41 Best Things To Do & Places To Visit In New Mexico

things to do in New Mexico
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

With more than 35 million visitors per year, New Mexico is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States.

It has a little bit of everything, so whether you’re interested in sweeping desert landscapes or crowded marketplaces in lively tourist towns, you can have the experience of a lifetime here.

Here are just a few of the coolest things to do in New Mexico!

Things To Do In New Mexico

1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Doug Meek / Shutterstock

Best known for its twisting, winding passages of underground caves, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the most fun things to do in New Mexico.

The caves are filled with dark tunnels that stretch for miles.

You can explore on your own or take a ranger-led tour through bat holes, mud pits, calcite formations, limestone chambers and outlandish displays of stalactites.

If you visit at the right time of the year, you can even watch bat migrations with thousands and thousands of the critters taking flight in the night sky at the same moment.

Above ground, you can go hiking, biking or driving through the beautiful scenery of New Mexico.

The most challenging trails have steep climbs through rocky terrain; the most relaxing spots have picnic areas surrounded by flowers and fresh springs.

There’s a reason why Carlsbad Caverns National Park always tops the list of must see attractions in New Mexico.

With so many activities to choose from, you could easily spend your entire vacation here!

Address: 727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, United States

2. International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center
turtix / Shutterstock

Roswell, New Mexico is one of the country’s most popular tourist spots for aliens, spaceships and other crazy things from the skies above.

Not only was it ground zero for the infamous Roswell UFO Incident of 1947, but it’s also been used as a shooting location for everything from Roswell to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center is a fun and kitschy place that celebrates the unique calling card of the city.

There are displays for alien dissections and meteorites stuck in the sand; there are little green men on mugs, posters and t-shirts.

For people who are more serious about their UFOs, you’ll have fun stuff to do, too.

The museum is pretty much the best place on Earth for records, archives, photos, videos, artifacts and eyewitness accounts of unexplained phenomenon in the night sky.

Some tales have been debunked; others are ongoing mysteries.

If you’re looking for unique vacation ideas in New Mexico, consider the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

It’s so cool that you could even say it’s… out of this world.

Address: 114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203, United States

3. White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument
Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

What colors come to mind when you think about New Mexico?

Since it’s a desert state, most people would probably answer with variations of brown, red, orange and beige.

However, one of the biggest points of interest in the state is actually white: the White Sands National Monument.

Comprised of a rare form of white gypsum sand, this stunning landscape stretches both tall and wide.

It covers about 275 miles in total, and since the wind is constantly shifting it, dunes can range from 6 – 60 feet high.

Trees and bushes are dotted here and there.

Wildlife includes everything from small, quick-moving scorpions to gigantic horned antelopes.

There were dire wolves and saber-toothed cats once upon a time, and their fossils are still being uncovered today.

Only part of the White Sands National Monument is open to tourists for conservation reasons, but you’ll have plenty to things to see and do while you’re there.

You can walk, hike, backpack, horseback ride and even camp on the sands under the stars.

You should definitely give it a visit if you’re looking for the best things to do in New Mexico!

Address: U.S. Route 70, Alamogordo, NM 88310, United States

4. Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Dennis W Donohue / Shutterstock

If you’ve always wanted to take a scenic train ride through rolling hills and gentle, mist-filled mountains, hop aboard the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Its track stretches from New Mexico to Colorado, so not only will you enjoy sweeping views of some of the best, most beautiful places in the southwest, but you’ll also be able to utilize it for the next leg of your cross-country trip!

The train itself is cute and cozy.

It’s one of the oldest steam locomotives in the world, and it runs along a “heritage” railroad with lots of vintage charm.

Food and drink is sold from concession carts.

VIP coaches are available for high rollers who want to ride in luxury, but there are also discount coaches for backpackers and budgeters.

Additionally, there are several glass gondolas that serve as observation decks for travelers of every ticket type.

For amazing views of New Mexico, grab your bags and stow away on the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway.

It offers a cool and unusual method of travel, and it’ll make for some incredible photos for your vacation scrapbook!

Address: 500 Terrace Ave, Chama, NM 87520, United States

5. High Noon Restaurant and Saloon

High Noon Restaurant & Saloon
High Noon Restaurant & Saloon

The corn is served with red peppers.

The crispy onions are piled high on the plate with salsa and guacamole.

The meat comes from wild game that’s been seasoned and sizzled to perfection.

Welcome to the cuisine of New Mexico!

The High Noon Restaurant and Saloon isn’t the only restaurant within the state that specializes in southwestern staples, but it’s one of the best.

It offers a wide range of dishes with Spanish, Mexican and Native American influences, and they’re as diverse as they’re delicious.

Another fun thing about the restaurant is that it embraces an Old West theme.

