Best known for its tex-mex food and proximity to Mexico El Paso (Texas) is way too often skipped as a tourist destination itself- a shame, as I recently discovered. Sure, it might be the gateway to tequila country, but its strategic position and somewhat military past have resulted in a city rich in history well worth at least a day in anybody’s travel agenda. What is there to see and do?
Just a ten minute walk from Sante Fe bridge (one of the five bridges that connect Ciudad Juarez in Mexico and El Paso in the USA) is downtown El Paso. The city’s Art, History, Railroad and Transportation and Fort Bliss Museums (free) are right there, as is Hotel Camino Real (one of the tallest and oldest buildings in El Paso), the 1930 Plaza theatre (one of the most remarkable I have seen in the world) and the 1930 Plaza Hotel,the first high rise hotel ever owned and managed by the Hilton family. The recommended walking tour also begins here- simply download it from El Paso’s visitor’s bureau website and print it.
Located within one of the largest international border communities (El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) Franklin Mountains State Park offers many outdoor opportunities for its visitors. From trekking to biking to climbing or animal watching they are well worth a stroll during your visit. Make sure you keep an eye on the ground at all times- I almost stepped on a Tarantula the size of half of my foot!
Wyler Aerial Tramway
If you want a bird’s eye view of El Paso and its proximity to Ciudad Juarez as well as the areas nearby then the 4 minute cable car ride to the top of Ranger Peak is a must. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year a spectacular view is pretty much guaranteed and you’ll be able to take great pictures to bring back home.
Keystone Heritage Park
Keystone Heritage Park is a 52 acre tract of land that provides an accurate and appropriate interpretation of the Keystone Dam and the Keystone Wetlands. Currently the botanical gardens are open to the public, and the wetlands right besides it a frequented by bird watchers during most afternoons.
Located besides one of the most popular eat-outs in all El Paso Concordia Cemetery has over 60,00 graves with the remains of famous gunfighters, lawmen, buffalo soldiers, local leaders and other citizens. I was stunned to see that many of the graves have been vandalized and sometimes even destroyed, but there is still a lot of history to it and the Buffalo soldiers’ graves remain intact- it’s interesting to see that these are the ones in best shape of them all.
University of Texas at El Paso
Unlike any other University in the country, UTEP has Bhutanese architecture as suggested in 1917 by the then dean’s wife who was inspired by a feature on Bhutan in National Geographic. Simply driving along it will probably make you pull your camera out and take a few shots.
Outside the city there are several tours that can keep you busy for a another day, the most recommended usually being the Mission Trail tour. The white sand dunes are about 3 to 4 hours away but a great natural show too, and there’s always the small Mexican stores and shops to check out, including the local street market that takes place on Sunday mornings. So don’t miss out! If in the area or on a stopover somewhere else give yourself a day to explore this historical city instead of continuing on your way- you’ll be glad you did!
My visit to El Paso was possible thanks to El Paso’s Visitors Bureau, however the recommendations and suggestions in this article are, as always, my own.
What comes to your mind when you think of El Paso? Is it a place you’d like to visit? Do you have any recommendations of your own? Please share them in the comments section below, as well as this articles of you liked it!