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Perched on the rim of the Chihuahuan Desert, Las Cruces, being the second-biggest city in the state after Albuquerque, is very likely to be featured on the travel program of anyone planning a trip to the sunny and sandy state of New Mexico.
Furthermore, it’s easy to see why. It may be one of the younger cities in the state; but its blend of Western and Latin influences has made it into a vibrant cultural hotspot – the sort of stopover ideal for any traveler seeking to add some real cultural zest to their trip.
Moreover, to help you ensure that your New Mexican trip really is enhanced with the full Las Cruces experience, we’ve gathered below just a few things you have to make sure you do during your stop in this remarkable city.
1. Farmers & Crafts Market
It might well be said that, when it comes to visiting places, you really can’t say that you’ve adequately experienced a place until you’ve taken in two significant facets of it: its artistic side, and its cuisine.
So, fortunately, should you happen to be staying there on a Wednesday or a Saturday, you’ll be presented with the ideal opportunity to begin your immersion in both at once, at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Festival.
It’s simple, really: you’re presented with all the very latest stuff that the local crafters have put together, alongside all the fresh produce that the local farmers have grown – in other words, you’re genuinely sticking your head right into the deep end when it comes to sampling the goods of the local labor force, and so on. It’s also the perfect chance to start building rapport with the city – in travelers’ terms, once you know whether you find a place’s food tasty or its art interesting, you’re already well on your way to knowing that people are glad to welcome you.
Official Website: https://www.farmersandcraftsmarketoflascruces.com/
2. Dripping Springs Natural Area
We’re talking about a city surrounded by the sun and sands of New Mexico here – we can’t complete the list without at least a few opportunities to truly soak in that sweet, sunny natural beauty that surrounds Las Cruces.
This hiking trail winds its way over the sands of New Mexico. Suited for all skill levels, it takes you about ten miles from the city and presents you with the ideal opportunity to take in the scrubby sands and dense woodlands – and, possibly, the hawks, coyotes, and other desert wildlife – that dot the region. Also, should you take a guided tour, you might well complement your natural experience by learning about the history of the 19th-century resort buildings that dot the trail.
Official Website: https://www.blm.gov/visit/dripping-springs-natural-area
3. Old Mesilla
Older than Las Cruces itself, the enchanting little village of Old Mesilla, existing a mere five minutes south of the city, serves as a remarkable window into both the historical and modern culture of the region. Old adobe buildings, many of which linger from the village’s initial construction back in the mid-1850s, now play host to galleries, museums, and gift shops showcasing the cultural wonders of New Mexico.
“Mesilla Plaza is the central plaza in the small town of Mesilla in far southern New Mexico. The plaza and a number of its surrounding buildings are a National Historic Landmark District, significant for its role in the transfers of power that brought first the original New Mexico Territory and later the Gadsden Purchase into United States control. The most notable building facing the plaza is the Basilica of San Albino, which has been on the plaza since its establishment in 1851. The plaza was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.” Wikipedia
Official Website: https://www.oldmesilla.org
4. New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum
The mostly rural state of New Mexico is built upon a rich history of agricultural and livestock farming – a history which extends back thousands of years, well before the first settlers arrived in the country, or the borders of the state were first drawn.
This 47-acre museum is dedicated to giving people a first-hand insight into the rich farming heritage that has shaped the state. Visitors can take in, first-hand, several organic farming scenes – lush gardens, corrals filled with livestock, cows being milked, and live demonstrations of other historically significant industries such as quilting and blacksmithing. It’s just the place to stop when you’re looking for some personal insight into the nitty-gritty of what built this beautiful city and the state that surrounds it.
Official Website: https://www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org/
5. Art Obscura
Now, as we’ve established, when visiting any place, checking out the local art scene is crucial to ensuring that you’ve had the full experience of the area. Moreover, if by some chance, you don’t get the opportunity to check out the craft market – or you did, but want to take in more of the Las Cruces art scene – then you really ought to take the time to check out the remarkable Art Obscura gallery.
Located just off Main Street, this free-admission gallery showcases some work from rising local artists. Besides art that taps into the rich cultural heritage of the city and the state, there’s also a selection of more modern work – as an art gallery should, Art Obscura both preserves culture and challenges conventions. New shows are on display regularly, so there’s no telling what you’ll come across during your visit; but there’s little doubt that it’ll be remarkable, and local, of course.
Official Website: https://www.artobscuragallery.com/
6. Fountain Theatre
There is something special about the theatre in a small town or village. Watching a film is made just that much more special when it’s in a small and cozy environment, where everyone’s familiar, and the smell of popcorn is heavy in the air. Also, the live plays, though put together by locals with limited experience, have sincerity and quaintness to them that no Broadway production can ever really hope to match.
Moreover, the Fountain Theatre, located in Old Mesilla, is your perfect opportunity to experience the unique charms of small-town theatre first hand. The oldest theatre in the state, it is an experience that no glossy city theatre can hope to emulate; and the Mesilla Valley Film Society continues to screen films there daily.
Movies and plays aren’t the sorts of things one typically imagines indulging in during a New Mexico trip, but you’d be doing yourself a great disservice to pass up this opportunity to discover what makes small-town theatres so unique.
Originally the Fountain Theatre was the Mesilla Valley Opera House founded by Albert Jennings Fountain.
Official Website: https://www.mesillavalleyfilm.org/