As the Mesilla Valley hugs the city of Las Cruces, you too can share the embrace of its charm with your special someone by uncovering local date-worthy gems. From a heart-pumping hike to a heart-melting evening of good food and wine, here is our version of the perfect date day in Las Cruces.
The Romance of nature
Start your day with a late morning hike through the Dripping Springs Natural Area. (Take Exit 1 off Interstate 25 and then head east on University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road all the way to its end). Historic ruins and amazing views of the entire valley are good convo starters and the wide path is perfect for strolling hand in hand.
Then grab your picnic basket from the car and head over to the La Cueva Picnic Area (you passed it on the way into the park) for a meal for two against a truly majestic backdrop. A $5 day fee will get you your own secluded table with a grill. If you really want to impress, pack a bag of charcoal and grill up a simple but seductive meal — you can’t go wrong with steak, veggies, and a loaded baked potato. Follow up with a decadently sweet homemade treat, like caramel turtles (see the recipe below).
Relaxation for Two
Follow up your morning workout with a soothing couple’s massage. The Spa Downtown (440 N. Main Street, Las Cruces) offers a Couples Massage for $136. In a private treatment room, a massage therapist will perform a Swedish massage — rubbing in a lighter to harder gliding motion — for the ultimate in relaxation.
Vino and Shopping
Continue your leisurely day with a stroll around the historic Old Mesilla Plaza. Galeria Azul (next to Double Eagle) and Thunderbird de Mesilla (on the southwest corner of the Plaza) are two of our favorite shops to pick up a unique memento of the day. Select a new piece of art at by a talented local artist at Mesilla Valley Fine Arts Gallery (2470A Calle de Guadalupe) for something you can appreciate every day while remembering this special day. Then duck into NM Vintage Wines (just steps from the plaza on Calle de Guadalupe across from The Fountain Theater) for a wine tasting. This secluded spot is perfect for sitting close and whispering in the ear of a loved one, and they also offer beer and cigars.
Table for Two
No date is complete without a romantic dinner for two. This time, let the experts do the cooking. Just a two-minute drive from the Plaza, D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro (1720 Avenida de Mesilla) offers fine dining paired with wine tailored specifically to their menu. Try their signature DH Lescombes Chardonnay with the Pasta New Mexico made with Hatch green chile. (Spicy foods are a known aphrodisiac!).
The nearby Salud! de Mesilla (1800 Avenida de Mesilla) is another great dinner spot with decadent high end food in a romantic atmosphere.
(Please keep in mind current Covid-19 safety precautions.)
Make it an Overnighter
If you’re not quite ready to head back to reality, the elegant Hotel Encanto (705 S. Telshor) offers a great escape.
Mesilla’s Josefina’s Old Gate (2261 Calle de Guadalupe) offers some seriously charming rooms with cuddle-worthy amenities like in-room kiva fireplaces and a feather top bed with 600-thread-count linens. Keep the romance going the next morning by lingering over a breakfast of homemade pastries and coffee in the café. Another romantic Mesilla option is Hacienda de Mesilla (1891 Avenida de Mesilla), which has delicious food, including weekend brunch, along with 14 guest rooms and an outdoor pool. Book a room with a Jacuzzi tub for some extra snuggling opportunities or get the Romance room for great views of the iconic Organ Mountains.
Caramel Turtles Recipe
24 whole, individually-wrapped caramel squares, unwrapped
8 oz. good quality milk chocolate, melted
24 whole pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the pecan halves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through, until they’re lightly toasted. Remove and put on a plate to cool.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the unwrapped caramels neatly on the pan. Place the pan into the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the caramels are softened (but definitely not melting.) Remove the pan from the oven. Gently press a pecan half onto each caramel. Set them aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. When the caramels are cooled, remove them from the baking sheet. Spoon small dollops (1.5 teaspoon helpings) of chocolate all over the baking mat, then lightly drop each caramel onto the middle of each dollop, making sure they are centered. Allow to cool completely before serving (you can hasten this along in the fridge.)
Variation: If you like a salty-sweet combo, add mini-pretzel twists underneath each of the caramels before softening.
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com