New Mexico is a land rich with adventures, beautiful sights, ruins, culture, and interesting history. Visit beautiful Santa Fe, Taos, Las Cruces and Albuquerque which are home to unique museums, botanical gardens and restaurants. There's also Roswell and other unique and interesting places to visit. What is New Mexico best known for? Watch a performance at the stunning Santa Fe Opera House, explore the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and take the kids to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
1. Santa Fe Opera House
© Santa Fe Opera House
Seven miles north of Santa Fe in the desert, hiding in plain sight and looking directly at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Rockies, the Santa Fe Opera House is found. Built in 1956 in a newly purchased guest ranch, founder John Crosby created the opera house as a place to teach young American singers new repertoires, in a relaxed atmosphere, away from everything, providing enough time and space to rehearse and prepare.
The shows became popular for offering a perfect spot to dine and watch the sunset, while enjoying an open air theatre. Since its inception, every season has presented five operas including a world premiere or rarity, a Mozart, and a Richard Strauss, as well as other titles by composers like Handel, Verdi, Puccini, Britten, and Janacek.
301 Opera Dr, Santa Fe, NM 87506, Phone: 505-986-5900
2. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
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Founded in 1986, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science exists to tell the story of the Earth, from the Big Bang to the Ice Age, in its permanent exhibits: Origins, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Jurassic Super Giants, New Mexico Seacoast, Age of Volcanoes, Evolving Grasslands, Cave Experience, and New Mexico’s Ice Age. The museum is one of the top New Mexico tourist attractions.
They also have a planetarium and two galleries dedicated to space exploration and astronomy. Some of its most outstanding features are the complete skeletons of four dinosaurs, including one of the biggest T-Rex ever to be found. Another enlightening exhibit is STARTUP, which tells the story of the personal computer, based on the story of Microsoft, which was founded in Albuquerque.
1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, Phone: 505-841-2800
3. Millicent Rogers Museum, New Mexico
© Millicent Rogers Museum
Located in Taos, New Mexico, the Millicent Rogers Museum was founded in 1956 by the Millicent Rogers family, and holds a large collection of Hispanic, Anglo-American, and Native American art, including pottery, paintings, photography, graphics, arts, crafts, and jewelry.
It became known in 1980 for being the first to house Hispanic and Native American art collections, including more than 1,200 pieces of jewelry and more than 50 textiles. It also features work from Taos Pueblo potters and painters, portraying the lives of the Pueblo people.
1504 Millicent Rogers Rd, El Prado, NM 87529, Phone: 575-758-2462
4. Sky City Cultural Center & Haak'u Museum, New Mexico
© Sky City Cultural Center & Haak'u Museum
Acoma Pueblo, 60 miles west of Albuqerque, New Mexico, is made out of three villages: Sky City, Acomita, and Mcartys, that make up the Acoma Indian Reservation. The Acoma Pueblo, a federally recognized tribal entity, is made up of 4,989 individuals according to the 2010 United States Census, which have been there for more than 2,000 years.
In 2008, they opened the Sky City Cultural Center & Haaku Museum, in order to share their culture and gain income through tourism. It is without a doubt one of the best places to connect with indigenous cultures, due to the fact that they are still there, and manage the place.
Haaku Rd, Acoma Pueblo, NM 87034, Phone: 505-552-7861
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5. Ghost Ranch, New Mexico
© Ghost Ranch
The first thing you must wonder about Ghost Ranch is the origin of its name. As it turns out, in order to keep people from digging into their stolen stuff, cattle thieves spread the rumors of evil spirits haunting the land. Thus, it became known as Ghost Ranch. It is a beautiful, vast, natural place, formed by miles of dessert, cliffs, mesas, vistas, cottonwood trees, and mountains.
Its landscape, made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe, englobes 21,000 acres of rock walls, and people come from all over the world for spiritual development, writing, painting, hiking, horseback riding, completing fossil or archeological research, visiting the museums, or just resting and enjoying the views.
Ghost Ranch 280 Private Drive 1708, Abiquiu, NM 87510, Phone: 877-804-4678
6. National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, New Mexico
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Another well-known fact about New Mexico is that it was the subject of atomic bomb tests during the 1940s and 50s. The first one, code name Trinity, occurred in the desert, 35 miles away from Socorro, New Mexico.
The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, located in Albuquerque, was first created to tell the story of the development of nuclear weapons, and then expanded to include nuclear science and the history of the atomic age. The exhibits provide a wide, comprehensive and objective view of nuclear science, from the origins of atomic theory, and the context of World War II and the Cold War, to the nuclear development achieved nowadays, and the peaceful ways to use nuclear technology.
