roadway sign in desert land

Travel Ideas in Las Cruces: Exploring the Spice of Life

Las Cruces, a vibrant city in southern New Mexico, offers a plethora of exciting travel ideas for both locals and tourists alike. From cultural landmarks to culinary delights, this charming city has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in Las Cruces! In case you are visiting on an I-25 road trip, check out our guide to I-25 in New Mexico! We’ve got a ton of nice spots to visit in New Mexico, especially if you are traveling around the chile season time in August to October!

A giant red chile pepper in front of a hotel in Las Cruces
We really love our chile in New Mexico. You can find this on Picacho Ave

New Year’s Chile Drop

In case you are traveling to Las Cruces during the holidays, be sure to experience a unique New Year’s tradition in Las Cruces – the Chile Drop! Instead of a traditional ball drop, Las Cruces celebrates the arrival of the new year by lowering a giant chile pepper from the sky. Join the lively crowd, feel the electric atmosphere, and welcome the new year with a spicy twist! It’s also a great time to explore downtown Las Cruces, with plenty of shops, performances, and perhaps a competition on who will guess right, “Red or Green?”

NMSU Chile Pepper Institute

For all the spice enthusiasts out there, a visit to the NMSU Chile Pepper Institute is a must. This institute is dedicated to the research and preservation of chile peppers, and it offers fascinating insights into the world of peppers. Learn about the history, cultivation, and different varieties of chile peppers. Don’t forget to take home some flavorful souvenirs to spice up your meals!

While exploring the NMSU campus, make sure to pay homage to Dr. Fabian Garcia, the father of the New Mexico chile pepper industry. His pioneering work in developing new chile pepper varieties has left a lasting impact on New Mexico’s culinary heritage. Take a moment to appreciate his contributions and the fiery flavors he brought to the Southwest.

Other notable chile legends are Dr. Roy Nakayama and Dr. Roy Harper. You can find out more about them, and much more while at NMSU!

Mesilla Plaza

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Las Cruces at Mesilla Plaza. This charming historic district offers a unique blend of adobe architecture, quaint shops, and delicious restaurants. Stroll through the plaza, browse the local crafts, and indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine at one of the many eateries. Don’t miss the chance to sip on a refreshing margarita while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere.


Las Cruces is a paradise for food lovers, with a wide range of culinary delights to satisfy every palate. For a taste of authentic New Mexican cuisine, head to La Posta de Mesilla. This iconic restaurant has been serving up traditional dishes since 1939 and is a local favorite. For a more contemporary dining experience, visit the Double Eagle Restaurant. Housed in a historic mansion, this elegant establishment offers a refined menu and a charming ambiance.

Outdoor Adventures

Las Cruces is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventures. Explore the rugged beauty of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, go hiking in the Dripping Springs Natural Area, or take a scenic drive along the picturesque Mesilla Valley. Nature enthusiasts will find endless possibilities to connect with the great outdoors.


If you’re visiting Las Cruces during chile season (August to October), a trip to Hatch is a must. Known as the “Chile Capital of the World,” this small town is just a short drive from Las Cruces and offers a delightful sensory experience. Explore the local farms, witness the chile harvest, and savor the mouthwatering flavors of freshly roasted chile peppers. It’s an adventure that will ignite your taste buds! If you happen to be around during Labor Day weekend, visiting the Hatch Chile Festival is a must!

Las Cruces is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of culture, history, and culinary delights. Whether you’re captivated by the New Year’s Chile Drop, intrigued by the NMSU Chile Pepper Institute, or enchanted by the charm of Mesilla Plaza, Las Cruces will leave you with memories to cherish. So, pack your appetite and sense of adventure, and get ready to explore the spice of life in Las Cruces!