From the vine-covered walls to the statues of old Catholic saints posed along the ledges and inset alcoves, it’ll give you a taste of turn-of-the-century New Mexico as you chow down.

Is your stomach rumbling during your vacation?

Stop by the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon.

Your belt might not fit afterwards, but your spurs will be right at home.

Address: 425 San Felipe St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

6. TinkerTown

TinkerTown
txkimmers / flickr

If you’re looking for places of interest in New Mexico that aren’t on your everyday travel guide, you’ll want to swing by the little-known city of Sandia Park and visit TinkerTown.

Built by a single man over the course of four decades, TinkerTown is part museum and part art installation.

Its walls are made of glass bottles; its hedges are guarded by gnomes, totem poles and taxidermy animals.

Wooden wheels act like wind catchers whenever a breeze floats by.

Every shelf is crowded with bits and baubles, and some spill onto the floor below, creating a maze-like labyrinth for visitors to pick their way through.

Would it surprise you to learn that the builder used to design sets for the circus?

TinkerTown is one of the more unusual places to go in New Mexico, but if you’re a fan of the strange and funky, it’ll certainly make for some interesting photos to take back home.

You can also tell your friends that you visited a genuine roadside attraction!

Address: 121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM 87047, United States

7. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science
New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

Located in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science offers a fun and interactive experience that takes everything you thought you knew about museums and throws it out of the window.

For starters, there are no dry and boring exhibits.

If the life-sized dinosaur skeletons don’t excite you, try the fossil displays, volcano replicas, gemstone collections or paper mache bird models.

Other cool places in the museum include a “learning garden” where you can play in the dirt and a “hallway of stars” where the constellations are mapped on long, glowing walls.

For animal lovers, there are places where you can touch and feed wildlife.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is a must do when you’re near Albuquerque.

It offers family-friendly fun for visitors of all ages, and it’ll make you rethink what it means to visit a museum!

Address: 1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

8. Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument
Traveller70 / Shutterstock

Dating back to 1150 CE, the Bandelier National Monument is another broad, beautiful landscape that showcases New Mexico’s rugged natural wilderness.

It’s also one of the best places to see historical relics from the ancestral Pueblo tribes that lived, hunted and built structures in the area for thousands of years.

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, including hiking and camping.

An amphitheater hosts outdoor concerts; a museum offers tours, classes and nature walks.

There are also ample opportunities for sightseeing on high ridges and within rocky caverns.

If you’re interested in Native American history, check out the masonry dwellings with their petroglyphs etched into the walls.

You’ll never feel closer to the Pueblo people than when you’re standing on the same stones and touching the same carvings.

Consider a trip to Bandelier National Monument if you’re looking for fun things to do in New Mexico that will get you out of the hotel and into the fresh air.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous destination, and it has cultural and historical value to boot.

Address: 15 Entrance Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544, United States

9. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
FloridaStock / Shutterstock

With its beauty and history, Albuquerque is one of the best vacation spots in the state, and it’s definitely worth sticking around for awhile and checking out everything that the city has to offer.

If you only have time for one event, however, you won’t want to miss the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Held every fall, it’s a large, lively gathering for hot air balloon enthusiasts, and events include everything from coordinated shows to amateur races and showmanship competitions.

Aside from the balloons, you can enjoy all kinds of food, drink, music, games and crafts.

There are even educational moments to be had when you visit stalls or watch performances dedicated to the state’s indigenous populations.

Drawing almost a million visitors every day, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the top things to do in New Mexico.

If you enjoy cheap eats, colorful balloons, festive atmospheres and unique travel ideas, you’ll definitely want to make some time in your schedule this October!

Address: 4401 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States

10. Trinity Atomic Bomb Site

Trinity Atomic Bomb Site
vasakkohaline / Shutterstock

The Trinity Atomic Bomb Site offers a rare and fleeting glimpse into a darker part of New Mexico’s history.

It’s only open to the public once per year, so you’ll have to time your trip correctly if you want to see it, but it’s worth the effort.

As you might have guessed, the Trinity Atomic Bomb Site is the location of a nuclear test performed by the U.S. government in 1945.

In fact, it was the very first nuclear test.

New Mexico would go on to become one of their favorite places for these early, initial experiments since the deserts were so remote.

All of this and more is explained on the guided tour of the bomb site.

You’ll walk the grounds, marvel at the remnants of the atomic blast and have the chance to view other tools and artifacts from the time period.

Some things to see in New Mexico aren’t pretty.

However, they’re vitally important to remember, and they might be quite interesting to history buffs.

Try to catch a tour of the Trinity Atomic Bomb Site if you’ll be in the state at the right time.

