17 Cool Things to Do in Las Cruces On Your New Mexico Adventure

Planning an excursion to the Land of Enchantment? Be sure to make time to explore all the fun things to do in Las Cruces, NM. Nestled in the Mesilla Valley on the Rio Grande River, Las Cruces is dubbed “the happiest city in New Mexico.” With its amazing mosaic of stunning landscapes, rich history, vibrant cultural energy, and incomparable cuisine, this crossroads city is a Southwest USA must-see.

Discover a multitude of amazing tourist attractions in Las Cruces. Feel the echoes of the past in the historic Mesilla neighborhood. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of scenic parks and wildlife preserves. Explore old mining towns in the Chihuahuan Desert. Hit the trails on the Organ Mountains and soak up spectacular views of the rolling desert and brilliant blue skies.

Ready to plan the ultimate New Mexico sojourn? Grab this guide to the best places to visit in Las Cruces, NM, and head out!

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New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

New Mexico’s history as an agricultural wellspring is deep and rich – and there’s no better place to explore it than at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. Located on the eastern edge of Las Cruces, this 47-acre indoor/outdoor museum celebrates the region’s long farming and ranching history.

Trace New Mexico’s fascinating 4,000-year-old agricultural legacy through interactive exhibits, oral histories, intriguing artifacts, and recreations of living quarters that were once home to the area’s earliest indigenous farmers. Learn about the volatile beginnings of cattle ranching in New Mexico, the legendary cattle drives of the mid-1800s, and the often-overlooked role of women in agriculture.

You’ll also discover a treasure trove of art, tools, and historic structures at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. Get up close and personal with New Mexico’s farming past as you stroll through the site’s blacksmith shop, dairy barn, and sheep barn – complete with 21st-century barn animals!

Plaza de Las Cruces

If you want to put your finger on the Las Cruces pulse, head downtown to Plaza de Las Cruces. This lively plaza is the gathering place in the city, sitting at the heart of a slew of the city’s attractions and activities. Whether you want to grab a bite, catch a show, browse a bookstore, shop til you drop, or explore a museum, it’s all here.

In the mood for music? Snag a seat to savor the sounds of the Las Cruces Symphony, or catch one of the Plaza’s regular live musical performances. During the winter holidays, join the neighborhood’s Christmas carolers and watch the Christmas tree lighting.

Feeling frisky? Put on your dancing shoes and salsa under the twinkling lights of Plaza de Las Cruces. Worked up a thirst? Sit back and chill out at one of the neighborhood’s bevy of cafes or breweries.

Museum of Nature & Science

Indiana Jones wannabes will get a kick out of the Museum of Nature & Science. You and your crew can feed your natural curiosity at this family-friendly discovery center. Highlighting the amazing environments of the Chihuahuan Desert and southern New Mexico, this museum pays tribute to the Southwest’s archeological and astronomical wonders.

Take a trip into the distant past at the Museum of Nature & Science. Trek the Permian Trackways, showcasing two intriguing fossil tracks dating back millions of years. Marvel at dinosaur replicas and touchable fossilized footprints.

Experience the magic of desert environments in the Desert Life exhibit. Take a virtual journey through the plains, rivers, islands, and grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert, and enjoy up-close encounters with its native plants and animals.

Explore the final frontier at the museum’s Light & Space exhibit. Marvel at otherworldly images of the universe, take a virtual trip around the solar system and discover an interactive exhibit that lets you play among the stars.

Soledad Canyon

When you’re ready to take a breather from city sightseeing, just head 20 minutes out of town to experience the wonders of the breathtaking Soledad Canyon.

Nestled in the foothills of the Organ Mountains, the beautiful Soledad Canyon Day Use Area is set between two canyons: Soledad Canyon and Bar Canyon. Boasting lush woods, deep canyons, and enthralling vistas, this site is a nature lover’s dream.

Hit the famous three-mile Bar Canyon Trail Loop and soak in spectacular views of the Organ Mountains and the Mesilla Valley. It’s an easy-going trek of just over 90 minutes, but if you don’t feel like hoofing it, bring your bike or an equine companion.

Stay on the trail, and you’ll be rewarded by the sight of the legendary Old Stone House, the remnants of a homestead dating back to the early 1900s. Press on, and you’ll encounter another wonderful sight: a waterfall! The perfect spot to unpack your picnic hamper and snap some pics.

Las Cruces Railroad Museum

The railroad played a major role in the history of Las Cruces and the surrounding region – and the Las Cruces Railroad Museum pays tribute to that legacy. This unique attraction earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Chug on over, and you’ll see why.

For starters, its setting is the striking circa-1910 Santa Fe Depot. The Las Cruces Railroad Museum is dedicated to commemorating and interpreting the region’s railway history as far back as 1800, so step inside and get ready to take a fascinating trip into the past!

