26 Things to Do in El Paso, According to Local Texans

Last Updated 15 May 2024 by Fiona Perisone

Located on the West edge of Texas, El Paso brings together the best of the surrounding Mexican, Texan, and Southwestern art, culture, and cuisine. Home to a large military community and a growing food scene, there are tons of historical sites, Tex-Mex eateries, and museums to visit around town.

To help you plan the perfect trip, we've rounded up 26 of the best things to do in El Paso— including where to eat, drink, and enjoy the desert scenery. Whether you're traveling with friends, family, or just yourself, you're guaranteed to have an unforgettable time.

El Paso Attractions

1. El Paso Museum of Art

El Paso Museum of Art TX

Source: Tripadvisor

1 Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, TX, 79901

The El Paso Art Museum is the only accredited art museum within 250 miles. Founded in 1959, its ever-growing collection features a collection of more than 7,000 works of art, including pieces by Botticelli, Canaletto, van Dyck, Zurbarán, and Artemisia Gentileschi, among other Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance masters. Admission is free, though donations are always welcomed.

2. Downtown Art and Farmers Market

Downtown Art and Farmers Market

Source: El Paso Downtown Art and Farmers Market Facebook

17 Anthony St, El Paso, TX, 79901

El Paso's Downtown Art and Farmers Market attracts locals and tourists alike to the Union Plaza District every Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM. The sprawling outdoor market features local produce, crafts, artwork, and live music. For locals, it's the perfect day date or family outing, and for tourists, it's the perfect photo op.

3. El Paso Municipal Rose Garden

El Paso Municipal Rose Garden

Source: Tripadvisor

3418 Aurora Ave, El Paso, TX, 79930

The El Paso Municipal Rose Garden is considered one of the most beautiful places in America. Opened to the public in 1959, it's home to 1,400 individual bushes of over 320 different varieties— ensuring there's something in bloom no matter what time of year you visit. The sprawling, four-acre garden is the perfect place to spend a leisurely, sun-filled afternoon. And did we mention admission is free?

4. El Paso Zoo

El Paso Zoo

Source: Tripadvisor

4001 E Paisano Dr, El Paso, TX, 79905

Looking for family-friendly things to do in El Paso? No kid can resist a day at the El Paso Zoo. The 35-acre green space is home to over 220 species of animals from Africa, Asia, the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert, and beyond. It's accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning the facility is dedicated to animal welfare and global wildlife conservation. The kids will love the African Star Train, Hunt Family Splash Pad, Foster Tree House Playground, and the Hunt Endangered Species Carousel too!

5. Hueco Tanks State Park

Hueco Tanks State Park TX

Source: Tripadvisor

6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1, El Paso, TX, 79938

Located on the edge of the West Texas Chihuahua Desert are the "Hueco Tanks"— massive rock basins carved over time. They've been used for thousands of years as a source of rainwater, as proven by the ancient pictographs carved around the pools. Visitors can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing around the park on their own, or enjoy an informative guided tour of the rock imagery.

6. The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at The University of Texas at El Paso

The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at The University of Texas at El Paso

Source: Yelp

610 W University Ave, El Paso, TX, 79968

If you'll be visiting the University of Texas at El Paso, be sure to stop by the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. The museum is the oldest in town and offers a glimpse into El Paso's history. Dedicated to local flora, the botanical gardens are home to over 800 plant species from the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert and adjacent regions in the United States and Mexico.

7. El Paso Museum of History

El Paso Museum of History

Source: Tripadvisor

510 N Santa Fe St, El Paso, TX, 79901

While the El Paso Museum of History is relatively small compared to other museums in El Paso, it's still worth a visit for history buffs and lifelong Texans. It's home to one of only four interactive digital walls in the world and the only one in the US.

8. Franklin Mountains State Park

Franklin Mountains State Park

Source: Flickr

Tom Mays Park Access Rd, El Paso, TX 79930

Franklin Mountains State Park— the Westernmost point in Texas— is the perfect place to catch a sunset. Its 27,000 acres of pristine natural scenery offer hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and adventuring. There are plenty of RV locations and tent sites for overnight camping too.

