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17 Best Places To Visit In New Orleans (+ Unique Vacation Spots

If you’re trying to find the best places to visit in New Orleans, then we can certainly help you! New Orleans is a vibrant city in the south full of history. As part of Lousiana, it was originally a French settlement city before it the area became an American territory. That French influence can still be felt all throughout the city. So many of the best activities in New Orleans are part of that French cultural history.

Along with that French history, there is a beautiful blending of cultures. It’s a city where you can listen to jazz, enjoy French pastries, browse antique stores, and admire stunning architecture all in one day. Because it’s deep within the south near the Gulf of Mexico, there are some times during the year when it’s best to avoid the city.

If you aren’t a big fan of the heat and humidity, you’re going to want to skip visiting in the summer months. To avoid a majority of the crowds, you also don’t want to go around Mardis Gras, which is typically in January or February. However, we still think any time spent in New Orleans can be fun, no matter the weather or the crowds.

When you’re planning your New Orleans trip, you’ll want to add these New Orleans vacation spots to your itinerary. We guarantee they’ll make for a trip you won’t forget. So let’s take a look at the best places to visit in New Orleans!

The front of the St. Louis Cathedral, one of the most popular and best places to visit in New Orleans. You can see palm trees and a walkway as well.

17 Best Places To Visit In New Orleans (+ Unique Vacation Spots)

Walk Around Jackson Square

One of the best places to visit in New Orleans is Jackson Square. Jackson Square is one of the central parts of the French Quarter. It’s where you’ll find some of the best views in the city. Especially if you’re looking to see some of the more interesting street performers. All throughout the day, there are street performers set up along Jackson Square.

You’ll find anything from musicians with a single instrument or whole live bands. Along with the musicians you’ll see cool buskers. Buskers are street performers who dress up as characters, statues, and other various things. Some of the buskers in Jackson Square are world-famous and draw crowds throughout the day. Typically, if you tip them, they’ll let you take their photo or take your photo with them. Jackson Square is one of the best places to see in the French Quarter.

French Quarter Walking Tour:

A couple holding hands standing in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, one of the best places to visit in New Orleans.

Grab A Bite To Eat From A Black-Owned Restaurant

While you’re walking around the city, we suggest grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many Black-Owned restaurants. New Orleans has a large Black community, with a variety of different cultural backgrounds. So you’ll be able to sample foods from almost every Black cultural group across the world. One of the best parts about these restaurants is that you’ll be supporting a local business owner while getting to try some amazing food.

There are several Black-Owned restaurants in New Orleans that we love to go to. Whether you’re looking for delicious Creole dishes, French-inspired fusion food, or Haitian Street Food, New Orleans has it. A few of our favorites are Compere Lapin, Cafe Sbisa, and Frita. Many of the restaurants even have vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you’re looking for places to visit in New Orleans with amazing food, head to one of the many Black-Owned restaurants.

A man sitting at a table in a restaurant. In front of him is a plate of Creole Food and a drink that looks like lemonade. One of the best places to visit in New Orleans.

Admire The View At A Rooftop Bar

NOLA has plenty of rooftop bars scattered throughout the city. They are some of the best places to go in New Orleans at night. For a taste of that classic New Orleans nightlife, we suggest grabbing drinks at one of the cool rooftop bars. It’s a great New Orleans activity if you’re going to the city for an epic bachelorette party! Many of these bars also have some absolutely gorgeous panoramic views of New Orleans.

You can find most of them on the rooftops of hotels. Because they are part of the hotel, some of them are only open to the public on certain days. So if you’re planning on getting drinks at one, make sure it’s actually open to the public. Some are also only open if you book space, so keep that in mind. Any of the rooftop bars are great places to go in New Orleans at night.

A group of people hanging out around a table at a rooftop bar. You can also see a hammock, outdoor furniture, and string lanterns on the rooftop.

Ride The St. Charles Streetcar

The St. Charles Streetcar is one of the best New Orleans tourist attractions. The dark green historic streetcar is actually the oldest running streetcar in the world! It is a super cool part of NOLA history and it’s also very cheap to ride. It is only $3 one way! You’ll want to get on it on St. Charles Avenue and it’ll take you through some of the best parts of the city. When you need a break from walking and want to see the city still, this is one of the best activities in New Orleans.

There are several stops that the streetcar makes. Many of them are at pretty iconic New Orleans vacation spots. The cost of the ride covers one way, so if you want to take it back to St. Charles Avenue, you’ll need to pay $6. However, it’s such a cheap way to get around the city and it’s a really unique experience. We highly suggest taking the St. Charles Streetcar at least once while you’re touring New Orleans.

The St. Charles Streetcar on a street in New Orleans. The streetcar is green and red and is on a street surrounded by buildings and palm trees.

New Orleans Museum Of Art

The New Orleans Museum of Art is one of the coolest places to visit in New Orleans. It’s the oldest art museum in the city and was founded in 1911. You can find it within the City Park district of NOLA, near the terminal for Canal Street of the streetcar line. The museum has an extensive collection of stunning fine art. With over 40,000 items in the collection, spanning over 5,000 years, you can easily spend a few hours touring the museum.

You’ll be able to gaze at pieces from the Italian Renaissance all the way up to the Modern Era. The NOLA Museum of Art also has a large collection of furniture on display. The furniture collection includes important and beautiful pieces from 18th and 19th century America and France. Inside the collection, there are also pieces by famed artists like Degas, Picasso, and Renoir. If you are an art lover, the NOLA Museum of Art is one of the best places to see in New Orleans.

A pond in a sculpture garden on the campus of the New Orleans Museum of Art, one of the best places to visit in New Orleans. There are sculptures, trees, and buildings around the pond.

Kathleen K. Parker /

National WWII Museum

New Orleans is home to the National WWII Museum. It’s one of the best things to do in New Orleans. The museum opened in 1991 and has been attracting visitors from all over the country ever since. It was eventually designated by congress as the country’s official WWII museum. The museum is full of immersive experiences, an extensive collection of artifacts, and even records of first-person oral history stories.

Since becoming the designated official WWII museum, it has also become the authority in the United State’s WWII history. The museum is huge and it actually sits on a large campus as well. The campus has galleries and a canteen. At the BBs Stage Door Canteen, you can see period-authentic entertainment. You can also grab a bite to eat there if you’re hungry from touring the extensive museum. The National WWII Museum is one of the most interesting places to see in New Orleans.

The exterior of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. It is a large grey stone building with a red brick courtyard. There is an American Flag in front of the building.

jejim /

Antique Shopping

While you’re in the French Quarter, you’re going to want to do some antique shopping. NOLA is full of antique stores, but most of them can be found on Royal Street. Royal Street is actually known for being one of the best places for antique shopping in the country. The antique stores on Royal Street are full of unique and timeless antique pieces. New Orleans has a history of being one of the top places where quality furniture is made. These antique stores continue that tradition.

New Orleans is actually the second largest port of antiques in the US. In fact, many of them have been owned and operated by the same families for decades. Inside most of the antique stores, you’ll find pieces that are probably outside of your price range. The finest antiques come with a high price tag. But even if they are a little too pricey for your budget, they’re really cool to look at. Strolling through one of the many antique stores is one of the coolest activities in New Orleans.

The street sign for Royal Street, one of the best places to visit in New Orleans. It is on a street lamp and behind it you can see a French Quarter balcony.

Go Balcony Hunting

While you’re on Royal Street, we suggest going balcony hunting. The balconies of the French Quarter are one of the most iconic places to see in the French Quarter. If you want, you can even find Airbnbs and VRBOs in the French Quarter. These unique rentals often include access to the iconic French Quarter balconies.