Browse the museum’s enthralling collection of historic photos and antique railroad artifacts. Museum staff will be happy to give you the inside scoop on the stories behind the exhibits.

Save the best for last. Head for the model train room, home to a huge electric train exhibit that invites hands-on participation. It’ll be a surefire hit with kids—and kids at heart!

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

If you’re craving an immersive wilderness experience, buckle up and head out to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Less than 30 minutes from Las Cruces in the Mesilla Valley, this enthralling slice of protected territory is rich in history and natural beauty.

Sprawling across nearly 500,000 acres, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument boasts miles of hiking trails, some of the most popular located in the Dripping Springs Natural Area. On the way, you’ll encounter trails studded with petroglyph-lined canyons and over 200 archeological sites.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

At Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, you can walk in the footsteps of intrepid 19th–century travelers and feel their presence in ghostly building remnants. Conjure the ghost of the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid at the park’s namesake rock, and see the cave where the warrior Geronimo found refuge.

The human presence is just a memory, but the wildlife population thrives. With its habitats of forests, deserts, and plains, this territory teems with life – so pack the binoculars! Look w-a-a-y up, and you might just spot some red-tailed hawks or golden eagles soaring overhead.

Old Mesilla Village

Want to experience some old-time charm? Put the Old Mesilla Village on your vacation agenda. Just five minutes south of Las Cruces, this vibrant historical neighborhood dates back to 1848. It’s been an economic and cultural hub ever since, and it remains one of the most popular places to visit in New Mexico.

Today, Old Mesilla Village is populated by the descendants of Mesilla’s early settlers, creating a colorful mosaic of indigenous, Mexican, Spanish, and Anglo-American cultures. That rich diversity is present in everything from food to art to architecture.

Soak up the energy of the bustling main plaza, a popular community gathering place. Take a stroll through this National Historic Landmark to browse the colorful adobe structures that have been repurposed as art galleries, boutiques, wineries, restaurants, and B&Bs.

You might feel a chill at the sight of the old courthouse where Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang—but you can warm up again over a scrumptious Mexican meal.

Las Cruces Museum of Art

On the hunt for some family-friendly fun on your Las Cruses journey? You’ll find plenty at the Las Cruces Museum of Art. With attractions ranging from the Reading Art Book Club to Japanese folk dancing, this destination offers something for everyone in your crew here.

The Las Cruces Museum of Art is home to an ever-changing roster of contemporary art exhibits featuring works by local, national, and international artists. Browse a diverse collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, and more. Get the inside scoop on the works and their creators with lively presentations by the museum staff.

Want to unleash your inner artist? Check out demonstrations and workshops for all ages offered in the museum’s art studio. Feed your brain a well-rounded meal with the SNAP (Science, Nature, and Art Program), where you can engage in creative scientific exploration with both hands.

Amaro Winery

Ready to sip some liquid gold? Tempt your tastebuds with a visit to the Amaro Winery. A hidden gem set on a Las Cruces side street, this family-owned winery gives off a relaxed, welcoming vibe.

The Amaro Winery is a long-time local favorite and a great way to sample the unique flavors produced by New Mexico’s lush soil. The winery offers an array of award-winning wines made from premium grapes grown right in their backyard.

Stroll through the on-site winery, and stop to watch the resident winemaker create ambrosia. Then get down to sampling! Red or white, dry to sweet – you’ll easily find something to please your palate here. 

Relax with a glass in the tasting room, or kick back on the pup-friendly outdoor patio. Nibble on a cheese tray, or hit the food truck when hunger strikes.

Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture

Yes, Virginia, there really is a roadrunner. And he’s not just Wile E. Coyote’s cartoon nemesis! This feathered friend just happens to be the state bird of New Mexico—and it’s immortalized inside the iconic Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture just outside of Las Cruces.

Measuring 40 feet long by 20 feet tall, this bodacious bird is made entirely of recycled materials. Local artist Olin Calk wanted to draw attention to unnecessary waste, and he’s done it by sourcing “preloved” items from thrift stores and recycling centers.

Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture

Get up close and admire the artistry that went into creating the Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture. The skin is fabricated from sheet metal, the beak is a hammered trash can, and the eyes are Volkswagen headlights.

The crested head is exquisitely crafted with belts, rhinestones, and windshield wipers. The body is feathered with everything from paintbrushes to golf clubs to old sneakers.

Behold and marvel. Meep-meep!

Zuhl Museum

If you’re a fan of both history and art, you’ll find your happy place in the Zuhl Museum. Part of the New Mexico State University, this family-friendly attraction is part art gallery and part natural history museum.

Explore the Zuhl Museum’s diverse collection of over 1,800 intriguing fossilized specimens, and you’ll discover a space rock, a petrified sequoia trunk weighing at least 30,000 pounds, rare gems, and much more.

