I always jump at the chance to check out a new city. So, when I flew into El Paso to meet up with my dad, I do what it is that I do—I made a whole day out of the stop. As always, it was one of my whirlwind visits. But not without lots of action-packed activities and recommendations for everyone else who might stop by. And, if there’s anything I took away from my short time there, it’s that El Paso, Texas is a city incredibly rich in history, with some of the friendliest residents you’ll come across in your American travels. So, what is it one can even do in 24 hours in a single city? Keep reading for some of the best things to do in El Paso. And a huge thank you to Visit El Paso, who couldn’t have been more welcoming and hospitable.
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Start Your Day In El Paso, Texas With A Southwestern Breakfast At Sabor
You know, I’m not a huge breakfast fan in general. But the simple, classic omelette I had at Hotel Paso del Norte’s Sabor was beyond exceptional. I mean… really good. The restaurant serves Mexican and Southwestern cuisine and I can’t even imagine what a full brunch or dinner would be like. Nothing short of amazing, I’m sure. So get a little pep in your step with brekkie at Sabor before heading out on your morning excursion.
Visit The United States’ Largest Urban Park… Right In El Paso, Texas
Yep, you’re reading correctly. El Paso, Texas is home to a 24,000+ acre state park, all within city limits—Franklin Mountains State Park. And, believe it or not, the highest point in the park is just under 7,200 feet. Almost 2,000 feet higher than Denver. It’s a small, but imposing mountain range that hovers over the city, and is only a short drive from downtown. There are multiple trails worthy of a quick morning hike, including a simple 1.2-mile round trip to some Aztec caves. There’s also an easily accessible rock-climbing wall called Sneed’s Cory, if that’s your jam. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be greeted with expansive views of both El Paso and Juarez.
Recharge With Lunch At The Famous El Paso, Texas Restaurant L&J Café
Now, admittedly, I didn’t get my desired meal in at L&J Café as intended. But I did stop by to check out their digs. And I feel entirely comfortable making a recommendation to dine there—despite not having done so myself—simply because of what all the locals had to say about the place. (Did I mention it’s been featured on a bunch of TV shows, too? Yeah, that too.) It’s a legendary El Paso favorite that sits, literally, right next to a cemetery and the Mexican border. Stop by the cemetery while you’re there, check out some of the famous “eternal residents” and gunslingers buried there.
Spend The Afternoon Touring The Arts District Of El Paso, Texas
The central downtown of El Paso, Texas is really culturally rich and you’d be missing out if you didn’t take a wander. Not only is there a huge amount of historic architecture (just Google “Henry Trost”), there’s an official Art Walk as well. The route takes you by multiple downtown highlights, including the El Paso Museum of Art (which holds at least one Filippino Lippi and Lorenzo Lotto) and the sombrero-shaped convention center.
Recharge With A Mid-Afternoon Treat at Coffee Box
After your downtown stroll, have a sit and a snack. There’s a great little coffee shop right in the middle of downtown El Paso, Texas called Coffee Box. It’s literally a graffitied train car off San Jacinto, the city’s main plaza. But its got some inventive coffee drinks, tasty snacks, and just plain really nice people. Stay out of the sun and sit inside, or catch some rays on the train car’s upper deck outside. Either way, I guarantee you’ll enjoy an afternoon stop here.
Delight In A Classic Cocktail Hour At The Dome Bar
After recharging and enjoying some afternoon sun on the plaza, make the quick walk over to Hotel Paso Del Norte’s Dome Bar for a tasty craft cocktail and a little light jazz. The super classy marble bar is literally crowned with a 25-foot Tiffany glass dome overhead. And there’s a cigar bar just off it, too. It’s—quite simply—a gorgeous space with great service and pleasant company.
Watch An El Paso, Texas Sunset From El Mirador’s Rooftop Patio
Oh, you thought the Dome Bar was closing the night out? No, no, my friend. What you’re gonna do after your drink at the Dome Bar is head upstairs a few floors to catch the sunset from El Mirador’s rooftop patio. It’s a newly renovated, newly opened space on the 10th floor of Hotel Paso Del Norte and is literally where Pancho Villa would hang out, drink in hand, watching the Mexican Revolution play out. True story. You could turn the evening up a notch by ordering a margarita, too, since El Paso, Texas is famous for its “Margarita Trail.”
And So Much More…
While I gave it an honest effort to pack as much as possible into a 24-hour time span, there was still so much more to do in this vibrant little city! Everyone recommended a quick trip across the border to Juarez, but there was also the El Paso Zoo, the Museum of History, the National Border Patrol Museum, the Holocaust Museum, and the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. You could spend an entire week in the city of El Paso, Texas and only skim the surface of everything this town has to offer. Again, a big thank you to Visit El Paso for their warm hospitality; I had such an exceptional stay!
Have any El Paso suggestions or recommendations of your own? Add them in the comments section below, or email me via my Contact page!
Where To Stay
I stayed at the historic Hotel Paso Del Norte in the heart of downtown El Paso and couldn’t say enough good things about it. I highly recommend. It’s in the center of everything, and it’s both beautiful and comfortable. Newly renovated everything, and part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. Plus… Sabor, the Dome Bar, and El Mirador!
Check Out The Visit El Paso App
As a creative director in my former professional life, I’ve both designed and used a thousand different apps in my time. And I’ve definitely tested out a lot of traveling and city apps. But Visit El Paso’s was really good, I’ll be honest. It was easy to navigate and the selected content was perfectly on point. They had a couple of additional cool features, like adding things to do to a personalized list within the app and even Facetiming visitor information specialists. Definitely a solid starting point for a visit to El Paso. Download it the next time you’re in town and test it out!
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