Address: Albuquerque, NM, United States

11. Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley
Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

Though it’s best known for its dry, rugged deserts, there are fun places to visit in New Mexico every season of the year, and the winter belongs to the Taos Ski Valley.

Nestled deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Taos Ski Valley offers gleaming white slopes for skiing, snowboarding and more.

There are trails for every skill level, and its lift rises to record-breaking heights of almost 12,500 feet.

When you’re done with the outdoors, a cozy little village has everything from sauna rooms to gourmet restaurants with open fireplaces and wood tables.

There are also places for shopping, working out, getting a massage or grabbing a doughnut and a cup of coffee on a cold morning.

You can visit Taos Ski Valley at other times of the year, too.

There’s hiking, biking, fishing, rafting and rock climbing in the summer; there’s horseback riding and llama trekking in the fall.

You can even arrange for a hot air balloon ride over the mountains!

New Mexico has a lot more to offer than just deserts, so if you’re wondering what to do after you’ve already seen the tumbleweeds, book a room at the Taos Ski Valley this weekend.

Its views really are the best in the state.

Address: 116 Sutton Pl, Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525, United States

12. Eldora Craft Chocolate

Eldora Chocolate
Eldora Chocolate

Who needs Willy Wonka when you have Eldora Craft Chocolate?

Its factory will take you behind the scenes of chocolate creation, and its shop will offer rows upon rows of sweet, smooth and sugary treats.

The facility is what’s known as a “bean to bar” location.

This means that it receives raw, unprocessed cocoa beans and turns them into decadent desserts with the power of their own machines.

Of course, imagination plays a role as well.

Eldora is known for its fun, colorful confections that include everything from “Kabow” energy bars to adults-only truffles that have been infused with various types of alcohol.

There are also nibs, drops, crunchers, creamers and chocolate balls as far as the eye can see.

For the yummiest of New Mexico attractions, take a trip to Eldora Craft Chocolate.

Your waistline will probably regret it, but your taste buds will rejoice!

Address: 8114 Edith Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States

13. House of Eternal Return

House of Eternal Return
BrianPIrwin / Shutterstock

The House of Eternal Return is one of the most interesting places in New Mexico.

Combining elements of an escape room, scavenger hunt, haunted house and modern art gallery, it’s a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a few hours when you’re in Santa Fe.

The “premise” of the experience is that something unusual happened to the family that once lived in the house, and it’s your job to explore it and figure out their story.

It sounds simple, but since the house is a complex, eye-dazzling blend of art and architecture, it’s much harder than it sounds.

For example, one room has inter-dimensional portals with lasers and other space-age features.

One room has an Old West theme where a miniature ranch is powered by hamsters.

Other rooms boast creepy monsters, pastel plushies, luminescent caves, neon paintings, dogs speaking in prose and more.

You never know what you’re going to get when you round the next corner at the House of Eternal Return.

If you’re wondering what to do in Santa Fe after you’ve finished with the usual tourist traps, however, this is a great place to go off the beaten path!

Address: 1352 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe, NM 87507, United States

14. New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art
LizCoughlan / Shutterstock

New Mexico might be a desert, but it has its rainy days like anywhere else, and you won’t want to let them ruin your vacation.

One way to avoid the storms is to dash inside the New Mexico Museum of Art.

With more than 20,000 paintings, this museum is a great place to get a little culture when you’re in the southwest.

Famous artists include Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Gustave Baumann and Maria Martinez.

The museum is also home to a large library filled with books, periodicals and newspaper clippings.

You can research the topics from the exhibitions or even learn more about the museum itself.

An auditorium can seat up to 400 people for special events, so be sure to check the schedule for lectures and classical music performances.

Are you planning rainy day contingencies for a future trip?

Or maybe you’re already in New Mexico, and you’re scrolling through ideas and suggestions for where to visit when the weather is bad.

Whatever your reasons for needing relief from the downpour, the New Mexico Museum of Art will be warm, dry and thoroughly entertaining.

Address: 107 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

15. ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden
en:User:Camerafiend / CC BY-SA

Covering more than 32 acres, the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden offers a mesmerizing collection of plant and animal life.

It isn’t just a rinky-dink greenhouse; it’s an entire biosphere filled with specimens from all around the world.

For example, one wing of the conservatory houses plants from tropical climates in Africa and South America.

Another wing has succulents that can thrive in deserts and other dry, arid landscapes in the Middle East.

New Mexico is represented as well, so if you want to see local flora and fauna, check out the glass greenhouses or butterfly pavilions.

New Mexico attractions come in all shapes and sizes.

In the case of the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, there are many shapes and sizes.

From small, delicate flowers to gigantic trees looming over rocks and ponds, it’s a wondrous display of the power of nature, and it’s easily one of the best things to do in New Mexico.

