El Paso, a city in Texas, USA, is found in the furthest western area of the state and right across the border of Chihuahua, Mexico. It’s a relatively big city, making it the fourth-largest city in the state. As of 2020, El Paso has a population of 679,879.
This city is rich in culture, especially because it’s just right across Mexico, so you’ll expect a vibrant history and culture when you visit. It is home to several museums, beautiful parks, and historical attractions, and it also provides people with delicious food.
There are several beautiful places to go and wonderful things to do in El Paso that you’ll surely want to experience. However, we cannot possibly fit everything in one blog, so here are some of the 25 of the greatest things to do in El Paso.
1. Go and visit The Mission Trail and Ysleta Mission
Among the city’s historical attractions, the Mission Trail is located in El Paso County’s Mission Valley. The Mission Trail consists of three El Paso Missions, one of which is the Ysleta Mission. This Mission was the oldest Mission out of the three and was established by the Tigua Indians in 1682.
The Mission Trail, especially the Ysleta Mission, speaks much about El Paso’s rich history and culture. The Missions will help you learn about Texas’s 300-year worth of history. Around the area, you’ll see beautiful sceneries and many picnic spots. So the Mission Trail is definitely worth the visit.
2. Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
One of the city’s top historical attractions is the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site. It is a low-mountain attraction that allows visitors to hike, camp, rock climb, etc. Aside from that, visiting Hueco Tanks State Historic Site will help you understand its history and tour the beautiful areas of this park.
You will see a lot of nature trails in this park and get a glimpse of the wonderful terrains and beautiful native birds in the city. You can avail tour guides, but they also allow self-guided tours in the park.
3. See the spectacular view of the mountains through the Wyler Aerial Tramway
One way to see the stunning landscapes in the Franklin Mountains is to ride the gondola lift in the Wyler Aerial Tramway. This is found in Franklin Mountain State Park and is visited by many people annually.
The route of the gondola lift starts from the tramway station and ends at the Ranger Peak. It’s a four-minute gondola ride, and you’ll surely love every second of it as you’ll see spectacular views of the canyons and beautiful rock formations.
4. Visit the El Paso Museum of Art
If you love art, then the El Paso Museum of Art is a must-visit. This museum is located in the old El Paso and was established in 1959.
Some of the permanent art collections in the museum feature works from artists like Gilbert Stuart and Manuel Gregorio Acosta. Aside from the beautiful artworks, the museum also gives art classes and storytelling sessions for the residents of El Paso.
The museum has free admissions and attracts over 100,000 people annually.
5. Have a scenic drive on the Overlook
Among the best activities to do in the city is to have a scenic drive, and the Overlook is surely one of the best places to go. This Overlook is situated in El Paso’s rugged mountains, so you’ll see beautiful panoramic views of the city and the Mexican border.
A scenic drive on the Overlook will give you a break from the busy city and, at the same time, let you experience spectacular sunsets and a relaxing ambiance. The scenic drive on the Overlook is among the most-visited places in El Paso, and you’ll definitely not regret going there.
6. Explore the wildlife at El Paso Zoo
Visiting El Paso Zoo is great, especially if you’re with your family and friends. You’ll see many friendly and wild animals in this zoo like the eagles, meerkats, sea lions, tortoises, and more.
The El Paso Zoo also offers interactive animal shows and allows you to see different animals up close. So add the El Paso Zoo to your itinerary because everyone, especially the kids, will surely enjoy the visit.
7. Watch a show in the Plaza Theatre
The Plaza Theatre is one of the historical buildings in El Paso that locals and tourists love. It was established in 1927, and until now, the Plaza Theatre still produces great shows, such as concerts and Broadway shows.
One of the reasons why the Plaza Theatre is visited by many is its elegant interior and furnishings. The theater’s exterior is Spanish-inspired, and it has beautiful mosaic tile flooring and elegant wrought iron handrails.
8. Learn about the Holocaust at El Paso Holocaust Museum
The El Paso Holocaust Museum is a great place to visit, especially if you want to learn more about the history and the Holocaust. The founder of this museum was Henry Kellen, one of the Holocaust survivors.
