Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk in the footsteps of ancient civilizations, to marvel at otherworldly art installations, or to taste the spicy delights of authentic Southwestern cuisine?
Welcome to New Mexico, a place where all these experiences and more are just a day’s adventure away.
This isn’t your typical travel guide; this is a deep dive into the heart of the Land of Enchantment.
So buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a journey through 17 unforgettable things to do in New Mexico.
In this article...
1. Discover Ancient Stories at Petroglyph National Monument
New Mexico’s history is etched in stone at the Petroglyph National Monument.
Here, you can explore a landscape dotted with thousands of petroglyphs, ancient rock carvings that tell the stories of the people who lived here centuries ago.
As you wander the trails, take a moment to appreciate the timeless beauty of these symbols, a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Traveler’s Tip: The monument is spread out over three locations, so plan your visit accordingly. Even the shortest section boasts an impressive number of petroglyphs.
2. Step into a Different Dimension at Meow Wolf
For an experience that’s truly out of this world, head to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe.
This immersive art installation is a mind-bending journey through surreal landscapes and hidden rooms. It’s part art exhibit, part interactive mystery, and wholly unforgettable.
Traveler’s Tip: Allot plenty of time for your visit. There’s so much to see that you might find yourself wanting to explore, take a break, and then dive back in to catch anything you missed.
3. Explore the Depths of the Rio Grande Gorge
The Rio Grande Gorge is a testament to the raw power of nature. This stunning canyon carved by the Rio Grande River offers breathtaking views and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure.
Whether you’re standing on the edge of the gorge or exploring its depths, you’ll be awed by the sheer scale of this natural wonder.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t forget to check out the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. The views from this architectural marvel are not to be missed.
4. Dive into History at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
New Mexico played a pivotal role in the development of nuclear science, and there’s no better place to learn about this history than at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque.
From the intricacies of atomic theory to the realities of the Manhattan Project, this museum offers a comprehensive and engaging look at the world of nuclear science.
Traveler’s Tip: Be sure to check out the outdoor exhibit area, where you can see historic aircraft and replicas of atomic bombs.
5. Wander the Streets of Albuquerque’s Old Town
Step back in time as you explore the historic heart of Albuquerque. Old Town is a charming district filled with centuries-old adobe buildings, quaint shops, and delicious food.
Whether you’re browsing for unique souvenirs or simply soaking up the atmosphere, you’ll be charmed by the timeless appeal of Old Town.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the chance to dine at the Church Street Cafe, a local favorite known for its delicious Southwestern cuisine.
6. Admire the Beauty of White Sands National Park
There’s nothing quite like the sight of the sun setting over the glistening dunes of White Sands National Park.
This unique landscape is home to the world’s largest gypsum dune field, a sight that’s as beautiful as it is unusual.
Whether you’re exploring the dunes on foot or sliding down them on a sled, you’re sure to be captivated by the beauty of White Sands.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t forget your sunglasses! The reflection off the white sand can be intense, especially on sunny days.
7. Explore the Caverns of Carlsbad
Delve into the depths of the earth at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This subterranean wonderland is home to over 100 caves, each filled with stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Whether you choose to explore on your own or join a guided tour, you’re sure to be awed by the beauty that lies beneath the surface.
Traveler’s Tip: Be sure to check out the “Big Room,” one of the largest cave chambers in North America.
8. Immerse Yourself in Native American Culture at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
New Mexico is home to 19 Pueblos, each with its own unique traditions and history.
At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, you can learn about these diverse cultures through art exhibits, live performances, and educational programs.
It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in the rich tapestry of Native American culture.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the chance to try traditional Pueblo cuisine at the center’s restaurant.
9. Take a Scenic Drive on the High Road to Taos
The High Road to Taos is more than just a way to get from Santa Fe to Taos—it’s a journey through some of New Mexico’s most stunning landscapes.
This scenic byway winds through high desert, lush valleys, and charming mountain villages, offering breathtaking views at every turn.
Traveler’s Tip: Take your time and make plenty of stops along the way. There’s plenty to see and do on the High Road.
10. Experience the Magic of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Every October, the skies over Albuquerque come alive with color during the International Balloon Fiesta.
This nine-day event is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, featuring over 500 balloons.
Whether you’re watching the mass ascensions from the ground or taking to the skies yourself, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.
Traveler’s Tip: Be sure to check out the evening “Balloon Glow” events, where the balloons are illuminated against the night sky.
11. Visit the Historic Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo is a living testament to the endurance and resilience of the Pueblo people.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States, with some buildings estimated to be over 1,000 years old.
A visit to Taos Pueblo offers a unique opportunity to learn about Pueblo culture and history firsthand.
Traveler’s Tip: Be respectful of the Pueblo’s rules and traditions during your visit. Remember, this is not just a historic site—it’s also a vibrant, living community.
12. Hike the Trails of Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument is a hiker’s paradise, with over 70 miles of trails winding through stunning canyons and mesa country. But it’s not just the natural beauty that makes Bandelier special.
As you hike, you’ll also discover the remnants of ancient Pueblo dwellings, carved into the cliffsides and scattered throughout the landscape.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the Alcove House, a reconstructed ceremonial kiva located 140 feet above the canyon floor. The climb up four wooden ladders is well worth it for the view.
13. Experience the Thrill of Skiing in Taos Ski Valley
New Mexico may be known for its deserts, but it’s also home to some fantastic ski resorts.
Taos Ski Valley is renowned for its challenging terrain and stunning mountain scenery.
Whether you’re an experienced skier or a beginner hitting the slopes for the first time, you’ll find plenty to love about skiing in Taos.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t forget to check out the resort’s excellent dining options after a long day on the slopes.
14. Soak in the Hot Springs of Jemez Springs
For a relaxing day trip, head to the village of Jemez Springs, home to several natural hot springs.
These geothermal pools offer a soothing soak in mineral-rich waters, surrounded by the beauty of the Jemez Mountains.
Traveler’s Tip: Remember to respect the natural environment and leave no trace when visiting the hot springs.
15. Explore the Art Scene in Santa Fe
Santa Fe is a haven for art lovers, with over 250 galleries and a vibrant community of local artists.
From the contemporary art installations at SITE Santa Fe to the traditional Native American art sold in the Palace of the Governors, there’s something for every taste.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the chance to explore the unique art installations of Canyon Road, a half-mile stretch of galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
16. Visit the UFO Museum in Roswell
For something a little different, head to Roswell and delve into the mystery of the 1947 UFO incident.
The International UFO Museum and Research Center offers a fascinating look at this famous event, with exhibits on the incident itself, the subsequent government investigation, and the ongoing debate about what really happened.
Traveler’s Tip: Keep an open mind and enjoy the fun of exploring the unknown.
17. Experience the Wild West in Silver City
Step back in time in Silver City, a charming town that’s retained much of its Wild West character.
Explore historic downtown, visit the Western New Mexico University Museum, or take a scenic drive along the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway.
Traveler’s Tip: If you’re visiting in May, don’t miss the Wild West Pro Rodeo, a highlight of Silver City’s annual calendar.
From the ancient petroglyphs of Petroglyph National Monument to the otherworldly landscapes of White Sands National Park, New Mexico is a land of contrasts and surprises.
Each of these 17 activities offers a unique perspective on the Land of Enchantment, revealing a state that’s rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.
So whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or an outdoor adventurer, you’re sure to find something to love about New Mexico.
Remember to check out our other guides on visitusaguide.com for more travel tips and insights. Whether you’re planning to visit the vibrant city of Las Vegas or explore the natural beauty of Arizona, we’ve got you covered. Safe travels!