Summer is here and it’s a great time to invest in quality experiences with the family. Of course, it’s even more fun when it’s free! Las Cruces offers many things to do that won’t cost you a dime, from city and university museums to concerts and movies. Let’s explore them!
FUN (Family Unity Needed) Experts Family Game Nights
City of Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department
Wednesdays through August 31
Registration at 5:30 p.m., tournament at 6 p.m.
Apodaca Park, 801 E. Madrid Ave.
The FUN Experts Family Game Night are competitive, tournament-style game nights during which families compete against one another. Each team needs at least two members under the age of 18 and two adults. Wear the same color shirt and create a team name! The game nights are open to the first 10 teams of families or friends. The Mobile Recreation Unit, outfitted with games and recreational equipment, will also be on-site.
The winning team of each FUN Expert Family Game Night will take home a trophy and can compete in a special FUN Experts Allstars Competition on August 31.
Music in the Park
This free concert series showcases local, regional, and nationally recognized artists. It began in May and continues through August, featuring a wide range of musical genres. Bring a blanket, chairs, a picnic, and non-alcoholic beverages. July concerts are held at Young Park and August concerts are at Apodaca Park. They all start at 7 p.m.
Young Park (850 S. Walnut St.)
Rosewater Blues Band – blues, rock
Guitar Slim – rockin’ blues
Al Hurricane, Jr. – New Mexico music
Las Muñecas – variety
Windy City – tribute to Chicago
Little Moses Jones – rhythm and blues, soul
Play Me – tribute to Neal Diamond
NightTimeDrive – neo soul, rhythm and blues
Apodaca Park (801 E. Madrid Ave.)
Brendan Dawes – country and western
Lincoln County Line featuring Dzaki Sukarno – country and western
Power Drive USA – variety
Tequila Nights – variety
Memphis Band – country music
Chris Baker – variety
The Ghetto Blaster – party music
The Mixx Band – funk, blues, reggae
Thursday Night on the Plaza
Enjoy even more free music on the Plaza de Las Cruces, 100 N. Main St. Bring a chair and your music-loving friends!
Border Jazz Orchestra – jazz
Mariachi Raices de America, featuring Antonio Reyna
Motley 2 – tribute to Mötley Crüe
Theory 7 – rock
Claudio T Trio – jazz
Austin Jimmy Murphy – swing, blues
Movies in the Park
What could be better on a summer night than watching a movie in the park with the family? Another free fun activity presented by the City of Las Cruces, Movies in the Park begins at dusk. Movies will be shown on five designated Saturdays from July through September at Apodaca Park, 801 E. Madrid Ave. The schedule and locations are subject to change. Bring your own popcorn!
30 Space Jam: A New Legacy
13 Sing 2
27 Jungle Cruise
For updated information on the Music in the Park Series, Thursday Night on the Plaza, or Movies in the Park, call the Parks & Recreation Department at 575-541-2550.
Free Swim Days
Enjoy free swim days at the City of Las Cruces outdoor pools on July 3 and September 5. The free swim sessions are from 12 – 3 p.m. and 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Children 8 and younger must have an adult within arm’s reach of them in the pool. Only two children 8 and younger are allowed in the pool with each adult. Proper swim attire is required. The sessions may be canceled due to inclement weather and there are capacity regulations in place.
East Mesa Bataan Memorial Pool (6141 Reynolds Dr.)
Laabs Pool (750 W. Picacho Ave.)
For more information, contact the Las Cruces Regional Aquatic Center at 575-541-2782.
Thomas Branigan Memorial Library
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m.
200 E. Picacho Ave.
Don’t forget the Branigan Library when thinking about places to stay cool and entertained this summer! You can not only check out books and other media, but the library also offers free digital loans of audiobooks, e-books, music, videos, and even comics through the Libby, Freading, Freegal, Kanopy, and Hoopla apps. Courtesy of the library, you can download the free Mango Language app and spend the summer learning a new language! In addition, Teen Book Cloud and Tumble Books have curated collections of e-books for teens and elementary school readers respectively, including graphic novels and much more.
The Branigan Library has a computer lab plus a full calendar of special activities, including a summer reading program that wraps up July 16, children’s storytime, science events, crafting classes, teen game nights, book clubs (of course!), and even guitar classes. Check the full events calendar on the library website.
Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Open until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in July and August
Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main St. | Museum of Art, 491 N. Main St.
Museum of Nature & Science, 411 N. Main St. | Railroad Museum, 351 N. Mesilla St.
The City of Las Cruces operates four museums, all of which offer free admission plus a wide range of programs and classes, many of which are also free. Plus, they’re open until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in July and August and are offering some special activities. The Museum of Nature & Science is a great place for young nature and science lovers to explore, with fascinating exhibits from prehistoric trackways to live animals. This museum also hosts Saturday activities like Animal Encounters and STEAM projects. Grab a copy of the City of Las Cruces summer ACCESS guide for a complete list of summer fun, both free and paid.
Kids (and the young at heart) will love the Railroad Museum, which features displays of railroad times past and has a huge room filled with a model train layout. The Museum of Art and the Branigan Cultural Center are rich in history and art exhibitions.
