You will find a lot of information about Las Cruces in this page: Arts and culture, education, fiestas and family activities, golf courses, medical care,some of the remarkable places you can visit that are within 200 miles of the city, and shopping.
As you look at the list of places to visit in the area, remember that in the desert Southwest, we consider a 100-200 mile trip a Sunday drive. Our main highways are mostly flat and straight and there is no traffic to speak of. In other words, a 200 mile drive to the Very Large Array is a nice day trip if you take a lunch with you.
Arts and Culture
American SouthwestTheatre Company at New Mexico State UniversityTheatre Arts produces live theatre performances from September through May.
This theater, located in the downtown mall, is the home of the No Strings Theatre Company, presenting six different plays a year, mostly by contemporary, little-known or local playwrights.
Productions for and by children.
The Doña Ana Lyric Opera (DALO) presents several productions every year to the communities of New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, and greater Doña Ana County. Shows are at the NMSU Music Center Recital Hall.
The historic Fountain Theatre is New Mexico’s oldest movie house. Built in 1905, the Theatre originally featured vaudeville performances and silent films. It has been the home of the non-profit Mesilla Valley Film Society since 1989, showcasing the best independent, foreign, documentary and other alternative art films. Screenings are nightly with Sunday matinees.
The Branigan Cultural Center has as its focus the history and culture of the region. The complex has several galleries and offers lectures and classes as well as display space for a variety of arts.
Enjoy art gallery openings, preview some coming gala events and stay for plays and open mic events as Downtown Las Cruces comes alive for the Ramble, held the first Friday of each month from 5 to 7 p.m.
The interactive museum, which has welcomed visitors from all over the world, brings to life the 3,000-year history of farming and ranching in New Mexico.
The Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the cultural life of the Mesilla Valley by providing a venue for excellent live jazz and blues. Come to a monthly society meeting and you’ll hear some of the best jazz and blues musicians from Las Cruces, El Paso, and many other areas of the country. The Society usually meets the first Sunday of every month at 6:30 pm in at First Christian Church on El Paseo, but dates sometimes vary so please check their website. Visit the society on Facebook.
The Museum of Art hosts traveling exhibits and features the works of regionally and nationally known artists. The exhibits change several times a year and are often accompanied by lectures, programs, and demonstrations. The Studio Program also offers classes in drawing and painting, ceramics, weaving, digital photography, and other media.
The Civic Concert performs four or five times a year between September and April. Call for show times. (575) 522-0792.
The Las Cruces Chamber Ballet (LCCB) was founded in 1983 by Michele Self to promote classical ballet and dance in the Las Cruces area and to give serious dance students with opportunities to develop their talents and to have professional performance experience.
The Las Cruces Chamber Ballet puts on two major performances a year, including the traditional holiday version of The Nutcracker Ballet. Call for show times. (575) 523-1654.
The Las Cruces Community Theater provides local talent a place to perform year-round in a variety of plays and musicals.
The Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science inspires curiosity about the sciences, promotes life-long learning and stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert environment.
The museum is at 411 North Main Street, and is open Tuesday through Saturday. Visit the museum on Facebook.
Las Cruces’ vibrant local symphony, directed by Maestro Lonnie Klein, often features renowned guest artists from around the world, world premieres, an annual “POPS” concert and our own fine musicians performing master-works and highlights from the symphonic repertoire. The Las Cruces Symphony at New Mexico State University is “blooming in the desert.”
- High schools – 7
There are also many private, parochial, and charter schools
Fiestas, Fun and Families
Check the Las Cruces Sun News or the Internet for the exact times and dates of these annual events. There’s much more happening in Las Cruces so please check the city’s Visitors Bureau events calendar.
Nothing says the Old West like the cowboy, and the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum honors the western legend with a weekend festival complete with roping and riding demonstrations, “cowboy food,” dancing, and cowboy poetry. New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.
The Trinity site, located on the White Sands Missile Range, is where first atomic bomb explosion took place. The site is open to the public twice a year.
A weekend of good music and good wine hosted by La Viña Winery, New Mexico’s oldest winery, in La Union.
May – Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
Cinco de Mayo is a traditional Mexican fiesta honoring Mexico’s second revolution. Experience traditional Mexican music, food and dancing on the historic Old Mesilla Plaza.
Also known as La Fiesta de San Ysidro, this celebration honors New Mexico’s 3,000 year-old farming heritage. The event features farming demonstrations, mariachi music, folklorico dancers, and a blessing of the fields, all capped off with an evening dance at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.
Visitors can sample wine from the many New Mexico wineries as well as enjoy live entertainment and local vendors at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.
Commemorating the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Las Cruces celebrates with a parade of floats decorated with electric lights. Experience live entertainment throughout the day plus a spectacular fireworks display at night. All events are free and open to the public.
