A small town by the standards of today, the town of Mesilla in New Mexico was once a major stop around 150 years ago for people traveling between San Diego and San Antonio. The town hasn’t changed too much over the many years, providing visitors with an idea of what a border town during the 1800’s looked like. There’s much more to the history of this small town, including an adobe church from 1855 and the courtroom where Billy the Kid of Western legend stood trial for murder. Along with the history, Mesilla also draws visitors with its unique shopping and authentic, local dining.

1. Basilica of San Albino

Basilica of San Albino
© gnagel/stock.adobe.com

The Basilica of San Albino, or Basílica de San Albino in Spanish, is part of the Las Cruces Roman Catholic Diocese, formerly called the San Albino Church of Mesilla. One of the reasons why this church is notable is that it was originally established in the county of Mexico, but due to territory transferred with the Gadsden Purchase, the church is now located within the United States. The site’s first church was constructed back in 1852, while the current Basilica of San Albino was built later in 1906. This historic church is also one of the region’s oldest churches.

2070 Calle De Santiago, Las Cruces, NM 88005, Phone: 575-526-9349

2. Mesilla Plaza

Mesilla Plaza
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Mesilla Plaza in the old New Mexico town of Mesilla is the main central plaza in town. The plaza, as well as many of the surrounding buildings, are designated as a National Historic Landmark District due to its significant role in the power transfer that first brought the original New Mexico Territory, followed by the Gadsden Purchase, into the control of the United States. The town square was where the American flag was officially raised in November of 1854 to confirm United States sovereignty of the area. The Mesilla Plaza’s most notable building is the Basilica of San Albino.

2170 Calle De Parian, Las Cruces, NM 88005, Phone: 575-524-3262

3. Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery

Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery
© Yakov/stock.adobe.com

The Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery can be found within New Mexico’s historic Mesilla Valley, a unique destination where Spanish priests initially established vineyards back during the early part of the 1600’s. With a location just a few miles outside of Old Mesilla and Las Cruces, the Rio Grande Vineyards is an ideal destination for both tourists and locals alike who are looking to have a “true New Mexico experience.” The vineyard is made up of twelve varietals, and the Tasting Room features numerous old photographs depicting the Mesilla area and grand views of the scenic Organ Mountains from the patio.

5321 Avenida de Mesilla, Las Cruces, NM 88005, Phone: 575-524-3985

4. Fountain Theatre

Fountain Theatre
© Ted/stock.adobe.com

The Fountain Theatre opened in the historic town of Mesilla, New Mexico back in the year 1905, making it the state’s oldest movie theater. Situated within the Old Mesilla historic district, the theater is located on the very same square as the jail from which Western Legend Billy the Kid had escaped in April of 1881. The Fountain family originally used the theater for vaudeville variety shows. Today, the Fountain Theatre is operated by the non-profit, all-volunteer Mesilla Valley Film Society and regularly shows art film and foreign films to the Mesilla community, with concessions including coffee, ice cream bars, and popcorn.

2469 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM 88046, Phone: 575-524-8287

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5. Billy the Kid Gift Shop

Billy the Kid Gift Shop
© About Billy the Kid

The Billy the Kid Gift Shop, housed within one of the Mesilla Plaza’s most historic buildings, is certainly one of the most unique things to do in the small town of Mesilla, New Mexico. Visitors should take a bit of time to explore the old latillas and vigas, and simply look at the old adobe building with its 18-inch original mud brick walls. The building is said to of been the home of the state capital, back when the town acted as the capital of the Arizona Territories and New Mexico during the time of the Civil War.

2385 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM 88046, Phone: 575-523-5562

6. Double Eagle Restaurant

Double Eagle Restaurant
© Double Eagle Restaurant

The Double Eagle Restaurant is located in the heart of Mesilla’s old historic district, housed inside of an elegant historic home built back in 1849. The adobe building features crystal chandeliers, antiques, turn-of-the-century artwork, and supposedly even two ghosts. A fine dining local restaurant in Mesilla known for serving steaks aged in-house, the Double Eagle Restaurant also offers a full bar, several types of margaritas, and an award-winning wine list. Guests can choose to dine inside the Maximilian Dining Room for a more elegant dinner or dine outdoors on the enclosed patio for a pleasant casual dinner as well.

2355 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM 88046, Phone: 575-523-6700

7. La Posta de Mesilla

La Posta de Mesilla
© La Posta de Mesilla

La Posta de Mesilla serves authentic dishes prepared using century-old family recipes that have been handed down from the Griggs, Chavez, and Fountain families. Today, La Posta is one of the southwest United States region’s most recognized and oldest restaurants and continues to provide the same traditional hospitality, spirits, and delicious food to every guest, both locals and visitors alike. The full bar at La Posta de Mesilla includes a wide selection of beers, as well as a variety of mixed drinks combining the finest spirits, local ingredients, and freshly squeezed juices. The rooms here also have historical significance.

2410 Calle De San Albino, Mesilla, NM 88046, Phone: 575-524-3524

8. Josefina's Old Gate Cafe

Josefina's Old Gate Cafe
© Josefina's Old Gate Cafe

Located within a quaint house made from adobe, Josefina's Old Gate Cafe is a long-time symbol of welcome and warmth in the town’s historic Mesilla Plaza. Guests can stop and admire the front gate, which dates back to the 1930’s and enjoy a glass of wine, a light meal, or coffee on the sunny patio or in the exquisitely restored parlor.

2261 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM 88046, Phone: 575-525-2620

9. Hacienda de Mesilla

Hacienda de Mesilla
© Hacienda de Mesilla

The Hacienda de Mesilla in the historic town of Mesilla, New Mexico was inspired by the Old West’s grand old Haciendas. Situated within the historic district of Old Mesilla near Las Cruces, this hacienda is a charming cantina, grill, and boutique inn that provides a special and memorable experience for travelers, full of personal attention and charm. The Hacienda de Mesilla Grille and Cantina offers area-inspired signature meals consisting of pasta, entree salads, poultry, steaks, and seafood, as well as several traditional favorites, such as green chile blue corn enchiladas and green chile crab bisque.

1891 Avenida de Mesilla, Mesilla, NM 88046, Phone: 575-652-4953

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