Situated on the Rio Grande in far west Texas is El Paso, which is home to about 730,000 people. The gorgeous city is just across the border from Chihuahua, Mexico, so it exhibits plenty of Mexican influences ranging from cultural attractions to delicious cuisine.
Since El Paso is surrounded by everything from diverse flora and fauna to a stunning desert, there’s never a shortage of things to do in this Southwest gem.
No matter what you like to do, you’re sure to find something special in this charming Texas city. With literally thousands of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment, you’re never far from a memorable experience when you’re in El Paso!
15. Day Trip to Mexico
El Paso is situated along the U.S. national border with Mexico. Just across the Rio Grande is Ciudad Juarez. While the city may have made negative news headlines because of gang violence, a day trip to Juarez can still be a safe, pleasant, and welcoming chance to experience a different culture mere minutes from an American city.
Some places to explore include the historic downtown area, where you can see the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Nearby there are also many mercados (markets) where you can purchase authentic arts, crafts, and other touristy trinkets. The Museum of the Revolution in the Borderland tells the story of the Mexican Revolution and its leaders. The Juarez Cultural Center features art exhibits, concerts, and other events. La Rodadora ESpacio Interactivo features hands-on activities that cover topics like science, technology, arts, and culture. It’s fu n not only for kids but adults, as well.
14. Viva El Paso
If you’re planning on being in the El Paso area in June, July, or August, make sure you check out Viva El Paso, an annual celebration that celebrates the city’s history and culture with music, dancing, drama, and parades.
The festival receives more than 25,000 each year and features performances by dancers, acrobats, archers, and much more.
13. St. Patrick Cathedral
(image via Instagram)
One of El Paso’s historical landmarks and a stunning example of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, St. Patrick Cathedral had its first stone blessed and laid by Father Edward Barry and Father Francis Roy back in 1914.
After the death of Pope Pius X in 1915, Pope Benedict XV appointed the first bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, who took St. Patrick as his cathedral. The structure is worth the visit just for the architecture alone!
12. Insights El Paso
For lovers of dinosaurs, astronomy, and anything else scientific, Insights programs are a must-see. The events are filled to the brim with bones, fossils, interactive exploration areas, and many other attractions centered around everything from zoology to biology.
Forgoing the traditional stuffy museum atmosphere, Insights instead brings hands-on mobile exhibits into the community at pop-up events, festivals, and more occasions. While Insights is aimed at younger children, it also has something to offer visitors of all ages.
11. Ascarate Park and Golf Course
A surprising number of people come to Texas to play golf, and Ascarate Park is the premier hotspot for the game in El Paso County. The park spans a staggering 400 acres, 280 of which are golf courses. There’s a full 18-hole, 72-par course, as well as a 9-hole executive course for quick games on cooler afternoons.
10. Magoffin Home State Historic Site
(image via Wikimedia)
The Magoffin Home is now a historic site that outlines the stories surrounding a multicultural family who played an instrumental role in the Civil War, the U.S. expansion and settlement, and even the establishment of relations between the U.S. and Mexico.
Built in 1875, the Magoffin Home is a stunning example of Territorial style architecture that still contains all of its original furniture. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
9. El Paso Convention Center Ice Skating
One of the coolest places to stop while you’re in town during winter (literally) is the El Paso Event Center Ice Skating Rink. Who knew you could skate on ice in the Southwestern United States?!
You can do so at El Palso’s annual Winterfest, or during public skate opportunities at the home of the El Paso Rhinos hockey team. The whole family can spend some quality time together gliding around on the ice while enjoying tasty snacks and beverages and getting down to classic dance hits. If you’re a hockey fan, make sure you check the playoff schedule for semi-pro hometown heroes, the El Paso Rhinos.
8. Sun Bowl Stadium
Home of the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl and the University of Texas at El Paso Miners of Conference USA, Sun Bowl Stadium is one of the best places for sports fans to spend an afternoon in El Paso.
The stadium is located on the scenic UTEP campus and seats up to 51,000 cheering fans. It’s had some remodeling done recently to make it more comfortable for UTEP faithful and football fanatics from out of town. If you’re in the mood for some college football, you’re in the right place.
7. 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Museum
An awe-inspiring assortment of weapons and armor welcomes you at the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Museum. These include tanks, a German V-2 rocket, and various artillery pieces from eras past. Inside, there are tons of fascinating exhibits sure to thrill anyone with an interest in all things military.
Next to the main building is the Old Fort Bliss, a faithful-down-to-the-smallest-detail reproduction of the original post of the same name.
6. Western Playland Amusement Park
No list of things to do in El Paso would be complete without Western Playland. Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of spending a day at this exciting theme park (especially those who love roller coasters).
Just a couple of the exhilarating rides worth noting are the Tsunami, which rockets up 50 feet to create a huge 70-foot tidal wave and the famous El Bandido roller coaster. There are also many rides for small children as well.
5. The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center
In 1994, a Holocaust survivor named Henry Kellen founded the El Paso Holocaust Museum. He did so with the intention of educating people about what happened during this tragic period in the hopes that similar atrocities would never again be committed.
The museum documents the years of Nazi domination in Europe and honors both the victims and survivors of the regime’s cruelty. There are docents on site available to answer any questions you might have, making this a fantastic opportunity to expand your knowledge of the Second World War and its related events.
4. Take a Day Trip to Marfa, TX
Less than 200 miles southeast of El Paso is the quaint desert city of Marfa, a regional favorite known for its spectacular art displays and friendly locals.
You’ll also find dozens of worthwhile stops and attractions along the way. Some of these include the Davis Mountains, the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, Red Rock Ranch, the Regional Museum of San Agustin, and the Mission Trail Art Market.
The Old El Paso County Jail Museum is a lot of fun, and so is Licon’s Dairy Azaderos. And of course, your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the San Jorge Recreational Zoo and the Rio Bosque Park.
3. The Municipal Rose Garden
From March to October, the Municipal Rose Garden is a must-see attraction. There are more than 1,460 fragrant rose bushes on display here, bred from over 320 different varieties of roses. New varieties are added each year after being evaluated for climate adaptability.
Volunteers lovingly tend to the thousands of roses, which create an inviting oasis in the El Paso heat. There are plenty of benches throughout the garden, so feel free to relax or enjoy a picnic.
2. The Historic Plaza Theatre
This historical building is one of the best-known landmarks in all of El Paso. In 1927, the Plaza Theatre’s original owner wanted to do something good for the city, so he bought the property and opened the theater, which he decked out with lavish furnishings and an elegant exterior to match.
These exquisite details can still be seen today, from the three-tier domed tower and wrought iron stair banisters to the Spanish mission-style exterior and mosaic-tiled floors. Enjoy a concert or Broadway production there and enjoy a true old-fashioned theater experience.
1. Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
If you haven’t yet been to Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, which is recognized as a Sacred Desert Sanctuary, you have to go while you’re in the area. For thousands of years, people crossed the hills in the sanctuary to retrieve the rainwater that would collect in the natural basins.
Today, visitors picnic, birdwatch, rock-climb, and hike here. You can take a self-guided tour, purchase gifts for your loved ones back home, and even do some overnight camping. There are no stores in Hueco Tanks, so make sure you bring everything you need!
As you can see, El Paso has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby El Paso, Texas.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.