Address: 2601 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

16. Wildlife West Nature Park

Wildlife West Nature Park
~Pawsitive~Candie_N / flickr

The Wildlife West Nature Park isn’t the largest or flashiest zoo in New Mexico.

In fact, it isn’t a zoo at all.

It houses nothing but “non-releasable” animals that have been given sanctuary at the park, so it’s a place of conservation just as much as recreation.

Another fun feature of the park is that its habitats have been constructed to be as realistic as possible.

When you look at the wolves in the grass or the foxes in their holes, you’re looking at a top grade mimicry of their natural environments.

There are other activities to enjoy at the park as well.

An outdoor amphitheater is often used for musical performances, and the wide open fields have hosted everything from the Fall Harvest Festival to the New Mexico Wind Festival.

Long story short, if you’re wondering what to see in New Mexico as an animal lover, the Wildlife West Nature Park should be at the top of your list.

You’ll have a great time with the bears and the birds, and you’ll be supporting a good cause to boot.

Address: 87 N Frontage Rd, Edgewood, NM 87015, United States

17. Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway

Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway
BLM New Mexico / flickr

Starting in the desert and ending in the mountains, the Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway offers some of the best sites to see in New Mexico.

It’s one of many scenic drives that wind around the rugged wilderness of the state, but like its name implies, it avoids the big cities and instead showcases the backcountry.

Do you like exploring caves and caverns?

You’ll pass right by Lechugilla Cave, one of the most popular spelunking destinations in New Mexico.

Have you always wanted to visit a waterfall?

You can make a pit stop at Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area, home to an exquisite 200-foot waterfall.

Other local attractions include everything from campgrounds to wildlife observational areas.

The highway goes on for a long time, and you’ll pass all kinds of things that might pique your interest enough to pull over.

If you have a desire to see New Mexico and a little extra gas to spare, go for a drive along the Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway.

You can have the experience of a lifetime without even leaving your car.

18. Origami in the Garden

Origami in the Garden
Origami in the Garden

Tucked off a busy highway, the Origami in the Garden is a hidden gem of New Mexico.

It’s easy to speed right by it when you’re driving to other, better-known sites, but if you do, you’ll be missing out on an awesomely obscure attraction.

What is Origami in the Garden?

Simply put, it’s a series of gigantic metal sculptures that are designed to look like origami.

There’s a classically folded crane; there’s a field of running, multicolored horses; there’s even a collection of lost objects and common household goods.

Artistically speaking, you could say that Origami in the Garden juxtaposes the frailty of traditional paper origami with the strength of stainless steel sculptures.

Practically speaking, you could say that it’s just a fun and wacky place to visit.

The Origami in the Garden is a one-of-a-kind destination in New Mexico.

You won’t find it listed as one of the famous places of the state, but what it lacks in recognition it makes up for in singularity.

Where else in the world are you going to find a pair of gigantic origami scissors cutting into an equally huge ball of crumbled origami paper?

Take advantage of this sightseeing opportunity while you can!

Address: 3453 NM-14, Los Cerrillos, NM 87010, United States

19. Bisti Badlands

Bisti Badlands
Dmitry Pichugin / Shutterstock

Also known as the “De-Na-Zin Wilderness,” the Bisti Badlands are named after the Navajo word for “standing crane” in honor of the petrogylphs that are carved into the rock.

They’re absolutely beautiful formations, especially at the hours of sunrise and sunset, and they’re far enough from nearby cities that they have a special, magical quality that’s untouched by modern civilization.

Rocks are colored in various hues of red, white, sandstone and beige.

Tall, thin spires form natural shapes while the ruins of man-made statues beg the question of what they originally depicted.

Did the large lion shape come from a sphinx?

Are the small, dented stones the fossilized remains of small creatures?

One thing to note about the area is that local wildlife is abundant, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for things like rattlesnakes, scorpions and coyotes.

It’s also a very remote landscape without any amenities, so go to the bathroom and charge your cellphone before you get there.

If you don’t mind roughing it, however, or if you’re just looking for New Mexico attractions that are off the beaten path, you’re going to love the beautiful mystique of the Bisti Badlands.

Address: County Road 7297, Bloomfield, NM 87413, United States

20. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to take a genuine mud bath?

At the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, you don’t have to wonder anymore!

Offering a variety of spa and salon treatments, Ojo Caliente combines the luxury of a high-class resort with the low prices of a day on the town.

You don’t have to be a guest to partake in their services; you just have to be willing to let go of your worries and stresses as you soak in an aromatherapy bath or have your muscles kneaded by a professional masseuse.

Make sure to check out the hot springs while you’re visting.

They’re the oldest all-natural hot springs in New Mexico, and you haven’t lived until you’ve crossed “soak in outdoor hot springs” off your bucket.

The Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is a top destination for self-pampering in New Mexico.

Whether you’re spoiling yourself as a solo traveler or booking a honeymoon experience for two, it’s sure to be a muddy-but-memorable experience of your time in the southwest.

Address: 50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM 87549, United States

21. Museum of International Folk Art (Girard Wing)

Museum of International Folk Art
Museum of International Folk Art

Do you like toys?

How much do you like toys?

Girard Wing is a mind-blowing collection of more than 100,000 toys from around the world.

Just about every country that you can imagine is here, so you’ll get to see everything from tiny handmade Russian dolls to elaborate model plane kits from Germany.

Not everything is available to view at the same time.

Girard Wing boasts such a crazy collection that only a small portion of dolls, games, puzzles, figurines and miniatures can be displayed at once.

Different toys have different days in the limelight.

If you’re wondering where to go in New Mexico as a lover of the cool and the unique, Girard Wing will be more than just a tourist attraction.

It’ll be an absolute mecca for your inner child.

As soon as you walk through the front door and are confronted by wall-to-wall toys, you’ll realize that you never really grew up at all.

Address: 706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, United States

22. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Traveller70 / Shutterstock

Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliff” in the Pueblo language, so you can probably guess what these cliffs look like.

However, there’s where your guessing will end.

The cliffs defy expectations in every other way.

For starters, they’re shaped like cones.

How many times have you seen rounded white cone cliffs?

They owe their unique geology to the eruptions of a nearby volcano more than six million years ago.

The cliffs are also unusual in the sense that you can do more than just climb them.

Thanks to their “slot” canyons, you can walk between narrow white walls and explore various crevices and summits.

Some are marked by trails; others are not.

If you’re thinking about what to see during a trip to New Mexico, you might want to make time for the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

They’re so remarkable that they have to be seen to be believed.

Address: 0 NM-22, Cochiti Pueblo, NM 87072, United States

23. Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument
turtix / Shutterstock

If you’re a fan of petroglyphs, it doesn’t get better than the Petroglyph National Monument.

Not only does it offer a look into the lives and times of New Mexico’s indigenous tribes, but it’s also one of the largest collections of petroglyphs in the whole of North America.

You can find literally thousands of drawings, etchings and carvings here.

Most are easily viewed from walking and hiking trails, but some will require more involved treks into caverns and volcanic canyons.

The petroglyphs themselves range from simple depictions of animals and humans to elaborate stories told in visual form.

They’re from a combined mix of indigenous Native American tribes and early Spanish hunters and gatherers.

Are you interested in the history of New Mexico?

Do you love old, one-of-a-kind artwork?

Maybe you’re just looking for unique places to visit during an adventurous vacation.

The Petroglyph National Monument can tick all of these boxes and then some, so it’s definitely something to consider for your bucket list!

Address: Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States

24. Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array

Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array
Sarmiento Photography / Shutterstock

Part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Very Large Array (VLA) is a collection of gigantic radio telescopes in the desert plains of New Mexico.

Thanks to their remote location, they’re able to pick up great readings, and they rest under dazzling night skies that are unaffected by city lights or pollution.

Visitors to the VLA can take tours to see all of the towers and telescopes.

Self-guided tours can be taken any day of the week while guided and behind-the-scenes tours are available on the weekends.

A visitor center is also available on-site, and it houses a small museum and movie theater for science-related films and documentaries.

Additionally, there’s a gift shop for souvenirs, so you can stock up on all of the “I Heart Space” t-shirts that you’ll ever need.

Radio telescopes might not be the first thing that you think about when planning a vacation to New Mexico, but if you’re wondering what to do there as a space nerd, the VLA can send you to the moon and back.

Schedule a trip this weekend to enjoy an up-close look at an astronomical site!

Address: Socorro, NM 87825, United States

25. Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Robert Anthony Graham / Shutterstock

Explorers, this one is for you.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) is such a long and arduous path that it stretches across five different states!

If you can complete the whole thing, you’ll have traveled through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

The total distance of the CDT is 3,100 miles, and it’ll be up to you to decide your travel methods.

Some people like to challenge themselves by hiking and biking large portions of it; others prefer to take long, leisurely drives through beautiful scenery.

The best activities in New Mexico don’t always stop in New Mexico.

If you’re looking for crazy things to do while you’re away from home, this is one of those tourist attractions that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

26. Billy the Kid Museum

Billy The Kid Museum
Billy The Kid Museum

Billy the Kid was one of the most famous outlaws in the Old West, and this museum celebrates his legacy at the exact spot where he died.

He was just 21 years old at the time.

The museum is operated out of a small, modest building with wooden wheels and hay bales outside.

Indoors, there are cozy display shelves that showcase everything from Billy’s saddle spurs to the actual rifle that he used during his gun-slinging days, and the walls are covered with sepia-toned photos, paintings, portraits and wanted posters.

