Top 12 Things To Do in El Paso, Texas

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Resting along the Rio Grande river across from Juarez, Mexico, El Paso seamlessly blends American and Mexican cultures into one vibrant border city. Beyond the frontier town vibes, Franklin Mountains State Park’ssoaring ridgeback peaks provide a picturesque backdrop above a thriving arts scene, historical sites, family fun venues and award-winning Tex-Mex dining.

AttractionDescription
El Paso Missions TrailA historic trail featuring four missions dating back over 400 years.
Franklin Mountains State ParkTexas’s largest urban park with over 125 miles of trails.
El Paso Museum of ArtShowcases 6,000 years of human creativity with diverse art collections.
Plaza TheatreA 1930s vaudeville and movie theater offering a variety of events.
El Paso ZooA 35-acre zoo at the base of Franklin Mountains with diverse habitats.
Wyler Aerial TramwayOffers panoramic views of El Paso from Ranger Peak.
Concordia CemeteryA historic cemetery with a Confederate garrison.
Chamizal National MemorialA cultural center and park commemorating U.S.-Mexico diplomacy.
Hueco Tanks State ParkFeatures ancient pictographs and offers bouldering challenges.
Texas Travel MuseumExhibits on historical transportation methods in Texas.
International BorderFestA binational festival celebrating music, arts, and entertainment.
Southwest University ParkHome to the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A baseball team, offering family entertainment.

Use this guide to experience the best things to do in El Paso during your Texas travels.

El Paso Missions Trail

Name and Location: The El Paso Missions Trail follows the path of three historic Spanish colonial missions located in downtown El Paso along the Rio Grande.

History and Significance: These 18th century adobe missions—Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario—represent the oldest sites of European settlement in present-day Texas, established between 1682-1789 to convert local tribes and settlers.

What to Expect: Visitors today tour rooms with period artifacts and murals depicting mission history. Interpretive signs and church members share details about faith, architecture, and frontier life surrounding the early missions.

Visitor Information: All three missions are open for self-guided tours daily. Ysleta and San Elizario welcome visitors while Socorro holds regular worship services.


Four historic missions sit a short drive from downtown, letting visitors imagine Spanish Colonial life in the region dating back over 400 years. Mansions, farms, forts and villages grew around these religious outposts first established to convert area tribes throughout the 1600s. Start at Ysleta Mission, recognized as the oldest continuously active parish in Texas. Biblical passages in the Tigua tribe’s language grace the bright white adobe mission walls. Next visit the cottonwood-shaded Socorro Mission church and its Pueblo-style architecture. Then contrast the fortress-like Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe with ornate San Elizario chapel’s impressive dome and Rose Window 10 minutes down the Mission Trail.

Franklin Mountains State Park

Name and Location: Franklin Mountains State Park encompasses over 24,000 acres surrounding the Franklin Mountain range wholly within El Paso city limits.

History and Significance: Established in 1979, the park protects a unique Chihuahuan desert habitat with 100+ miles of trails for hiking, biking and more through the Franklins’ dramatic cliffs and canyons.

What to Expect: Visitors select trails from easy to difficult leading to scenic views and landmarks like North Franklin Mountain, Ranger Peak, and Mundy’s Gap while observing native plants/animals.

Visitor Information: The park is open daily year-round. Park use permits are $5 daily or $25 annually per vehicle through self-pay stations.


Trade urban views for natural wonders just minutes from downtown inside Texas’s largest urban park. Over 125 miles of multi-use trails in Franklin Mountains State Park cater to hikers and mountain bikers with routes ranging from easy nature paths to challenging uphill climbs. Pack a picnic to enjoy at scenic pullouts along the nine-mile scenic drive to North Franklin peak. Early risers can catch golden sunbeams hitting the desert blooms surrounding Castner Range. And those craving history will want to see mining relics at the Ore Terminal and roam through life-size pioneer farmsteads at Esperanza Moreno Farmstead Living History Program.

El Paso Museum of Art

Name and Location: The El Paso Museum of Art is located in downtown El Paso at 1 Arts Festival Plaza along the cultural corridor near Concordia Cemetery.

