic places.

The monument spans 275 square miles, and there are guided tours like the Sunset Stroll Nature Walk, led by local guides who will fill tourists in on all the area’s highlights.


New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

Visitors interested in learning more about agriculture in New Mexico and its lengthy history (which extends back more than 3,000 years) won’t want to miss the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.

Cows are milked by hand as part of a demonstration of local agricultural and cooking traditions on display at the museum, which provides an educational setting for visitors of all ages.

You may also go visit the animals in their corrals and learn everything about the various types of cows used in farming in the Las Cruces area.

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Green Chili Trail

A self-guided tour of restaurants and pubs serving chili-themed fare is available as part of the Walk of Flame.

Since the city of Las Cruces takes great pride in its green chilies—so much so that the local university has an entire research center devoted to studying them—it stands to reason that visitors should also try out some of the city’s chili-based meals.

Visit local restaurants along the Green Chili Trail and sample classic Mexican cuisine cooked with green chilies, as well as specialties that are unique to the Las Cruces region.

Green chili vodka, green chili martinis, and maybe even green chili beer are among the more out-there options.

In addition to providing insight into the cultivation and harvesting processes, the Walk of Flame also provides an overview of the history of chili production in Las Cruces.