601 Eubank, Albuquerque, NM 87123, Phone: 505-245-2137
7. Carlsbad Caverns Natural Entrance Tour, New Mexico
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Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the most popular of the national parks in the southwest region of the United States. 250 million years ago, the Caverns used to be a shoreline for an inland sea, so when the sea evaporated, it left sediments that created caves.
At the entrance, there is a 1.25 mile trail where visitors can walk and explore different "rooms" (open areas in the caverns). There are stalagmites, stalactites, and giant boulders that make the caverns look like something from an Indiana Jones movie. If they look closely, visitors can even see the bats who call the caverns home. The tour offers a glimpse into the ways the world was millions of years ago.
3225 National Parks Highway, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM, Phone: 575-785-2232
8. Red River, New Mexico
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In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost point of the Rocky Mountains, the town of Red River awaits. Located in Taos County, its population in 2010 was only 477, even though in its time, thousands inhabited the land and worked on the mines.
There, in the 1950s, the Red River Ski & Summer Area was founded with the intention of making it a great getaway destination. Outdoor activities in the area include trout fishing, skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in the winter, and hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding in the summers.
400 Pioneer Rd, Red River, NM 87558, Phone: 575-754-2223
9. Museum of International Folk Art
© Museum of International Folk Art
Home of the largest collection of international folk art in the world, the Museum of International Folk Art is a must-see when in New Mexico. Founded by Florence Dibell, this state-run institution in Santa Fe opened its doors to the public in 1953. It now has over 130,000 objects on display, from more than 100 countries, and it is based on the belief of its founder, that folk art would generate “an appreciation of the culture and craft of other countries.”
She also believed that the museum would serve as “one avenue for a closer understanding between men,” since traditional folk arts from all over the world was a way of demonstrating a common bond. The different galleries represent cultures from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and North America, with a deeper focus on Contemporary Hispano and Latino Art, Spanish Colonial Art, and Textiles and Dress.
706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-476-1200
10. New Mexico History Museum, New Mexico
© New Mexico History Museum
The Palace of the Governors, located on Palace Avenue on the Plaza of Santa Fe, is the oldest public building continuously occupied in the United States. It was built in 1610 by Pedro de Peralta, governor of the Spanish colony that is today most of the American Southwest, including New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, California, Texas, and Nevada. Since that time, it has changed hands many times such as during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, the reconquest in 1693, Mexican independence in 1821, and it has been under American possession since 1848.
This adobe structure that is today the New Mexico History Museum was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and an American Treasure in 1999. Collections are separated into the Spanish Colonial period (1540 to 1821), the Mexican period (1821 to 1846), the U.S. territorial period (1846 to 1912), and the statehood period (1912 to present). It consists of 15,000 objects including such highlights as the Segesser Hide Paintings, State Seal, Silver Service, “Pancho” Villa Clock, 19th Century Desk, and 16th century Morion helmet.
113 Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 505-476-5200
11. El Rancho de las Golondrinas, New Mexico
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El Rancho de las Golondrinas, which translates to “The Ranch of the Swallows,” is a historical ranch, now a living history museum, located on the Camino Real, the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe, as a resting place for travelers in the times of Spanish colonization.
Nowadays, the ranch offers many activities, festivals, and tours with the goal of inspiring visitors to learn and preserve the culture and traditions of New Mexico’s Hispanic past. Some of its most famous activities are traditional weaving, carding, colcha embroidery, spinning on wheels and malacates, washing wool with yucca root, and vegetable dyeing, which can all be learned free of charge.
334 Los Pinos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507, Phone: 505-471-2261
12. Liquid Light Glass, New Mexico
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If you’re looking for something different to do in New Mexico, you could try a glass blowing class. Elodie Holmes, founder and owner of Liquid Light Glass, hand sculpts pieces by using the traditional technique of glass blowing, creating fine glass art.
Her work includes platters, bowls, sculptures, ornaments, vases, and paperweights. She works in her main studio, Liquid Light Glass, offering classes, or the possibility to watch her work, and learn some of the techniques for blowing, sculpting, and shaping glass art.
926 Baca St, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-820-2222
13. Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, New Mexico
© Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the >Museum of Indian Arts & Culture shares the Southwest Native American story, with the mission to collect and preserve its culture, art, and traditions. It holds the most extensive collection of New Mexican and Southwestern anthropological artifacts in the United States, and also offers public lectures, exhibitions, field trips, and artist residencies.