If you’re in the French Quarter at night, enjoy dinner at one of the terrace restaurants that have seating on the balconies. They are often some of the best places to go in New Orleans at night. The restaurants offer you amazing views of the city at night and are great for people watching. Many of the restaurants in this area are also world-class, so you’ll truly get a NOLA dining experience.

A woman sitting at a table holding a drink at a restaurant on a balcony in the French Quarter, one of the best places to visit in New Orleans.

Taste Test Beignets

Beignets are one of the most iconic foods in New Orleans. No trip to NOLA would be complete without sampling the different beignets offered at the many New Orleans tourist attractions that sell them. There are quite a few places where you can try these delicious pastries. Most people head to Cafe Du Monde to sample theirs. Cafe Du Monde is known for its beignets and people come from all over the country to try them. Because of that reputation, you often have to wait in line to get them.

If you want to skip the line and taste arguably better beignets, then we suggest Cafe Beignet. Both cafes make absolutely delicious beignets. However, each cafe offers a different experience. Cafe Du Monde has a limited menu that is primarily focused on the pastry.

Cafe Beignet, as the name suggests, has delicious beignets on the menu. The cafe also has a more extensive menu, so you can grab something else to eat and finish your meal with a beignet. It just depends on what kind of beignet experience you’re looking for. Cafe Beignet is also one of the best places for breakfast in New Orleans!

The exterior of Cafe Du Monde where you can see people sitting at tables under an awning.

Take A Steamboat Natchez Cruise

One of the oldest running steamboats in New Orleans is the Steamboat Natchez. The steamboat takes cruises on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is one of the best places to visit near New Orleans and taking a cruise is a great New Orleans activity. Steamboat Natchez offers several different types of cruises. So there is something for everyone.

If you want a break from walking but still want to see the city, we suggest the Day Cruise. You’ll cruise along the Mississippi River and pass the city skyline. The steamboat also has dinner cruises and a jazz and brunch cruise. They’re all great options if you’re looking for activities in New Orleans.

An aerial view of the skyline of New Orleans with the Steamboat Natchez docked in the Mississippi River. It is twilight.

Go On A Ghost Tour

Another classic NOLA activity is a ghost tour! New Orleans is rumored to be an extremely haunted city. The city has a dark history, much of it revolving around the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Along with that history, many cultures brought their own religious practices.

Many of these religious practices deal with magic and the spirit world. Because of this intense combination of factors, New Orleans is supposedly incredibly haunted. Don’t forget to check out some of the most Haunted Hotels in New Orleans!

The city takes pride in its haunted history. So you’ll be able to very easily find a ghost tour that perfectly fits your needs and desires. Whether you want to learn about the haunted vampire history of NOLA or a theatrical tour of New Orlean’s most haunted places.

All of the tours are walking tours, so keep that in mind when you plan one. It’s a really cool experience, and one of the best places to go in New Orleans at night.

An old cemetery in New Orleans with large dark clouds looming over it.

Explore Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street is one of the prettiest streets in New Orleans. It’s in the French Quarter, so it’s a pretty popular place to go in New Orleans. Bourbon Street, like many of the streets in the French Quarter, is a historic street. It is mostly known for its bars and nightclubs.

So if you’re looking for one of the best places to go in New Orleans at night, Bourbon Street is it. This is truly one of the Best Places To Stay In New Orleans!

Depending on what you’re interested in doing is when you’ll want to try to tour the street. If nightclubs and bars aren’t your thing, then you’ll probably want to tour the street during the day. You’ll still find several places that are open during the day that you go in for a drink. However, nighttime is when Bourbon Street really comes alive. If you can handle the crowds, you’ll want to experience a night on Bourbon Street at least once.

Book Here: Haunted Pub Crawl

Looking down Bourbon Street at twilight. The neon lights are starting to turn on and you can see cars driving down the road.

Go To A Jazz Club

While you’re in Louisiana, especially New Orleans, you absolutely have to go to a Jazz Club. Jazz music was born in New Orleans. It is a combination of different Black cultural music heritage and is a distinctly American music genre. You can’t stroll the streets of New Orleans without hearing jazz floating out onto the streets. It comes from the street performers, the bars, and the restaurants all throughout the city.

Since you’re in New Orleans, take the opportunity to spend some time listening to the cities music at one of the famed jazz clubs. You’ll find them scattered throughout the city and they are easy to spot. Some are also restaurants or pubs, while others are just for relaxing and listening to music. Most of them are open primarily at night. However, you can be sure to find one open at just about any time of day.

Book Here: Total Food, Cocktail, and Jazz Tour

The stage in a Jazz Club with a piano, drum set, and upright bass set up on it. There is a brick wall and what looks like a record hanging above a curtain in the back of the stage.

Shop In The Historic French Market

Another one of the fun places to go in New Orleans is the Historic French Market. The French Market sits on the site of what was once a Native American trading post. It was placed along the Mississippi River and eventually became a prominent cultural hub for French and Spanish colonists in the area. Today, the French Market continues the tradition of selling goods along the Mississippi River in NOLA.

Thanks to three centuries of European, African, and Caribbean influence, the market has an extremely diverse collection of goods. That’s one of the things that makes it one of the best places to visit in New Orleans. It is a collection of fresh produce, flea market goods, and more. The French Market is also housed in a beautiful historic building. Its location right off of Jackson Square makes it convenient to get to and its wares make it a fun New Orleans tourist attraction. You’ll also be able to sample some of the best foods in the French Quarter while you’re there.

The front sign of the French Market, which is white with black lettering. Its one of the best places to visit in New Orleans.

Grab A Drink At The Carousel Bar

NOLA is full of some unique bars and restaurants. One of our favorites to visit is the Carousel Bar. The Carousel Bar can be found in the upscale Hotel Monteleone. If you’re staying in the hotel, you’ll have easy access to the bar. But you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to visit this cool bar. It’s one of the best places to visit in New Orleans because it’s free for all to go to and enjoy.

If you want to get some good pictures at the unique bar, we suggest going very early. It’s a popular New Orleans tourist attraction because it’s so unique. That also means that it gets pretty crowded, pretty quick. We’ve often gone right when it opens and found that there are little to no crowds. You’ll get to sit at the unique carousel bar and enjoy a drink before too many people start to come to do the same thing.

A woman in a red dress sitting at a bar in a building that looks like an old-fashioned carousel. It is all lit up.

Go On An Airboat Ride

One of the coolest places to visit near New Orleans is the Bayou. The Bayou is famous swampland that surrounds much of the city. In fact, there are lots of areas throughout Lousiana that are swampland. If you’ve never experienced the beauty that is the Bayou, we suggest you go on an airboat ride.

Airboats are wind-propelled boats that skate across the water in the Bayou. There are areas of south New Orleans that are partially Bayou swamp. So it’s one of the more popular places to visit near New Orleans if you’re looking to tour the Bayou. You’ll be able to easily find a tour that is near New Orleans. While on the tour, you may get to see Bayou wildlife like alligators, native birds, and turtles!

Looking down a narrow waterway in the Bayou. You can see tons of trees with Spanish Moss hanging off of them.

Go On A Voodoo Tour

NOLA has a unique cultural history that includes religious practices from several different ethnic groups. Many of those religious practices actually involve using Voodoo. Voodoo is a practice that is often considered sacred. The city and its people don’t shy away from the history of Voodo practices in NOLA.

This Voodoo history is very unique to New Orleans. There aren’t many cities where you’ll find such an eclectic blend of religious practices, especially Voodoo. That’s why we think one of the best activities in New Orleans is a Voodoo tour. There are several different kinds offered. You can take a tour that involves ghost stories, one that takes you through the history of Voodoo in NOLA, or one that combines both. It’s a really interesting New Orleans tourist attraction.

Book Here: Voodoo Tour

A Voodoo altar set up with a voodoo doll, candles, runes, and other items.

