Located in the southwestern corner of Texas, you will find the city of El Paso.
It is a perfect place to explore for those who love history, culture, and the great outdoors.
Most visitors know about El Paso because of the famous country song ‘El Paso’ by Marty Robbins.
However, that is so much more to know about this West Texas City.
Related: 15 Best Cities to Visit in Texas
This is the sixth-largest city in Texas and the largest American city near the US-Mexico border.
It is relatively off the radar for most travelers because of its remote location.
That makes El Paso one of the best-hidden gems in Texas.
Its authentic Mexican heritage, early prominence as a Wild West frontier town, striking architecture in historic downtown, and scenic natural beauty, all make El Paso an amazing adventure in the Lone Star State.
The easiest way to visit El Paso is on a West Texas road trip.
You can combine it with other attractions in the area or stop here on an awesome Texas California Road Trip.
Related: 21 Best Road Trips in Texas
El Paso has an intriguing history.
The city was established in 1850 as a Spanish mountain pass town in the high desert.
It boomed due to the arrival of railroads and has grown into the city that it is today.
The city shares a unique relationship with Juarez in Mexico.
El Paso is also popularly known as the Sun City because it has almost 302 days of annual sunshine.
Also Read: Houston to Las Vegas Drive
Is El Paso safe to visit?
This Texan border city is just two miles away from Juarez, Mexico which frequently invites the question, is El Paso safe to visit?
You would be pleased to know that the city is very safe.
In fact, it is one of the safest cities to travel to in the US.
Things to do in El Paso
Located on the banks of the Rio Grande, El Paso is an amazing city to visit.
It is the largest American city near the USA-Mexico border.
It has plenty of attractions for all kinds of travelers including couples and families with kids.
El Paso is also a great city to visit for those on a tight budget.
It has a lot of free and inexpensive attractions including museums, public art, and outdoor things to do in the Franklin Mountains State Park.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in El Paso.
Also Read: 24 Best Things to do in West Texas
Take a walking tour of the historic downtown
El Paso’s historic downtown is full of historic architectural landmarks and sites.
You will also find several historical markers here.
You cannot really visit El Paso tx without experiencing the vibe of its historic downtown.
Some of the most popular places to visit include San Jacinto Historic Plaza, the Plaza Theater, El Camino Real Hotel or the Hotel Paso del Norte, and other attractions.
We recommend taking the 90 minutes free self-guided walking tour offered by the city to see all of these attractions in a short time.
See the alligator sculpture at the historic San Jacinto Historic Plaza
One of the popular historical attractions in downtown El Paso is the San Jacinto Plaza park.
The park is named after the famous battle of San Jacinto where Texas gained its independence.
This beautiful green space has several walking parts, bridges, game areas, public artworks, picnic area, splash pads, reflection pools, and more.
This is literally the heart of El Paso.
The park is also a historical attraction.
At the center, you will find a fiberglass sculpture by renowned computer Luis Jimenez.
It is dedicated to the alligators that lived in the park pond for over 80 years.
During the holiday season, you will find a Christmas tree and holiday lights in the San Jacinto Historic Plaza.
The park is lit up at night and is a great place to go for a stroll at any time of the year.
See a show at the Plaza Theater
The Historic Plaza theater in El Paso is located within walking distance from the San Jacinto Plaza.
Built in 1930, the Spanish colonial revival style building is one of El Paso’s most iconic landmarks.
This was one of the best places in the southwest to watch a performance in the 1930s.
It later fell into decline and was going to be demolished in the 1990s, however, community involvement and fundraisers saved this historic structure.
The theater facade was restored to its former glory and the interior was given a similar uplift.
The theater is operational even today and you can watch a concert or a Broadway production at this historic location while in El Paso.
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.
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.
Explore the murals in El Segundo Barrio
El Paso is one of the best places in Texas to visit for amazing street art and murals.
From the famous Greetings from El Paso mural to the thought-provoking street art in the El Segundo Barrio neighborhood, there are plenty of places to go on a mural crawl in the city.
Many murals are also present in Lincoln Park.
You will find 100 murals spread throughout the city.
Many of them depict El Paso’s Latino and Native American heritage and culture.
These murals are also popular Instagram spots in the city and great places to take photos.
