Southeastern New Mexico has always been on my bucket-list so it was a total honor to work with Visit Las Cruces Tourism for this year's spring break trip!
I wanted to go somewhere unique and beautiful and this area went way beyond all expectations! It was such a great experience for our family! Our kids learned so much!
We hold these memories close to our hearts.
We flew in and out of El Paso, TX (under an hour away from Las Cruces) and we spent a day there admiring the street art, local parks and restaurants. We thought it was a great town!
Here are the details of our trip in case you are thinking of going there!
Where we stayed:
We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Encanto De Las Cruces. It is located on the eastern side of Las Cruces, in the middle of a bustling shopping area and not far from the foothills of the Organ Mountains. It is perched up on a little hill and has a very pleasing balance between modern day conveniences (we were blocks from a Target, a Starbucks, a multitude of restaurants, etc) and have a resort-like feel. A mini-oasis. Also the rooms have a great view overlooking the valley.. and yes, there may be a mall right across the street but what you really see is the miles and miles of open space with the mountains lining the horizon way off in the distance. You also view the heated outdoor pool and palm trees right below you. We found the hotel to be clean, elegant and charming. The workers were extraordinarily friendly. And the food in the main restaurant was some of the best we had.
The hotel acted as a perfect launch-pad. There were a few days that we left for breakfast and didn't come home until bedtime! We did not have an itinerary and we spent our days exploring!
What To Do In & Near Las Cruces:
Mesilla This is a small town alongside Las Cruces that houses some of the oldest buildings and history in the state
Farmer's Market vibrant! Don't miss the green chili's!
Dripping Springs a lovely place to hike
Bosque State Park a flat land area to hike, we saw roadrunners and lizards!
Where To Eat In & Near Las Cruces:
Las Cruces is home to some of the best green chiles in the world.. and you will find many variations of meals that include them!
Our absolute favorite restaurants were Josefina's in Mesilla (a cute local spot for breakfast), the restaurant at Hotel Encanto called Garduño's, St Clair Winery, La Posta and the Pecan Grill.
We also ate & enjoyed Sakura Japanese House, Cattle Baron and Farley's.
Other Adventures To Do On Your Trip:
There are a plethora of national parks and state parks nearby! The two biggest gems are the Carlsbad Caverns (about 2.5-3 hours away) and White Sands National Monument (45 mins away.)
These are places that I would put on your Must-See-In-This-Lifetime-List!
Carlsbad Cavern: I have heard Carlsbad Caverns described as one of the "Wonders of the World" and I could not agree more. It is so beautiful. It is a World Heritage Site. It is like an underground natural cathedral. If you go - be sure to rent the little self-guided tour recorders in the gift shop. Rent one for each person (they're like $5 a piece) and they can be programmed for kids or adults. My 5 year old LOVED his and it kept him entertained the entire walk.
If you are a photographer, I think I would bring a DSLR and a monopod that you can just carry and use as quick as you like. Flash photography and tripods are allowed but I was so consumed with the beauty and exploration that I never pulled my tripod out even though it was on my back! There are areas that are well-lit and you can certainly get creative with just an iphone too. You can use the flash - or a low light app like "Slow Shutter."
We had so much fun that we decided to exit via the "natural entrance" and skip the elevator on the way out. We huffed and puffed and barely noticed we were tired as we took in even more beauty on our way out. It is such a remarkable feeling to see glimpses of daylight after being underground for several hours. The entrance is also the home of hundreds (thousands?) of swallows that you will undoubtedly hear. And although the bats live in a different area of the cave, you will likely see bat scat and a few of them tucked in near the entrance.
We were told it is a very special experience to stay until sunset and watch the bats all fly out of the cave for their nightly meals. They life in very beautiful formations. This happens only certain times of year so look into it if you'd like to see that!
White Sands National Monument: This place stole my heart. And my kids' hearts. Every morning when the boys woke up, they asked to go back. And we did! Three times! They have sleds you can rent in the gift shop, which we did. However, it is equally - if not more fun - to take a running start and just launch yourself right off the edge. Such great exercise too! Hiking back up will leave you short of breath!
If you go - gas up and bring a cooler filled with lots of water and food. There's no stopping and shopping on your way! Plan on spending a day there. Or a half day at least. Wear clothes that you'd wear to a water-less beach. ha! Just wear things that you can shake-out. And lots of sun protection. Perhaps check the wind conditions. It can get really windy there. We were there for a sunset and it was a very special experience. Something we will never forget.
There are a few special opportunities in White Sands: I heard that the full-moon tours are amazing! There are also horseback-riding and sunrise tours. Once a year they have a hot-air balloon festival! They do offer back-country camping there as well. These are things you would have to plan well in advance as they are only offered at limited times.
Other things we did:
Guadalupe National Park (Visited while driving to Carlsbad.)
UFO Museum in Roswell, NM (while driving home from Carlsbad) This place was really great - whether you are a "Believer" or not. There was so much to read about America's history - it is definitely worth the visit!
Space Museum in Alamogordo, NM. (while driving home)
Pistachio farm near Alamogordo, NM
Chamizal National Memorial: located in El Paso. a fascinating slice of the history of the border creation between the US and Mexico. So much history and a great place to feel our country's promotion of peace and goodwill.
Other spots we would have liked to visit:
White Sands Missile Range Museum
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (about 3 hours west of Las Cruces.)
Hot Springs in Truth & Consequences
To whoever is reading this - I am jealous that you may be visiting there soon! My son asked to go back to New Mexico before we had even left!
It is everything you could ask for in a family vacation - great weather, exotic architecture, delicious food and lots and lots of adventure!!
Thanks so much to Visit Las Cruces for your partnership in this amazing trip!