History and Significance: Founded in 1959, the museum holds over 7,000 works spanning 5,000 years of creativity from American and European artists along with pieces from Mesoamerica, Asia, and Africa.

What to Expect: Visitors explore galleries featuring an acclaimed southwestern art collection, rotating exhibitions, glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly, and outdoor sculpture garden. Family programs and events occur monthly.

Visitor Information: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, military, and students. Youth under 12 free.


Explore 6,000 years of human ingenuity at this expansive downtown museum founded in the 1930s. Beyond the contemporary southwestern works and Peter Hurd Retrospective upstairs, journey through European masterworks, sculptures by Degas and Chagall lithographs dating from ancient Egyptian to modern pop movements. Families gravitate towards the kid-centric Artsplash Studio activities connected to rotating exhibits. Meanwhile, the surrounding one-acre park dotted with modern sculptures provides a lush urban respite for museum goers. Don’t forget to gaze up at the impressive mirrored facade too – day or night – for refractive views of the cityscape.

Plaza Theatre

Name and Location: The historic Plaza Theatre is located at 125 W Mills Avenue in Downtown El Paso.

History and Significance: Constructed in 1930 as a vaudeville house, the renovated Plaza today operates as a performing arts center hosting 200+ music, dance, theater, comedy and children’s shows annually in a preserved art deco setting.

What to Expect: Visitors can take in national touring acts, local university productions, and classic films shown on a large screen in the 1,400-seat theater known for its stunning interior lights and design.

Visitor Information: Showtimes and tickets for Plaza Theatre vary per event. Self-guided tours are available to walk through when no programs are underway.


Downtown’s glittering civic gem merges scholarly aspirations with popular programming as the “Showplace of El Paso.” Beyond screening arthouse and international films, this 1930s era vaudeville and movie theater hosts concerts, dance, lectures, weddings and private events across multiple ballrooms, theater spaces and studios. Pop in to see the ornately carved cherubs and gold molding wrapping the main theater housing a “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ rising from beneath the stage. Even without event tickets, visitors can still glimpse this historic beauty thanks to retail outlets filling the grand lobby.

El Paso Zoo

Name and Location: The El Paso Zoo is located at 4001 E. Paisano Drive nestled near McKelligon Canyon in central El Paso.

History and Significance: Founded in 1930 and considered one of the top zoos in the country, the 35-acre facility focuses on wildlife education, conservation efforts, and animal encounters with over 220 species represented from around the world.

What to Expect: Guests observe exotic animals like giraffes, tigers, chimps, reptiles, tropical birds, and more up close while learning about conservation. Feedings, demonstrations, and kids’ activities run daily.

Visitor Information: The zoo is open daily except December 25th. Adult admission is $14. Tickets are strongly encouraged to purchase online in advance.


Meet wild neighbors from the Chihuahuan Desert and beyond at one of the country’s top zoos. El Paso Zoo’s whimsical habitats spread across 35 acres at the base of the Franklin Mountains. Say hola to playful monkeys in Peru, voyage through Australia’s walk-through aviary then hand feed gentle giraffes. Little ones can run wild in the PLAZa de los niños children’s area before hopping a ride on the Wildlife Carousel or Alligator Splash boat ride. Special events like Bud Light Brew at the Zoo nights with live bands and Zoo Boo Halloween trick-or-treating mean this already affordable family attraction offers even more free activities to enjoy.

Wyler Aerial Tramway

Name and Location: The Wyler Aerial Tramway transports riders 2600 feet up the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, located in McKelligon Canyon near the El Paso Zoo.

History and Significance: Opened in 1959 by local businessman Sig Wyler, the tram is said to be the first and only aerial tramway located within the limits of a U.S. city. Riders soar above canyon cliffs for awe-inspiring views.

What to Expect: Passengers climb aboard Swiss-made tram cars that whisk them 1700 vertical feet in under four minutes along towers and cables to Ranger Peak station at the summit for panoramic sightseeing.

Visitor Information: Tram cost is $8 for adults roundtrip, less for seniors, kids, and members. Tram rides are seasonal, best to verify operating calendar online before visiting.


