Located across the border from Mexico in western Texas, El Paso is home to a number of unique museums, historical attractions and parks. Explore Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, ride on the Wyler Aerial Tramway, visit the El Paso Museum of Art and shop at the Downtown Art & Farmers Market in El Paso, TX.
Best things to do in El Paso, Texas for families include the El Paso Zoo, the Western Playland Amusement Park, and Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums.
1. Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
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Hueco Tanks State Historic Site has an interactive ranch house that lets visitors understand the history of the park that they are about to explore. There are guided and self-guided tours available during which visitors get to admire spectacular rock imagery.
For centuries, this area held rainwater in rock basins called hueco, and the name stuck until today. Visitors enjoy natural trails that encourage hiking, admire the panoramic views of the stark terrain, and colorful birds that are native to this land. Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is one of the top El Paso attractions.
6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1, El Paso, TX 79938, 915-857-1135
2. El Paso Museum of Art
© El Paso Museum of Art
The El Paso Museum of Art in old El Paso was founded in 1959 and is one of the best things to do in El Paso TX. The museum's permanent collection showcases works of art by Gilbert Stuart, Manuel Gregorio Acosta and other important artists.
There is a large collection by contemporary Mexican and Southwestern U.S. artists, with special exhibitions held during the year. This museum offers art classes, storytelling sessions, and other educational classes for the local community.
1 Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901, 915-212-0300
3. El Paso Zoo
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The El Paso Zoo is situated on 35 acres of dense greenery and is home to several exotic animals from around the world. This zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and it gives visitors a chance to connect with these animals that are accommodated in a natural habitat. If you are wondering what to do in El Paso with kids, this is a great place to visit.
The El Paso Zoo also has unique family attractions such as the African Star Train, the Foster Tree House Playground, the Hunt Family Desert Spring feature, and the Giraffe Encounter.
4001 E. Paisano, El Paso, TX 79905, 915-212-0966
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4. Franklin Mountains State Park
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Franklin Mountains State Park offers over 100 miles of trails for mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing. If you are looking to stay overnight, there are 14 tent sites are five RV sites available for rent.
Climbers can head to McKelligton Canyon or Tom Mays unit at Sneed’s Cory for rock climbing. This beautiful rugged desert terrain was home to Native Americans, and you can still see their history etched on rock walls and boulders from 12,000 years ago.
1331 McKelligon Canyon Road, El Paso, TX 79930, 915-566-6441
5. Plaza Theatre
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The Plaza Theatre is one of the most famous landmarks in El Paso, situated in a historic building that was constructed in 1929 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It was built as a film house with the option of presenting stage shows. After years of neglect, it was restored to its original appearance in 2002. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in El Paso, watch a show at the Plaza Theatre.
Visitors can admire the mosaic flooring, intricately painted ceilings, exclusive carpeting, and decorative wrought iron banisters that add character to the antique furnishings of this building. The Plaza Theatre still continues to showcase numerous Broadway productions, concerts, and performances.
125 W Mills Ave, El Paso, TX 79901, Phone: 915-231-1100
6. El Paso Holocaust Museum
© El Paso Holocaust Museum
The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center was founded by Holocaust survivor Henry Kellen. It was established with the main intention of creating an awareness of the concentration camps and resistance movements during WWII. Videos and exhibits help the visitor understand the gravity of the situation.
The authentic artifacts on display, such as the dining room scene, are thought-provoking and emotional. Most of the exhibits are permanent, but there are visiting exhibits throughout the year that add to this soul-stirring museum.
715 N Oregon St, El Paso, TX 79902, 915-351-0048
7. Magoffin Home State Historic Site
© Magoffin Home State Historic Site
Magoffin Home State Historic Site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was the home of the Magoffin family who actively participated in the U.S. expansion, military service, Civil War, and U.S.-Mexico relations.
This house was built in 1875 in a Territorial style; it has thick adobe walls that keep it cool in summer and warm during the winter. The Magoffin descendants lived in this house for over 100 years. The décor reflects the style of that time and most of the original furniture is still on display.
1120 Magoffin Ave. El Paso, TX 79901, 915-533-5147
8. Chamizal National Memorial
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Chamizal is an urban park that stands for the peaceful settlement of a 100-year dispute over the border between two nations. The National Park Service site is on the border of Mexico and the United States and home to unique fauna and flora native to the region.
Explore nature trails that are wonderful for biking and hiking, or get spectacular views of the Franklin Mountains and the Bridge of the Americas and Mexico. Visitors can attend a concert or dance performances on weekends.