There are so many cool places to see in New Orleans and things to do. Whether you’re looking to soak in the culture, eat some amazing food, or try to do a little bit of everything. New Orleans vacation spots are as unique as the city itself and it’s easy to see why so many people visit New Orleans every year.

22 Jaw-Dropping Places to Visit in New Mexico (+ Map)

New Mexico is bound to soon have ‘its moment’. These are the best places to visit in New Mexico – just proving how diverse and spectacular the state is!

This New Mexico destinations guide will include a bit of everything, from Albuquerque to White Sands National Park and many lesser-known destinations for your New Mexico bucket list.

Let us know which places in New Mexico we failed to mention in the comments!

New Mexico Destinations Map

To add this map to your Google Maps account, click the ‘Star’ icon next to the map name. You can then view it on your cell phone or computer by heading to your Google Maps account, click the menu and add it to ‘Your Places’.

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Best Places to Visit in New Mexico – The List

White Sands National Park

One of the craziest and most scenic places to visit in New Mexico is White Sands National Park, a park that is surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range.

White Sands only became popular in a mainstream kind of way in the last few years thanks in part to Instagram but this park in the Tularosa Basin deserves every bit of tourism it receives. It is mind-blowing.

White Sands National Park

The park covers 145,762 acres and you will find fields of white sand dunes that are created from gypsum crystals there.

This is the largest dune field of its kind on the entire planet, making it one of the coolest destinations in New Mexico, without a doubt.

There are many species living in White Sands National Park, most of which are invertebrates (and 40 moth species, oddly enough).

Interestingly, this national park only gained status in December 2019 after being a National Monument for nearly a century. It is New Mexico’s most visited national park.

Some of the wonderful things to do in White Sands National Park are picnicking, photographing, camping, and going sledding on the dunes. You can also take advantage of the hiking trails there.

If you’re looking to plan a trip to White Sands, a great base is Ruidoso, a ski and outdoorsy town nearby. You will find many cool attractions in Ruidoso, making it a worthwhile stay!

Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument is one of the best places to explore in New Mexico, especially if you’re interested in history and archeology.

This location was formed a few millennia ago, and it’s unique mainly because of the extensive volcanic activity that takes place there.

When visiting, you’ll find most of the petroglyphs located in the Boca Negra Canyon area, some of which are more than 3,000 years old!

Petroglyph National Monument

They were carved in the basalt, and there are approximately 20,000 of those within the park. If you decide to do some hiking in the area, you’ll be able to see many petroglyphs on the trails.

This is easily one of the most underrated places to visit in New Mexico !

Ah-Shi-Sie-Pah (San Juan County)

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is located in San Juan County, New Mexico, between Chaco Canyon and the De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

This location incorporates impressively eroded giant rocks, multicolored badlands, weathered rock formations often referred to as hoodoos, and many other sights that are well-worthy to visit.

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area

This place has some picturesque locations, and the particles that make up the soil there are geologically composed of layers of sandstone, shale, mudstone, and bituminous coal.

The animal and plant life there is vibrant, mainly due to its geologic age and climate.

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah’s most iconic sights are the hoodoo formations that are also referred to as fairy chimneys.

If rock formations aren’t that interesting for you, exploring the wilderness study area is also an excellent option for visitors to this New Mexico landmark .

You can take a look at the dinosaur bones, petrified wood, and so much more!

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and is a must-visit if you find yourself visiting New Mexico! The city is the capital of New Mexico but is merely the 4th largest with a population of just over 84,000.

Founded in 1610, it is technically the oldest capital city in the United States and it is also the state capital with the highest elevation (7,199 feet), which is pretty impressive.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is renowned for its creative vibe and artistic history. It has even been recognized by UNESCO as one of their Creative Cities Network.

Throughout the city, you will find many art galleries and works and another notable thing about Santa Fe is that the city is known for its pueblo architecture.

Not only does Santa Fe have a thriving art scene, but it is also becoming a culinary capital in the US. Don’t miss out on the fantastic day hikes from Santa Fe – some of them are epic!

Pecos National Historical Monument

Pecos National Historical Park occupies what was once one of the state’s largest Native American villages. It was inhabited from the early 14th-century, with a population of over 2,000, until 1838. The park was extended to 6,600 acres in 1990.

Pecos National Historical Monument

The visitor center provides exhibits and information about everything available in the park.

Also, it offers an Ancestral Sites Walking Tour , which is a 1.25-mile guided hike where you can get acquainted with evidence of the Natives who once inhabited the region and still do today.


The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico is the state’s most populous and the epicenter of most things happening.

The desert city is at the southern tip of the famous Rocky Mountains and its nicknames are ‘The Duke City’ and ‘Burque’.

There are so many reasons to visit Albuquerque these days and one of the main events that lure in visitors is the International Balloon Fiesta that is the world’s largest gathering of hot-air balloons taking place in October annually.


A fantastic thing about Albuquerque is that the city is home to many amazing museums such as the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Explora, and more.

You will find several incredible craft breweries in Albuquerque and places to enjoy authentic New Mexican cuisine.

Be sure to check out some of the fantastic day trips from Albuquerque as you will find several places within a short distance of the metropolis.

Don’t miss out on all the fantastic hikes near Albuquerque too! The Sandia Mountains offer some of the best trails in the state and it will offer you views over the city.

Tse Bitai (Shiprock)

Having a height of 1500 feet, Tse Bitai , also named Shiprock , is one of the most beautiful and purely natural sites of New Mexico. It maintains great significance for the Navajo nation, and it is thought of as a sacred mountain.

Shiprock - Best places to visit in New Mexico

This spot has kept the attention of famous photographers, film producers, hikers, and just tourists, all thanks in part to its stunning views.


Located in the southeast of New Mexico is the city of Roswell… probably a city you have heard about in some way, shape, or form.

New Mexico’s 5th-largest city has just under 50,000 residents and is famous for its UFO incident.

While that ‘UFO crash’ took place about 75 miles away, the city became the site for early rocket work by Goddard, so the city always held great importance to those interested in aerospace engineering and ufology.


You can visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center when you’re in Roswell, or you can just hang out and enjoy the delicious food scene there.

But, the UFO history makes Roswell a one-of-a-kind destination in New Mexico.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park sits in the gorgeous Guadalupe Mountains that are shared with Texas. Located in southeastern NM, this national park is famous for its show cave, Carlsbad Cavern, arguably the most famous cavern in the United States.

There are two places on the National Register of Historic Places within this park that spans just under 47,000 acres – the Caverns Historic District and the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The most famous room inside of Carlsbad Cavern is called ‘The Big Room‘ and it truly is a marvel! It is 4,000 feet long and 255 feet tall at its highest point.

It is the largest chamber in North America even though I thought the caverns in my home state of Virginia were a spectacle!

Some of the other things to do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park are to take advantage of the ten hiking trails that exist there.

Rattlesnake Springs Picnic Area offers a place to take a break and check out the 300+ bird species that call the place home.

This New Mexico National Park was established in 1930. This area of New Mexico is perfect for those looking to relax for a long period of time or even those enjoying van life!

Curious about life in a van? Click here to find out more – and how you can take your life on the road here in New Mexico!

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is located near Los Alamos, New Mexico.

It covers 33,000 acres of spectacular canyon and mesa land, including some of the Southwest’s rarest and most fascinating ancient ruins.

This monument includes petroglyphs that date back 11,000 years. It is also home to volcanic landscapes and ruins that are quite prominent remains for archaeologists in the state and outside of its borders.

Bandelier National Monument

The 33,677-acre area is the former home of ancestral Pueblo people , and there are some impressive remains of the houses of Indigenous habitats that were carved from volcanic rock.

Aside from this, the park also has an educational museum, hiking trails, and campgrounds.

Bandelier is one of the best day trips from Santa Fe for history and nature lovers.