The museum receives more than 65,000 visitors each year, eager to see the exhibitions that inspire appreciation and knowledge of the native history, languages, anthropology, and archaeology of the Southwest. This museum is all around a great place to be.
710 Camino Lejo off Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87504, Phone: 505-476-1269
14. ABQ Trolley Co., New Mexico
ABQ Trolley Co. offers one of the most unique ways to tour the beautiful city of Albuquerque, originally founded in 2009 by tourism professionals Mike Silva and Jesse Heron. As Albuquerque's first city touring service in nearly a decade, the company specializes in open-air trolley excursions showcasing the best of the city's sights, sounds, and landmarks. Guests embark on 85-minute tours spanning more than 18 miles throughout the city's neighborhoods, exploring areas such as Nob Hill and Old Town. Friendly and enthusiastic tour guides elaborate on the city's history and landmarks, providing the most comprehensive overview of the city possible. Children are welcome aboard the company's tours, though guests traveling with young ones in tow are asked to be mindful of other tour guests.
800 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, Phone: 505-200-2642
15. Wander New Mexico Food Tours
© Wander New Mexico Food Tours
Wander New Mexico Food Tours offer immersive small-group tours exploring Santa Fe's unique culinary scene, paired with discussion of the region's cultural and architectural history. The company strives to bring the unique flavors of the American Southwest to life through engaging narratives as part of tours led by experienced tour guides. All tours are limited to eight to 12 participants, maximizing personal engagement and letting tour participants meet and greet directly with the city's best chefs, vintners, and distillers. Tours include an Off The Beaten Path exploration of the city's Railyard Arts District, along with a Santa Fe Historic Plaza Food Tour exploring the city's downtown district. Taste of Canyon Road tours also explore the city's art scene, detailing the district's transformation from a Spanish farming community into a vibrant art market.
417 E Palace Ave Suite 10, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 505-395-0552
16. NM Things to Do: Bat Flight Program in Carlsbad Cavern National Park
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Every night from April to October, in Carlsbad, New Mexico, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats head out to have their supper. All you have to do is come, sit in the amphitheater, learn about the bats in our evening talk, and then prepare to enjoy one of the most outstanding natural views to be seen in New Mexico.
The Bat Flight Program in Carlsbad Cavern National Park is one of the most popular spots on the grid, and it’s definitely something to take into account when visiting New Mexico.
3225 National Parks Highway, Carlsbad, NM 88220, Phone: 575-785-2232
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17. Riverbend Hot Springs
© Riverbend Hot Springs
A trip to New Mexico wouldn’t be complete without finding a place to relax, and recharge energies. The Riverbend Hot Springs are a Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, located on the banks of the Rio Grande River, in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
The springs were considered sacred by the Mimbres and Apache peoples, for the mineral rich waters, the views of Turtleback Mountain, the river, and its abundant wildlife. It is said that Indian warriors left their weapons behind to bathe in this healing water, and you can do the same. Simply drop in or, better yet, stay the night and enjoy a full day of natural rejuvenation.
100 Austin St, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901, Phone: 575-894-7625
18. The Santa Fe Botanical Garden, New Mexico
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden was originally established in 1987 by a group of local gardeners and botanists as a sanctuary and learning landscape for growing and showcasing native and non-native plants to the Santa Fe region. Today, the garden offers two campuses throughout the Santa Fe area, including locations at Museum Hill and the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve. The garden's original location at the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve spans 35 acres and showcases dry upland, transitional, and riparian plants, while its new location at Museum Hill, which was developed by landscape architect W. Gary Smith, features plantings designed to showcase flora that can thrive in sparse water conditions. A garden shop is offered at the Museum Hill location, selling garden decor, jewelry, books, and home goods from local artisans. Annual programming presented by the garden includes gardening classes and workshops, nature walks, lectures, and Yoga in the Garden courses.
715 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Phone: 505-471-9103
19. NM Things to Do: Taos Ski Valley
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With over 1,294 acres of skiable terrain, Taos Ski Valley is one of the biggest attractions in New Mexico. The resort receives an average of 305 inches of snow a year, and has 110 trails for skiers and snowboarders of every skill.
Visitors from all over the world come to take advantage of lessons from world class skiers and snowboarders, hot springs, cross country skiing, and even snow tubing. The Bavarian resort offers authentic German dining, along with an array of lodging rooms. Taos Ski Valley also offers day and night hiking, mountain biking, and chairlift rides during the summer.
