Making the most of a weekend in Las Cruces
8 things to see, eat and experience in and around the City of Crosses
Nestled in the Mesilla Valley of southern New Mexico, Las Cruces boasts an artistic and historic charm that makes it the perfect destination for a southwest road trip. Here's how to make the most of your time there.
1. Hike the Organ Mountains
Check out the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument. The mountains are a uniquely shaped and rugged mountain range that sits as the main backdrop for the city of Las Cruces. Lace up your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and enjoy.
2. Immerse yourself in southwestern arts and culture
With a growing community of artists and a variety of local galleries, Las Cruces boasts a vibrant art scene. For a variety of contemporary and southwestern inspired works, the Las Cruces Museum of Art is the place to venture.
3. Take a selfie with a giant roadrunner
West of town, just beyond the city limits, a giant roadrunner watches over the cars zooming by on Interstate 10. Made of recycled material, this one-of-a-kind monument is worth the quick detour. Get an up-close look at how artist Olin Calk fashioned discarded tires, shoes, keyboards and more into one of the area’s favorite landmarks.
4. Travel back in time
Keep heading south on University Avenue, and you’ll pass through historic Old Mesilla. Every historic storefront, restaurant and neighborhood is built with aged adobe. Visit the historic plaza in Old Mesilla and drop by the famed Fountain Theatre.
5. Go back to school, test your tastebuds
It’s true, New Mexicans love chile peppers. But only in Las Cruces will you find a research department entirely devoted to the vegetable—the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. Visitors to the facility can pick up cookbooks, sweet and spicy treats, salsas and a variety of chile pepper seeds to take home for their own garden. Swing through the Whataburger just south of campus off University Avenue for a Green Chile Double Burger – a New Mexico favorite.
6. Shop the farmers market
On Saturday mornings, everyone is at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market on the downtown plaza. Shoppers have their choice of fresh fruits and veggies, all locally grown in Dona Ana County, as well as handcrafted jewelry, art and homegoods. Not in the mood to buy? Enjoy live music and street performers while you breathe in the sights and sounds of this historic city.
7. Catch a show
Drive Main Street at night, and you can’t miss the neon-bright sign of the historic Rio Grande Theatre. Opened in 1926, it is the only operating two-story adobe theater in the country – and it’s the perfect spot to catch a classic film or check out the work of local dancers and musicians.
8. Melt in the sand
Visit one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders: White Sands National Monument, made of gypsum white sand deposits. Hike and sled the sand dunes, then stay for sunset to understand why New Mexico is known as The Land of Enchantment.