Places to Visit in Las Cruces
The multicultural nature of Las Cruces history is showcased in the nearby town of Old Mesilla, with its historic plaza and beautifully preserved adobe buildings. Just half an hour from the Mexican border, Las Cruces events and entertainment feature the vibrant rhythms of Mariachi music, while the art galleries showcase both the Old West ranching and cowboy history as well as the work of intriguing contemporary artists.
One of the premier Las Cruces summer events is the Southern New Mexico Wine Harvest Festival. Las Cruces is the oldest wine growing region in the country. Fall brings a host of major events and Las Cruces attractions, including the White Sands International Film Festival, Las Cruces Country Music Festival, and the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo. Las Cruces winter events begin with the spectacular International Mariachi Conference in November and Old Mesilla welcomes the holidays with Christmas carols and Luminarias on their historic plaza Christmas Eve.
Historic Old Mesilla Plaza is home to over 40 shops featuring Southwestern traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, as well as imports from Mexico and Central America. From antiques and fine art to jewelry, pottery, and wine, this Las Cruces cultural shopping experience has something for everyone.
Experience one of the world's great natural wonders: White Sands National Park. The unusual gypsum sands, beautiful plants, incredible animals, and spectacular vistas make this dunefield a truly amazing site to see.
Historic Old Mesilla
Step back in time when you visit the historic community of Mesilla. Traditional adobe structures with their unique Southwestern features—some of them almost 150 years old—line the old town square. These buildings are now home to local museums, trendy art galleries and boutique shopping opportunities for Las Cruces pottery and other regional crafts, as well as restaurants offering traditional Southwestern cuisine in historic old adobe rooms and patios. To learn more, visit www.OldMesilla.org.
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
Believe it or not, farming has a long tradition in this desert landscape. One of our unique Las Cruces museums, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, traces 3,000 years of farming and ranching history in this area. This interactive museum has more than 600,000 square feet of exhibits on topics like agricultural heritage, livestock and the evolution of equipment and techniques for farming and ranching. It also hosts special events during the year, such as a traditional blessing of the fields and Cowboy Days. For more information, visit www.frhm.org.
Fort Selden State Monument
A reminder that this area was not always so peaceful, Fort Selden was established in 1865 to protect the Mesilla Valley from Apache raiders and outlaws. Situated along the Rio Grande, it housed U.S. Infantry and Calvary units. Abandoned in 1891, Fort Selden State Monument today features the ruins of its adobe buildings and exhibits that explain the close connection between frontier living and military protection. For further details, visit http://www.nmmonuments.org/fort-selden.
White Sands National Monument
One of the true gems in the Las Cruces area, White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum sand dune field in the world. It covers an astonishing 275 square miles of glittering white sand and unusual desert vegetation. A number of fascinating visitor programs are offered at White Sands National Monument throughout the year, including ranger programs, interpretive events, stargazing, sand sledding, painting and photography classes and hiking. To learn more, visit www.nps.gov/whsa.
Rio Grande Theatre
Catch a spectacular show at Southern New Mexico's premier performing arts venue. The Rio Grande Theatre features a variety of performances throughout the year including concerts, plays, musicals, comedy and variety shows. Check their schedule at www.riograndetheatre.com to see what performances are happening during your visit and take advantage of these exclusive hotel packages with exceptional savings.
Las Cruces Museum of Art
The Las Cruces Museum of Art features over 4,000 square feet of gallery space. With juried, traveling, invitational, national and international exhibits, the museum offers a wide-ranging calendar of events, lectures, tours, musical performances and art classes for students and adults. Admission is free.
Branigan Cultural Center
The Branigan Cultural Center focuses on local Las Cruces history and also hosts changing cultural exhibits. Housed in a building on the National and State Registries of Historic Buildings, this Las Cruces museum is dedicated to engaging visitors on the rich culture of the Southwest.
Museum of Nature & Science
The Museum of Nature & Science opened its doors in November 2012 and seeks to inspire curiosity about the sciences and promote stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico.
Located in a historic depot of the Santa Fe Railroad, the Railroad Museum reminds visitors of the importance of the railway system in bringing settlers, goods and trade to this area of the country.