116 Sutton Pl, Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525, Phone: 575-776-2916
20. Things to Do in New Mexico: Meow Wolf
© Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is not just your standard art exhibit. Meow Wolf is a hands-on experience for all ages. When author George R.R. Martin purchased the building he had a vision of an interactive exhibit where patrons could choose what they wanted to see and how it makes them feel.
The House of Eternal Return lets visitors experience art through senses of touch, sight, and sound through different dimensions. Meow Wolf also hosts concerts, events, and workshops for all ages.
1352 Rufina Cir, Santa Fe, NM 87507, Phone: 505-395-6369
21. Things to Do in New Mexico: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
© Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Artist Georgia O'Keeffe is best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers and the environment of New Mexico. The museum not only holds some of her best oil paintings, but also sketches, sculptures, and photographs. These pieces cover the beginning of her career to her retirement.
The pieces and themes rotate through the museum so there is always something new to see. There are also options for a guided tour and in-depth descriptions of her work, as well as a downloadable phone app to learn more about her pieces in the museum.
217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Phone: 505-946-1000
22. Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum
© Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum
The Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum is filled with hot air balloons of all shapes, sizes, and functions. The museum contains hands-on information about how balloons fly, the various reasons balloons are flown, and the history of balloons.
The museum teaches patrons that hot air balloons have played an important part of history. The museum contains permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as a 4-D theater where patrons can watch and feel an animated flight experience.
9201 Balloon Museum Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, Phone: 505-768-6020
23. Things to Do in NM: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
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The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has several locations, one of which is located in Socorro, about two hours outside of Albuquerque. About 50 miles west of here is where the Very Large Array is located, one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, which consists of 27 very large radio antennas in a Y shape.
The observatory contains information about what radio antennas do and why they are important in space exploration. There is a guided tour on the first Saturday of every month, but visitors are more than welcome to go on their own self-guided tour. There is an observation deck that overlooks all of the towers and, before leaving, patrons can go to the Antenna Assignment Building for the chance to see the technicians fixing one of the towers.
1003 Lopezville Rd, Socorro, NM 87801, Phone: 575-835-7000
24. Things to Do: New Mexico Museum of Space History
© New Mexico Museum of Space History
New Mexico is a key area when it comes to space exploration, and the Museum of Space History teaches visitors why. The museum contains historical pieces such as a moon rock, space suits, and the Rocket Sled used to go 632 miles per hour.
The museum is also home to the Space Hall of Fame where patrons can read about the most important people who have helped us learn about the vast unknown. Visitors can sit back and learn about space through images, stars, and lasers projected on the giant dome ceiling of the planetarium. The Museum offers special events as well as a "Space Camp" for children interested in space exploration and technology.
3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310, Phone: 575-437-2840
25. Rainbow Ryders, New Mexico
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Rainbow Ryders is the largest hot air balloon company in New Mexico with over 20 balloons to take visitors above New Mexico. Hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over come to take in the spectacular views.
They offer balloon rides during sunrise, sunset, or anytime during the day. Rainbow Ryders takes pride in having qualified staff that are experienced in both researching the weather and piloting the balloons so that their participants feel safe and have fun during the ride. They also have special balloons for weddings, advertising, and group events.
5601 Eagle Rock Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, Phone: 505-823-1111
El Santuario de Chimayo Historic Site
Called the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States, you won’t want to miss this place when visiting New Mexico. Located in Chimayó, New Mexico, El Santuario de Chimayo is a beautiful Roman Catholic church, made entirely out of adobe and wood, which receives 300,000 visitors per year.
Some of its features include the famous “Our Lord of Esquipulas” crucifix, believed to be miraculous, and “el pocito,” a small pit of Holy Dirt known to have curative powers. Beliefs aside, it is surely a remarkable place you will want to visit in New Mexico.
15 Santuario Dr,15 Santuario Dr, Phone: 505-351-9961
New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum
Visiting the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is more than just walking around to see livestock; it gives a glimpse into the history of rural New Mexico. They offer galleries filled with tools, clothing, and other artifacts from 1850-1955.
There are also interactive exhibits where visitors can see what kinds of jobs their ancestors may have had. Outside, there are areas where patrons can see livestock, blacksmithing, or walk through a pistachio and cactus garden. The museum takes pride in showing all historical aspects of rural living. The museum offers a special adult tour.
4100 Dripping Springs Rd, Las Cruces, NM 88011, Phone: 575-522-4100
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