Fajada Butte

Fajada Butte rises 400 feet into the air and is situated within the Chaco Culture National Historical Park . This New Mexico attraction is yet another one of the best places to visit in New Mexico.

When visiting Fajada Butte, make sure you don’t miss the chance to see the Sun Dagger , as it’s an absolutely unique phenomenon of archaeoastronomy.

Fajada Butte

Archeological studies of Fajada Butte show that it had small cliff dwellings (even though there was no water source found), and those structures were in use during the 10th to 13th-centuries.

Also, the magnitude of this building project, with no apparent practical intent, suggests that Fajada Butte may have had some ceremonial significance for the people of Chacoan .

Four Corners Monument

The Four Corners Monument is a very popular place to visit in the US if you want to touch four states at the same time – Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all meet at this one point and it is the only place in the US where four states touch.

This is also a significant area because it is where two semi-autonomous Native governments have their boundary (Navajo Nation and Ute Mountain Tribe).

Four Corners Monument

There is not too much to see right at the Four Corners Monument but the scenery in the area is just spectacular and worthy of a visit for that alone!

The monument is located on the Colorado Plateau and is one of the best places to visit in New Mexico (and is also a recommended end stop on a California to Arizona road trip).

Abiquiu (and the Ghost Ranch)

Ghost Ranch is located nearly 60 miles away from Santa Fe. With a spectacular landscape of red and yellow cliffs, the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, covers 21,000 acres of high rock walls, sparkling colors, and vast skies.

It was home to Georgia O’Keeffe and suggests a great set of activities, suiting all tastes like hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and many others.

Ghost Ranch New Mexico

Abiquiu is a beautiful village situated close to Ghost Ranch. Having breathtaking views, there are quite a few things to learn about the Abiquiu region and a lot to discover if it ends up on your New Mexico itinerary.

Taos is a town in the north-central region of New Mexico and it originates from the Taos Language and means ‘place of red willows’.

Founded in 1795 as a trading outpost for other communities in the region, today is a popular tourist spot and is known for its Taos Pueblo that has been occupied for nearly 1,000 years!

It is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in all of the US.

Taos Pueblo in Taos

The Taos Pueblo was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and is a popular thing to do in the town and its vicinity. Another popular reason to visit Taos is its artistic community.

Lastly, people head to Taos to ski! It is the most famous place to go skiing in New Mexico and Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s tallest mountain, is located nearby.

There are four ski areas in Taos and you can also visit hot springs nearby. This is a can’t-miss destination on a US skiing road trip itinerary!

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera (or Jemez Caldera) is one of the best places to visit in New Mexico for those that love mind-blowing nature.

Located in the northern part of the state, you will find so many cool natural phenomenons around Valles Caldera such as streams, fumaroles, volcanic domes, and hot springs.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

The highest point of the caldera is Redondo Peak (11,253 feet) and there are several grass valleys in the area.

One of the most notable things about this landmark in New Mexico is that it is a beloved filming location. The Lone Ranger, The Missing, Troublemakers, and many other films and TV shows have been shot there.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument showcases cone-shaped formations resulting from volcanic activity that happened approximately 6 to 7 million years ago, leaving pumice, ash, and tuff deposits that are nearly 1,000 feet thick.

It is located just 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, and there are many signs along the way meant to lead the visitors to the geological site.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

One of the most exciting activities to get busy with there are the hiking trails at Tent Rocks . There are two segments of the National Recreation Trail and a 3rd wheelchair-accessible loop.

One of the popular trails is the Cave Loop Trail , which is an easy 1.2-mile walk. There are also parts of this trail that are accessible for guests in wheelchairs.

Blue Hole in Santa Rosa

The naturally bell-shaped pool named the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico is 80 feet deep, and it’s known for its stunning crystal clear water and constant temperature of 61 degrees.

As a result of this, the Blue Hole is considered to be the diving capital of the southwest .

There are a few historical sites worth visiting in the area, like Bless Me Ultima Park, Guadalupe Country Courthouse, Puerto de Luna, etc.

Blue Hole in Santa Rosa

Notably, this New Mexico destination’s main activities are created around water . The most famous ones are snorkeling, diving, or jumping off from different heights.

So, in the event that you love water and pools, don’t miss your chance and go to the Black Hole at least once in your lifetime.

And Santa Rosa is also one of the best small towns in New Mexico to add to your itinerary!

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

This place is truly spectacular. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is situated in the northwestern part of New Mexico and is renowned for its high concentration of pueblos.

It has the most iconic collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico and between 950-1150 AD, Chaco Canyon actually was the cultural center for Ancestral Puebloans.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

These sites are considered sacred by the Hopi and Pueblo people and this is truly one of the most underrated places to visit in New Mexico… and the entire United States.

Brazos Cliffs (and Chama River Valley)

Rising over 2,000 feet above the Chama River, this is one of the oldest mountain ranges found in New Mexico.

Also created mostly by volcanic activity, Brazos Cliffs rises to 11,405 feet and attracts many enthusiastic rock climbers and hikers.

The highest point of the range is Grouse Mesa ; however, it’s important to note that the Brazos Cliffs are private property, making the area access restricted without permission.

Chama River Valley in New Mexico

The cliffs incorporate three main parts, from west to east and they are the main Brazos Cliffs, the Brazos Box Canyon, and the Encinado Wedge.

Keep in mind that the best time to visit is the golden sunset hour when the lighting is just stunning!

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Preserve

Located in the southern part of New Mexico, Bosque del Apache Wildlife Preserve welcomes guests and impresses them with tens of thousands of birds!

The birds you can find there include sandy cranes, Arctic geese, and various kinds of ducks that gather at the national wildlife preserve every fall and stay there until the end of the winter.

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Preserve

It’s a great spot for photographers who can get a beautiful shot while the birds are taking off to fly. The reserve is open all year round, and visitors are free to enjoy walks or have a nice time while having a picnic.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

At the end of the 1200s, the Mogollon Community inhabitants agreed to establish the Gila Cliff Dwellings as a safe place and called it home.

They had the rooms designed, pottery made, and raised children in the cliff homes for around 20 years. However, then the Mogollon moved on, leaving the walls as evidence of the past.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is situated north of the old mining town of Silver City . There are 42 rooms in six caves, constructed on the cliff face by the Mogollon Natives around 1300.

By visiting the Gila Cliff Dwellings, tourists can learn more about the Mogollon culture and the area’s natural history (everything is available in the museum visitor center).

Bisti Badlands

The Bisti Badlands are on the list of New Mexico’s wonders. They are part of the 38,305-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and are located in the Four Corners area of the state.

It will take less than an hour to get there from Farmington, NM, or 3 hours from Albuquerque.

This area was once a coastal swamp of an inland sea and was the home to many types of trees, reptiles, dinosaurs, and primitive mammals. Nowadays, it’s a preserved record of the most unique scenery views in the Four Corners region.

There is an opportunity for visitors to camp there if wanting to stick around for a few days.

Bisti Badlands

Being located 36 miles from the heart of Farmington, tourists coming to the New Mexico sight can discover the rarest landscapes found in the Bisti Badlands and will definitely leave the location feeling extremely inspired and longing for a trip back!

There are so many places to visit in New Mexico that you should consider and the state is best seen by taking a road trip there!

What are the best places to visit in New Mexico, in your opinion?

Please leave a comment below if you have any suggestions!

Additional New Mexico resources:

Pin this Guide to Places in New Mexico

Are you planning a trip to the southwest and looking for the best places to visit in New Mexico? From Taos to White Sands. these are the best destinations in NM! | Visit New Mexico | Destinations in New Mexico | Places in New Mexico | National Parks New Mexico | Southwest USA | Albuquerque | Taos | Chaco Canyon | Carlsbad Caverns | Things to see in New Mexico | Things to do in New Mexico | Travel to New Mexico | New Mexico photography | Santa Fe | Roswell

3 thoughts on “ 22 Jaw-Dropping Places to Visit in New Mexico (+ Map) ”

I think El Morro. on the way to Gallup is a wonderful place to visit. Very Historic.