The owners are an elderly couple named Don and Lula Sweet, and despite being New Mexico natives, they’re known for offering southern-style hospitality to anyone who wanders through their doors.

They’ll happily talk to you for hours about anything that you want to know.

If you’re looking for unique places to visit in New Mexico, consider the spot where a dusty western shootout claimed the life of Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881.

It’s a legendary moment in history, and it makes for a must do vacation destination, too.

Address: 1435 Sumner Ave, Fort Sumner, NM 88119, United States

27. Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

All are welcome at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

You don’t have to be religious.

Built in 1869, its adobe towers and rose windows have welcomed thousands of visitors over the years, and its long history stands as a testament to its power as one of New Mexico’s oldest tourist attractions.

The architecture is some of the best in the state.

There are stained glass windows; there are bronze doors and yellow limestone arches.

Functional rooms include a chapel, sanctuary, baptismal font and even a crypt.

Regular masses are held at the basilica for the religious.

For the secular, there are other activities like tours, choir concerts, charity drives and holiday events.

Maybe you’re interested in the culture and history of New Mexico.

Maybe you’re just looking for a place to worship while on vacation.

No matter what your reasons for visiting the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, it’s a must see destination when you’re in Santa Fe.

Address: 131 Cathedral Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

28. Red River Ski and Summer Area

Red River Ski & Summer Area
Red River Ski & Summer Area

Do you like death-defying destinations?

The Red River Ski and Summer Area is one of the best things to do in New Mexico for adventure seekers.

Summer visitors can go hiking, biking, boating, climbing and ziplining through the trees.

A vertical chair lift will take you to heights of 1,600 feet or more, and once you’re at the summit, you can enjoy everything from mini disc golf to live bands on the Music on Top deck.

Winter visitors will be colder, but they’ll have no shortage of fun activities.

The main draw of the resort is skiing, but there are also snowboarding and snow tubing areas, and a quaint little village will have hot cocoa by a fire when you’re done.

Thousands of people flock to the Red River Ski and Summer Area every year.

It’s one of the most popular vacation spots in New Mexico.

Listen to the wisdom of the crowd and book your ticket today!

Address: 400 Pioneer Rd, Red River, NM 87558, United States

29. Cafe Pasqual’s

Cafe Pasqual's
Cafe Pasqual’s

You might be familiar with the name San Pasqual.

He’s the patron saint of cooks and kitchens!

He definitely lends a helping hand to his namesake, Cafe Pasqual’s, a fusion restaurant located in the heart of Santa Fe.

As befitting the “fusion” theme, the menu offers a diverse range of dishes with Mexican, Mediterranean and Asian influences.

It also celebrates art and culture; the entire second floor doubles as a gallery, so when you’re finished eating, you can wander upstairs and look at paintings and portraits from local artists in New Mexico.

Cafe Pasqual’s offers more than just a dining experience.

Between its food, art and overall atmosphere, it’s one of the best places to visit in New Mexico for an all-around good time.

Address: 121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

30. Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak
Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

Wheeler Peak is the highest point of elevation in New Mexico.

It rises to a staggering 13,167 feet!

It offers incredible views of the cliffs, rivers and forests below, so if you’re the type of person to see a tall, windy mountain and immediately think I want to climb that, Wheeler Peak might be a worthy challenge for you.

You don’t have to be a thrill seeker to enjoy the sights, however.

There are numerous paths on the mountain for hikers and trekkers of all skill levels, and there are recreational areas for camping, fishing and picnicking as well.

Wildlife lovers will have an extra special time at Wheeler Peak since it’s home to all kinds of fun animals, including marmots, pikas, golden eagles, bighorn sheep and rocky mountain elk.

If you’re looking for beautiful tourist sites in New Mexico, you won’t want to miss Wheeler Peak.

Even if you aren’t able or willing to climb to the very top, there are plenty of sights to enjoy along the way!

Address: Taos County, NM, United States

31. Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument
Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock

The Four Corners Monument is the only place in the United States where four states touch a single boundary.

In this case, it’s Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, and they all come together in a small circle at the center of a plaza.

In terms of tourist attractions, there isn’t a lot to do at the circle itself, but the surrounding area has plenty of entertainment.

There are buskers and musicians; there are street food trucks and mom-and-pop gift shops.

Further beyond, there are stores, restaurants, malls, movie theaters and other hot spots for vacationers.

Interestingly, the Four Corners Monument is also on the boundary of two Native American communities: the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation.

If you’re interested in learning more about these cultures, you’ll be in a prime location to do so.

All things considered, the Four Corners Monument is definitely one of the major points of interest in New Mexico.