In this museum, you’ll see actual happenings during the Holocaust and get a glimpse of the concentration camps during WWII through videos. Some exhibits show the people’s resistance movements during those times and authentic artifacts owned by the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Most exhibits displayed are permanent. However, there are also traveling exhibits throughout the year.
9. Visit the Franklin Mountains State Park
One of the city’s largest parks, the Franklin Mountains State Park, is approximately 24,000 acres wide. It is a beautiful outdoor park that offers fun-filled outdoor activities that everybody will enjoy.
Some activities you can do in the Franklin Mountains State Park are biking, geocaching, hiking, and rock climbing. You may have a picnic or camp out in the mountains and enjoy bird-watching with your family and friends.
10. Visit the Chamizal National Memorial
Another urban park to visit in El Paso is the Chamizal National Memorial. It is located on Mexico and the US border, and this park represents a peaceful settlement between the two countries after a hundred-year dispute.
In the Chamizal National Memorial, you’ll see the city’s flora and fauna or go biking and hiking around the area. Every weekend, the park also offers entertainment shows, such as concerts and dance performances.
11. Learn more about US Border Patrol in the National Border Patrol Museum
Another museum in the city is the National Border Patrol Museum. It’s a free-admission museum that allows you to travel back in the Old West times and witness the United States Border Patrol history.
Here you’ll witness how the US Border Patrol was established in 1928 and get a glimpse of authentic artifacts showing the agency’s history. The National Border Patrol Museum showcases different vehicles that the US Border Patrol used throughout the years and lets you visit the Prohibition Era and the period of WWII.
12. Stop by the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden
If you are a lover of roses, visit the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden. It’s four acres wide and consists of 320 different varieties of roses at more than 1,460 bushes. This Municipal Rose Garden was established in 1959 and underwent several expansions until it reached its current size.
The Rose Garden usually offers tours, especially when the roses are in full bloom. The rose garden hosts several events like the Kids and Kows every year and conducts agricultural literacy events for the kids.
13. Explore the Centennial Museum and the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
The Centennial Museum and the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens are popular attractions located within the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso. The Centennial Museum, the first-ever museum in the city, focuses all on Southwest Texas and Mexico’s history throughout the years. It showcases the city’s archives and different permanent exhibits and lectures about the important events in the state before its independence from Mexico.
After a great learning experience at the Centennial Museum, you can stop by the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens and see over 800 species of native plants in the state. It was established in 1999 and continues to attract thousands of visitors every year.
14. Engage in a thrilling adventure at Western Playland Amusement Park
If you want to spend your day in an amusement park, go and check out the Western Playland Amusement Park. This amusement park consists of many thrilling rides, like the El Bandido roller coaster ride and the Tsunami ride, which by the name itself, is a water coaster that shoots up massive tidal waves.
Aside from these two big thrilling rides, the Western Playland Amusement Park also offers fun rides for the kids, so everybody will surely have fun. The park has many snacks like hamburgers, nachos, and sodas, and it also provides visitors with pavilions where you can rest and eat after a thrilling adventure.
15. Visit the Southwest University Park
If you’re in downtown El Paso, make sure to visit Southwest University Park. It is a baseball stadium in the city, about five acres wide, with an exterior beautifully-designed with red bricks. Here, visitors can watch ball games while enjoying a glimpse of the city’s skyline and the breathtaking Franklin Mountains.
The Southwest University Park is also the venue for several events in the city. It also allows locals to host events like parties, meetings, and graduation ceremonies in its facilities like the City Hall Grill and the Sun Kings Saloon.
16. Watch a football game in the Sun Bowl Stadium
The Sun Bowl Stadium is another stadium in El Paso, but now, it’s a football stadium. It’s the home of the UTEP Miners football team, and it is also where the Sun Bowl is usually held.
If you are a sports enthusiast, you’ll surely enjoy spending time here watching a college football game with friends and family. The Sun Bowl Stadium has a maximum capacity of 51,000 and is located within the campus of the UTEP.
17. Study human history at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology
If you love studying the history of humans and human activities, you’ll enjoy in El Paso Museum of Archaeology. It features numerous exhibits that showcase fossils and authentic artifacts in El Paso. The museum showcases the history of the city from over 14,000 years ago.