800 S San Marcial St, El Paso, TX 79905, 915-532-7273
9. El Paso Municipal Rose Garden
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The El Paso Municipal Rose Garden, located on four-acres, is home to over 1,460 rose bushes and 320 different rose varieties. The Rose Garden was opened to the public in 1959 and was expanded to its current size in 2006. The garden has raised beds, a waterfall, a Koi pond, trees and shrubs, as well as wide walkways all within an iron-fenced area. New varieties of roses are planted each year by volunteers who do the pruning, deadheading, wedding, and rose inventory.
Tours are offered during peak bloom times. The garden hosts events throughout the year, including the Kids and Kows, which is an educational event that is geared towards school age children that allows them to learn about agriculture.
1702 N. Copia Street, El Paso, TX 79930, 915-541-4331
10. Southwest University Park
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The Southwest University Park is nestled in the heart of downtown El Paso and offers visitors gorgeous views of the Franklin Mountains and the downtown El Paso skyline during night-time events. The ballpark spans across five acres of land, and has a unique design with red brick exterior and archways along its concourse.
The Santa Fe Pavilion offers a 360-degree view of the ballpark and the city, with open air floors. The Southwest University Park allows visitors to plan their own events including anniversary parties, board meetings, graduations, and race events. All events can be hosted either in the City Hall Grill, the Sun Kings Saloon, or the WestStar Bank Club.
1 Ballpark Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901, 915-533-2273
11. El Paso Museum of History
© El Paso Museum of History
The El Paso Museum of History promotes an educational experience for the community and visitors who want to understand the multinational history of El Paso and the border region known as "The Pass of the North." The museum offers interactive exhibits and programs for all ages.
Exhibits include For All the World to See, Drawing on the Past, Sixth Wall of Giants, Neighborhoods and Shared Memories, and The Changing Past. These exhibits take an in-depth look at the struggle for Civil Rights, at photographs of El Paso’s history, a celebration of the 167-year-old relationship between El Paso and Fort Bliss, and finally a chronological journey through major events that have shaped the region. The museum offers classes and creative workshops for adults.
510 N. Santa Fe St., El Paso, TX 79901, 915-212-0320
12. Western Playland Amusement Park
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The Western Playland Amusement Park spans across 25 acres of family friendly rides. The park has been running for 50 years and has thirty different rides for people to enjoy, including The Flying Scooter, Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumper Cars, and the Drop Zone. The amusement park is perfect for families with small children.
1249 Futurity Dr. Sunland Park, NM 88063, 575-589-3410
13. El Paso Water Parks
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Keeping your cool in El Paso is easy with no fewer than 4 separate water parks where families can cool down and enjoy hours of summer fun. Camp Cohen is located in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains where it offers interactive water activities for visitors of all ages, including adrenalin packed high speed slides for adults and gentle Poppy Island for young children. Chapoteo Water Park is a fiesta themed park where you can cool off surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere. At the Lost Kingdom Water Park you will find yourself surrounded by Mayan themed rides and slides for all ages. Last but certainly not least, Oasis Water Park boasts a surfing machine, numerous exciting slides and the Rain Puddle kiddie’s pool.
El Paso Water Parks, El Paso, TX 79936, 915 514 3700
14. UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
© UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
The Centennial Museum, established in 1936, is home to an extensive collections and permanent exhibits that highlight both the naturaland cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert region. The natural history exhibits display information about animals, geology and paleontology of the El Paso region.
Additionally, visitors can view the plants, animals, landscapes, and gardens of the Chihuahuan Desert. There are permanent ethnological exhibits and archaeological exhibits within the museum. The museum also offers events in the form of lectures on the museum’s scholarly findings.
500 West University Avenue, El Paso, TX 79968, 915-747-5000
15. Downtown Art & Farmers Market
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The Downtown Art & Farmers Market was established in 2011, and has been providing residents and tourists with a market every Saturday morning at the Union Plaza District. Residents can come and see original artwork, and crafts as well as get a taste for local food. The market offers good food, live entertainment and artisans of all kinds.
All art is locally made, and the food is home grown or raised by the local farmers. In addition to offering arts and food, the market has events such as health and wellness workshops, performances, activities for children and live music.
117 Anthony St, El Paso, TX 79901, Phone: 915-212-1780
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16. Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums
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Fort Bliss is about 1,700 square miles in size and is the U.S. Army's second-largest installation. Fort Bliss has the largest portion of unrestricted airspace in the United States, often used for training.
It is home to the 1st Armored Division, which was stationed in Germany for 40 years prior to returning to the United States soil in 2011. The museum offers several excellent exhibits showing the history of Fort Bliss, which dates back to 1849 and includes the soldiers' life, army family, war and peace time life.
