25 Best Things To Do In New Mexico

New Mexico is often called as “Land of Enchantment” for its clear sky. Offers radiant sunrise, glittering sunset, and majestic mountains that look exceptional in the evening light. The interplay between history, the environment, and the resulting cultural landscapes preserve the heritage of old mining, railroading towns, and ranching. It is home to a unique heritage that stretches back to the prehistoric period.

Both deserts and mountains cool & crisp in the mornings and hot & sunny in the afternoons. This Southwestern state of the United States is rich and vibrant for its dormant volcanoes, ice caves, and archeological digs.

Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in New Mexico

Source: Map data @2023 Google

1. White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park
Source: Unsplash / Caleb Fisher

The White Sand National Park was established in 1933. It’s rare sand dunes and starry skies are the symbol of alluring beauty in the land of enchantment. The dunes made of selenite crystal and gypsum sand look like gleaming snow in the deserts. The planet’s most extensive and rare gypsum dune range engulfed 275 mi² of Chihuahua desert, designated as an American National Park in 2019.

The most significant feature about this area is the Gypsum which usually dissolves in water. But this area of New Mexico is so dry that water leaves the Gypsum by evaporating or sinking in the ground, making it rare sand. Hiking is the most popular activity in the White Sands National Park, followed by bicycling and backcountry camping.

2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Source: Flickr / Aleksey Gnilenkov | CC BY 2.0

A 30-minute drive from the Guadalupe Mountains and deep within New Mexico’s recesses, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the most giant caverns in the United States

The stalagmites are amazingly incredible, and the cavern is massive, features more than 100 caves that are only accessible with either special equipment or by adventure tours.

The 7-mile journey from the park gate to the visitor center consists of picturesque winding roads. It is easily accessible cavern chamber in North America, known for its famous caves. There are at least 17 species of bats found in the park and more than 50 miles of aboveground trails with a desert landscape.

3. Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument
Source: Flickr / Greg Gjerdingen | CC BY 2.0

In 1916 Woodrow Wilson named this fascinating area in New Mexico as Bandelier National Monument, located in Sandoval and Los Alamos counties. It is a National Historic Landmark and well-preserved architecture. This monument has the most exciting and awe-inspiring Native American ruins where exploration is encouraged—an ideal Combination of beautiful scenic views and mesmerizing ancient ruins of ancestral Pueblo people.

Visitors can climb up and down the cool wooden ladders and witness the construction of cliff dwellings. These dwellings are built with blocks and canyon walls from a volcanic tuft which looks incredibly creative. It is the depiction of their ancient lifestyle and noteworthy sense of structural design.

4. Albuquerque Museum

Albuquerque Museum
Source: Flickr / City of Albuquerque | CC BY 2.0

Previously known as Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, this museum is located in Albuquerque’s old town in New Mexico. A leading institution of art that exhibits Albuquerque’s historical culture and art of the American Southwest region. Online and gallery events and exhibitions bring together hundreds of permanent art and historical collection paintings, drawings, sculpture.

This museum provides a fascinating and engaging experience for visitors to look at the decorative arts, furniture, manuscripts, and archaeological artifacts. Also, you can check the events including music, different exhibitions from arts, traveling and also a chance to join the art classes in the museum.

5. Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument
Source: Flickr / Doug Kerr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The only location in the United States, approximately 109° 03’ west longitude with 37° north latitude named after the quadripoint where the four states share an area, is marked by the Four Corners Monument. Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico meet on this quadripoint, mostly rural, arid, rugged, and part of a larger region, the Colorado Plateau. Farmington, Durango, Colorado, and New Mexico are the most populous cities in the Four Corners region.

Other known places within the monuments, including Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and the Canyons of Ancient National Monument, are the most commonly visited areas. This monument has some sacred indigenous places like Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyon of the Ancient, Acoma Pueblo, Taos Pueblo, and Zion as a symbol of peace and harmony for the visitors.

6. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Source: Flickr / Phil Venditti | CC BY 2.0

Located in Southwest New Mexico, in the north of Silver City and on Gila River’s headwaters, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a historical and national landmark. It was created and established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 through executive proclamation to protect and preserve the Mogollon cliff dwellings

These cliff dwellings were made and used by Mogollon and Pueblo people around 1275 to the 14th century. A tour of this 533-acre national monument is a pretty good activity for you and your family to learn about the history and ancient civilization, and the spectacular landscape around the monument.

