There’s plenty to do in Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley that won’t cost you a cent. Even parking is free almost everywhere in town, so head out for a fun day that doesn’t set you back a dime!
RAFT THE RIO GRANDE
This once mighty river is now a calmer version of its former self. During the summer, water flows from Elephant Butte to the north to allow for irrigation downstream. Grab a raft or inner tube and float your way from La Llorona park to Calle del Sur in Mesilla.
Visit the historic Mesilla Plaza
After your rafting trip, on’t miss this gem just a few miles from Las Cruces! Shops and restaurants line the edges of the traditional plaza, anchored on the north by the Basilica of San Albino. Stroll the same streets that Billy the Kid, Sheriff Pat Garrett, George Patton, and many others visited. The plaza is host to special events throughout the year, such as Diez y Seis de Septiembre and Christmas Eve, along with music events.
Go bicycling or take a walk
Las Cruces is developing a series of multi-use trails which will eventually circle the city. Currently, sections include the Triviz Multi-use Path, La Llorona Trail, and the Outfall Channel Trail. If you are a mountain biker, there are numerous mountain biking trails in the area, including the Sierra Vista Trail, which stretches almost 20 miles and connects with trails that take you into Texas.
follow el camino real
Walk in the footsteps of the first people in our region on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro near Spaceport America. Spanish explorers followed paths first forged by the Native Americans of the area and you can explore the area — and see the future in the distance at the spaceport.
The City of Las Cruces operates four museums and entry to all of them is free. Discover the history of the railroad in the Mesilla Valley at the Railroad Museum, learn more about local history at the Branigan Cultural Center, and just across the way, the Museum of Art and Museum of Nature and Science await. The Zuhl Museum at New Mexico State University is a treasure trove of fossils, amazing stones, and more. Admission is free!
Stroll the First Friday Downtown Art Ramble
Art lovers won’t want to miss the popular downtown ramble when art galleries and museums stay open late. Held from 5 to 7 p.m. on the first Friday of the month, it’s the perfect time to discover a new piece of art to grace your home, find fellow art lovers, meet artists, and maybe even nosh on some appetizers. Then visit a downtown restaurant for dinner to wrap up your evening. It’s free to look!
Discover the NMSU and city demonstration gardens
New Mexico State University is a land grant college and is fittingly steeped in agriculture. At the Fabian Garcia Science Center’s Landscape Demonstration Garden, there are over 200 labeled genera of trees, shrubs, and ground covers, each labeled with information useful to gardeners. The garden is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is located just west of Main Street, on University Avenue. The City of Las Cruces Water Department also cultivates a demonstration garden, this one geared to showing plants that are especially appropriate for growing in the desert. It is located at 680 N. Motel Boulevard outside the water department offices.
visit the Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces
Saturday mornings on Main Street in Las Cruces you can find a wide range of handmade crafts and locally grown produce. This dog-friendly venue offers everything from chile adorned steering wheel covers to delicious kettle corn, along with the fresh produce of the season. Find local artists and craftspeople offering the perfect memento of a visit or just the ingredients you need to create a market-fresh dinner. It’s free to look, but if you decide to buy, well, all bets are off! Learn more here.
Watch the sunset reflect off the Organ Mountains
While the sun rises over the Organ Mountains, sunset reflects off the steep, stark peaks. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the rosy hues of an aspenglow reflecting from the spires. You can never grow tired of that view and seeing how the colors change throughout the day. Be sure to see the full moon rise over the mountains for a beautiful end to a day.
Go climb a mountain
In addition to the Organ Mountains, you can take a hike up Tortugas, dubbed A Mountain for the giant A put in place to represent the Aggies of NMSU. Several trails lead to the top, where you can get a great view of the Organ Mountains to the east and the city to the west. Another popular hike is Picacho Peak, a dormant volcano on the west side of the valley.
Southern New Mexico is an amazing place for birdwatching, especially during spring and fall migrations. Popular birding hotspots include Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, Dripping Springs Natural Area, and Leasburg Dam State Park, all of which have an entry free. However, there are plenty of other birding spots that are public areas with no entry fees, like Tellbrook Park at 4290 E. Winchester Road and the extensive trail system behind the Las Cruces dam (gain access from Lohman Avenue east of Albertson’s or from Sagecrest Park on Roadrunner Parkway).
Visit galleries or explore public art
Las Cruces and Mesilla are thriving arts communities and are both home to well-known artists whose work is shown in galleries and museums in other parts of the county . . . and even the world! In addition to art displayed in galleries, including one at New Mexico State University, you can find a wealth of murals, sculptures, and other public art in the area. Areas to explore include Mesilla and Las Cruces’ historic Mesquite District, downtown, and University Ave. If you head into Las Cruces from Deming on Interstate 10, you’ll even be able to stop and see the giant recycled roadrunner!
Posted by LasCruces.com