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New Mexico is a Mountain State in the Southwestern United States. It is one of the most historic states in the country, so it is also the most popular tourist destination in the United States.
New Mexico has a little bit of everything: natural history, tourist attraction sites, cool places to visit, amusement parks, abundant wildlife, lively towns, hiking trails, and whatnot.
The place is rich in adventures, culture, beautiful sights, and tourist attractions. You will find amazing vacation destinations, for instance, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, home to fine dining restaurants, amazing museums, and botanical gardens.
Whether you are all by yourself or have company, you will find yourself something in every corner of the state.
So, to help you plan your next fun-filled vacation, we have made a list of all the amazing things to do in New Mexico.
But before we go there, it is better that you know a little more about New Mexico. Because how can you enjoy the things in New Mexico if you do not know the place well?
1. When Is the Best Time to Visit?
There is no one fixed answer to this. This is because the climate changes drastically depending on where you are in New Mexico.
The Northern and the Southern part of New Mexico is entirely different in terms of climate. So, it would help if you did a bit of research before you plan your trip to avoid disappointing weather.
Southern New Mexico experiences an extreme climate with hot and dry summers. However, the winters are mild. But the Northern part is quite warm during the summers, and major cities like Albuquerque or Santa Fe have delightful weather.
So if you like summer, you can have a great time here.
However, the best time to experience New Mexico, we would say, is from September to November. The weather is enjoyable during these particular months.
Also, the Spring season can be fun, too, although it gets a little windy. But there are fewer crowds, so you can always enjoy and experience all the great things to do in New Mexico peacefully.
2. What Is New Mexico Well Known For?
The land of New Mexico is known for its wine and chile, other than endless opportunities for adventure. The state is also quite popular for the “old west” legacy it has.
The state holds many surprises, and there are facts about New Mexico that you could never guess. Shall we check them out as well?
3. Interesting Facts about New Mexico
3.1. They Have More Cows Than People
One of the most interesting facts about New Mexico is that there’s way more livestock than people there.
Only ranches account for 60% of the state; now, you can imagine the cattle population.
3.2. New Mexico Hosts the Largest Hot Air Balloons Festival
Do you know that every October, New Mexico hosts the world’s largest hot-air balloon festival?
3.3. New Mexico Is One of the Youngest American States
Did you know that New Mexico was not considered an American state until 1912? Only after 1912 was it accepted as a state of America; this is why it is one of the youngest states in America.
3.4. The Self-Guided Bullet Is From New Mexico
New Mexico is home to various research facilities, and as a result, the self-guided bullet is designed in one of the labs of New Mexico.
3.5. The State Grows More Chili Peppers Than Anywhere Else
New Mexico is known for its chili peppers. The state produces more chili peppers than any other state ever.
3.6. Taos Pueblo Inhabitation Has Been For Over 1,000 Years
The people of Taos Pueblo have lived in communities in New Mexico for over 1,000 years.
3.7. First Atomic Bomb Was Exploded Here
The first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico on July 16, 1945.
3.8. It Is the Wine Country
Wines produced in Mexico are all award-winning.
So these were just some interesting facts about New Mexico. Now, it’s finally time to check out the amazing things to do in New Mexico.
4. Amazing Things to Do in New Mexico
4.1. Visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a natural wonder located in the Chihuahuan Desert. The park is mostly underground and is home to around 120 caves. It is one of the most exquisite New Mexico tourist attractions.
The caves are of varying sizes carved of limestone deposition. Visitors can take on an exploration adventure and discover its grandeur.
The park offers various services, namely self-guided tours and ranger-led tours. The tours include learning the history of the caves and exploring their various sections.
4.1.1. What to Do?
Visitors can enjoy various activities, for example, back-country hikes and backpacking. They can also experience nature walks through the geological formations or bat tours.
Other than that, various facilities are available, like a gift shop, visitor center, nature trails, and much more. During the nighttime, visitors can participate in stargazing and watching meteor showers.
When you hear New Mexico, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Probably, you picture brown, beige dunes everywhere; after all, it is a desert state.
But to your surprise, one of the most interesting sites in New Mexico is the White Sands National Park, which is home to diamond-white dunes composed of gypsum crystals.
This gypsum crystal dune field is one of the largest on Earth. So, White Sands National Park receives thousands of visitors every year.
