Franklin Mountains State Park
Piotr Kalinowski Photos / Shutterstock
If youre a lover of the great outdoors, one of the things to see is Franklin Mountains State Park.
With 27,000 acres under its belt, the Franklin Mountains State Park boasts more than a hundred miles of trails for hiking, biking, and even rock climbing, with five RV locations and 14 tent sites for those who want to rough it overnight.
There are plenty of fun ways to occupy yourself in this El Paso, Texas state park.
Go geocaching, look for wildlife to watch and observe, follow programs led by experienced rangers, or simply enjoy one of El Pasos greatest tourist attractions to its fullest.
Youll be impressed by great spots along the way, like the 12,000-year-old rock carvings left by Native Americans and Ranger Peak, which reaches 5,632 feet into the air.
Address: Tom Mays Park Access Rd, El Paso, TX 79930, United States
El Paso Mission Trail
To truly appreciate El Pasos history and culture, you must walk the Mission Trail. The path will guide you to vital surviving Spanish missions and unveil El Pasos rich history that blends countries, traditions and customs.
Texas oldest mission, the Ysleta Mission, built in 1682, is on the trail, which provides you with an eye-popping connection to the past. Along with several other historic missions built in the 17th and 18th century, you will find prominent art galleries, and the Tigua Indian Cultural Center.
Lastly, the trail takes you to some of the best restaurants in town who serve authentic El Paso cuisine that puts the towns diverse history onto one plate.
Hit The El Paso Mission Trail
Encompassing the most important surviving Spanish mission stations in Texas, the Mission Trail starts in El Paso and is one of the best ways for tourists to explore the state’s rich multicultural heritage.
A highlight of this popular scenic driving route is the Ysleta Mission. Consecrated in 1682, it’s the oldest such structure in Texas. Others you’ll see along the way are the Socorro Mission, first built in 1691, and San Elizario with its Spanish garrison church from 1789. Many other authentic cultural highlights surround the missions, including local eateries, art galleries, and institutions like the Tigua Indian Cultural Center.
Address: 9065 Alameda Avenue, El Paso, Texas
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See The Exhibits At The El Paso Museum Of Art
This free art museum in El Paso is a great place to visit to see amazing artwork. The museum was founded in 1959 and is the largest of its kind in southwestern Texas.
Here you can find a range of diverse artwork by Italian Masters to local El Paso artists. The museum collection is really beautiful and it is a great place to spend a couple of hours while visiting El Paso.
Wow Things To Do In El Paso Texas
Many people drive I-10 going across New Mexico and Texas, going through El Paso. But not many people stop long enough to discover that El Paso is a bi-national, multi-cultural city of surprises. Take the Downtown Arts District exit off the freeway and youll soon discover what I mean. These are my 10 reasons to visit El Paso, making it a destination in your travels.
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Start Planning Your Trip To El Paso
There is no shortage of El Paso attractions to visit, whether youre seeking the top free options or are willing to spend a little extra dough.
Its hard not to have fun with so many places to visit throughout El Paso, and we hope that this guide has helped you find the very best that this delightful Texas city has to offer!
Centennial Museum And Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens offer plenty of stuff to do and some of the best free options for a tourist destination.
The attractions are housed in The University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP.
The Centennial Museum was opened in 1936, making it the first museum of El Paso and one of the universitys first structures.
It focuses heavily on culture and life at the border, with permanent exhibits that concentrate on the Chihuahuan Deserts cultural, natural, and historical aspects.
The natural history display is particularly interesting, educating visitors on local geology, fauna, and even paleontology.
There are even lectures to attend.
Meanwhile, the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens provide the opportunity to view gardens, landscapes, flora, and fauna local to the desert specifically.
Over 800 different plant species native to the region are displayed and thriving across multiple themed gardens.
Some exhibits are more unique, such as ones focusing on water conservation.
Address: El Paso, TX 79902, United States
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Discover El Pasos Culinary Side
While most know El Paso for its Mexican food and Tex-Mex food, the city also has many other famous restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.
From steakhouses to Greek and Mediterranean cuisines, you will find a variety of options for every taste bud. Or have an authentic Texan experience at Alamo Drafthouse where you can dine while watching a movie.
Getting Around El Paso
El Paso is such a large city that it may be practical to rent and drive your own vehicle. Driving in the downtown El Paso area can be quite tricky as there are lots of one-way streets, however, the outlying areas and neighborhoods are easier to navigate and find. That being said, if you are not keen on driving, El Pasos bus service is quite extensive and will take you throughout the downtown core and around the city.
Sun Metro operates more than 60 routes citywide, so it is adequate to get you where you need to go. In addition to that, there is a new streetcar line that loops between downtown and the university area, which is also quite convenient. There is also a free bus that circles around downtown from early morning till around 7 pm, but you can check online for all the bus schedules and routes operated by Sun Metro.