Discover El Paso’s 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.
Have a meal at the famous Cattlemen’s Steakhouse
One of the most famous restaurants in the city is Cattleman’s Steakhouse located at Indian Cliffs Ranch, a working ranch in El Paso.
While they’re known for their perfectly cooked exquisite cut of meats, a meal at Cattlemen’s is an experience in itself.
You get to enjoy being on an actual ranch and enjoy the western atmosphere with sightings of cowboys and the Texas longhorn cattle.
They also have a children’s petting zoo, play area, and have been featured in several movies.
Enjoy the El Paso Farmers Market
If you want to experience the local side of El Paso, then visit the El Paso Downtown Artist and Farmers Market.
This market is open every Saturday in the Union Plaza District.
Here you will find everything from organic produce to fresh cuts of meat, baked goods, and artisan products like salsas, hot sauces, coffee, and cheese.
There is also entertainment and booths selling arts and crafts made by local artists.
Shop in the Mexican street markets
If you love shopping, then head to the El Centro neighborhood.
This is El Paso’s original shopping district and is located near the San Jacinto Plaza.
On El Paso Street, you will find open-air Mexican markets selling a variety of goods.
The architecture here is striking and the street signs are vibrant and colorful.
There seems to be a great energy in the shops that line on El Paso.
You can shop for apparel, boots, purses, sunglasses, furniture, home decor, collectibles, historic artifacts, and more.
You can also find street food and murals here.
Bring some cash, that will get you further than cards in most places.
Apart from shopping, this is also an excellent place to experience El Paso’s rich culture and heritage and its strong ties with Juarez, Mexico located across the border.
Photograph the El Paso star
You will find one of the world’s most unique attractions in El Paso: the largest man-made illuminated star!
The star is said to have been originally made for the soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss.
Located on the slopes of the Franklin Mountains, the star is 459 ft tall and lit throughout the year.
The El Paso Star is easily visible from I-10 and it’s lit from dusk to midnight.
If you love weird roadside attractions, then definitely add the star to your list when you visit El Paso.
Visit the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Garden
The Centennial Museum and Chihuahua and Desert Garden located inside the University of Texas at El Paso is a great place to visit for nature lovers.
The museum is small but has great exhibits and is a great place to spend a couple of hours in the city.
The collection ranges from geological records and fossil displays to traditional Native American clothes and pottery.
The outdoor desert botanical garden is a great place to see native plants.
Buy a pair of authentic Texan boots
El Paso is one of the best places in Texas to buy a handmade custom pair of cowboy boots.
Here you will find everything from vintage and classic designs to more modern styles.
You will find boots made from exotic leathers and with unique embellishments.
You can buy cowboy boots for adults as well as kids.
El Paso is also an excellent place to buy other Western apparel including hats, belts, and jackets.
You will also find several cowboy-themed gifts or souvenirs in El Paso.
Visit the El Paso Zoo
The El Paso Zoo is a great place to visit in the city with kids.
Here you will find several animals including giraffes, zebras, big cats including lions and tigers, elephants, a variety of birds and reptiles, sea lions, and more.
The El Paso Zoo also has many other activities including a ride on the zoo train, a treehouse where kids can climb, a carousel, and a splash pad to cool down in the summer.
Understand about securing our borders at the Border Patrol Museum
El Paso’s National Border Patrol Museum is one of its kind in the country.
It is very informative and has lots of learning opportunities.
They have exhibits on smuggling, war on drugs, and the tough job of border law enforcement.
You can also see weapons, tools, and vehicles used by the border patrol over the years.
They also have a Hall of the Fallen to honor those who died in service.
Visiting the museum dedicated to these heroes is an amazing experience for all Americans.
Learn about history in El Paso Museums
If you love museums and history, then you will love El Paso.
The city has a variety of museums dedicated to preserving the cultural and natural history of the area.
At the Holocaust Museum, you can learn about the Nazi Holocaust.
Exhibits cover mass deportations, conditions of concentration camps, and the liberation of those held there by the Allied forces at the end of World War II.
Other good museums to visit include the El Paso Museum of archeology which has many nature trails and the El Paso Museum of History which is dedicated to representing US Mexico border history.
