Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Plan a Great Trip to El Paso Today!!

El Paso, Texas, the county seat of El Paso County, is an incredible city located in the Chihuahuan Desert many miles from most anywhere in Texas! It is bordered by New Mexico, and the Rio Grande River/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It is probably because of its isolated location that it has transformed itself into a “mini-state within a state” with so much to see and do that residents can live there for years and never be bored, and visitors can’t hope to experience all that is El Paso in a week or two! This is definitely the town that “Never Stops Entertaining!” El Paso is rich with history. The Folsom points found at Hueco Tanks State Park are evidence that the El Paso area has been settled by humans for thousands of years. In the 16th century, Spaniards named the Franklin Mountains pass El Paso del Norte (the Pass of the North). The Spanish mission towns of Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario are located near El Paso. Ysleta was established in the 1650s, and the latter two towns were established by 1862.

El Paso Aerial View    Secretary of Defense CC BY

El Paso is the home of Fort Bliss which was established to protect settlers and travelers from hostile Indians, and to protect U.S. lands acquired after the Mexican War. A replica of the 1854-1868 fort was constructed in 1948. Its adobe buildings include Sutler’s Store, a kitchen, blacksmith, barracks, harness shop, a carpenter’s shop, and the pottery. The buildings are filled with replica period pieces representing the year 1857. Admission is free. Other Fort Bliss museums include Old Ironsides Museum, and the U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Heritage and Education Center.

Adobe Replica of the 1854-1868 Fort CC BY 

Other interesting El Paso sites include the historic El Paso WPA Post Office Mural, the Chamizal National Memorial, the 1914-1918 Saint Patrick Cathedral, Union Station (the first international train station in the U.S), the historic (and recently renovated) San Jacinto Plaza, the Tigua Indian Reservation Cultural Center & Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, the Sierra de Cristo Rey site, the historic Concordia Cemetery (Boot Hill), and the Socorro, San Elizario, and Ysleta Missions. El Paso is currently in the process of reconstructing its historic 4.8 mile trolley line. The line will feature six restored vintage President’s Conference Committee streetcars that were used in El Paso until 1974.

Mount Christo Rey       MJCdetroit CC BY-SA 3.0

Museum lovers could easily spend a week visiting the many other El Paso museums, including The National Border Patrol Museum, the Railroad & Transportation Museum of El Paso, the El Paso Holocaust Museum & Study Center, the Centennial Museum and Gardens, the El Paso Museum of History, the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, the El Paso Medical Heritage Collections Museum, the War Eagles Museum, and other fascinating history museums. Art museums include the Lynx Exhibits, the El Paso Museum of Art, and the International Museum of Art. The 19 room 1875 Magoffin Home State Historic Site features vintage photos, art, and period pieces.  

El Paso Railroad Museum    mr_t_77 CC BY-SA

El Paso is rich in performing arts. The town’s fabulous facilities include the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center, the Shakespeare on the Rocks Theatre Company at the Chamizal National Memorial, the Magoffin Auditorium at UT El Paso, the Abraham Chavez Theatre, the UT El Paso Dinner Theatre, and the El Paso Playhouse. Performances include the El Paso Opera, the El Paso Symphony, the El Paso Ballet, Broadway shows, and the Showtime Concert Series. The Sun Bowl, McKelligon Canyon Pavilion at Franklin Mountains State Park, the Don Haskins Center, and other venues host nationally recognized music artists.

Abraham Chavez Theatre CC BY

There is always something going on in El Paso! Annual events are plentiful and varied – Alfresco! Fridays (concerts), summer Shakespeare, Cool Canyon Nights summer concerts at McKelligon Canyon, mountain bike races, 5Ks and marathons, triathlons, beer, Margarita & food festivals, championship bull riding, rodeos, live music festivals, a poppy festival, Comic Con, a balloon festival, street festivals, the Ysleta Mission Festival, art festivals, El Paso Zoo events, and many Christmas festivities. Other entertainment includes the El Paso Chihuahuas minor league baseball team, the Sunland Park, New Mexico Racetrack and Casino, the El Paso Speedway Park, Wet N Wild Waterworld in Anthony, Texas, the Western Playland Amusement Park in Sunland, New Mexico, and the El Paso Rhinos Hockey team. Winter public ice skating is available at the Rhinos Hockey rink. There is always something going on at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center, including garden shows, conventions, trade shows, and many special events. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the area wineries, the farmer’s markets, and many outstanding restaurants, including CafĂ© Mayapan, Nolita Corner Bistro, Zino’s Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine, The Healthy Pizza Company, The Magic Pan, Cattleman’s Steakhouse, the Happy Monk, and many more!

El Paso StreetFest Mechanical Bull CC BY

El Paso is an education mecca! The Tech H2O Center teaches Chihuahuan Desert water management, and has wildlife and flora viewing areas, a Xeriscape garden, the Rio Grande Auditorium, an amphitheater, an exhibit hall, two classrooms and an outdoor plaza. Tours are available by reservation. Area learning institutions include the University of Texas at El Paso, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, Howard Payne University El Paso Campus, Vista College, and the El Paso Community College. The Jane Burges Perrenot Research Center’s historical documents, archives, over 7,500 vintage postcards, and an extensive collection of vintage photos are available to the public for research. El Paso’s public libraries are outstanding and offer many children, youth and adult programs.

University of Texas El Paso     Adrian Garcia CC BY

El Paso really shines with its outdoor facilities and activities. Sites include the El Paso Zoo, the Centennial Museum and gardens, Feather Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, the El Paso Wilderness Park (& Archaeology Museum), the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden, and the El Paso Community Gardens. The El Paso Parks Department manages many beautiful parks, swimming pools, skate parks, and many hike and bike trails, and hosts a large number of athletic programs, including tennis and swimming clubs. Ascarate Park and 48 acre Lake is very popular and offers great fishing, sports fields and sports courts, and an aquatic center. The non-profit Ascarate Fishing Club for Children is extremely popular with the kids. There are several area fishing ponds. The walking trail along the Rio Grande River offers stunning river views. The Franklin Mountains and Franklin Mountains State Park are located within El Paso’s City limits. The park offers camping, mountain biking (some of the best in Texas!), hiking and rock climbing, and hosts many public events. The Wyler Aerial Tramway is one of the town’s most popular tourist attractions, and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. The nearby Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site is world famous for its rock climbing! Birding is excellent at Keystone Heritage Park, the Fort Bliss ponds, the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park and other area sites; many bird checklists are available. Golf is a popular sport. The non-profit First Tee of Greater El Paso promotes character development in youth through its golf program offered to children ages 5-18.

Franklin Mountains State Park Mountain Biking   TPWD Copyright

Wyler Aerial Tramway


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