Las Cruces is a city in New Mexico. The name means "the crosses" in Spanish. It is the state's second largest city, with a population of over 100,000, and is the site of New Mexico State University.
Las Cruces is located at the junction of Interstate Highways 10 and 25 and is the southern terminus of the latter. The nearest airport with commercial air service is in El Paso, Texas, about 50 miles away. Limited bus service is available between El Paso and Albuquerque with stops in Las Cruces.
Las Cruces has some degree of public transportation by the city bus line RoadRUNNER Transit. Service is limited to Monday through Saturday and ends by 7:30 in the evening. Buses can carry bicycles. Otherwise, just plan to drive, bike, or walk.
New Mexico State UniversityIs in Las Cruces, with an interesting museum or two, a large conference center, and a comfortable student union.
phone: +1 575 646-3739In Kent Hall at NMSU. Emphasis on local archaeology and culture.
Zuhl CollectionIn the Alumni Center at NMSU. Fossils, minerals, and petrified wood.
MesillaIs a separate town just to the west of Las Cruces which is an older settlement than Las Cruces and contains a historic district with numerous adobe buildings surrounding a plaza and the adjoining church. A visitors center is located at 2231 Avenida de Mesilla, in the Mesilla town hall.
phone: +1 575 522-1219Just east of town offer good hiking and rock climbing. Follow University Avenue east from NMSU past the Farm and Ranch museum to one of the primary trailheads, in a small park (fee) with interpretive exhibit. Trails lead from here into the mountains. Some campground space is available (additional fee). The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument was established May 21, 2014.
The best place to buy Native American art or other characteristic types of durable mementos is in the nearby town of Mesilla. If you want something to remember your visit by, one idea is food, specifically chile peppers, which are grown in abundance in the Mesilla Valley. The long strings of red chiles that you see hanging from porches, gables, etc., are called ristras and are available for purchase at many locations. These are largely for ornamental purposes, but edible chiles are also widely available, with spiciness levels ranging from mild to downright inedible (New Mexico State University has a substantial chile research program that grows peppers so hot that they function as bug repellents).
If in town in late summer or fall, make a pilgrimage to the outlying town of Hatch on I-25 to the north. Hatch is the center of the chile-growing business and has several shops with chile paraphernalia. Better, it hosts a "Chile Festival" in early September, usually around Labor Day, that's fun to visit as well as a great source of chiles. (Hatch is a tiny town with little or no lodging, so you'll want to stay in Las Cruces and make a day trip to the Festival.) If you're getting your chiles for cooking rather than ornamentation, and can get them home/in a freezer quickly, get them roasted while you're there; roasting is a key step in preparation for the table, and doing it in a Hatch roaster will save you all manner of peculiar odors resulting from doing the roasting at home.
For more pedestrian, day-to-day purchases, Las Cruces has all of the usual shopping associated with a town of 80,000. Mesilla Valley Mall is convenient off I-25 just north of NMSU for this purpose.
phone: +1 575 524-2408address: 1720 Avenida De MesillaWarm atmosphere, live music, great food and wine selection. French country menu includes interesting appetizers like European cheese plates that pair wonderfully with flights of wine. Entres include dinner salads, fish, steak, pastas, and more.
- University Avenue, on the north side of NMSU, has the usual assortment of student-oriented eateries, with the usual properties for such places: lots of food, reasonable prices, less than haute cuisine. Some, by no means all, of the restaurants along University are:
Lorenzo'sphone: +1 575 521-3505address: 1753 E. UniversityItalian; lunch and dinner. Also has a location in Mesilla and a new location in the shopping center on Lohman & Roadrunner.
Old MesillaTo the southwest of Las Cruces is on the El Camino Real traveled by Onate and Coronado and is the home of many restaurants.
Double EagleIn Mesilla, on the Plaza. More of an upscale restaurant. Standard New Mexican fare and locally-inspired dishes. One of the few places in town that serves aged steak. Supposedly haunted, local lore says star-crossed lovers perished here and continue to visit one of the dining rooms. Their bar has an extensive liquor selection, suitable for all tastes. The ambiance is almost unmatched in the area. The Sunday brunch is a popular choice.
Andeleaddress: 2184 Avenida de MesillaMexican with a salsa bar. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check out the green chile pork enchiladas, tacos al cabon and roasted jalapenos.
Lorenzo'saddress: 1750 Calle de Mercado #4Italian; lunch and dinner.
El Paisano Cafeaddress: 1740 Calle de MercadoNew Mexican food with a European flair; Seasonal dishes using fresh ingredients. Open breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Chope's Bar and Cafe
International Delights Cafe
High Desert Brewery
Sweet Indulgence/SI Italian Bistro
El Patio, Old Mesilla PlazaThe main bar in town. Live music. Unique smell.
Old MesillaTo the southwest of Las Cruces.
phone: +1 575-524-2408address: 1720 Avenida de Mesilla
Azul Loungeaddress: 750 South TelshorAn upscale cosmopolitan lounge serving creative cocktails, delicious appetizers and live entertainment.
address: 618 S. Alameda Blvd.Beautiful bed and breakfast housed in an art gallery.
Best Western Mission Innphone: +1 575 524-8591address: 1765 S. Main StAdequate if unexceptional lodging in a commercial area; not adjacent to NMSU, but still reasonably convenient for visitors to the university. Rooms from $55.
Comfort Suitesphone: +1 575 522-1300address: 2101 S. TrivizMore adequate, unexceptional lodging. From $60.
phone: +1 575 522-4300address: 705 South Telshor BlvdA full-service pet friendly hotel near the convention center. Meeting & wedding facilities, swimming pool, restaurant & bar.
Ramada de Las Crucesphone: +1 575 526-4411address: 201 East University AveNewly remodeled, and rooms include breakfast.
phone: +1 575-541-8887address: 1611 Hickory LoopAll-suite hotel.
- El Paso is about 45 miles away via I-10, and Juarez, Mexico slightly beyond.
- White Sands National Monument is less than an hour's drive from Las Cruces.
- Ski Apache is about 90 miles away. Decent skiing just past the town of Ruidoso.
- White Sands Missile Range is a short detour on the way to White Sands National Monument and has a missile museum.
- New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo is great for young space exploration enthusiasts - especially the shuttle flight simulator.
- Cloudcroft is about 85 miles away with breathtaking views and mountains.
- If you're in the vicinity in the latter part of August, consider driving 60 miles west on I-10 to the Great American Duck Race seriously -- in the small town of Deming.
- Truth or Consequences, about 70 miles north of Las Cruces and commonly called "T or C," has traveler-friendly hot springs. The new Spaceport America -- again, seriously! -- will be constructed about 30 miles southeast of T or C, and should be easily accessible from Las Cruces.