There are multiple fun activities to do, and visitors can also discover the park’s rich history that goes back to 12,000 years ago. The park was originally designated as White Sands National Monument and redesignated as a national park in 2019.
4.2.1. What to Do?
Visitors can sign up for a self-guided tour of the park and learn about its history and various species of animals.
You can go camping, horseback riding, hiking, sledding, bicycling, and much more. For breathtaking views and fun things to do in New Mexico, White Sands National Park is a must-visit.
4.3. Bandelier National Monument
Adding to New Mexico’s rugged natural wilderness, the Bandelier National Monument is another worth-seeing landscape.
It is a national park that spans over 33,000 acres and preserves the home of Ancestral Puebloans. Exploring these historical relics is one of the best things to do in New Mexico if you are a fan of ancestral tribes and their cultures.
The Pueblo structures are from 1150 and 1600 AD. The park also is home to abundant wildlife, a visitor center, a museum, and amazing trails.
4.3.1. What to Do?
You can learn about the day-to-day lives of the ancestral Pueblo people by taking a good look at the stone carvings.
You can visit the museum to view artifacts from their daily lives, such as pottery tools. If not, then you can be engaged in other activities such as nature photography, snowshoeing (only in winter), hiking, or watching the local wildlife.
4.4. Pecos National Historical Park
One of the most exciting things to do in New Mexico is touring its amazing parks. Another amazing park is Pecos National Historical Park, which has a magnificent landscape.
The Pecos National Historical Park is breathtakingly gorgeous and is a perfect place away from city life. If you want to explore the best outdoors, Pecos is the place to be.
The park holds Native American Pueblos, which were once one of the largest in the state. It is also home to the Civil War battlefield of Glorieta Pass. This can be toured through a 2.25-mile track.
4.4.1. What to Do?
You can take up on ranger-guided tours. You can go on van tours of the Civil War site or explore the nearby Forked Lightning Ranch.
You can also take the Ancestral Sites Walking tour, which explores areas of Indigenous people.
4.5. International UFO Museum and Research Center
One of the top New Mexico attractions is the International UFO Museum and Research Centre in Roswell. The museum was opened in 1991 as an information center inspired and based on the 1947 Roswell Crash.
Exploring this museum and going through its displays is probably one of the most fun things to do in New Mexico.
The museum contains plenty of materials, including artifacts and documents related to UFO research and theories. The museum also hosts occasional lectures, events, and programs.
4.5.1. What to Do?
In this New Mexico museum, you can learn all about aliens and UFO sightings. You can look through thousands of documents, including letters, books, photographs, and reports regarding UFOs.
There are also video presentations and audio tapes that you can enjoy. Once a month, the museum also organizes free lectures, so if you are lucky, you can attend that too.
Truth be told, it is one of the most exciting things to do in New Mexico.
4.6. Chaco Culture National Historical Park
There are so many indigenous sites in New Mexico, yet you can not choose to miss one. Another such tourist attraction is the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is North America’s most beautiful archaeological site. This landscape features artificial and natural wonders, and it was occupied by the ancestral Puebloan people from 850 to 1250 AD.
The park is located northwest of Albuquerque and is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The archaeological site still contains remains of the ancestral Pueblo people.
The natural site has gorgeous, breathtaking, flat plains. You will find the desert beauty you would imagine about New Mexico.
4.6.1. What to Do?
There are many activities that the park offers. You can go camping or back-country hiking. You can also go for astronomy experiences.
It is also popular for stargazing, so if you are into that, lucky you. The nighttime skies from here look stunning.
4.7. Taos Ski Valley
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos Ski Valley is the winter destination of New Mexico. It is a premier ski resort featuring some of the best ski schools in the United States.
Home to glistening white slopes for cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and much more, Taos Ski Valley offers the perfect winter getaway for you and your family.
The resort offers over 1,200 acres of skiable terrain with 110 trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The terrain receives an annual snowfall of 305 inches, making it best for even snow tubing.
The resort offers day and night mountain biking, chair lift rides, and hiking activities during the summer. The Valley also has a cozy little village with everything you will need after enjoying the outdoors.
4.7.1. What to Do?
The question should be actually “what you can not do.” Because this ski resort offers a plethora of activities to enjoy.
You can go snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowboarding. After that, you can visit the little village that has sauna rooms and restaurants with open fireplaces.
You can also ride a hot air balloon and get the best views.