I don’t think Chimayo was left off on purpose. This list is of beatiful places to visit in NM, not necessarily the top 22. Megan & Arim are travel bloggers. There sure is a whole lot to see in this beautiful state.

How can you not mention El Santuario de Chimayo? A very, very special place.

41 Best Things To Do & Places To Visit In New Mexico

fun things to do in New Mexico

With more than 35 million visitors per year, New Mexico is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States.

It has a little bit of everything, so whether you’re interested in sweeping desert landscapes or crowded marketplaces in lively tourist towns, you can have the experience of a lifetime here.

Here are just a few of the coolest things to do in New Mexico!

Things To Do In New Mexico

1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Doug Meek / Shutterstock

Best known for its twisting, winding passages of underground caves, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the most fun things to do in New Mexico.

The caves are filled with dark tunnels that stretch for miles.

You can explore on your own or take a ranger-led tour through bat holes, mud pits, calcite formations, limestone chambers and outlandish displays of stalactites.

If you visit at the right time of the year, you can even watch bat migrations with thousands and thousands of the critters taking flight in the night sky at the same moment.

Above ground, you can go hiking, biking or driving through the beautiful scenery of New Mexico.

The most challenging trails have steep climbs through rocky terrain; the most relaxing spots have picnic areas surrounded by flowers and fresh springs.

There’s a reason why Carlsbad Caverns National Park always tops the list of must see attractions in New Mexico.

With so many activities to choose from, you could easily spend your entire vacation here!

Address: 727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, United States

2. International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center

Roswell, New Mexico is one of the country’s most popular tourist spots for aliens, spaceships and other crazy things from the skies above.

Not only was it ground zero for the infamous Roswell UFO Incident of 1947, but it’s also been used as a shooting location for everything from Roswell to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center is a fun and kitschy place that celebrates the unique calling card of the city.

There are displays for alien dissections and meteorites stuck in the sand; there are little green men on mugs, posters and t-shirts.

For people who are more serious about their UFOs, you’ll have fun stuff to do, too.

The museum is pretty much the best place on Earth for records, archives, photos, videos, artifacts and eyewitness accounts of unexplained phenomenon in the night sky.

Some tales have been debunked; others are ongoing mysteries.

If you’re looking for unique vacation ideas in New Mexico, consider the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

It’s so cool that you could even say it’s… out of this world.

Address: 114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203, United States

3. White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

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What colors come to mind when you think about New Mexico?

Since it’s a desert state, most people would probably answer with variations of brown, red, orange and beige.

However, one of the biggest points of interest in the state is actually white: the White Sands National Monument.

Comprised of a rare form of white gypsum sand, this stunning landscape stretches both tall and wide.

It covers about 275 miles in total, and since the wind is constantly shifting it, dunes can range from 6 – 60 feet high.

Trees and bushes are dotted here and there.

Wildlife includes everything from small, quick-moving scorpions to gigantic horned antelopes.

There were dire wolves and saber-toothed cats once upon a time, and their fossils are still being uncovered today.

Only part of the White Sands National Monument is open to tourists for conservation reasons, but you’ll have plenty to things to see and do while you’re there.

You can walk, hike, backpack, horseback ride and even camp on the sands under the stars.

You should definitely give it a visit if you’re looking for the best things to do in New Mexico!

Address: U.S. Route 70, Alamogordo, NM 88310, United States

4. Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Dennis W Donohue / Shutterstock

If you’ve always wanted to take a scenic train ride through rolling hills and gentle, mist-filled mountains, hop aboard the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Its track stretches from New Mexico to Colorado, so not only will you enjoy sweeping views of some of the best, most beautiful places in the southwest, but you’ll also be able to utilize it for the next leg of your cross-country trip!

The train itself is cute and cozy.

It’s one of the oldest steam locomotives in the world, and it runs along a “heritage” railroad with lots of vintage charm.

Food and drink is sold from concession carts.

VIP coaches are available for high rollers who want to ride in luxury, but there are also discount coaches for backpackers and budgeters.

Additionally, there are several glass gondolas that serve as observation decks for travelers of every ticket type.

For amazing views of New Mexico, grab your bags and stow away on the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway.

It offers a cool and unusual method of travel, and it’ll make for some incredible photos for your vacation scrapbook!

Address: 500 Terrace Ave, Chama, NM 87520, United States

5. High Noon Restaurant and Saloon

High Noon Restaurant & Saloon

High Noon Restaurant & Saloon

The corn is served with red peppers.

The crispy onions are piled high on the plate with salsa and guacamole.

The meat comes from wild game that’s been seasoned and sizzled to perfection.

Welcome to the cuisine of New Mexico!

The High Noon Restaurant and Saloon isn’t the only restaurant within the state that specializes in southwestern staples, but it’s one of the best.

It offers a wide range of dishes with Spanish, Mexican and Native American influences, and they’re as diverse as they’re delicious.

Another fun thing about the restaurant is that it embraces an Old West theme.

From the vine-covered walls to the statues of old Catholic saints posed along the ledges and inset alcoves, it’ll give you a taste of turn-of-the-century New Mexico as you chow down.

Is your stomach rumbling during your vacation?

Stop by the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon.

Your belt might not fit afterwards, but your spurs will be right at home.

Address: 425 San Felipe St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

6. TinkerTown


If you’re looking for places of interest in New Mexico that aren’t on your everyday travel guide, you’ll want to swing by the little-known city of Sandia Park and visit TinkerTown.

Built by a single man over the course of four decades, TinkerTown is part museum and part art installation.

Its walls are made of glass bottles; its hedges are guarded by gnomes, totem poles and taxidermy animals.

Wooden wheels act like wind catchers whenever a breeze floats by.

Every shelf is crowded with bits and baubles, and some spill onto the floor below, creating a maze-like labyrinth for visitors to pick their way through.

Would it surprise you to learn that the builder used to design sets for the circus?

TinkerTown is one of the more unusual places to go in New Mexico, but if you’re a fan of the strange and funky, it’ll certainly make for some interesting photos to take back home.

You can also tell your friends that you visited a genuine roadside attraction!

Address: 121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM 87047, United States

7. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

Located in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science offers a fun and interactive experience that takes everything you thought you knew about museums and throws it out of the window.

For starters, there are no dry and boring exhibits.

If the life-sized dinosaur skeletons don’t excite you, try the fossil displays, volcano replicas, gemstone collections or paper mache bird models.

Other cool places in the museum include a “learning garden” where you can play in the dirt and a “hallway of stars” where the constellations are mapped on long, glowing walls.

For animal lovers, there are places where you can touch and feed wildlife.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is a must do when you’re near Albuquerque.

It offers family-friendly fun for visitors of all ages, and it’ll make you rethink what it means to visit a museum!

Address: 1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

8. Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument

Dating back to 1150 CE, the Bandelier National Monument is another broad, beautiful landscape that showcases New Mexico’s rugged natural wilderness.

It’s also one of the best places to see historical relics from the ancestral Pueblo tribes that lived, hunted and built structures in the area for thousands of years.

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, including hiking and camping.

An amphitheater hosts outdoor concerts; a museum offers tours, classes and nature walks.

There are also ample opportunities for sightseeing on high ridges and within rocky caverns.

If you’re interested in Native American history, check out the masonry dwellings with their petroglyphs etched into the walls.

You’ll never feel closer to the Pueblo people than when you’re standing on the same stones and touching the same carvings.