The Mesilla Valley is the chile capital of the world, and what better way to celebrate than with a chile festival. Sample some of the finest chile while you enjoy food, crafts, an auction, live music and more in Hatch, NM.
Celebrate New Mexico’s wine harvest with grape stomping, wine tasting, live entertainment. Held at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds, this festival features arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, hourly wine seminars and a great relaxed atmosphere.
Many colorful hot air balloons fill the air over the white gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument.
September – Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiesta
Mexican Independence Day! Join the village of Mesilla as they commemorate Mexico’s independence. Be sure to catch folklorico dances, mariachi music, authentic Mexican cuisine and have a really good time. Old Mesilla Plaza.
The Southern New Mexico State Fair has something for everyone; a midway, an auction, food, music, livestock shows and a cowboy rodeo. Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.
Take a trip back in time with a visit to Fort Selden State Monument. The fort, built in 1865, and for a quarter of a century, protected Las Cruces area settlers from outlaws and Apache Indians. Among the groups honored are the historically important Buffalo Soldiers, who were some of the first black soldiers after the Civil War. Today the stark adobe brick walls of the frontier post evoke a feeling of connection to the past. A visitor center at the monument offers exhibits on frontier military life during the fort’s heyday, and during frontier days there are living history demonstrations of 19th century military life.
1280 Ft Selden Rd in Radium Springs, NM
575-526-8911 or 800-429-9488
The Trinity site, located on the White Sands Missile Range, is where the first atomic bomb explosion took place. The site is open to the public twice a year. White Sands Missile Range.
Mesilla Valley Jazz Happening will be swinging into historic Old Mesilla at the Mercado Plaza and on the Historic Plaza. The Plaza hosts free live jazz music at two venues. A special Wine Garden at each venue features eight New Mexico Wineries that provide wine tastings. Horse drawn wagons offer free transportation between the Mercado and the historic plaza.
A weekend of good music and good wine hosted by La Viña Winery, New Mexico’s oldest winery, in La Union
November – Dia de los Muertos
Celebrate the Day of the Dead with lots of music and food. A candlelight procession commemorates the dead. Homemade altars are on display along with a giant pinata. Old Mesilla Plaza.
Spend a weekend with Kings and Queens at the Annual Renaissance ArtsFaire. Local, state and regional artisans gather to take part in a juried art show and exhibition. Only the highest quality arts and crafts are for sale accompanied by live theater, dancing, music and food, all presented with a Renaissance theme. Young Park.
December 24 – Christmas Carols and Luminarias on the Plaza
The historic village of Old Mesilla is aglow with thousands of luminarias and caroling.
Golf In Las Cruces
There are several courses within the city. In Las Cruces, you can golf year-round since we boast of 350 days of sun in the Mesilla Valley.
Designed by Floyd Farley in 1963, the 18-hole course is framed by the majestic Organ Mountains to the east and the picturesque Mesilla Valley to the west. Measuring over 7,000 yards, the course provides a challenge to golfers of all skill levels with a unique combination of traditional and desert golf featuring large greens and generous fairways.
A world-class golf course designed and maintained to provide a memorable experience for all skill levels, Red Hawk offers generous, rolling greens and lush fairways in a links-style layout that is unique and challenging. Yardages range from 7,523 at the black tees to 5,502 at the white. The course at Red Hawk is located just a few miles north of Highway 70 in Las Cruces and covers 200 acres of high desert terrain at an elevation of 4,300 feet.
This golf course is located in a newly built golf community. Designed by Cal Olson, the course is longish with rolling hills, strewn with bunkers and undulating bent grass greens. With five tee boxes, it offers a stimulating challenge for all levels of golfer. Equipped with paved cart paths and a clubhouse with a full-service restaurant.
This club offers reciprocal agreements with other private clubs. At nearly 7,000 yards, this par 72 desert-style course features lush bluegrass fairways and bent-grass tees and greens.
Hospitals and Medical Centers
Las Cruces has many medical centers, clinics and other health care services. Only the largest facilities are listed here. The city offers a variety of alternative medical services, such as: acupuncture, herbal practices, massage therapy, and more.
- Mesilla Valley Hospital
- Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico
- Memorial Medical Center
- Mountain View Regional Medical Center
Sites Within 200 Miles
It is impossible to list here all the interesting and beautiful places to visit while you’re based in Las Cruces but the brief list below will give you an idea of what’s available in southern New Mexico. A good guide-book is an excellent resource while you’re traveling here. The city blog has more extensive information about sites around the area. Be sure to bring your camera, walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat; New Mexico’s sun is intense.
The high wall, needle-like spires of the Organ Mountains curve dramatically around a semicircle of Chihuahuan Desert habitat at the Aguirre Spring Campground. The campground, nestled at the base of spectacular cliffs, overlooks the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Monument.
- 15 miles from Las Cruces.