7. Sandia Peak Tramway

Sandia Peak Tramway
Source: Flickr / Tims Tera Views | Public Domain

The landscape of the Sandia Mountains, a mountain range located in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, is stunning in every direction. Words won’t justly describe the 14-minute ride that offers panoramic views of the odd-shaped rocks, rugged mountains, and the vast canyons below. Located about 15 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sandia Peak Tramway is the world’s third-longest aerial tram, which ascends to the Sandia Mountains’ highest portion.

A breathtaking 2.7 miles stroll up from its base on the northeast of the city to the top, the Crestline of the Sandia Mountains, which is 10,400 feet high. You can wander through several trails that begin on either side of the visitor center or take in the spectacular scenic views from the observation deck. Trails recoil through lush green fields and tall pines.

8. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Source: Flickr / Bob Denaro | CC BY 2.0

Located on the Pajarito Plateau, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument about 40 mi southwest of New Mexico’s capital, Santa Fe. Cave Loop Trail and Tent Rocks Slot Canyon Trail offer exceptional insights into this unique environment. The intersecting trails lead to a vast array of cone-shaped rock formations, canyons, dry valleys, and striped rock faces. 

These trails were formed seven million years ago after volcanic activity on the Jemez volcano, which deposited large quantities of ash, pumice, and tuff over the Pajarito plateau. You can take the Tent Rocks Slot Canyon Trail, which highlights picturesque views over the entire monument. 

9. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Source: Flickr / Elvert Barnes | CC BY 2.0

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was designated as a rotating exhibit in 1997 for an American Artist Georgia O’Keeffe. This museum offers a great insight into her legacy of American modernism and public engagements through her paintings and artworks and preserves the archival collection.

A tour of this museum is aesthetically pleasing for art seekers and aesthetes. Large-scale depictions of flowers, abstractions, cityscapes of New York and New Mexico, especially her inspiration of light and landscape, are easily seen in the paintings. There is a nice stall outside the museum where visitors can look and shop the lovely selection displayed on the stall.

10. Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe Plaza
Source: Flickr / Ron Cogswell | CC BY 2.0

Renowned as a creative hotbed for its Pueblo-style architecture. Santa Fe Plaza is a historic city plaza surrounded by ethnic markets, exciting festivals, bandstands, street vendors with beautiful jewelry, and community events, and a central gathering place in town. A must stop for visitors to witness the exceptional architecture unlike any other city in the U.S. 

While taking a guided walk through the residential areas, the city’s back roads, and art districts, you can learn about the Mission and Victorian-style architecture, with good food, music, and shopping. Santa Fe is believed to be the old small city founded over 400 years ago and the most Walkable cities in the country.

11. ABQ BioPark

ABQ BioPark
Source: Flickr / Ryan Summers | CC BY-SA 2.0

The Albuquerque Biological Park, attributed as the Albuquerque BioPark, has four separate places for visitors: the Rio Grande Zoo, Tingley Beach, the Botanic Garden, and an aquarium. 

The Rio Grande Zoo is situated on 64-acres with about two miles of walking paths.

It’s a comfortable yet adventuresome walk to have a closer look at the animals roaming around, natural enclosure, and the entire zoo. The spacious and stunning aquarium featuring tanks with hundreds of delicate and colorful fishes, including coral reef fish, stingrays, eels, and sharks. Also, a theater that shows educational films. It will take a full day to explore the ABQ BioPark.

12. Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument
Source: Flickr / BrandonStephenson | Public Domain

Petroglyph National Monument is protecting one of the largest petroglyph sites of North America by showcasing the symbols and designs carved into volcanic rocks by Spanish settlers and Native Americans hundreds of years ago. The monument covered 7,236 acres of land where you can view the records of cultural expressions.

These images have great spiritual significance, including 24,000 different images of people, crosses and animals, and some complex ones. Petroglyph National Monument, within the access of the major city, offers recreational opportunities to its visitors to take in the town’s beauty and the chance to look through the area’s history and culture.