You can also learn more about the history of Southwest and northern Mexico. The El Paso Museum of Archaeology consists of an area full of greeneries, so you can stroll around the area and give yourself a breath of fresh air.
18. Wander around the Magoffin Home State Historic Site
One of the city’s historical attractions you must visit is the Magoffin Home State Historic Site. Joseph Magoffin built it in 1875, and it displays the family’s cultural heritage. While wandering around the area, you will notice how the Magoffins have a superb Territorial architectural style.
As you explore the Magoffin Home State Historic Site, you’ll give greater appreciation to the interior and exterior designs of the house. The Magoffin Home is the only one of the historic houses in El Paso that’s open to the public. This site showcases the elegant Antebellum Period and tells a story about the home’s role during the American Civil War.
19. Learn more about the city’s history at the El Paso Museum of History
Learn more about the city’s history at the El Paso Museum of History. This museum tells the visitors about how the city has a multinational history and gives them an educational experience about the Paso del Norte.
The El Paso Museum of History consists of several interactive exhibits and activities for people of all ages. The exhibits will let you travel through the history of El Paso and show you the locals’ struggle in the past to achieve Civil Rights and all other significant events that made the city what it is today.
20. Shop at the Downtown Art & Farmers Market
The Downtown Art & Farmers Market is a marketplace in El Paso which operates every Saturday morning. It was established in the Union Plaza District in 2011 and has been a great place to buy fresh produce and beautiful artworks by local artists.
The market also offers live music performances, showcases different kinds of artworks, and provides good food. The artworks are made by local artists in the city, and the products in the farmers’ market are all locally grown.
21. Watch the Viva El Paso
Viva El Paso is an annual musical in the city which commemorates El Paso’s vibrant history and culture through singing, dancing, and acting. It is an outdoor musical with over 50 performers re-enacting the city’s history, from the early Indian settlement to the Wild West. Viva El Paso lasts for approximately two hours and will let you experience all the interesting things in El Paso in just one sitting.
You’ll enjoy watching the performers as they perform different acrobatics, do the cannon fire, and many more. The show usually starts from June to August and is shown every Thursday. Viva El Paso is a fun and interesting way to learn more about El Paso’s history, and over 25,000 people enjoy it every year.
22. Dine at the L & J Cafe
One way to learn about the culture of a place is to try its food. So, dine at the L&J Café and learn more about the culture of El Paso through their mouth-watering dishes and exceptional cuisine.
The L&J Café has been serving locals and tourists since 1927, and it remains among the top restaurants in the city. If you’re unfamiliar with their menu, you can get their classic enchiladas or order their Tres Leches cakes. The café serves some of the best classic meals in the city, so you surely don’t want to miss the food and the experience.
23. Stroll around the Ascarate Park and Golf Course
You can visit the Ascarate Park and Golf Course if you’re into golf. The Ascarate Park is probably one of the largest parks in the city and is an excellent place to have a whole day of fun with friends and family.
The park is approximately 400-acres wide, has a surface lake of 48 acres where you can do duck-feeding, and has a 280-acre golf course. The golf course features 18 holes and a total par of 27. There are also areas in the park with sports fields and playgrounds for kids.
24. Finish the Thousand Steps Trail
Visit the Thousand Steps Trail in Franklin Mountains State Park and do outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and rock climbing. The trail stretches over four miles and has 2,175 ft. elevation.
Exploring the Thousand Steps Trail is a strenuous activity, and it would usually take approximately three hours to finish the whole trail. So remember to be prepared, have extra water, and bring an excellent gear you are comfortable with and suitable for the rocky path you’ll be taking.
25. Visit the St. Patrick Cathedral
St. Patrick Cathedral, the mother church in El Paso, is one of the city’s historical attractions. It’s a beautiful bricked cathedral that was first built in 1914.
The St. Patrick Cathedral is a combination of Romanesque and Byzantine architectural styles. It features stained glass windows that add to the beauty of the cathedral.
Visiting the St. Patrick Cathedral, whether you’ll be worshipping or just seeing the cathedral’s beauty, will always be worth your time.