9. Southwest University Park

Southwest University Park

Source: Yelp

1 Ballpark Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901

For an evening of baseball and family fun, head to Southwest University Park, home of the city's Minor League Baseball team, the El Paso Chihuahuas. Located in the heart of downtown El Paso, it's a fun way to end an afternoon exploring town. The venue can also be rented out for work functions, family reunions, anniversary parties, and other fun events.

10. Chamizal National Memorial

Chamizal National Memorial El Paso

Source: Tripadvisor

800 S San Marcial St, El Paso, TX 79905

Spanning 55 acres, the Chamizal National Memorial has become a cultural center point of the local community. Its art installations commemorate the settlement of a border dispute between Mexico and the United States that lasted over a century. Nature trails, lush open lawns, and an outdoor theatre make it a place the whole family will enjoy visiting.

11. El Paso Holocaust Museum And Study Center

El Paso Holocaust Museum And Study Center TX

Source: El Paso Holocaust Museum And Study Center Website

715 N Oregon St, El Paso, TX 79902

The El Paso Holocaust Museum And Study Center were founded in 1994 by Holocaust survivor Henry Kellen. With only 13 free-standing Holocaust Museums in the United States, El Paso Holocaust Museum And Study Center are one of them. Design to teach the history of the Holocaust through education, community outreach, and cultural activities. The museum is free and perfect for spending 1-2 hours at this location.

12. National Border Patrol Museum

National Border Patrol Museum

Source: Tripadvisor

4315 Woodrow Bean Transmountain, El Paso, TX 79924

The National Border Patrol Museum isn't your typical museum, and it is one of its kind in the United States. At this museum, you will learn the history of the United States Border Patrol, from the old West, Prohibition, and WWII to present-day operations.

13. Plaza Theatre Performing

Plaza Theatre Performing

Source: El Paso Live

125 W Mills Ave, El Paso, TX 79901

If you love theater performance, you must see a performance or a tour of this beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture theater. This National Historical Building of Significance was built in 1930 and returned in 2006 to its original atmospheric theater.

14. El Paso Mission Trail

El Paso Mission Trail

Source: El Paso Missions

9065 Alameda Ave, El Paso, TX 79907

The El Paso, Texas Mission Trail is nine miles long and stretches across the Mission Valley. This historic trail is named after three missions that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries: Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission, and San Elizario Chapel. With a short drive, you can see all three chapels.

15. El Paso Museum of Archaeology

El Paso Museum of Archaeology

Source: Tripadvisor

4301 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Dr, El Paso, TX 79924

If you are interested in Archaeology, then you must visit the El Paso Museum of Archaeology. El Paso Museum of Archaeology is located in Wilderness Park, and it is adjacent to the National Border Patrol Museum. Here at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, you will see over 14,000 years of prehistory in the El Paso area, the greater Southwest, and northern Mexico.

16. Western Playland Amusement Park

Western Playland Amusement Park

Source: Western Playland

1249 Futurity Dr, Sunland Park, NM 88063

Western Playland Amusement Park was an amusement park that was located in El Paso, Texas, from 1960 until 2006. Due to conflicts, it was moved to Sunland Park. In 2023, the park will be under new ownership, and the new owners have a big plan for the amusement park. The park is only open seasonally, and it will be open between March and October, with summer being its peak season.

17. El Paso Symphony Orchestra

El Paso Symphony Orchestra

Source: El Paso Symphony Orchestra Facebook

1 Civic Center Plz, El Paso, TX 79901

If you love live concert music, then you must visit the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Before heading over, be sure to check out their website to see what is playing and purchase your ticket ahead of time. You can find affordable tickets as low as $15!

18. Fort Bliss and Ironsides Museums

Fort Bliss and Ironsides Museums

Source: Flickr

1735 Marshall Rd, Fort Bliss, TX 79906

The 1st Armored Division And Fort Bliss Museum are located on historic Fort Bliss. At this museum, you will learn the history of Fort Bliss from 1849 to the present and as well as the history of America's tank division. You will see over 40 tanks and other armored vehicles among its many exhibits.

19. Tigua Indian Cultural Center

Tigua Indian Cultural Center

Source: Flickr

305 Yaya Ln, El Paso, TX 79907

Learn about Tigua Indian culture and tribal history and visit Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Cultural Center. Here you will learn about the culture and tribe's heritage through dance, programs, and other activities such as pottery making, bead looming, bread making, and so much more. At the retail space, you can purchase authentic Tigua attire and artifacts.

