El Paso offers outdoor adventures and a fascinating glimpse of life here hundreds of years before Texas became a state.
Travelers have stopped in El Paso for more than 10,000 years, leaving behind ancient art, gorgeous missions and a vibrant hole-in-the-wall culinary scene that blends authentic Mexican recipes with fresh chiles and sauces.
Start your day by heading to H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop to get your car hand-washed while you enjoy a typical El Paso-style breakfast. With turquoise countertops and tables and bright red stools, this vintage diner hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1958.
Next, get a bird’s-eye view of this city on Wyler Aerial Tramway in Franklin Mountains State Park. It’s a four-minute ride to the top of Ranger Peak, which sits at 5,632 feet. Little known fact: the park is the nation’s largest urban park. At the top, enjoy stellar views of Texas, Mexico and New Mexico.
Explore the El Paso Mission Trail
Then head to the nine-mile El Paso Mission Trail, connecting two of the nation’s oldest continuously operated missions: Ysleta Mission (open 10 a.m.–4 p.m.) built in 1682 and Socorro Mission built in 1691 (open 10 a.m.–3 p.m.). Don't miss San Elizario Presidio Chapel where the presidio was built in 1789 (open 7 a.m.–11 a.m.), as well.
Afterwards, visit Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, home to world-renowned bouldering and ancient paintings and carvings. Call ahead to ensure the park has not reached maximum capacity for the day.
Sip wine at Zin Valley Vineyards where local musicians play tunes while visitors picnic on Sunday afternoons. El Paso’s first vineyards were actually planted nearly 400 years ago by Spanish Franciscan priests.
Cool down in the El Paso Museum of History, which tells the border area’s rich, multinational and multicultural history. Don’t miss the DIGIE, a giant 3-D touch-sensitive TV screen filled with photographs and videos of the area’s past and present.
Lastly, arrive hungry at Kiki’s Mexican Restaurant where the unofficial slogan is “Pig out! We’ll make more.” Try Kiki’s Famous Machaca, which is chicken, brisket or crab with tomatoes, green chiles, green sauce and cheese.
Events in El Paso
For those looking for adventure, check out the El Paso Puzzler, a mountain bike race that offers 50-mile, 35-mile and 15-mile courses through rocky terrain, single-track and some roads. In 2019, the races kick off Jan. 20 from Bowen Ranch Round House. Need time to train? Make it a goal to complete one of the courses next year.
In February every year, climbers from all over descend on Hueco Rock Ranch for the Hueco Rock Rodeo. Held from Feb. 15-17, 2019, the 26th climbing festival features a bouldering competition, clinics, dance parties, artists market, gear demos and more. The clinics and climbing competitions will take place inside Hueco Tanks State Park.
In the summer, stop by the El Paso County Fair, which includes equestrian events, auto races, live music, food and a rodeo. In 2019, the fair will be held July 13-20 and the Ranch Rodeo will be held on July 13. The first county fair was held in 1905 with travelers arriving by wagon to the festivities. Over the years, the fair has grown and modernized to today's 7-day action-packed festivities.
Learn more at visitelpaso.com or at The Union Depot Visitor Information Center, 400 W. San Antonio. The Airport Visitor Information Center is inside the El Paso International Airport in the main lobby.