El Paso spreads out below through thrilling new angles from this gondola system whisking passengers to the top of Ranger Peak in Franklin Mountains State Park. Once one of the country’s longest jaunts at nearly 5,000 feet round trip, today this 15-minute ride floats along above dramatic desert vistas as it’s done since opening in 1959. Hikers wanting to descend on foot can access miles of mountain trails from the summit. Meanwhile the outdoor patio at the visitor center offers Insta-worthy panoramas for those who stay behind for a light bite at the grill before their return ride down the steep cliffs.

Block House at Concordia Cemetery

Name and Location: The Block House at Concordia Cemetery is a stone and mortar structure inside the cemetery gates at 411 Yale Street in El Paso’s historic Concordia neighborhood.

History and Significance: Built in 1886 by local rancher Martin Lohman to serve as a fortified refuge for settlers during Apache raids, the restored Block House is the oldest structure in El Paso surviving today as a heritage landmark.

What to Expect: The hexagonal Block House contains exhibits on settlement-era life in El Paso. Visitors view defensive architecture details like rifle slots and a shingled roof, while learning how early homesteads took shape on the frontier.

Visitor Information: The Block House at Concordia is open for self-guided tours Sat & Sun 12pm to 5pm. Admission is free, but donations appreciated to support restoration.


History buffs will appreciate this tiny Confederate garrison still peppered with bullet holes dating to late 1800s battles with Apache tribes. One of the oldest structures in town today, the rubble limestone Block House at Concordia Cemetery offers sweeping views of downtown from its perch atop a small hill in Oregon District neighbourhood. Wander past elaborate family mausoleums lining the narrow winding road to access this hidden spot. Then continue exploring the historic burying ground to discover Civil War soldiers’ graves and more fascinating architecture providing visual insights into the area’s past.

Chamizal National Memorial

Name and Location: Chamizal National Memorial is located on 54 acres along Paisano Drive in the heart of El Paso, on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

History and Significance: Chamizal Memorial commemorates the peaceful 1963 Chamizal Treaty resolving a 100-year border land dispute between the U.S. and Mexico. Today the site promotes cross-cultural understanding via education programs, events and its museum, gardens and theater.

What to Expect: Visitors explore indoor galleries covering the Chamizal dispute, culture and history exhibits, and the picturesque outdoor Memorial park space filled with public art, walking paths, and activity areas overlooking the Rio Grande.

Visitor Information: The memorial cultural center, museum and gardens are open Wednesday through Sunday. Admission to the park grounds is always free.


Fifty-four acres commemorate a peaceful border resolution between the U.S. and Mexico after a century-long land dispute. Today, families flock to Chamizal National Memorial’s lively cultural center to admire Mexican artisan wares in the gift gallery. Attend a show featuring vibrant folklórico dance and mariachi music performances in the on-site theatre. Stroll shaded Sunday afternoon concerts in the memorial’s central park from spring through fall featuring top local bands. And don’t miss touring the midcentury modern visitor center’s engaging exhibits recounting the rare diplomatic achievement this beloved community space represents.

Hueco Tanks State Park

Name and Location: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site encompasses 32,937 acres located 32 miles northeast of downtown El Paso featuring a unique landscape filled with natural rock basin depressions.

History and Significance: Hueco Tanks contains hundreds of prehistoric Native American pictograph and petroglyph sites dated over 4000 years old, demonstrating rare continuance of human occupation in the region through paintings and carvings.

What to Expect: Visitors can hike interpretive trails to search for rock art and relic sites guided by park staff. Strenuous climbing, bouldering, picnicking, birding, and camping opportunities also exist inside the Hueco Tanks wilderness area.

Visitor Information: Park hours fluctuate seasonally. Entrance fees are $7 per person. Free park event programming happens regularly. Reservations required to visit pictograph caves.


About 30 miles east of downtown, seek out ancient evidence of human civilization once thriving within this desert oasis. Hueco Tanks State Park’s rocky outcrop formations contain hundreds of vivid pictographs painted across sheltered cave walls from native tribes dating back over 4,000 years ago. Today’s visitors can decode animals like birds and mountain lions plus human shapes and symbols rarely found elsewhere since few comparable sites survived urban development. But beyond the “Ghost Tracks” rock art, nature lovers also appreciate bouldering challenges across the 860-acre park filled with curved hollows that catch seasonal rainwater, sprouting clusters of leafy green plants and palms unique to the arid valley terrain.