Take a tour of the Magoffin Home State Historic Site
Located in El Paso, you will find the striking adobe-style Magoffin Home.
The home and the area around it is preserved as the Magoffin Historic District and can be seen on a tour.
This house was built in 1875 and was the residence of the Pioneer Magoffin family.
The architecture of the house is striking and the stories that you can hear about the pioneer family are very interesting.
Spend a fun day at Western Playland
Western Playland amusement park is a great place to visit for family fun in El Paso.
Here you can ride the roller coaster as well as a variety of other fun and thrilling rides.
The park is small and has a limited number of rights but nevertheless loved by kids.
Things to do near El Paso
Besides the attractions, restaurants, murals, and museums located downtown, there are many other things to do near El Paso.
Most of these can be seen on an easy day trip from El Paso.
Here are some of our favorites including the must-visit Franklin Mountains State Park.
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.
Drive the Trans-Mountain highway
If you love scenic drives then you must drive the 10.6 miles long Trans-mountain highway located in the Franklin Mountains.
This highway goes from east to west and has amazing views of the El Pasoan area.
It has beautiful wildflowers in spring and scenic vistas year-round.
You will also find several picnic areas and trailheads located along the drive.
We highly recommend it for anyone visiting El Paso.
Go off-roading at Red Sands
For another outdoor adventure, consider going ATV riding at Red Sands.
You can rent the vehicles and go off-roading in the desert located east of El Paso.
This area is known as red sands due to its reddish color that is caused by a high concentration of iron oxide deposits.
The red science desert has several ATV trails.
The rolling hills and sand dunes here are perfect for off-roading.
There are several well-known ATV rental companies in El Paso where you can get equipped with an ATV for your adventure.
See the petroglyphs at Hueco Tanks
Hueco Tanks State Park and historic site is an amazing area of barren rock hills in West Texas.
Located in El Paso County, Hueco Tanks Historic Site has been inhabited by Native Americans since the earliest times.
On a visit, you can see the pictographs and petroglyphs left behind by the Native American people.
You can also go hiking, rock climbing and bird watching in the park.
This is also an excellent place for stargazing in Texas.
Be sure to book your campsite early as just a few are located in the park.
Visit the Chamizal National Monument
Chamizal National Monument marks the settlement of the border dispute between the USA and Mexico.
The site functions as a cultural museum and has many art galleries and artifacts narrating the history of the international border.
This National Park site also has many hiking and biking trails as well as picnic areas.
See the tanks at Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides museum
When you visit El Paso, be sure to visit Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museum located about 15 minutes away from downtown.
Historic Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas was built in 1849 currently serves as a museum.
Here you can see a variety of tanks and other armored units as well as other weapons from the World War II era.
The free museum is a must-visit for military enthusiasts.
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.
Sandboard at White Sands National Park
Located in neighboring Las Cruces, New Mexico, you will find the beautiful and dramatic White Sands National Park.
White Sands is home to the largest gypsum deposits in the world.
Seeing the pristine White Sand Dunes rise out of the Chihuahuan Desert is a unique experience.
One of the most popular activities in the park sandboarding down the tall dunes.
You can rent sandboards at the visitor center.
You can also go hiking within the park, camp in the amazing landscape, and go on the scenic Dunes Drive.
See the spectacular formations at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico is located just a little over two hours away from El Paso Texas.
This UNESCO world heritage site is famous for its enormous underground Cavern and the spectacular rock formations within.
You can go on guided tours of the Caverns to see this amazing geological site.
Enjoy a ski vacation in Ruidoso
Ruidoso, located 2.5 hours away from El Paso, in New Mexico is the place to visit if you want to build a snowman in the winter or go skiing.
Ruidoso and the neighboring area of Cloudcroft is a great place to enjoy the snow or go hiking in the summer.
Take a dip at Riverbend Hot Springs
At Riverbend Hot Springs in New Mexico, you can enjoy a dip in the warm waters along the banks of the Rio Grande River.
This spa resort is located in the historic downtown of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico.
It is the perfect place to go for a wonderful and relaxing experience.
We hope you like your post on things to do in El Paso, Texas.
Did we miss out on any popular attractions or places of interest in El Paso? Let us know in the comments.