So, all in all, there’s much to do.
4.8. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
One such event is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the favorite event of all hot-air balloon enthusiasts. This event is one of the most exciting things to do in New Mexico because you get to witness hundreds of hot air balloons up above the sky.
It is the world’s largest hot-air balloon festival, which is held every Autumn. The festival draws crowds of more than 80,000 people each year.
The festival offers various entertaining activities that you can be a part of. Originally, this tradition started back in 1973 with just 13 balloons, and now 500 balloons participate.
It is a 9-day long festival.
4.8.1. What to Do?
Well, for starters, you can go on the hot air balloon rides. There are various kids’ activities, too, and live music performances. So you can groove to the music.
There are also craft shows that you can enjoy, along with food, drinks, and games.
Just watching the sky illuminate with hundreds of glowing balloons is for sure one of the best things to do in New Mexico.
Note: While you are in Albuquerque, check out the Petroglyph National Monument located on Western Trail NW.
4.9. Museum of International Folk Art
The Museum of International Folk Art is located on Museum Hill, Santa Fe, home to an extensive collection of folk art worldwide.
The museum is based on the concept of appreciation for the culture and craft of other countries. The museum focuses on the understanding of folk art.
It has a multidimensional learning environment, which people love the most. If you visit with kids, there is one section that will amuse them.
The Girard Wing is home to a crazy collection of toys from all over the world. Even for the adults, this wing is the best. It brings out your inner child.
4.9.1. What to Do?
You can take a tour of the Girard Wing and enjoy different games, puzzles, figurines, and miniature toys that are on display.
Tip: If you love visiting museums, there are plenty of other museums in New Mexico that you can visit, like the Kid Museum Billy, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, or the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (learn about World War II and the Cold War).
4.10. Four Corners Monument
The Four Corners Monument is a national historic landmark where four states touch a single boundary.
It is the only point in the United States where the four states, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, come together in a small circle.
In New Mexico’s Four Corners Monument, there isn’t much for tourists at the circle. However, the area surrounding it has a lot of stuff to enjoy.
4.10.1. What to Do?
Musicians are playing live music, so you can have a good time listening to that. There are food trucks parked so that you can munch on some snacks.
There are movie theatres, malls, small shops, and restaurants too.
Well, in that case, you can also grab a chance to learn about these cultures.
4.11. Western Playland
One of the most exciting things to do in New Mexico would be to visit an amusement park because you are never too old for some fun.
And for fun, you can visit the Western Playland located in Southern New Mexico. The park is quite small but receives a pack load of people because of the rides they have just given you the thrills.
4.11.1. What to Do?
This amusement park is sure to give you an adrenaline rush from roller coaster rides and vertical drop rides. They also have carnival games that you can play if you are not feeling good about the rides.
You will also find food stalls selling amazing hot dogs and restaurants for dining.
4.12. Wildlife West Nature Park
The Wildlife West Nature Park is your true escape to nature. The park is home to over 20 native animal species.
The park is much more than what you can call a zoo; it is a place of conversation. Animals who have been in accidents or inhumane environments are rescued and provided a forever home here.
The habitats for the animals have been constructed very realistic so that they always feel at home.
4.12.1. What to Do?
You can catch a glimpse of all the animals in their natural habitats. There’s an outdoor amphitheater, too, where you can enjoy musical performances.
4.13. Red River Ski & Summer Area
During the summers, the areas offer opportunities for day hiking, biking, ziplining, and boating.
Winters brings the best of the area, as skiing is the most popular event. You can also go snowboarding and snow tubing. There isn’t a shortage of activities to do here.
Red River Ski Area is a small-town adventure, but it is the real deal. Surrounded by the Southern Rockies, this area offers an amazing vacation experience.
4.14. Rio Grande Valley
The river is the largest river flowing through New Mexico. The Valley region is known for its pleasant weather, orchards, and exotic birds.
There are interesting places like the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Santa Rosa Blue Hole in New Mexico. You can also take a road trip along the Santa Fe Trail if you are not in the mood to visit places.
The charming towns like Los Alamos, Santa Rosa, and Red River are worth a visit, too. Also, do not forget to visit some of the oldest hot springs; after tiring adventures, hot springs are the best.
Also, if you know any better things to do in New Mexico, feel free to share them with us.
Last Updated on December 20, 2023 by ayeshayusuf