Its experience is so unique that you literally can’t get it anywhere else in the US!

Address: 597 NM-597, Teec Nos Pos, AZ 86514, United States

32. Cliff’s Amusement Park

Cliff's Amusement Park
Cliff’s Amusement Park

Who is Cliff?

No one knows, but he built a great amusement park.

It’s basically an all-ages playground for the residents of New Mexico, and you can get in on the fun when you buy your own ticket.

There are multiple roller coasters for the adventurers out there, including the “New Mexico Rattler,” an old-fashioned wooden coaster that’s been ranked one of the best in the world.

Other rides range from water slides to fireballs to tilt-a-whirls.

When you’re done losing your lunch, you can replace it with great carnival-style food and drink, or you can try your luck at one of the many game booths.

There are both classics and new, contemporary games.

If you’re thinking about what to visit with kids when you’re in New Mexico, Cliff’s Amusement Park is a must.

It has a vintage charm that will appeal to the adults and a fun, energetic atmosphere that will keep the kids hopping.

The whole family can enjoy a day here!

Address: 4800 Osuna Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, United States

33. Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch
Adam Springer / Shutterstock

New Mexico is one of the most beautiful states to visit, and once you’re at Ghost Ranch, you’ll understand why.

Rocky red canyons tower over the land.

Flat-topped mesas are dotted with ferns, bushes, succulents and other desert plants.

Dramatic sunsets streak over jagged cliffs to form horizons that go on for miles and miles.

Ghost Ranch is so gorgeous that you’ve probably seen it before even if you’ve never stepped foot in New Mexico.

It’s been used in countless Hollywood films like Wyatt Earp, Lone Ranger and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

It has a very “cowboy feeling.”

Make time for Ghost Ranch if you’re wondering what to do while in New Mexico.

It’ll offer a feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul, especially if you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

Address: 280 Private Drive 1708 Highway, US-84, Abiquiu, NM 87510, United States

34. Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo
Gimas / Shutterstock

The Taos Pueblo is a real blast from the past.

Not only does it date back to 1000 – 1450 A.D., but there are still around 150 residents living full-time within its clay brick walls and straw-supported roofs.

Visitors are free to wander within the community or sign up for a tour with a local guide.

There’s a lot of cool sightseeing to be done in regards to both the architecture and the general way of life.

For example, there’s no running water or electricity, and the residents support themselves with what they can grow, make, barter and sell, the same thing that they’ve been doing for thousands of years.

Other things to do can be found in the nearby city of Taos.

In addition to the usual shops and restaurants, there are also a number of museums, plazas, old churches and other places of interest.

The Taos Pueblo is an example of how Native American culture continues to thrive in New Mexico.

As a bonus, your patronage will provide direct support to a precious historical community.

Why wouldn’t you drop by for a visit?

35. New Mexico State Capitol

New Mexico State Capitol
Zack Frank / Shutterstock

If you’re interested in New Mexico, the state capitol is a great place to visit.

It’ll give you a glimpse of the inner workings of local government, and it’ll impart real historical and cultural knowledge that will deepen your appreciation for all of the tourist attractions that you’ll see later.

If you’re not interested in New Mexico, the state capitol is still a great place to visit.

It houses all kinds of artwork and tribal artifacts, and it boasts utterly unique architecture that distinguishes itself from any other government building in the country: It’s round!

The locals call it “the Roundhouse” for this very reason.

Consider a trip to the New Mexico State Capitol if you’re looking for interesting places to go in the state.

It might not be a big, flashy destination, but it’ll still offer a worthwhile experience to have.

Address: 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

36. Western Playland

Western Playland
Grossinger / Shutterstock

The Tsunami. The Scrambler. Pharaoh’s Fury. The Hurricane.

These are just a few of the rides that you can find at Western Playland, an amusement park located in southern New Mexico.

It’s a relatively small park, but it still manages to pack a big punch.

If you like thrills and chills, you can test your mettle on everything from roller coasters to vertical drop rides.

If you like winning prizes, you can play carnival games until you disappear under a mountain of stuffed tigers.

Concession options range from food stall hot dogs to fine dining at the park’s sit-down restaurant.

You can also buy plenty of souvenirs at the gift shop!

You don’t have to visit somewhere like Six Flags to have a good time in New Mexico.

Amusement parks like Western Playland are just as good, and since they’re smaller, less crowded and locally owned, they’re probably better than the big-name brands anyway.

Address: 1249 Futurity Dr, Sunland Park, NM 88063, United States

37. Living Desert State Park

Living Desert State Park
Zack Frank / Shutterstock

Have you ever seen a roadrunner outside of a cartoon?

At the Living Desert State Park, you can cross this unique item off your bucket list.

