El Paso is a city in south west Texas. With a population of close to 700,000 people, it’s actually the 23rd largest city in the Unites States. It may not be known as a vacation hot spot compared to other cities nearby but we do think it is worth visiting. In this post, we share 10 reasons why you should visit El Paso!
1. The culture:
2. The hotels:
Downtown El Paso is home to some pretty nice boutique hotels. We decided to stay at the historic Hotel Paseo Del Norte. The hotel is 108 years old and has undergone a renovation but its historic charm has been preserved. This historic hotel weaves together a unique blend of Mexican, Texan, and North American cultures to create an experience that is unique and truly represents the “soul of El Paso”. Even if you are not staying here, having a drink in the lobby bar is a must!
3. The food:
Food is always a big part of our travels and we had no problems finding more places to eat at than we had time for. Anything from fun and casual tacos and ceviche at Taconeta, to refined and thoughtful Oaxacan food at Elemi, and BBQ at Desert Oak ( a Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ spot). There are also so many Mexican restaurants to try, and “menudo” is very popular. We’d never encountered “menudo”, a traditional Mexican soup, made with cow’s stomach in broth with a red chili pepper base.
4. The people:
We have traveled a lot and the people we met and encountered in El Paso have been some of the friendliest and most welcoming we’ve encountered! From making sure we were properly hydrated to deal with the excessive heat, making small talk with us, dancing to cumbia music with us, and thanking us for visiting from so far away…The people of El Paso are amazing!
5. It’s close to New Mexico:
In addition to visiting El Paso and its surrounding areas, you can easily drive to New Mexico. We did this drive and enjoyed seeing how the landscape changes as you head into New Mexico. There is a fun Saturday Farmer’s Market in Las Cruces, hot springs along the Rio Grande River, and more.
6. It’s the easiest way to get to Marfa:
Yes, if you are planning to visit Marfa, you may want to fly into El Paso and drive as it only takes a couple of hours. We recommend about 1-2 nights to check out Marfa. If you cannot make it to Marfa, we recommend visiting Socorro for Marfa’esque vibes and highly recommend eating at El Charltan Taqueria y Ramen-ya for Mexican/Japanese fusion food.
7. There are hikes with great views:
If you visit when the weather is cooler, there are many hikes in El Paso that offer stunning views of the mountains and to see the desert flora. If it is too hot to hike, you can also experience the scenery by doing the scenic overlook drive.
8. The community:
As a border city, El Paso is not immune to the migrant crisis. We ended up at an event that was fundraising for a refugee services non-profit. We highly recommend checking out Old Sheep Dog Brewery, as they so seem to be a community hub in El Paso for things, and they have great beers and food!
9. It’s affordable:
Compared to other places we have visited, we found the price for the flight, hotel, and food very reasonable. It ended up being one of our least expensive weekend trips this summer.
10. You can be in two states and two countries, all in one day:
Yes, you can spend time in Texas, New Mexico and visit Mexico in one day! Not sure how many people do this or if it is recommended, but you’d end up with some fun bragging rights! Many people recommend visiting Cuidad Juarez and there are many great restaurants there but we have not done this. If it is similar to visiting Tijuana, then yes, it could be fun but should be looked at further to assess the border requirements, activities, and overall safety. If you do visit, make sure to stay in the touristy areas.
Shortly after our visit to El Paso, we ended up watching Padma Lakshmi’s “Taste the Nation“, where she spends time in El Paso, and we highly recommend watching it to get a better sense of the city. We really enjoyed our time in El Paso, and we hope to go back someday as feel there are still so many things for us to see and experience. Like our trip to Saskatoon, El Paso was a nice surprise!