13. Ski Apache

Ski Apache
Source: Flickr / Jonathan Cutrer | CC BY 2.0

Ski Apache is the ski resort in Ruidoso, where the highest peak is 12,000 feet, and it sits underneath the Sierra Blanca. Offers run for all skill levels, is located in the Sacramento Mountains of the Lincoln National Forest. 

It’s totally up to your wish whether you want to ski or just want to enjoy the panoramic views offered by gondola rides. It’s the only gondola ride in New Mexico that brings you up over 11,000 ft, and once you are at the top of the mountain, you can experience the breathtaking view spreading across miles of the Sacramento Mountains. You can expect a mix of difficulty levels on 55 different trails and 11 lifts.

14. Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec Ruins National Monument
Source: Flickr / Woody Hibbard | CC BY 2.0

Those looking for a trip into America’s glorious history and culture look no further than the Aztec Ruins National Monument. These ruins were abandoned in the 12th or 13th century due to an unknown natural disaster. It is located in the northeast of Farmington, New Mexico, declared a World Heritage Site in 1987

These Aztec Ruins are believed to be developed from the Oshawa Tradition belongs to ancient Native American Culture. It preserves the Puebloans’ significant architectural and engineering achievements, commonly depicted with pottery, woodwork, and untold treasure.  Despite being abandoned for centuries, the structures’ foundations and walls are still there, attracting over 50,000 visitors annually. Arriving at the national monument, visitors will be greeted by big, shady cottonwood trees that have existed since the Aztecs’ great civilization.

15. Grande Gorge Bridge

Grande Gorge Bridge
Source: Flickr / sailn1 | CC BY 2.0

While taking a road trip through New Mexico, you will indeed be traveling through an apparently endless shrubby desert and the back-end highways through the majority of the state. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge was constructed with an obvious purpose to help travelers to transport over the deep and massive gorge of the Rio Grande. The bridge’s total span is 1,280 feet and about 650 feet above the Rio Grande River.

 It is believed to be the 5th highest bridge and 2nd highway system in the U.S. It is incredibly unbelievable and somewhat random seeing such an enormous gorge which you would not expect in the flattest part of a desert. The steep red rock exemplifies this canyon’s incredible depth with contrast of white snow during winter.

16. Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf
Source: Flickr / Hrag Vartanian | CC BY-ND 2.0

It’s definitely hard not to have a good time at Meow Wolf with an immersive art experience in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It attracts everyone with its flashy colors, an underwater forest room, interactive exhibits, captivating stories about mysterious adventures.

The most significant and interactive art exhibit where it feels like stepping into a science fiction mystery novel, giving a chance of surprise to the audience.  Story of a fictional family, The House of Eternal Return, The Selig’s family whose bizarre saga featured at the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Opening doors in this place leads to all types of new adventures and be ready for surprises.

17. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Source: Flickr / gardener41 | CC BY-SA 2.0

Not an overly large museum, but there is plenty to read and explore in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. It is convenient and easy to understand the flow of all the exhibits, including a section devoted to New Mexico’s history when it was a “sea” and a computer display of the history of computers. The museum does put forth an effort to visually affect its visitors, especially kids, to make their visit worthwhile, educational and exciting.

There is an outdoor classroom named Kiwanis Learning Garden that offers the opportunity to examine the study of soil, pollinator habitats, compost, native plants, and much more. It is also a chance to observe and undertake research about fruit trees, vegetable gardening, and grapevine cultivation.

18. Cliff’s Amusement Park

Cliffs Amusement Park
Source: Carol M. Highsmith | Public Domain

If you are passing through Albuquerque, this is worth a quick pit stop, conveniently located by the RT68 Highway and between several metro and monorail stops. Also, a seasonal park providing recreational facilities like roller coaster rides, carnival-style games, water parks to enjoy in the summer holidays.

Cliff’s Amusement Park is rated as a 5 star themed park with incredibly scenic views, decent flat rides, two adult coasters, the Larson drop tower, and loads of games for the whole family to enjoy. It also features WaterMania, an amazing water attraction that operates on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.

19. Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak
Source: Flickr / Listener42 | CC BY-SA 2.0

In White Pine County, Wheeler Peak was named for Surveyor George Wheeler, the most topographically outstanding peak with a prominence of 7,563 feet. It is located in Great Basin National Park, just behind the Boundary Peak in the Snake Range of Nevada, USA, with a summit elevation of 13,065 feet.