Bosque del Apache is one of the most spectacular national wildlife refuges in North America. Here, tens of thousands of birds–including sandhill cranes, Arctic geese, and many kinds of ducks–gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Feeding snow geese erupt in explosions of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote, and at dusk, flight after flight of geese and cranes return to roost in the marshes. In the summer Bosque del Apache lives its quiet, green life as an oasis in the arid lands that surround it.
- 126 miles, 2 hours from Las Cruces
Located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert, the 960-acre Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park site is a topographically and biologically diverse example of this beautiful desert. The Nature Park encompasses a small section of the Doña Ana Mountains northeast of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Spectacular views of the Organ Mountains, San Andres Mountains and the Jornada Basin are also visible from the Park.
- About 10 miles, 30 minutes from Las Cruces
Formed of volcanic ash welded together 30 million years ago, then sculpted by wind and water into rows of monolithic blocks, these incredible rock formations give City of Rocks its name. New hiking trails and a new public night sky observatory add to this unique destination.
- 89 miles, 1.75 hours from Las Cruces
The Organ Mountains, named because of the steep, needle-like spires that resemble organ pipes, are a haven for hikers and adventure seekers alike. The mountains rise to over 9,000 feet. This picturesque area of rocky peaks, narrow canyons and open woodlands shelters the Dripping Springs Natural Area, noted for its “weeping walls.” Formerly known as the Cox Ranch, this area encompasses a wealth of habitats containing great biological diversity. The Dripping Springs Natural Area has over four miles of easy hiking trails, including the Dripping Springs Trail, which shows off desert scrub and low elevation pinon-juniper and oak woodlands. The area also boasts excellent wildlife viewing opportunities including the occasional mountain lion. [Photo courtesy of the Las Cruces Blog]
Dripping Springs was once the site of a vacation resort called the Van Patten Mining Camp and a tuberculosis treatment facility called Boyd’s Sanitarium. Numerous picturesque ruins still remain in the area.
- 18 miles from Las Cruces over the St. Augustine Pass
Mesilla is the best-known and most visited historical community in Southern New Mexico. Since 1848, Mesilla has had a major influence on the economic, cultural, historical, and political life of the Mesilla Valley. From the Gadsden Purchase, to the Civil War, to the Butterfield Stage Coach Trail, to the trial of Billy the Kid, to being a lively social center in the 1880s– Mesilla has been a prominent part of the rich history of the
Visiting Old Mesilla is like stepping into your favorite cowboy movie; many of the buildings in the town are original to the period, however, this is only one reason to visit the little town. It’s loaded with Spanish culture, cantinas and restaurants, art galleries and shops. You may be lucky enough to run into a fiesta complete with Folklorico dancers and wonderful music and you can take pictures of the last remaining Butterfield Stagecoach stop.
- 4.5 miles, 15 minutes from Las Cruces
The museum educates visitors about the history, science, and technology of space. It stresses the significant role of New Mexico in the U.S. Space Program through collecting, preserving, and interpreting significant artifacts relevant to the history of space.
Come to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces and view our large Tombaugh memorial window dedicated to the life of Clyde Tombaugh, one of the church’s founding members, then follow-up with a visit to the Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Theater and Planitarium at the Museum of Space History.
- 71 miles, 1.5 hours from Las Cruces and White Sands National Monument is on the way
This new monument possesses a rich diversity of Chihuahuan Desert wild lands and unique Pre-American, New Mexican, and American history including training sites for the Apollo Space Mission, the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, Billy the Kid’s Outlaw Rock, Geronimo’s Cave, World War II aerial targets, and thousands of Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument protects significant prehistoric, historic, geologic, and biologic resources of scientific interest, and includes four areas: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.
Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is the 100th national monument in The United States of America. The monument in the Robledo Mountains, near Las Cruces in the southern region of the U.S. state of New Mexico. Wikipedia
The trackways contain footprints of many amphibians, reptiles, and insects (including previously unknown species), plants, and petrified wood dating back 280 million years, which collectively provide new opportunities to understand animal behaviors and environments from a time predating dinosaurs. The site has one of the most scientifically significant Early Permian track sites in the world.
- 8.4 miles from Las Cruces
The Very Large Array, one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter.
- 200 miles, 3.25 hours from Las Cruces
Take a picnic to the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the world’s largest gypsum dune field. The movie “Transformers” was filmed in this magical place.
White Sands National Monument preserves a major part of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that have successfully adapted to this constantly changing environment.
- 64 miles, 1.25 hours from Las Cruces
The acclaimed Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 8 a.m. until noon on the Las Cruces downtown mall. The market specializes in locally hand-crafted items and seasonal local produce.
Mountain View Cooperative Markets and Toucan Market, specialize in organic and health foods.
We also have many fine markets that offer regional food specialties.
We have well-known national chain stores and many small stores and specialty shops throughout Las Cruces.