If you don’t mind the extreme heat, then there are plenty of fun things to do in El Paso. This western Texas city rests right along the Mexico border, so you can expect some of the warmest temperatures in the United States.
But warm weather also means fun in the sun! El Paso is full of outdoor activities and gorgeous sights. Not to mention the fascinating history that goes along with many of the attractions. So, here are 11 things to do in El Paso that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.
#1 – Franklin Mountains State Park
The Franklin Mountains State Park is one of the most beautiful parts of the El Paso skyline. It’s a 27,000-acre park that can be found near the north side of the city. It has over 100 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. There are plenty of other fun activities, such as wildlife watching opportunities, geocaching, and ranger-led programs. Even if you don’t plan to do any extensive outdoor activities, it can still be an exciting location to stop at just to admire the views. If you can’t get enough of this incredible land, you can even stay at one of the 14 tent sights or five RV sites that are available for rent.
#2 – El Paso Mission Trail
The El Paso Mission Trail is an attraction full of history and exploration, with parts dating back 400 years. This trail starts in El Paso and takes you to many historical buildings, including three adobe churches. The Ysleta Mission, which was built in 1682, is likely the most notable structure on the trail. It’s also the oldest building in all of Texas. You can walk along the trail or drive through the area, learning lots of Texas history along the way. Near this trail, there are even lots of eateries, picnic areas, and art galleries, so you could spend an entire day exploring this space if you wish.
#3 – Plaza Theatre
If you prefer indoor attractions with air conditioning, then the Plaza Theatre is one of the best things to do in El Paso. It’s more than just your regular theater because it’s a Texas landmark found in the heart of downtown El Paso. It was built in 1930 and has been holding a wide variety of shows ever since. You can see Broadway shows, concerts, and solo artists on this stage. But the performances are only part of the excitement. The design and architecture is equally as exciting. The structure was built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, with extravagant furnishing, mosaic tiles, and a dome tower. It certainly has an incredible atmosphere that blows modern theaters away.
#4 – El Paso Museum of Art
What trip would be complete without an art exhibit? The El Paso Museum of Art was built in 1959 and holds over 7,000 pieces. It has a wide variety of works, including American, Mexican, and European art from the 12th century until the present. Surprisingly, it’s the only accredited art museum for 250 miles, so it brings in a large crowd of around 100,000 visitors a year. In addition to the many exhibits, it also has special events for all ages, including art classes and storytelling sessions.
#5 – Wyler Aerial Tramway
The Wyler Aerial Tramway is one of the most exciting things to do while at the Franklin Mountains State Park of El Paso. This tram takes you above the park with some of the most incredible views in all of El Paso. Visitors can buy tickets for the gondola, which travels on a steel cable that’s 2,600 feet long. It’s a quick ride, but well worth it because it brings you to the top of Ranger’s Peak. During the four-minute ride, a narrator will point out the various cacti, birds, and other wildlife that you’ll see along the way. The top peak of this park is 5,632 feet above sea level, so if heights make you queasy, then this might not be the ideal attraction for you.
#6 – Hueco Tanks State Historical Site
The Hueco Tanks State Historical Site is another outdoor landmark near El Paso. It’s located about 30 miles East of the city, and it’s known as a desert sanctuary. When you first arrive, there is an interactive house that educates you on the history of the park. Then, visitors can go off and explore the many natural hiking trails, which have jaw-dropping views of the terrain and wildlife. For centuries, this park has been a space that contains rainwater in rock basins that are called hueco, hence the name of the park. Guided and self-guided tours of the park are available, and there are even 20 campsites that you can choose to stay at.
#7 – El Paso Zoo
There are plenty of animals that can be seen at El Paso’s nature sights, but you’re guaranteed to see animals from all over the world at the El Paso Zoo. This 35-acre zoo is home to over 220 species. It has animals from America, Asia, and Africa, all housed in natural habitats that visitors can interact with. You can get up close to many animals, such as monkeys, tortoises, sea lions, and eagles. The zoo also has many family-friendly activities, including a playground, train, water play area, and wildlife amphitheater. So, it’s one of the best things to do in El Paso if you have kids traveling with you. After all, what kids don’t love animals?
#8 – El Paso Holocaust Museum
A holocaust museum won’t be the most uplifting event for your trip, but it’s a great way to learn a little more history and pay respect to the lives lost. This museum and study center was founded in 1994 by Henry Kellen, who was a holocaust survivor. He made it to spread awareness of concentration camps and resistance movement from World War II. It utilizes videos and educational exhibits to help visitors better understand the events of the past. It even has a gallery of the holocaust survivors from El Paso. Throughout the year, this museum also offers presentations and educational workshops. Visitors can also use the on-site study center and library to further their research.
#9 – Municipal Rose Garden
Between the months of March and October, the Municipal Rose Garden is a beautiful attraction to visit. It’s a four-acre garden with over 1,460 rose bushes and 320 rose varieties to admire. This relaxing garden first opened to the public in 1959, but it later expanded in 2006. If you’re looking for a relaxing attraction and an ideal photo opportunity, this is the place for you. In addition to the walking paths and many roses, there’s also a waterfall, a koi pond, and shrubs, all within a fenced-in space. During peak bloom times, you can even go on guided tours and attend a variety of events at this location.
#10 – El Paso Museum of History
There’s no shortage of history in El Paso, and some visitors just can’t get enough of it. The El Paso Museum is another one of the best things to do if you’re looking for an indoor learning experience. It has educational, interactive exhibits that all ages can enjoy. The exhibits take a close look at Civil Rights, historical photos from El Paso, and the relationship between El Paso and Fort Bliss. The museum hosts lots of classes for kids and even workshops for adults.
#11 – Western Playland Amusement Park
Families can greatly benefit from nature and learning experiences, but sometimes they just need a break for some family fun. The Western Playland Amusement Park has 25 acres of rides for the entire family to enjoy. It’s home to many classics, such as Bumper Cars, the Scrambler, and the Tilt-a-Whirl. It also includes some more intense rides like a roller coaster and a giant drop. In the park, you’ll even find plenty of snacks to enjoy. There are rides suitable for every age, so you can have a great time no matter who you’re traveling with.
There are so many things to do in El Paso, especially if you love learning and spending the day in the sun. Hopefully, this list helped you finalize your itinerary and get you even more excited about your trip to Texas. No matter what you decide to do, you and your family are sure to have a great time in El Paso!