Taxis, Uber, and Lyft are all also available for hailing to get you where you need to go.
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Get Coffee At The Box
When I arrived in El Paso, I was told that for great coffee, go to the box. Wondering what a Coffee Box might look like, I walked the short blocks over near San Jacinto Plaza to find container boxes made into a coffee shop.
Coffee Box was within walking distance of downtown hotels. Photo courtesy Coffee Box
They tout pastries made by one of the best local chefs, craft coffees and interesting teas. Outside, the Coffee Box sports a colorful mural and is often the subject of Instagram photos.
Admire The View From The Franklin Mountains
If you are looking for some outdoor activity while in El Paso Texas, then visit Franklin Mountains State Park. This beautiful state park is located within the city limits of El Paso and is one of the largest urban parks in the country.
Franklin Mountain is a part of the Chihuahuan desert. It is located just 15 minutes from downtown El Paso and is excellent for birding, wildlife watching, and spending time in nature.
Related: Best State Parks to Visit in Texas
The best way to experience the state park and admire the panoramic vistas is on the Tom Mays scenic drive. It will lead you to a beautiful scenic overlook in the mountains.
Franklin Mountains State Park has many hiking, mountain biking trails. It is also popular for rock climbing in the McKelligon Canyon area and is one of the best places to camp in the El Paso area.
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Fun Things To Do In El Paso
Situated in the far west corner of Texas and often overlooked as merely a place to pass through on a road trip elsewhere, there are actually lots of fun things to do in El Paso!
Nicknamed the Sun City, El Paso boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year. The area settled thousands of years ago by native peoples the Spanish moved in as early as the 1600s, establishing a mission.
The citys rich history then grew as it passed on to Mexico, The Republic of Texas, and the United States.
Due to the citys location in West Texas and just across the Mexican border, it makes for at least a weekend or longer-term getaway. In this article, we will discuss the best things to do in El Paso when visiting this historic city and some of the top places to stay for every budget.
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Take In The Casa De Azucar
More of a quirky must visit, the Casa de Azucar is the embodiment of a mans promise to his wife to build her a beautiful house.
Since 1973, Rufino Loya has used his spare time and retirement chiseling away at cement to create beautiful and colorful carvings around his home.
The patterns carved into the cement are so delicate that the house was given the nickname Casa de Azucar, or House of Sugar in English.
If you have time to take a look at this legendary local home, you will be amazed at the precision work that it took to create a masterpiece.
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Visit The Frontier Missions On El Paso Mission Trail
Due to its location as a frontier town, El Paso is home to three beautiful and historic missions. You can see them together on the Historic Mission Trail which stretches for 9 miles in the area known as the Mission Valley.
These missions are Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission, and San Elizario Chapel. The missions date back to the 17th and 18th centuries and are some of the oldest churches in Texas. The whitewashed missions all have beautiful architecture and are worth a visit.
There are many other attractions along the mission trail including Los Portales Museum, art galleries in San Elizario Historic District, and other cultural attractions.
Go Hiking At Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Texas own Guadalupe Mountains National Park is just under 2 hours away from El Paso and can be easily seen on a day trip. Here you can experience the west Texas desert, beautiful mountain ranges, and canyons. You can hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak or see the beautiful white sand dunes in the park.
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Have A Cocktail At The Hotel Paso Del Norte
No walk through downtown El Paso would be complete without checking out the Dome Bar at the historic Hotel Paso Del Norte, Autograph Collection. With a circular bar and a 25-foot Tiffany-style glass dome as the centerpiece, the bar is a sight to see.
When I visited on a summer Friday night, the Dome Bar was buzzing with activity, with a piano player providing entertainment from the corner and customers chatting from the circular bar and surrounding booths.
Although all of the cocktails looked amazing, I loved the pretty pink-grapefruit mezcal paloma especially after discovering that the El Paso-based founders of the mezcal, MaybeWest Mezcal, were seated next to me at the bar promoting their new label. It was fascinating to hear about the origin of MaybeWests product in the remote areas of the Sierra Madre in western Mexico, and then tasting the smoky woodfire flavor of the mezcal against the tart grapefruit juice.
Take In A Sports Event
Baseball and soccer fans can enjoy a game at Southwest University Park, home to the Triple-A baseball team, the El Paso Chihuahuas, and the Locomotive Soccer team.
The home of the El Paso Chihuahuas is in downtown. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose
Chihuahua dog owners will want to check out the team shop for merch with cute chihuahua graphics.