Be sure to add a climb to New Mexico’s tallest peak to your travel bucket list if you are craving a killer workout, a rugged adventure, and that top-of-the-world feeling. Its wilderness is at the top in the rugged range and standing higher than any other peaks in New Mexico.

20. New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art
Source: Flickr / Ron Cogswell | CC BY 2.0

One of the oldest and the first contemporary art museums in the United States, the New Mexico Museum of Art was designed by Isaac Rapp and was built in 1917.The museum has a collection of comprehensive photography and works by famous artists. The Southwest art made by artists influenced by travel through the region lived or worked here from the 20th and 21st century is also there to appreciate and remained in collection till today.

The landmark building balances the true inspiration of Santa Fe’s culture and contemporary art with genuine tradition. There are many to marvel at here if you love great artwork.

21. El Malpais National Monument

El Malpais National Monument
Source: Flickr / Chris Cavoretto | CC BY 2.0

El Malpais National Monument protects enormous swaths of volcanic territories, also home to 130ft wide rock arch phenomenal and the largest and most accessible arch in New Mexico. Malpais is a Spanish term, and it means barren and volcanic fields.

This museum is providing a source to discover an intriguing tale of survival and human ingenuity. During the eruption of basaltic lava, ice core samples from the lava tube are preserved to explore in the museum. You’ll feel definitely small here while standing on petrified Jurassic sand dunes, witnessing a spectacular show of day and night interface sweeps over El Malpais National Monument.  

22. International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center
Source: Flickr / Dan | CC BY-SA 2.0

While taking a tour to International UFO Museum and Research Center, you’ll be able to see the dioramas of aliens referred to as the Rosewell Greys. For an out-of-the-world experience, include UFO museum on your itinerary where you will truly be transported to space.

You can take a look at the future of space exploration at Spaceport America. There is a lot of documentation that suggests the possible presence or existence of extraterrestrials—numerous testimonials, photos were gathered and collected over time. Also, showcasing information about the Roswell Incident, UFO sightings, crop circles, Area 51, abductions, and ancient astronauts

23. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Source: Flickr / Greg Gjerdingen | CC BY 2.0

It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful USA churches with Spanish architecture, which stands at the center of Santa Fe Plaza, New Mexico. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is surrounded by beautiful artwork and statues of patron saint St. Francis of Assisi, Jean-Baptiste Lamy, and Saint Kateri. Cross Prayer Garden Stations features 14 sculptures showing the hours leading up to Jesus’s resurrection.

The church will transport you to Europe from Santa Fe with its Romanesque architecture; you’ll see the extraordinary detailing on bronze doors and engraved keystones. Inside the church, there is exquisite stain glasswork and rose windows which were imported from Clermont-Ferrand France. While outside the church, the gardens are a peaceful treat and respite from the busy city.

24. National Forests

National Forests
Source: Flickr / Jonathan Cutrer | CC BY 2.0

There are five National forests in New Mexico covering its vast mountainous area. Santa Fe at the south end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Lincoln in the southern part, Gila and Cibola in the west, and Carson in the northernmost National Forest of New Mexico.

Each park is famous for its camping grounds, trailheads, various lakes, and scenic views. They are considered to be the great outdoors in America for adventure seekers. Carson national park covers 1.5 million acres of the Rocky Mountains and where you can hike and camp with more than 300 miles of trails and campgrounds. Santa Fe’s second tallest summit in the state, covering 1.6 million of Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is significantly famous for Jame Mountains and scenic highways.

25. High Noon Restaurant

High Noon Restaurant
Source: Unsplash / Tai’s Captures

Initially, the building was constructed as a home in the 18th century. Later, High Noon Restaurant added colors to the glorious history by opening its doors to guests in 1974. If you desire fresh food of good quality with exceptional customer service, High Noon restaurant is a perfect choice while visiting New Mexico. The restaurant is famous for its scrumptious steaks, mouth-watering enchiladas, and refreshing margarita. 

High Noon voted as the “best of the city” in 2016 and still one of the best local places to visit in Albuquerque. Initially, the building was constructed as a home in the 18th century. The ambiance and historical architecture add depth and authenticity to the flavor of the food.