Las Cruces is located at the junction of Interstate Highways 10 and 25 and is the southern terminus of the latter. The nearest airport with commercial air service is in El Paso, Texas, about 50 miles away. Limited bus service is available between El Paso and Albuquerque with stops in Las Cruces.
Las Cruces has some degree of public transportation by the city bus line RoadRUNNER Transit. Service is limited to Monday through Saturday and ends by 7:30 in the evening. Buses can carry bicycles. Otherwise, just plan to drive, bike, or walk.
- 1 New Mexico State University. It is in Las Cruces, with an interesting museum or two, a large conference center, and a comfortable student union.
- University Museum, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12-4. In Kent Hall at NMSU. Emphasis on local archaeology and culture. Free, but donations accepted.
- Zuni Collection. M-F from 8AM to 5PM, except holidays. In the Alumni Center at NMSU. Fossils, minerals, and petrified wood. Free.
- 2 New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Rd, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. East of NMSU on the way out into the countryside. This is a fairly substantial site based on a working cattle ranch, with demonstrations. You can spend half a day here; there are picnic tables as well as food available for purchase. $3 (student and senior discounts).
- Branigan Cultural Center, 500 N. Water St, ☏ . Tu-F 10AM-4:30PM, Sa 9AM-4:30PM. A small museum dealing with local history. Free.
- Museum of Art, 491 N Main St (next to the Branigan), ☏ . Tu-F 10AM-4:30PM, Sa 9AM-4:30PM. Predominantly contemporary art with a regional emphasis. Free.
- Las Cruces Museum of Natural History, 411 N Main St, ☏ . Includes a small collection of live animals. 7 days, with evening hours on Friday; free, but donations requested.
- Las Cruces Railroad Museum, 351 Mesilla St (in the historic Santa Fe Depot), ☏ . Th-Sa 10AM-4PM. The museum interprets the impact of the railroad on the Mesilla Valley and Las Cruces. Free.
- Mesilla. It is a separate town just to the west of Las Cruces which is an older settlement than Las Cruces and contains a historic district with numerous adobe buildings surrounding a plaza and the adjoining church. A visitors center is located at 2231 Avenida de Mesilla, in the Mesilla town hall.
- 3 Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, ☏ . Daily 7:30AM-4:30PM.
- 1 Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, 15000 Dripping Springs Rd, ☏ . 8AM-5PM. Just east of town offer good hiking and rock climbing. Follow University Avenue east from NMSU past the Farm and Ranch museum to one of the primary trailheads, in a small park (fee) with interpretive exhibit. Trails lead from here into the mountains. Some campground space is available (additional fee). The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument was established May 21, 2014. $3.
- 2 Prehistoric Trackways National Monument. Free.
The best place to buy Native American art or other characteristic types of durable mementos is in the nearby town of Mesilla. If you want something to remember your visit by, one idea is food, specifically chile peppers, which are grown in abundance in the Mesilla Valley. The long strings of red chiles that you see hanging from porches, gables, etc., are called ristras and are available for purchase at many locations. These are largely for ornamental purposes, but edible chiles are also widely available, with spiciness levels ranging from mild to downright inedible (New Mexico State University has a substantial chile research program that grows peppers so hot that they function as bug repellents).
If in town in late summer or fall, make a pilgrimage to the outlying town of Hatch on I-25 to the north. Hatch is the center of the chile-growing business and has several shops with chile paraphernalia. Better, it hosts a "Chile Festival" in early September, usually around Labor Day, that's fun to visit as well as a great source of chiles. (Hatch is a tiny town with little or no lodging, so you'll want to stay in Las Cruces and make a day trip to the Festival.) If you're getting your chiles for cooking rather than ornamentation, and can get them home/in a freezer quickly, get them roasted while you're there; roasting is a key step in preparation for the table, and doing it in a Hatch roaster will save you all manner of peculiar odors resulting from doing the roasting at home.
For more pedestrian, day-to-day purchases, Las Cruces has all of the usual shopping associated with a town of 80,000. Mesilla Valley Mall is off I-25 just north of NMSU.
- 1 D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro, 1720 Avenida De Mesilla, ☏ . Warm atmosphere, live music, great food and wine selection. French country menu includes interesting appetizers like European cheese plates that pair wonderfully with flights of wine. Entres include dinner salads, fish, steak, pastas, and more.
- University Avenue, on the north side of NMSU, has the usual assortment of student-oriented eateries, with the usual properties for such places: lots of food, reasonable prices, less than haute cuisine. Some, by no means all, of the restaurants along University are:
- Lorenzo's, 1753 E. University, ☏ . Italian; lunch and dinner. Also has a location in Mesilla and a new location in the shopping center on Lohman & Roadrunner.