Consider a trip to Bandelier National Monument if you’re looking for fun things to do in New Mexico that will get you out of the hotel and into the fresh air.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous destination, and it has cultural and historical value to boot.

Address: 15 Entrance Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544, United States

9. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

With its beauty and history, Albuquerque is one of the best vacation spots in the state, and it’s definitely worth sticking around for awhile and checking out everything that the city has to offer.

If you only have time for one event, however, you won’t want to miss the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Held every fall, it’s a large, lively gathering for hot air balloon enthusiasts, and events include everything from coordinated shows to amateur races and showmanship competitions.

Aside from the balloons, you can enjoy all kinds of food, drink, music, games and crafts.

There are even educational moments to be had when you visit stalls or watch performances dedicated to the state’s indigenous populations.

Drawing almost a million visitors every day, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the top things to do in New Mexico.

If you enjoy cheap eats, colorful balloons, festive atmospheres and unique travel ideas, you’ll definitely want to make some time in your schedule this October!

Address: 4401 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States

10. Trinity Atomic Bomb Site

Trinity Atomic Bomb Site

The Trinity Atomic Bomb Site offers a rare and fleeting glimpse into a darker part of New Mexico’s history.

It’s only open to the public once per year, so you’ll have to time your trip correctly if you want to see it, but it’s worth the effort.

As you might have guessed, the Trinity Atomic Bomb Site is the location of a nuclear test performed by the U.S. government in 1945.

In fact, it was the very first nuclear test.

New Mexico would go on to become one of their favorite places for these early, initial experiments since the deserts were so remote.

All of this and more is explained on the guided tour of the bomb site.

You’ll walk the grounds, marvel at the remnants of the atomic blast and have the chance to view other tools and artifacts from the time period.

Some things to see in New Mexico aren’t pretty.

However, they’re vitally important to remember, and they might be quite interesting to history buffs.

Try to catch a tour of the Trinity Atomic Bomb Site if you’ll be in the state at the right time.

Address: Albuquerque, NM, United States

11. Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley

Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

Though it’s best known for its dry, rugged deserts, there are fun places to visit in New Mexico every season of the year, and the winter belongs to the Taos Ski Valley.

Nestled deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Taos Ski Valley offers gleaming white slopes for skiing, snowboarding and more.

There are trails for every skill level, and its lift rises to record-breaking heights of almost 12,500 feet.

When you’re done with the outdoors, a cozy little village has everything from sauna rooms to gourmet restaurants with open fireplaces and wood tables.

There are also places for shopping, working out, getting a massage or grabbing a doughnut and a cup of coffee on a cold morning.

You can visit Taos Ski Valley at other times of the year, too.

There’s hiking, biking, fishing, rafting and rock climbing in the summer; there’s horseback riding and llama trekking in the fall.

You can even arrange for a hot air balloon ride over the mountains!

New Mexico has a lot more to offer than just deserts, so if you’re wondering what to do after you’ve already seen the tumbleweeds, book a room at the Taos Ski Valley this weekend.

Its views really are the best in the state.

Address: 116 Sutton Pl, Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525, United States

12. Eldora Craft Chocolate

Eldora Chocolate

Who needs Willy Wonka when you have Eldora Craft Chocolate?

Its factory will take you behind the scenes of chocolate creation, and its shop will offer rows upon rows of sweet, smooth and sugary treats.

The facility is what’s known as a “bean to bar” location.

This means that it receives raw, unprocessed cocoa beans and turns them into decadent desserts with the power of their own machines.

Of course, imagination plays a role as well.

Eldora is known for its fun, colorful confections that include everything from “Kabow” energy bars to adults-only truffles that have been infused with various types of alcohol.

There are also nibs, drops, crunchers, creamers and chocolate balls as far as the eye can see.

For the yummiest of New Mexico attractions, take a trip to Eldora Craft Chocolate.

Your waistline will probably regret it, but your taste buds will rejoice!

Address: 8114 Edith Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States

13. House of Eternal Return

House of Eternal Return

The House of Eternal Return is one of the most interesting places in New Mexico.

Combining elements of an escape room, scavenger hunt, haunted house and modern art gallery, it’s a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a few hours when you’re in Santa Fe.

The “premise” of the experience is that something unusual happened to the family that once lived in the house, and it’s your job to explore it and figure out their story.

It sounds simple, but since the house is a complex, eye-dazzling blend of art and architecture, it’s much harder than it sounds.

For example, one room has inter-dimensional portals with lasers and other space-age features.

One room has an Old West theme where a miniature ranch is powered by hamsters.

Other rooms boast creepy monsters, pastel plushies, luminescent caves, neon paintings, dogs speaking in prose and more.

You never know what you’re going to get when you round the next corner at the House of Eternal Return.

If you’re wondering what to do in Santa Fe after you’ve finished with the usual tourist traps, however, this is a great place to go off the beaten path!

Address: 1352 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe, NM 87507, United States

14. New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico might be a desert, but it has its rainy days like anywhere else, and you won’t want to let them ruin your vacation.

One way to avoid the storms is to dash inside the New Mexico Museum of Art.

With more than 20,000 paintings, this museum is a great place to get a little culture when you’re in the southwest.

Famous artists include Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Gustave Baumann and Maria Martinez.

The museum is also home to a large library filled with books, periodicals and newspaper clippings.

You can research the topics from the exhibitions or even learn more about the museum itself.

An auditorium can seat up to 400 people for special events, so be sure to check the schedule for lectures and classical music performances.

Are you planning rainy day contingencies for a future trip?

Or maybe you’re already in New Mexico, and you’re scrolling through ideas and suggestions for where to visit when the weather is bad.

Whatever your reasons for needing relief from the downpour, the New Mexico Museum of Art will be warm, dry and thoroughly entertaining.

Address: 107 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

15. ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

Covering more than 32 acres, the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden offers a mesmerizing collection of plant and animal life.

It isn’t just a rinky-dink greenhouse; it’s an entire biosphere filled with specimens from all around the world.

For example, one wing of the conservatory houses plants from tropical climates in Africa and South America.

Another wing has succulents that can thrive in deserts and other dry, arid landscapes in the Middle East.

New Mexico is represented as well, so if you want to see local flora and fauna, check out the glass greenhouses or butterfly pavilions.

New Mexico attractions come in all shapes and sizes.

In the case of the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, there are many shapes and sizes.

From small, delicate flowers to gigantic trees looming over rocks and ponds, it’s a wondrous display of the power of nature, and it’s easily one of the best things to do in New Mexico.

Address: 2601 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States

16. Wildlife West Nature Park

Wildlife West Nature Park

The Wildlife West Nature Park isn’t the largest or flashiest zoo in New Mexico.

In fact, it isn’t a zoo at all.

It houses nothing but “non-releasable” animals that have been given sanctuary at the park, so it’s a place of conservation just as much as recreation.

Another fun feature of the park is that its habitats have been constructed to be as realistic as possible.

When you look at the wolves in the grass or the foxes in their holes, you’re looking at a top grade mimicry of their natural environments.

There are other activities to enjoy at the park as well.

An outdoor amphitheater is often used for musical performances, and the wide open fields have hosted everything from the Fall Harvest Festival to the New Mexico Wind Festival.

Long story short, if you’re wondering what to see in New Mexico as an animal lover, the Wildlife West Nature Park should be at the top of your list.

You’ll have a great time with the bears and the birds, and you’ll be supporting a good cause to boot.

Address: 87 N Frontage Rd, Edgewood, NM 87015, United States

17. Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway

Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway

Starting in the desert and ending in the mountains, the Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway offers some of the best sites to see in New Mexico.

It’s one of many scenic drives that wind around the rugged wilderness of the state, but like its name implies, it avoids the big cities and instead showcases the backcountry.

Do you like exploring caves and caverns?

You’ll pass right by Lechugilla Cave, one of the most popular spelunking destinations in New Mexico.