The El Paso Chihuahuas vs the Fresno Grizzlies in El Paso. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/El Paso Chihuahuas
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Best Things To Do In El Paso
El Paso stands on the Rio Grand in the furthest western corner of Texas, and across the border from Chihuahua, Mexico so you can imagine how many Mexican influences exist in the city, and anything and everything from delicious spicy food to a generous helping of cultural attractions. El Pasos inhabitants make up about 700,000, as of 2015. There is plenty to see in this interesting city which is surrounded by amazing desert and diverse flora and fauna. From vibrant art galleries to famous historic sights, why not follow the trail Im about to lead you down!
Sightseeing In El Paso
For History Buffs
With more than 400 years of history, El Paso is a haven of Texas nostalgia. Take a walk through Downtown to see the Trost buildings of the 1920s, visit the centuries-old Spanish mission of Ysleta, or scope out the striking adobe architecture at the Magoffin Home Historic Site. You can also travel through time within 16,000 feet of diverse exhibits at the El Paso Museum of History.
For Outdoor Lovers
El Pasos more than 300 days of sunshine a year make the city an ideal spot for lovers of the outdoors. Hit the trails on foot or by bike at Franklin Mountains State Park or grab your clubs for a round at Butterfield Trail Golf Club. Thrill-seekers will also love Hueco Tanks, a world-class bouldering site where ancient pictographs adorn the rocks. Just a 90-minute drive over the state line into New Mexico is White Sands National Monument, a captivating landscape of rolling, bone-white dunes.
With its location on the border, its no surprise that El Paso is famous for its mix of hearty Texas cuisine and authentic Mexican flavors. Get ready for a finger-lickin plate of ribs at State Line or a cheesy enchilada at Avila, ranked one of the Top 50 Mexican Restaurants in the US by Hispanic Magazine. Though the city boasts many fine-dining restaurants as well, its the casual, family-run spots that really hit the spot. Dont leave town without a stop for Tex-Mex at the old-timey H& H Car Wash.
For Music Aficionados
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Wander Through Keystone Heritage Park
While most cities in Texas boast a beautiful botanical garden, El Pasos is a bit differentits built for the desert climate that El Paso calls home, and therefore looks quite different from the famous gardens in, say, Dallas, while still being absolutely beautiful.
In addition to the botanical garden, Keystone Heritage Park is also home to a 4,500-year-old archaeological site, and wetlands.
Magoffin Home State Historic Site
The pleasant one-and-a-half-acre grounds are also worth a visit. Operated by the Texas Historical Commission, the first stop on any visit to this historic home should be to the adjacent Visitor Center, where patrons can get signed up for a guided tour.
Address: 1120 Magoffin Avenue, El Paso, Texas
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H & H Car Wash And Coffee Shop
First up, dont get me wrong, Im not suggesting your car is looking anything less than pristine! I do want to suggest, however, that you drop by the citys much loved car wash and coffee shop to enjoy one of their fabulous American breakfasts or famous Tex-Mex lunches. As you tuck into plates of chili Colorado, burritos stuffed with chorizo, caldillo and some mouth watering picadillo, youll understand what I meant! This famous venue will remind you of vintage diners of the past, which still draws in customers from all walks of life including doctors and lawyers who come to experience some real home cooked food!
Learn About Local History At The Chazimal National Memorial
Dedicated to honoring the peaceful conclusion of a 100-year-long border dispute between the US and Mexico, the Chazimal National Memorial is run by the National Park Service. Visiting is one of the best things to do in El Paso, both to learn important local history and to enjoy a peaceful park setting.
The memorial includes an urban park with trails and memorials, as well as a museum, art gallery, and even a theater!
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Where To Stay In El Paso Texas If Youre A Backpacker
The Comfort Inn Airport East hotel is located just minutes from the El Paso International Airport, Juarez, Mexico, Fort Bliss, El Paso Zoo and El Paso Science Museum. This hotel features free WIFI and free hot breakfast. They also offer a large outdoor pool and hot tub.
Price: Starts at US$48 + US$8.33 taxes and charges, non-refundable.
This hotel offers free airport transfer service, an on-site restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and 24-hour gym. Rooms have a microwave, refrigerator and tea, and coffee-maker, TV with HBO, and free WiFi
Price: Starts at US$43 + US$7.44 taxes and charges, free continental breakfast, non-refundable.
Centennial Museum And The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens were built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the independence of Texas from Mexico and feature displays related to the natural and cultural history of the Southwest and Mexico.
The museum is located on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso and houses both permanent and changing exhibits that deal with archaeology, ethnology, geology, and paleontology, as well as the arts and sciences.
The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens has more than 800 species of native plants in different themed gardens, as well as exhibits dealing with water conservation. Lastly, the Lhakhang Cultural Exhibit features traditional Bhutanese architecture, murals, and more.
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