- Old Mesilla. To the southwest of Las Cruces is on the El Camino Real traveled by Onate and Coronado and is the home of many restaurants.
- Double Eagle. In Mesilla, on the Plaza. More of an upscale restaurant. Standard New Mexican fare and locally-inspired dishes. One of the few places in town that serves aged steak. Supposedly haunted, local lore says star-crossed lovers perished here and continue to visit one of the dining rooms. Their bar has an extensive liquor selection, suitable for all tastes. The ambiance is almost unmatched in the area. The Sunday brunch is a popular choice.
- Andele, 2184 Avenida de Mesilla. Mexican with a salsa bar. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check out the green chile pork enchiladas, tacos al cabon and roasted jalapenos.
- El Paisano Cafe, 1740 Calle de Mercado. New Mexican food with a European flair; Seasonal dishes using fresh ingredients. Open breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Chope's Bar and Cafe, 16145 S Hwy 28, La Mesa, NM 88044, ☏ . It offers the best rellenos in New Mexico. The restaurant is located approximately 12 scenic miles south of University Ave on Highway 28, which winds through the Stahmann's Pecan orchards.
- High Desert Brewery, Hadley Avenue (just off Valley (head east)). Microbrew beer and excellent food. Try their seasonal brews (Hefeweizen in summer and Holiday Ale in winter are choice) and order their outstanding nachos. Beware, the portions (especially on the nachos!) tend to run large, ask your server for advice. Open for lunch, dinner, and a pre-bed beer. Live music many nights, but no cover, ever.
- Nellie's Cafe, Hadley (across from High Desert Brewery). A local favorite. Their hours are breakfast-lunch only, closing mid-afternoon. Expect a wait, and with good reason: this is some of the best New Mexican food in Las Cruces. Nellie still cooks, her son Danny Ray is the manager, and the rest of the family can be seen serving and cooking. Prices are all below $12, with most of the best plates in the $7 range. If you like your chile hot or your meals traditional, this is the place to go.
- Si Señor, 1551 E Amador Ave, ☏ . Best chips & salsa in town (available to-go). You will not be hungry leaving Si Señor.
- Renoo’s Thai Time, 16151 Hwy 70 E, ☏ . Great Thai food in Organ up the hill east of Las Cruces. Prices are moderate and servings are very large. A great addition and worth the drive.
A fine place for a drink or nightlife is in Old Mesilla, to the southwest of Las Cruces:
- El Patio, Old Mesilla Plaza. The main bar in town. Live music. Unique smell.
- Azul Lounge, 750 South Telshor (inside Hotel Encanto). An upscale cosmopolitan lounge serving creative cocktails, delicious appetizers and live entertainment.
- The Lundeen Inn of the Arts, 618 S. Alameda Blvd.. Beautiful bed and breakfast housed in an art gallery. $80 +.
- Best Western Mission Inn, 1765 S. Main St, ☏ . Adequate if unexceptional lodging in a commercial area; not adjacent to NMSU, but still reasonably convenient for visitors to the university. Rooms from $55.
- Comfort Suites, 2101 S. Triviz, ☏ . More adequate, unexceptional lodging. From $60.
- 1 Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces, 705 South Telshor Blvd (off of I-25 to Lohman exit), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A full-service pet friendly hotel near the convention center. Meeting & wedding facilities, swimming pool, restaurant & bar.
- Ramada de Las Cruces, 201 East University Ave, ☏ . Newly remodeled, and rooms include breakfast. From $60.
- 2 SpringHill Suites Las Cruces, 1611 Hickory Loop (off of I-10 & Avenida de Mesilla, Exit 140), ☏ . All-suite hotel.
- El Paso is about 45 miles away via I-10, and Juarez, Mexico slightly beyond.
- White Sands National Park is less than an hour's drive from Las Cruces.
- Ski Apache is about 90 miles away. Decent skiing just past the town of Ruidoso.
- White Sands Missile Range is a short detour on the way to White Sands National Park and has a missile museum.
- New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo is great for young space exploration enthusiasts - especially the shuttle flight simulator.
- Cloudcroft is about 85 miles away with breathtaking views and mountains.
- If you're in the vicinity in the latter part of August, consider driving 60 miles west on I-10 to the Great American Duck Race -- seriously -- in the small town of Deming.
- Truth or Consequences, about 70 miles north of Las Cruces and commonly called "T or C," has traveler-friendly hot springs. The new Spaceport America -- again, seriously! -- will be constructed about 30 miles southeast of T or C, and should be easily accessible from Las Cruces.
|Routes through Las Cruces|
|Tucson/Holbrook ← Deming ←||W E||→ El Paso → San Antonio/Carlsbad|
|Albuquerque ← Truth or Consequences ←||N S||→ END|
|Merges with ←||W E||→ White Sands NP → Roswell|