Formerly known as the Living Desert Zoological and Botanical State Park, this wilderness area is home to both plants and animals that are native to New Mexico.

Creatures include bobcats, prairie dogs, golden eagles and Gila monsters; flowers and trees include prickly pears, barrel cacti and all kinds of acacia and agave.

Activities at the park will depend on the season.

Depending on when you go, you can catch everything from summertime nature walks to wintertime animal feedings.

You can also take self-guided tours at any time of the year to enjoy the arroyos and sand dunes.

Get away from it all with a trip to the Living Desert State Park.

It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also removed enough from the bustle of big cities that you can take a deep breath, smile at a cougar and just enjoy a remote wilderness area for awhile.

Address: 1504 Miehls Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220, United States

38. Tiwa Kitchen

Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant
Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant

Did you know that many Native Americans are lactose intolerant?

It’s something that dates back centuries among their people, so much so that they actually created their own version of milk: blue corn mush.

Despite the “mush” part of its name, blue corn mush is actually quite delicious.

It’s made by mixing blue-tinted maize with water and the burned ashes of a juniper tree.

The combined results aren’t unlike cream of wheat, and in addition to their cool, unique color, they’re also packed with calcium and other necessary nutrients that the lactose intolerant can’t get from milk.

This brings us to Tiwa Kitchen.

Run by a local Native American couple, it offers many staple foods of their culture, including blue corn mush.

You can also try things like bison meat and blue corn fry bread.

The dessert menu is even better than the regular menu, but we’ll leave that as a surprise!

Broaden your horizons with a trip to Tiwa Kitchen.

It’s obscure enough that you might not find it listed among the usual New Mexico attractions, but it’s worth a side trip.

Address: 328 Hwy to Town of Taos, Taos, NM 87571, United States

39. Fiestas de Santa Fe

Fiestas de Santa Fe
Amanda Quintana-Bowles / flickr

Are you ready to party?

Throw on a sombrero and toss back a margarita with the Fiestas de Santa Fe!

Held every year in the fall, the Fiestas de Santa Fe is a city-wide event that incorporates food, drink, art, dance, theater and more.

It’s the kind of celebration where mariachi fiddle right in the streets as performers put on elaborate reenactments of important parts of New Mexico’s past.

There’s a somber side to the festival, too, as people come together to pray or to burn effigies to ward off suffering.

These might be interesting things to see if you want to witness some local flavor while you’re in New Mexico.

All things considered, however, the Fiestas de Santa Fe is a lively event where the beer is always flowing and the crowds are always cheering.

If you’ll be traveling through New Mexico during the fall, you won’t want to miss it!

40. Blue Hole

Blue Hole
rawf8 / Shutterstock

The Blue Hole is one of the best diving destinations in the United States.

It’s also one of the most beautiful!

Located a few miles outside of Santa Rosa, the Blue Hole is a large, circular lake with water so deeply and richly blue that it looks artificial.

It’s all natural, however, and it maintains a constant, moderate temperature that makes it delightful for all kinds of outdoor activities.

Swimming is popular, of course.

Free diving and scuba diving are also very common since the water reaches depths of 80 feet.

The sandy walls expand at the bottom, so if you can reach the “floor” of the lake, it’s like you discover a secret room in an underwater castle.

A lot of people bring waterproof cameras to capture this sight forever.

Do you want to make a splash in New Mexico?

Put on your swimming trunks and dive headfirst into the Blue Hole.

You’ll be amazed that such cool, clean and vividly blue water actually exists in real life.

Address: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM 88435, United States

41. Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Zack Frank / Shutterstock

There are so many indigenous sites in New Mexico that you could create an entire itinerary with nothing but Native American tourist attractions.

Let’s talk about just one more: the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Occupied between 850 and 1250 AD, this sprawling landscape offers both natural and man-made wonder.

On the archaeological side, it still has the crumbling remains of the ancestral Puebloan people; they consist of several hundred structures and dwellings, and they’re made with various types of mud, brick, straw and claw.

Tours are available from the local interpretive center if you want to learn more.

On the natural side, the flat plains of the park are absolutely breathtaking to behold.

There’s the rugged desert beauty that you’d expect from New Mexico, but there are also dazzling colors from both daytime and nighttime skies.

The park is a popular destination for stargazers in particular.

There are many places to see in New Mexico that preserve its Native American heritage, but the Chaco Culture National Historical Park is one of the best.

If you want to pay tribute to the people who lived on this land before us, make time for this destination.

Address: Nageezi, NM 87037, United States

Start Planning Your Trip To New Mexico

These are just a few of the coolest places to visit in New Mexico.

Whether you’re interested in brightly-lit shopping malls or dry, craggy deserts that are completely off the grid, it’s a state that can offer it all, so pack your bags and put in for those vacation days!