Check out the largest collection of petrified wood in the world. Ranging from twigs to meter-wide logs, some of these “souls of the trees” date back millions of years. Get enthralling closeups of fossilized animals, including corals, fishes, insects, and a baby mammoth skeleton.

There’s even a space at the Zuhl Museum just for kiddos, where they can learn and play as they create art, read books, build with blocks, and more.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park

If you’re craving a convenient retreat from the bustle of town, make your way to Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. An easy 1.5-mile jaunt from Las Cruces, this oasis offers over 340 acres where you can unwind and immerse yourself in nature.

Drop by the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park visitor center to pick up a self-guided tour map then hit the user-friendly trail. Make your first stop at the native plant garden, where you can browse an eye-popping array of native flowering shrubs, trees, and cacti. You’ll also get enticing glimpses of hummingbirds, butterflies, and other nectar-sipping creatures.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park

Dedicated to preserving the forests and wetlands along the Rio Grande, Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park is home to a wide range of species (including the legendary roadrunner). The wetland area is a magnet for dozens of bird species, including geese, herons, and egrets—so grab those binoculars!

Want the best possible view? Stake out a spot behind one of the park’s wildlife viewing blinds and watch nature at play.

White Sands National Park

If you’re looking for some other-worldly beauty, set your compass for White Sands National Park. About an hour away from Las Cruces, this natural wonder stretches over 275 square miles. Prepare to be wowed by the magic of these cool, powder-like white sands.

Drive through the park on Dunes Drive and take in the panorama of the shape-shifting fields of White Sands National Park. Or get out and explore on foot. (C’mon, you know you want to sink your feet into that glistening white stuff1) Trek the backcountry trails or stroll the wooden Interdune Boardwalk.

White Sands National Park

Make the experience special with a ranger-led Sunset Stroll—and keep your camera handy to capture a breathtaking mountain sunset.

Time your visit to White Sands National Park right, and you can bask in the celestial glow of the Full Moon Hike. Live music provided!

Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces

If you want to savor the flavor of the Mesilla Valley’s vibrant culture, carve out time for the Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces. For over half a century, this iconic meeting place has been home to hundreds of vendors selling locally-made foods and crafts.

Pet- and family-friendly, the Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces hosts hundreds of vendors and covers seven city blocks. Check out a bounty of produce ranging from right-off-the-farm eggs to grass-fed beef to organic veggies.

Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces

Browse to the beat of live music and inhale the aromas of fresh produce and delicious prepared foods. Tuck into treats that include anything from traditional New Mexican food to exotic treats like chile pecan brittle.

In addition to edibles, the market serves up handcrafted goods that are strictly homegrown. Scope out offerings that include ceramics, photography, clothing, furniture, and more. Learn about the local art scene from craft creators—and find the perfect memento to take home with you.

High Desert Brewing Co.

Looking for the perfect spot to slake your thirst after a day of sightseeing? Mosey on down to the High Desert Brewing Co., and you’ll hit the jackpot. This craft brewery offers a great selection of locally-made brews, along with fantastic pub grub and a laid-back vibe.

Since this crew has consistently won the state’s yearly IPA challenge, IPAs would be a smart place to start. But don’t fence yourself in. The High Desert Brewing Co. offers an impressive rotating selection of over two dozen lagers and ales, too.

Looking for something a little different? Take a test run of the house-brewed root beer, or savor some refreshing hard cider. When hunger hits, order up some tasty pub food like the highly recommended chile cheeseburger. Then, head out to the patio to sip and savor.

Milagro Coffee Y Espresso

Looking for a chill place to linger over your cuppa Joe? Check out Milagro Coffee Y Espresso, a popular coffee shop set in the Pan Am Plaza across from the New Mexico State University Campus. Serving the neighborhood for over 20 years, Milagro Coffee Y Espresso has become a local favorite.

The fragrant coffees at Milagro Coffee Y Espresso are made from small-batch roasts sourced from growers around the world. Pair your selection with a fresh bagel or pastry from the in-house bakery. Want something more substantial? Opt for a panini, sandwich, or made-from-scratch burrito.

If you’re in a hurry, get it to go. But if you’ve got time to linger, settle in at a Wi-Fi-friendly table indoors or on the patio, and watch the world go by.

The Shed

If you’re hankering for something hearty to take the edge off, head for The Shed. This lively Southwest-style café serves up all-day breakfasts, plus sandwiches & wood-fired pizzas at lunch. Whatever your choice, it’s guaranteed handcrafted from scratch and chock-full of tasty locally-sourced ingredients.

Power up for your day with picks from a mouthwatering menu that features everything from Huevos Rancheros to Buttermilk Pancakes, or stop by for lunch and dig into filling treats like fish tacos and southern-style enchiladas. Build a masterpiece of a sandwich on one of five freshly-baked breads. How does Green Chile Cheddar sound?

On Saturdays, you can quench your thirst at The Shed with a luscious $3.50 mimosa. (How refreshing!)

Treksplorer

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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