Have you always wanted to visit a waterfall?

You can make a pit stop at Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area, home to an exquisite 200-foot waterfall.

Other local attractions include everything from campgrounds to wildlife observational areas.

The highway goes on for a long time, and you’ll pass all kinds of things that might pique your interest enough to pull over.

If you have a desire to see New Mexico and a little extra gas to spare, go for a drive along the Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway.

You can have the experience of a lifetime without even leaving your car.

18. Origami in the Garden

Origami in the Garden

Origami in the Garden

Tucked off a busy highway, the Origami in the Garden is a hidden gem of New Mexico.

It’s easy to speed right by it when you’re driving to other, better-known sites, but if you do, you’ll be missing out on an awesomely obscure attraction.

What is Origami in the Garden?

Simply put, it’s a series of gigantic metal sculptures that are designed to look like origami.

There’s a classically folded crane; there’s a field of running, multicolored horses; there’s even a collection of lost objects and common household goods.

Artistically speaking, you could say that Origami in the Garden juxtaposes the frailty of traditional paper origami with the strength of stainless steel sculptures.

Practically speaking, you could say that it’s just a fun and wacky place to visit.

The Origami in the Garden is a one-of-a-kind destination in New Mexico.

You won’t find it listed as one of the famous places of the state, but what it lacks in recognition it makes up for in singularity.

Where else in the world are you going to find a pair of gigantic origami scissors cutting into an equally huge ball of crumbled origami paper?

Take advantage of this sightseeing opportunity while you can!

Address: 3453 NM-14, Los Cerrillos, NM 87010, United States

19. Bisti Badlands

Bisti Badlands

Dmitry Pichugin / Shutterstock

Also known as the “De-Na-Zin Wilderness,” the Bisti Badlands are named after the Navajo word for “standing crane” in honor of the petrogylphs that are carved into the rock.

They’re absolutely beautiful formations, especially at the hours of sunrise and sunset, and they’re far enough from nearby cities that they have a special, magical quality that’s untouched by modern civilization.

Rocks are colored in various hues of red, white, sandstone and beige.

Tall, thin spires form natural shapes while the ruins of man-made statues beg the question of what they originally depicted.

Did the large lion shape come from a sphinx?

Are the small, dented stones the fossilized remains of small creatures?

One thing to note about the area is that local wildlife is abundant, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for things like rattlesnakes, scorpions and coyotes.

It’s also a very remote landscape without any amenities, so go to the bathroom and charge your cellphone before you get there.

If you don’t mind roughing it, however, or if you’re just looking for New Mexico attractions that are off the beaten path, you’re going to love the beautiful mystique of the Bisti Badlands.

Address: County Road 7297, Bloomfield, NM 87413, United States

20. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to take a genuine mud bath?

At the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, you don’t have to wonder anymore!

Offering a variety of spa and salon treatments, Ojo Caliente combines the luxury of a high-class resort with the low prices of a day on the town.

You don’t have to be a guest to partake in their services; you just have to be willing to let go of your worries and stresses as you soak in an aromatherapy bath or have your muscles kneaded by a professional masseuse.

Make sure to check out the hot springs while you’re visting.

They’re the oldest all-natural hot springs in New Mexico, and you haven’t lived until you’ve crossed “soak in outdoor hot springs” off your bucket.

The Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is a top destination for self-pampering in New Mexico.

Whether you’re spoiling yourself as a solo traveler or booking a honeymoon experience for two, it’s sure to be a muddy-but-memorable experience of your time in the southwest.

Address: 50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM 87549, United States

21. Museum of International Folk Art (Girard Wing)

Museum of International Folk Art

Museum of International Folk Art

Do you like toys?

How much do you like toys?

Girard Wing is a mind-blowing collection of more than 100,000 toys from around the world.

Just about every country that you can imagine is here, so you’ll get to see everything from tiny handmade Russian dolls to elaborate model plane kits from Germany.

Not everything is available to view at the same time.

Girard Wing boasts such a crazy collection that only a small portion of dolls, games, puzzles, figurines and miniatures can be displayed at once.

Different toys have different days in the limelight.

If you’re wondering where to go in New Mexico as a lover of the cool and the unique, Girard Wing will be more than just a tourist attraction.

It’ll be an absolute mecca for your inner child.

As soon as you walk through the front door and are confronted by wall-to-wall toys, you’ll realize that you never really grew up at all.

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Address: 706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505, United States

22. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliff” in the Pueblo language, so you can probably guess what these cliffs look like.

However, there’s where your guessing will end.

The cliffs defy expectations in every other way.

For starters, they’re shaped like cones.

How many times have you seen rounded white cone cliffs?

They owe their unique geology to the eruptions of a nearby volcano more than six million years ago.

The cliffs are also unusual in the sense that you can do more than just climb them.

Thanks to their “slot” canyons, you can walk between narrow white walls and explore various crevices and summits.

Some are marked by trails; others are not.

If you’re thinking about what to see during a trip to New Mexico, you might want to make time for the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

They’re so remarkable that they have to be seen to be believed.

Address: 0 NM-22, Cochiti Pueblo, NM 87072, United States

23. Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument

If you’re a fan of petroglyphs, it doesn’t get better than the Petroglyph National Monument.

Not only does it offer a look into the lives and times of New Mexico’s indigenous tribes, but it’s also one of the largest collections of petroglyphs in the whole of North America.

You can find literally thousands of drawings, etchings and carvings here.

Most are easily viewed from walking and hiking trails, but some will require more involved treks into caverns and volcanic canyons.

The petroglyphs themselves range from simple depictions of animals and humans to elaborate stories told in visual form.

They’re from a combined mix of indigenous Native American tribes and early Spanish hunters and gatherers.

Are you interested in the history of New Mexico?

Do you love old, one-of-a-kind artwork?

Maybe you’re just looking for unique places to visit during an adventurous vacation.

The Petroglyph National Monument can tick all of these boxes and then some, so it’s definitely something to consider for your bucket list!

Address: Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States

24. Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array

Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array

Sarmiento Photography / Shutterstock

Part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Very Large Array (VLA) is a collection of gigantic radio telescopes in the desert plains of New Mexico.

Thanks to their remote location, they’re able to pick up great readings, and they rest under dazzling night skies that are unaffected by city lights or pollution.

Visitors to the VLA can take tours to see all of the towers and telescopes.

Self-guided tours can be taken any day of the week while guided and behind-the-scenes tours are available on the weekends.

A visitor center is also available on-site, and it houses a small museum and movie theater for science-related films and documentaries.

Additionally, there’s a gift shop for souvenirs, so you can stock up on all of the “I Heart Space” t-shirts that you’ll ever need.

Radio telescopes might not be the first thing that you think about when planning a vacation to New Mexico, but if you’re wondering what to do there as a space nerd, the VLA can send you to the moon and back.

Schedule a trip this weekend to enjoy an up-close look at an astronomical site!

Address: Socorro, NM 87825, United States

25. Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

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Explorers, this one is for you.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) is such a long and arduous path that it stretches across five different states!

If you can complete the whole thing, you’ll have traveled through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

The total distance of the CDT is 3,100 miles, and it’ll be up to you to decide your travel methods.

Some people like to challenge themselves by hiking and biking large portions of it; others prefer to take long, leisurely drives through beautiful scenery.

The best activities in New Mexico don’t always stop in New Mexico.

If you’re looking for crazy things to do while you’re away from home, this is one of those tourist attractions that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

26. Billy the Kid Museum

Billy The Kid Museum

Billy The Kid Museum

Billy the Kid was one of the most famous outlaws in the Old West, and this museum celebrates his legacy at the exact spot where he died.

He was just 21 years old at the time.

The museum is operated out of a small, modest building with wooden wheels and hay bales outside.