Las Cruces Hatch Chile Festival
This two-day celebration brings in over 30,000 visitors from across the nation. Festival goers can taste the coveted chile recipes, watch the crowning of the chile festival queen, or visit one of the many food booths. Hatch, New Mexico, 37 miles N. on I-25. 575-522-1232, 575-267-5483, or 575-267-5050 www.hatchchilefest.com/
Annual Frontier Days
Held at Fort Selden State Monument, this two-day event is a great event for all age groups to come together and celebrate the lives of the civilians and soldiers that protected local residents. Fort Selden State Monument, 13 miles North of Las Cruces off of I-25 – exit 19, Las Cruces, NM 575-526-8911 www.nmmonuments.org
New Mexico Wine Harvest Wine Festival
Celebrate New Mexico's wine harvest with grape stomping, wine tasting, live entertainment. Festival features arts and crafts vendors, children's activities, hourly wine seminars and great relaxed atmosphere. Southern New Mexico State Fairground, 12 miles west of Las Cruces, I-10 exit, 127 & 132. Call for time and Las Cruces entertainment schedule. 575-522-1232. www.wineharvestfestival.com
Las Cruces Country Music Festival
This event features a three-day celebration with national country music acts in downtown Las Cruces. http://www.lascrucescountrymusic.com/
Las Cruces New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo
The fair has something for everyone; a midway, an auction, food, music, livestock shows, cowboy rodeo and live car racing. Southern New Mexico State Fairground, 12 miles west of Las Cruces, I-10 west, exit 127 or 132. 575-524-8602, https://snmstatefairgrounds.net/
Veterans' Day Ceremony in Old Mesilla
The quaint town of Mesilla holds this annual festival to celebrate the lives and careers of veterans from both Mesilla and the US. Parque de los Veteranos, corner of Avenida de Mesilla (which is Highway 28) and Calle del Norte in Mesilla, Mesilla, NM 575-524-3262 ext. 116 www.mesillanm.gov
International Mariachi Showcase Conference & Spectacular Concert Spectacular
The popular concert series features popular mariachi performers. New Mexico State University Pan American Center, on University Avenue. 575-525-1735 www.lascrucesmariachi.org
Annual Holiday Open House
A celebration hosted at White Sands National Monument where guests can tour the premises while being engulfed in live music and surrounded by delicate luminarias. White Sands National Monument, 45 miles east of Las Cruces, Highway 70, NM 575-679-2599 ext. 236 www.nps.gov/whsa
Lighting of the Christmas Tree and Shopping Late in Mesilla
Come join the residents of Mesilla as they light thousands of luminarias in honor of the holiday spirit! While no pets or alcoholic beverages are allowed, the town keeps several stores open late so that guests can shop while they enjoy the lit-up plaza. Old Mesilla Plaza – south of Highway 28, Mesilla, NM 575-524-3262 ext. 116 or 117 www.mesillanm.gov
Annual for the Love of Art Month
In the heart of Mesilla Plaza and Community Center, this celebration includes a book fair, storytelling, and of course, many artists showing off their exhibitions. A city-wide celebration that anyone can participate in! Various Locations – City-Wide in Las Cruces, NM 575-521-3838 firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico Cowboy Days Events
Hosted at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, this two-day event includes activities for the whole family like musical performances and horseback rides. 4100 Dripping Springs Road, Las Cruces, NM 575-522-1232
Annual Bataan Death March
This memorial march takes place in the White Sands Missile Range. It is held in honor of the people who unselfishly defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 575-678-1134 www.bataanmarch.com
Trinity Site Open House
Trinity Site is home to the first atomic bomb explosion on earth! Located at White Sands Missile Range, this open house gives guests a preview to Ground Zero as well as the ranch house where the first plutonium bomb core was tested. The Open House is held annually on the first Saturday of April. White Sands Missile Range, Stallion Gate off Highway 380, Alamogordo, NM 575-678-1134 https://www.wsmr.army.mil/Trinity/Pages/Home.aspx
La Viña Blues & Jazz Thing Event In Las Cruces
A full weekend of lively music and great wine hosted at New Mexico's oldest winery: La Viña Winery. La Viña Winery, 4201 S. Highway 28, La Union/Anthony, NM 575-882-7632 www.nmwine.com
Cinco De Mayo Fiesta
A traditional Mexican festival to honor Mexico's second revolution. The event is accompanied by delicious Mexican delicacies and dancing throughout the historic Mesilla Plaza. Old Mesilla Plaza, Mesilla, NM 575-524-3262 www.mesillanm.gov
Blessing of the Field Event At Las Cruces Blessing of the Field
Formerly known as La Fiesta de San Ysidro, this event celebrates New Mexico's 3,000 year-old farming heritage. The celebration includes farming demonstrations along with mariachi music and many other fun-filled events. New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces, NM 575-522-4100 www.frhm.org
Southern New Mexico Wine Festival
A wine festival hosted at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds where guests can sample wine from wineries throughout New Mexico along with enjoying live entertainment. 575-522-1232 www.nmwine.com
Antique Treasure's Day
The one day a year where visitors get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of New Mexico's Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. Guests are privy to tours given by a museum curator who guide them into the museum's enormous collection's storage room that holds over 9,000 artifacts. New Mexico Farm and Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces, NM 575-522-4100 www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org
July 4th Annual Country Picnic and Open House
Hosted at La Viña Winery, this is a perfect event to celebrate the Fourth of July with your entire family. Bring your own picnic -- there will be plenty of music, sport activities and food for purchase. 4201 S. Hwy 28., La Union, NM 88021, 575-882-7632 www.lavinawinery.com
Spaceport America, located just an hour from Las Cruces, is defining space travel for this generation. Built specifically in support of commercial space travel, Spaceport America is home to space vehicles belonging to Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. Spaceport America is home to an impressive list of world-leading aerospace companies. The facility's anchor tenant is Virgin Galactic, and other resident companies include Lockheed Martin and Up Aerospace, Inc. Virgin Galactic is the first commercial spaceline that plans to offer public space travel.
The best way to experience the world of Spaceport America is through a tour of the facility. Follow the Sun Tours offers bus tours, which operate Friday through Sunday and include a drive down the main runway, as well as a hard hat tour of the Spaceport Operations Center. This extensive tour lasts 3 - 4 hours and also includes interesting stories about New Mexico history and some of its famous characters, as well as an in-depth spaceport introduction. For more details, visit ftstours.com.