Texas Travel Museum

Name and Location: The Texas Travel Museum is situated inside Corpus Christi Cathedral at 1150 N. Campbell Street in downtown El Paso’s arts district.

History and Significance: Assembled by National Geographic author and filmmaker Richard Dean, the museum houses his 50+ year collection of Southwestern travel artifacts alongside Puritan relics and Americana spanning 400 years of history.

What to Expect: Visitors explore rooms containing rare stagecoaches, Native artifacts, Hollywood film props, slavery-era relics, Taylor Swift memorabilia and oddities from Route 66 alongside faith history exhibits as America’s first pilgrim church.

Visitor Information: The Texas Travel Museum located inside Corpus Christi Cathedral is free and open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.


Relive bygone eras of transportation that opened up the vast frontier for American pioneers centuries ago. At the cozy Texas Travel Museum near the airport, puny motorcars line up alongside hulking locomotives, a towering U.S. Army supply wagon and more vintage vehicles tracing how people navigated the region from El Camino Real days through Route 66 road tripping. Touch a Dallas-built Titan I rocket, authentic Butterfield stage coach and 1950s Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible parked alongside El Paso’s original 1880 firefighting cart. friendly docents share plenty of colorful backstories each artifact holds through rotating exhibits.

International BorderFest

Name and Location: BorderFest is El Paso’s largest annual festival highlighting cross-border culture. It takes places during the first weekend in November spread out in Chamizal National Memorial park.

History and Significance: Established in 1988, BorderFest attracts over 300,000 attendees celebrating El Paso and Ciudad de Juárez’s blended communities. The event features foods, music, dance and family activities from both sides of the border.

What to Expect: Visitors enjoy four festival stages with Latino musical acts, cultural performances, arts and crafts booths with traditional foods from tamales to tacos alongside carnival rides in a vibrant binational family setting.

Visitor Information: BorderFest hours run 9am to 10pm daily during the event. General admission is $5 per person or $10 for a weekend pass when purchased onsite.


Each fall, the world’s largest binational music, arts and entertainment festival transforms six blocks along the El Paso and Juarez border into a lively street party. Over 250,000 attendees enjoy four stages pumping out rock, country, reggae and Latino pop beats during International BorderFest concerts. But visitors will also savor the chance to experience life in this bonded community through authentic Mexican and Indian artwork, folkloric fashions, and gastronomic specialties from birria tacos to churros vying to fuel the lively crowds on the cordoned-off thoroughfare.

Southwest University Park

Name and Location: Southwest University Park is located at 1 Ballpark Plaza in downtown El Paso. The stadium anchors the Union Plaza entertainment district.

History and Significance: Opened in 2014, Southwest University Park is home to El Paso’s triple-A minor league baseball team, the Chihuahuas, and features fantastic sightlines with a capacity of over 9,000 fans due to an innovative 360-degree concourse design.

What to Expect: Baseball fans flock to the stadium during Chihuahuas spring and summer home games to cheer on the “Big Dogs” while enjoying traditional ballpark fare. Concerts and events also occur at the stadium during the off-season months.

Visitor Information: Southwest University Park offers public tours on non-game days for a small fee. Game tickets and schedules can be found on the El Paso Chihuahuas team website.


America’s favorite pastime draws families from across the borderlands to cheer on the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A baseball club playing in state-of-the-art downtown Southwest University Park. In addition to exciting pro-league action, the sociable atmosphere celebrates shared cultural touchstones with in-game fun celebrating Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling masks, chile-eating contests alongside Fourth of July fireworks shows and other festive entertainment. Ballpark food even caters to Mexican snack preferences through an on-site raspa stand blending sweet fruit flavors into snow cone shaved ice. With breathtaking views of the mountains on display beyond center field, the scene is as stunning as the sunsets when the 9,000-seat venue empties after the final pitch.

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