El Paso is the only city in Texas surrounded by mountains as well as on Mountain Time. Located on the borders of New Mexico and Juarez, Mexico with the Franklin Mountains as the backdrop, El Paso has a laidback lifestyle with a “can-do” attitude. Visitors will take note of the progressive parks, fascinating museums, and extensive building going on that support the “quality of life” initiative voted on by the residents. I had a chance to visit this West Texas haven and discovered why this “All-American City” is such as great place to vacation.
Where to Stay
El Paso has several new hotel offerings that are perfect for families or couples. The boutique Stanton Hotel, Aloft and Courtyard El Paso just opened or will open soon. The classic Hotel Paso Del Norte is totally renovated, planned for the fall of 2018. I enjoyed deluxe accommodations at the DoubleTree by Hilton, which provided a great downtown location and easy access to museums, restaurants and baseball stadium as well as rooftop pool and cookies!
Where to Dine
Enjoy “farm to table” dining at Cattleman’s Steakhouse
This restaurant is known far and wide for providing a real Western experience at the 46-square mile Indian Cliffs Ranch. Yes, the steaks, ribs, and seafood are delicious. But before you even try to wrestle with this big-as-Texas menu, tour the working-ranch grounds first. See legendary movie sets, while the kids run around the Indian Maze, Fort Apache Playground, and Lake Walk. Check out the deer, prairie dogs, and feathery ostriches and tour the ranch on a hayride. Then come to the table, ready to eat. Dare you tackle the two-pound T-Bone Steak? The Spicy Ranch Beans and Pineapple Coleslaw are equally fabulous. But leave room for dessert because the pecan pie is out of this world! Enjoy Texas BBQ at its best. Cattlemanssteakhouse website
Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s
It doesn’t get much more authentic than at this Mexican Restaurant and Cantina. Voted the best margarita in El Paso, the menu is chock full of delicious Mexican cuisine and cocktails. Nachos were piled high and the Chile Rellenos topped with Spanish sauce were fabulous. carlosandmickeys website
What to Do
Head out to the mountains
Franklin Mountains State Park features more than 26,000 acres on over 100 miles of hiking/biking trails in a beautiful, serene mountain setting. Visit for the day, camp out overnight or participate in one of their guided hikes. Breakaway and hear the quiet as you gaze over into Mexico on the horizon. It is spectacular.
One of the many cultural offerings is the Broadway in El Paso series, which recently showcased “The Lion King” at the historic Plaza Theater. See Broadway come to El Paso with productions of Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Evita and more.
Did you say cowboy boots?
In El Paso, it seems like there’s a boot manufacturer on every corner. I had a chance to tour the Lucchese Boot Factory and was fascinated with how these top quality leather boots are made. Skins from all over the world are brought in, designs are cut and each boot is made to the customer’s exact specifications. A custom-made boot takes 10 weeks to complete, but you can see the hand-crafted quality at each step in the manufacturing process. Lucchese offers several outlet stores in the area to lasso your own pair!
El Paso has its own AAA minor league baseball team, the El Chihuahuas, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres that plays in Southwest University Park stadium. Bring the whole family to the ballpark and watch the stars of the future. Soccer fans will be happy to know El Paso is getting its own United Soccer League team in 2019.
The El Paso Zoo is a fun place to visit for adults and kids alike. This expansive green space is home to more than 200 exotic animal species from around the world. One of the most interesting programs is their “animal enrichment program.” Instead of just feeding the animals, they hide in their food in different ways and the animals are challenged to find it. Find out more about their unique Zoo Adventures, including a sleepover or behind the scenes tour. Feed a giraffe, see a wildlife show and learn more about the zoo’s conservation programs. Elpasozoo website
This year, put El Paso on your short list of vacation destinations. For information, visitelpaso website