American Impressionism: Treasures from the Daywood Collection, on loan from the Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia, is on display at the Museum of Art through July 23. Then see Icons and Symbols of the Borderlands at the Museum of Art August 5 – October 15.
Cleared for Take-Off: Aviation in Southern New Mexico can be seen at the Branigan Cultural Center through this fall. The Voice of a Two Spirit is on display until July 16 at the Branigan and presents artwork by Marcy Angeles, who explores her life experiences as an Indigenous Two Spirit through her art. Illumination: Crows and Ravens by Catherine Eaton Skinner celebrates the mythology and intelligence of crows and ravens and is on exhibit at the Branigan through September 24. Also at the Branigan from July 30 – September 24 is Symbols of New Mexico: A Personal Experience. Large, colorful paintings by Victoria Chick explore our state’s open spaces, plants, and animals.
Wednesday night fun for all ages
5 – 7 p.m.
July 6: Sand Painting
Branigan Cultural Center
July 13: Designs of the Dining Car
July 20: Aircraft Livery
Branigan Cultural Center
July 27: Biome Dioramas
Museum of Nature & Science
August 3: The Magic of Science
Museum of Nature & Science
First Friday Art Ramble
First Friday of the Month, 5 – 8 p.m.
The ramble happens every month, but summer evenings are perfect for strolling through the Arts & Cultural District to visit the three museums on Main Street and numerous art galleries. In addition, there are vendors and music on the Plaza de Las Cruces and along Main Street until about 10 p.m.
Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces
Saturday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Like the Art Ramble, the farmer’s market is a year-round activity. Summer is a great time to discover locally grown produce as well as art and crafts created by area artists. It’s Saturday mornings all along Main Street and Wednesday mornings on the Plaza de Las Cruces. The market is free to visit, but we can’t help it if you end up buying something!
Swing Dance on the Plaza
Wednesdays through October, 7 – 10 p.m.
There’s more free fun on the Plaza de Las Cruces with swing dance lessons from 7 – 8 p.m. and swing dancing from 8 – 10 p.m. This dance event is hosted by the Rio Grande Theatre and sponsored by the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership.
New Mexico State University Museums and Gallery
New Mexico State University is another great place to enjoy free family fun this summer, with five free museums and a demonstration garden to explore.
Northwest Corner of Skeen Hall Room W168
By appointment only | 575-646-6850
Does somebody in your family like bugs? Take the kids to explore insects that have been collected over 100 years and help them develop a new appreciation for arthropods!
Foreman Engineering Complex
By appointment only | 575-646-7416
Fascinated by the world of audio engineering? Paul W. Klipsch and his wife, Valerie, donated memorabilia from the audio engineering field spanning more than eight decades. Exhibits include historical photos of Klipsch, many of his working papers containing his calculations and research results, and original publications containing articles by or about him.
University Art Museum
Devasthali Hall, 1308 E. University Avenue
Wednesday – Saturday, 12 – 4 p.m.
Along with its permanent collections, you can visit two temporary exhibitions this summer, each on display through September 2: (ir)regular evolution: New Works by Rachel Stevens, Joey Fauerso: Wait for It, and Pray for Rain by Carissa Samaniego.
NMSU Alumni and Visitors Center, 775 College Dr.
Tuesday – Friday, 12 – 4 p.m.
The Zuhl Museum is part art gallery, part natural history museum, with more than 1,800 beautiful specimens of petrified wood, fossils, and minerals. Additional specimens can be seen in the Zuhl Library (2911 McFie Circle) and Gardiner Hall (255. N. Horseshoe St.).
Kent Hall, 1280 E. University Ave.
Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This museum is home to archaeological, ethnographic, and historical collections. Here you can enjoy permanent exhibits like Pottery from the Americas with almost 600 vessels, plus temporary exhibits like When a Woman Rises: Maya Weavers Creating Relationships Through Textiles (on display through August 1, 2022).
Fabian Garcia Botanical Gardens
University Avenue west of Main Street, Daily from sunup to sundown
You may have driven by this little gem of a garden without ever stopping, but it is worth a visit. The Fabian Garcia Botanical Gardens opened in 1985 and is a living laboratory for agriculture and home economics students. View plants that are appropriate to our climate while exploring more than 200 labeled genera of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers.
While these events aren’t free, you might want to add them to your summer calendar.
Tequila, Tacos, & Cerveza Fest
Saturday, July 16, 5 – 11 p.m.
Plaza de Las Cruces
Tequila sampling (40 selections available), salsa sampling, live music, food trucks, vendors, and luchadores
Advance tickets are $30 “Amigo” level, $50 “VIP Amigo,” or $20 for designated drivers and minors.
Las Cruces Beer Fest
Saturday, August 13, 5 – 11 p.m.
Plaza de Las Cruces
Beer samples (240 selections available),
live music, food trucks, and vendors
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate.
As we’ve all learned in the last few years, things are subject to change, so check to ensure a venue is open before visiting.
Story by Cheryl Fallstead
Originally published in Neighbors magazine | 2022
Posted by LasCruces.com