Las Cruces is a medium-sized city that lies west of the Organ Mountains in New Mexico. Approximately 100,000 people call the city home, and the population of the greater metropolitan area is over 200,000. People in Las Cruces can take advantage of the wide-open spaces just outside the city, the expansive view of the mountains, a historic downtown, and a warm and dry climate. The area is diverse with many people speaking both English and Spanish. It's less than 50 miles north of the Mexican border, and elements of the Mexican culture can be found throughout the community.
Dripping Springs Natural Area
It's only natural that you'd feel motivated to hike and explore the mountains while gazing at them every day from the different neighborhoods in the city. Whenever you'd like to get some fresh air, you can head over to the Dripping Springs Natural Area. The 4 miles of hiking trails within the park are fairly easy to navigate. From vista points along the trails, you have a chance to spot animals like red-tailed hawks, quails, mule deer and golden eagles. Coyotes and mountain lions have been known to wander the land here, but you'll likely only see a glimpse of them from a safe distance. Within the park are a visitors' center, restrooms and picnic sites. At the center, you can learn more about the landscape, flora and fauna native to the region. (Photo Credit: https://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/las_cruces/dripping_springs.html)
Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces
For over 40 years, people in Las Cruces have enjoyed access to locally grown fruits, vegetables and other goods. The Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces was first established in 1971, and it became a city-managed market in 1999. More than 300 vendors have booths and stalls within the market. You can browse the vast selection of food, drink, artwork, home decor, jewelry, clothing and other items that local artisans work hard to produce. The market is located on North Main Street in the downtown district and is open each Wednesday and Saturday from the morning to the early afternoon.
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
Las Cruces is one of the main centers of activity in the region near the Rio Grande. In past centuries, the river was a lifeline for farmers and ranchers who worked the land, feeding their families and their communities. To learn more about the 4,000-year history of the region, you can pay a visit to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. It encompasses 47 acres, and the main building is more than 24,000 square feet in size. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits and demonstrations. By reading, viewing, and taking in all the information presented to you, you can gain a better appreciation for how each generation of residents has used the land to their advantage. Group tours are available, and both permanent and temporary exhibits showcase various aspects of farm and ranch life in the Southwest.
New Mexico State University
This university was founded in 1888, making it the oldest institution of higher education in the state. NMSU programs originally focused on agriculture and mechanic arts, reflecting the needs of the late 19th century. It now offers a wide range of choices for students to pursue. You can receive an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree from the university. The main campus sits on over 6,000 acres of land, and approximately 20,000 students are enrolled here. The university's major athletic programs are a big draw, and locals can frequently be found cheering on their Aggies. The football team plays in Aggie Memorial Stadium, and the men's and women's basketball teams take the court in the Pan American Center. Performers and speakers also come to campus as invited guests or as part of national tours. Many events are open to the public.
Veteran's Memorial Park
Veteran's Memorial Park was dedicated in 1999. Its memorials reflect upon the Korean War, the Marine Corps League and the Disabled American Veterans. These memorials are found along a walking path. Strolling along the path and looking out at the memorials and the flag that flies 80 feet in the air, you can reflect on the great sacrifices that many have made. A gazebo is at the end of the path where you can view medallions from the different military branches. The Veteran's Memorial Wall has the names of the over 8,000 soldiers from Doña Ana County who served in a major war or conflict from the Civil War to Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo Credit: http://www.las-cruces.org/en/live/veterans-corner/veterans-memorial-park/)
Rio Grande Vineyard & Winery
If you're interested in sampling the local food and wine, you'll find what you're looking for at the Rio Grande Vineyard & Winery. Here, you'll find wine made with New Mexico grapes, pecans harvested straight from their own orchard, and honey made from beehives placed throughout the farm. The owners of the vineyard and winery are Sandi and Gordon Steel. They consider themselves connoisseurs of wine, and they've traveled the world learning more about wine production. Their first grape harvest was in 2007, and the tasting room opened to the public in 2009. The vineyard is located on the same lands in the Mesilla Valley where the Spanish priests first planted grapes in the late 1500s. Come visit the winery and sample excellent vintages for yourself.
No Strings Theatre Company
Any fan of live performance can enjoy the work put on by the No Strings Theatre Company. The organization operates on a non-profit basis, and the people who contribute to it are dedicated to bringing more well-rounded theater options to Las Cruces. They hold shows in The Black Box Theater, which was built for the group in 2000. The theater is located within the downtown district, and it hosts about seven shows annually. Each production runs for a few weeks. The group tries to showcase unique art, including plays written by locals.
Southern New Mexico Speedway
If you're interested in speed, the Southern New Mexico Speedway is just the place you need to visit. This dirt track is located on the Fairgrounds off of I-10. There are races held throughout the year, drawing locals and visitors who love watching race cars fly by. Drivers who come to this speedway are giving their all; this track is one where they can pick up points in their USRA leagues. Races are generally held on weekends with some series beginning on Thursday or Friday. Many of the races take place under the lights in the evenings, and the live action and excitement can be hard to beat. Tickets are available for purchase online, over the phone or in person. Children are welcomed, and they may be eligible for discount tickets.
Las Cruces Railroad Museum
When you step into the Las Cruces Railroad Museum, you'll be transported into an earlier time when the railway was essential to the community. The museum is located within the historic Santa Fe depot on Mesilla Street. The building dates back to 1910 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. It has exhibits that educate visitors about the history of the railway. You can learn more about how the city grew thanks to the train system bringing in new workers and goods. Admission is free, and various lectures are given in the depot throughout the year.
Another winery that you can check out is the Amaro Winery. This place is family owned, and it went into operation in 2009. All of the wines are bottled on site and made with grapes grown in the vineyards of southern New Mexico. You can spend an afternoon or evening tasting the different red and white varietals to find ones that please your palate. The knowledgeable staff can answer your questions as you compare the various types of sweet or dry wines. The winery has a convenient location in town, so many people can stop by for a drink before or after dinner at a nearby restaurant. In addition to their own wines, the staff can also set you up with a glass of locally brewed craft beer.
Las Cruces is a wonderful place to move. It has a lower cost of living than average when compared with the rest of the United States, and you won't have to travel very far to access the diverse dining options or to shop at one of the stores. Parks are well maintained, and the warm climate gives you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Anyone with an adventurous streak can take a short drive into the Organ Mountains for just a day or a more extended getaway. Thanks to the number of organizations dedicated to preserving the history of the region, it's clear that people in the community are proud of their city. Get to know it better by visiting these top places.