1735 Marshall Road, El Paso, TX 79906, 915-568-5412
17. Museum of Archaeology
© Museum of Archaeology
The Museum of Archaeology provides visitors with a unique look into the 14,000 years of prehistory of the El Paso area and Northern Mexico. The museum has exhibits that span from the American Indians to the Paleo-Indian hunters of the Ice Age. Visitors will get to experience how the culture has progressed from early civilizations to the modern descendants.
For visitors who prefer nature, there are plenty of trails throughout the 15-acre area, with over 250 species of native plants to admire. There is an Indian garden, outdoor exhibits and a gazebo that families may use for small group activities and picnics.
4301 Transmountain Road, El Paso, TX 79924
18. Mission Trail
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The Mission Trail is located in El Paso’s lower valley and has a history that dates back 400 years ago. There are three adobe churches with architecture that reflects the culture, politics, and spirit of the early settlers who came to El Paso.
The original chapel, the Elceario Prisidio Chapel was initially a military post established in 1684 but was rebuilt in 1850 after being destroyed by flooding in 1684. Visitors who travel the mission trail will learn about the preservation of the missions and about the history of region.
9065 Alameda Avenue, El Paso, TX 79907, 915-851-9997
19. San Elizario Historic District
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The San Elizario Historic District is one of the oldest in West Texas, once being an action-packed crossroads of culture, commerce, and military affairs. The district sits on the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (also known as the Mission Trail), which served as a supply route from Mexico City for over 300 years.
For visitors who wish to learn more about the area, there is a self guided walking tour that will take walkers through eighteen different historic sites which detail the frontier life of the 18th and 19th century. The tour is available seven days a week in English and Spanish.
1521 Main St, San Elizario, TX 79849, 915-851-0093
20. Magoffin Home State Historic Site
© Magoffin Home State Historic Site
Magoffin Home State Historic Site offers visitors a look into the prominent El Paso family that had a large hand in the expansion and settlement of El Paso. Not only did the family do military service, trade on the Santa Fe-Chihuahua Trail, but they also helped many businesses grow in the area.
There are hour-long guided tours that provide an informative experience. Visitors who may need to wait for a tour to open up can enjoy the landscape of the yard as there are plenty of places to sit under the canopy of trees that surround the house. Group tours of ten or more people require a reservation.
1117 Magoffin Ave, El Paso, TX 79901, 915-533-5147
21. National Border Control Museum
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For 100 years, the National Border Patrol has ensured the safety of America’s borders, ensuring that illegal immigrants, unlawful drugs and other contraband do not enter the country. At the National Border Control Museum in El Paso you can find out more about the various duties and responsibilities of the men and women who work for the Border Patrol. The museum showcases many photographic exhibits which document the early days of the patrol, when newly-appointed agents were still required to provide their own horses in order to execute their duties. Other exhibits include weapons, uniforms, oral interviews and many more interesting artifacts.
National Border Control Museum, 4315 Woodrow Bean Trans Mt. Road, El Paso, TX 79924, 915 759 6060
22. Thousand Steps Trail
© Thousand Steps Trail
The Thousand Steps Trail is nestled in Franklin Mountains State Park, and offers visitors excellent hiking, biking and rock climbing opportunities. The trail is four miles in length with an elevation of 2,175 feet. The trail is marked as strenuous and takes about three hours to complete round trip.
The desert climate adds to the difficulty of the trail, so bringing good gear suitable for rough rocky terrain and plenty of water is imperative. The trail is not subject to the Franklin Mountains Park hours, but it is recommended that hikers travel between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
1000 Steps Trail, El Paso, TX 79902
23. El Paso Symphony Orchestra
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The El Paso Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit organization that provides superior concert music for the entertainment and educational experiences of the community of El Paso, Texas. The El Paso Symphony was established in the 1930’s and is the oldest performing arts organization in the area.
The orchestra not only puts on excellent concerts, but performs at special events,provides educational activities and has outreach programs that aim at bringing in new audiences. The El Paso Symphony Orchestra offers annual Young People’s Concerts that feature young musicians from the community as well as hosts annual anniversary celebrations, fundraisers, and workshops.
P.O Box 180, El Paso, TC 79942, 915-532-3776
24. Painted Dunes Golf Course
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Painted Dunes Golf Course offers twenty-seven holes of championship golf. The course has won several accolades and is known as one of the most preeminent golf courses in Texas.
The layout of the golf course rewards players for getting around difficult areas and can create fun challenges for all. Painted Dunes Golf Course offers an East/West course as well as a North course. Practice facilities and private instruction are available.
12000 McCombs Street, El Paso, TX 79934, 915-821-2122