Where to Eat in El Paso

Located just miles from Northern Mexico, El Paso offers some of the best Mexican food on this side of the border. In addition to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other Tex-Mex favorites, its growing food scene now has every cuisine you could possibly crave. Whether it's traditional tacos or trendy vegan bites you're after, here are a few of the best places to eat in El Paso:

20. L & J Cafe

L & J Cafe

Source: Tripadvisor

3622 E Missouri Ave, El Paso, TX, 79903

L & J Cafe is widely considered one of the best restaurants in El Paso. The family-run institution first opened in 1927 and has been cooking up the same award-winning Mexican food ever since. Its chile de Arbol salsa is so delicious and bottled and sold on-site, so be sure to purchase a bottle when you go to bring the flavors of your trip back home.

21. Ardovino's Desert Crossing

Ardovino's Desert Crossing

Source: Yelp

1 Ardovino Drive, Sunland Park, NM, 88063

Ardovino's Desert Crossing— located just across the New Mexico border— is one of the best fine-dining experiences in the area. The scenic Italian restaurant uses vegetables and herbs grown on-site, and it offers unbeatable desert views. For the past two decades, the restaurant has hosted a popular farmers' market every weekend, where you'll find locally-grown produce and adorable artisanal gifts. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance for weekend dining.

22. Cattlemen's Steakhouse

Cattlemen's Steakhouse

Source: Flickr

3450 S Fabens Carlsbad Rd, Fabens, TX, 79838

Cattlemen's Steakhouse is located on Indian Cliffs Ranch, a short 20-mile drive East of El Paso. The restaurant's hearty steaks are cut on-site daily for superior tenderness and flavor. In addition to high-quality meats and stunning desert scenery, there's a private petting zoo, playground, movie set, and more.

23. Kiki's Mexican Restaurant

Kiki's Mexican Restaurant

Source: Yelp

2719 N Piedras St, El Paso, TX, 79930

For unbeatable Mexican fare, head to Kiki's Mexican Restaurant. While the local hot spot was once a well-kept secret, it's now quite popular with tourists and lifelong Texans alike. The "Machaca" house specialty— a braised beef dish topped with green chili sauce, cheese, and a runny egg— is well worth the wait during the lunch or dinner rush.

Where to Go Out in El Paso

Back in the day, El Paso was filled with dozens of Wild West saloons frequented by legends like Wyatt Earp, Pat Garett, and Billy the Kid. While Austin is better known for its nightlife scene these days, there are still plenty of fun bars, clubs, and late-night restaurants around the city. According to native South Texans, these are the best places to go out in El Paso:

24. Later, Later

Later, Later

Source: Yelp

109 N Coldwell St, El Paso, TX 79901

For a good cocktail and a good time, head to Later, Later— a rustic-chic bar in the heart of downtown El Paso. The neighborhood public house offers excellent views of the city from its sprawling patio. Head inside to sip their tasty "Worst Behavior" cocktail surrounded by exposed brick walls, laid-back living room furniture, and cozy lighting and decor.

25. Hope and Anchor

Hope and Anchor El Paso

Source: Yelp

4012/4006 N Mesa St, El Paso, TX, 79902

Hope and Anchor's epic outdoor patio is the perfect place to enjoy late-night bites, cold drinks, and sublime Texas weather. The staff is friendly, the prices are reasonable, and the night sky views are not to be missed. Open from 2 PM to 2 AM daily and is a go-to local hangout for Texans of all generations.

26. DeadBeach Brewery

DeadBeach Brewery

Source: DeadBeach

406 S Durango, El Paso, TX, 79901

DeadBeach Brewery is a lively local hangout known for top-notch craft beers and soul food. Their Tap menu changes weekly, so there's always something new to try (and take home as a memento) each time you visit. Come on the weekends for live entertainment, trivia nights, and the best Texas barbeque in town.

About the Author

Fiona is a veteran travel consultant, photographer and travel writer at planetrider.com. She has spent many years as a corporate travel consultant and decided to actually live the life rather than plan it for others!