Indoors, there are cozy display shelves that showcase everything from Billy’s saddle spurs to the actual rifle that he used during his gun-slinging days, and the walls are covered with sepia-toned photos, paintings, portraits and wanted posters.

The owners are an elderly couple named Don and Lula Sweet, and despite being New Mexico natives, they’re known for offering southern-style hospitality to anyone who wanders through their doors.

They’ll happily talk to you for hours about anything that you want to know.

If you’re looking for unique places to visit in New Mexico, consider the spot where a dusty western shootout claimed the life of Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881.

It’s a legendary moment in history, and it makes for a must do vacation destination, too.

Address: 1435 Sumner Ave, Fort Sumner, NM 88119, United States

27. Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

You don’t have to be religious.

Built in 1869, its adobe towers and rose windows have welcomed thousands of visitors over the years, and its long history stands as a testament to its power as one of New Mexico’s oldest tourist attractions.

The architecture is some of the best in the state.

There are stained glass windows; there are bronze doors and yellow limestone arches.

Functional rooms include a chapel, sanctuary, baptismal font and even a crypt.

Regular masses are held at the basilica for the religious.

For the secular, there are other activities like tours, choir concerts, charity drives and holiday events.

Maybe you’re interested in the culture and history of New Mexico.

Maybe you’re just looking for a place to worship while on vacation.

No matter what your reasons for visiting the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, it’s a must see destination when you’re in Santa Fe.

Address: 131 Cathedral Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

28. Red River Ski and Summer Area

Red River Ski & Summer Area

Red River Ski & Summer Area

Do you like death-defying destinations?

The Red River Ski and Summer Area is one of the best things to do in New Mexico for adventure seekers.

Summer visitors can go hiking, biking, boating, climbing and ziplining through the trees.

A vertical chair lift will take you to heights of 1,600 feet or more, and once you’re at the summit, you can enjoy everything from mini disc golf to live bands on the Music on Top deck.

Winter visitors will be colder, but they’ll have no shortage of fun activities.

The main draw of the resort is skiing, but there are also snowboarding and snow tubing areas, and a quaint little village will have hot cocoa by a fire when you’re done.

Thousands of people flock to the Red River Ski and Summer Area every year.

It’s one of the most popular vacation spots in New Mexico.

Listen to the wisdom of the crowd and book your ticket today!

Address: 400 Pioneer Rd, Red River, NM 87558, United States

29. Cafe Pasqual’s

Cafe Pasqual

You might be familiar with the name San Pasqual.

He’s the patron saint of cooks and kitchens!

He definitely lends a helping hand to his namesake, Cafe Pasqual’s, a fusion restaurant located in the heart of Santa Fe.

As befitting the “fusion” theme, the menu offers a diverse range of dishes with Mexican, Mediterranean and Asian influences.

It also celebrates art and culture; the entire second floor doubles as a gallery, so when you’re finished eating, you can wander upstairs and look at paintings and portraits from local artists in New Mexico.

Cafe Pasqual’s offers more than just a dining experience.

Between its food, art and overall atmosphere, it’s one of the best places to visit in New Mexico for an all-around good time.

Address: 121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

30. Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak

Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

Wheeler Peak is the highest point of elevation in New Mexico.

It rises to a staggering 13,167 feet!

It offers incredible views of the cliffs, rivers and forests below, so if you’re the type of person to see a tall, windy mountain and immediately think I want to climb that, Wheeler Peak might be a worthy challenge for you.

You don’t have to be a thrill seeker to enjoy the sights, however.

There are numerous paths on the mountain for hikers and trekkers of all skill levels, and there are recreational areas for camping, fishing and picnicking as well.

Wildlife lovers will have an extra special time at Wheeler Peak since it’s home to all kinds of fun animals, including marmots, pikas, golden eagles, bighorn sheep and rocky mountain elk.

If you’re looking for beautiful tourist sites in New Mexico, you won’t want to miss Wheeler Peak.

Even if you aren’t able or willing to climb to the very top, there are plenty of sights to enjoy along the way!

Address: Taos County, NM, United States

31. Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument

Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock

The Four Corners Monument is the only place in the United States where four states touch a single boundary.

In this case, it’s Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, and they all come together in a small circle at the center of a plaza.

In terms of tourist attractions, there isn’t a lot to do at the circle itself, but the surrounding area has plenty of entertainment.

There are buskers and musicians; there are street food trucks and mom-and-pop gift shops.

Further beyond, there are stores, restaurants, malls, movie theaters and other hot spots for vacationers.

Interestingly, the Four Corners Monument is also on the boundary of two Native American communities: the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation.

If you’re interested in learning more about these cultures, you’ll be in a prime location to do so.

All things considered, the Four Corners Monument is definitely one of the major points of interest in New Mexico.

Its experience is so unique that you literally can’t get it anywhere else in the US!

Address: 597 NM-597, Teec Nos Pos, AZ 86514, United States

32. Cliff’s Amusement Park


Cliff’s Amusement Park

No one knows, but he built a great amusement park.

It’s basically an all-ages playground for the residents of New Mexico, and you can get in on the fun when you buy your own ticket.

There are multiple roller coasters for the adventurers out there, including the “New Mexico Rattler,” an old-fashioned wooden coaster that’s been ranked one of the best in the world.

Other rides range from water slides to fireballs to tilt-a-whirls.

When you’re done losing your lunch, you can replace it with great carnival-style food and drink, or you can try your luck at one of the many game booths.

There are both classics and new, contemporary games.

If you’re thinking about what to visit with kids when you’re in New Mexico, Cliff’s Amusement Park is a must.

It has a vintage charm that will appeal to the adults and a fun, energetic atmosphere that will keep the kids hopping.

The whole family can enjoy a day here!

Address: 4800 Osuna Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, United States

33. Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch

Adam Springer / Shutterstock

New Mexico is one of the most beautiful states to visit, and once you’re at Ghost Ranch, you’ll understand why.

Rocky red canyons tower over the land.

Flat-topped mesas are dotted with ferns, bushes, succulents and other desert plants.

Dramatic sunsets streak over jagged cliffs to form horizons that go on for miles and miles.

Ghost Ranch is so gorgeous that you’ve probably seen it before even if you’ve never stepped foot in New Mexico.

It’s been used in countless Hollywood films like Wyatt Earp, Lone Ranger and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

It has a very “cowboy feeling.”

Make time for Ghost Ranch if you’re wondering what to do while in New Mexico.

It’ll offer a feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul, especially if you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

Address: 280 Private Drive 1708 Highway, US-84, Abiquiu, NM 87510, United States

34. Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo

The Taos Pueblo is a real blast from the past.

Not only does it date back to 1000 – 1450 A.D., but there are still around 150 residents living full-time within its clay brick walls and straw-supported roofs.

Visitors are free to wander within the community or sign up for a tour with a local guide.

There’s a lot of cool sightseeing to be done in regards to both the architecture and the general way of life.

For example, there’s no running water or electricity, and the residents support themselves with what they can grow, make, barter and sell, the same thing that they’ve been doing for thousands of years.

Other things to do can be found in the nearby city of Taos.

In addition to the usual shops and restaurants, there are also a number of museums, plazas, old churches and other places of interest.

The Taos Pueblo is an example of how Native American culture continues to thrive in New Mexico.

As a bonus, your patronage will provide direct support to a precious historical community.

Why wouldn’t you drop by for a visit?

35. New Mexico State Capitol

New Mexico State Capitol

Zack Frank / Shutterstock

If you’re interested in New Mexico, the state capitol is a great place to visit.

It’ll give you a glimpse of the inner workings of local government, and it’ll impart real historical and cultural knowledge that will deepen your appreciation for all of the tourist attractions that you’ll see later.

If you’re not interested in New Mexico, the state capitol is still a great place to visit.

It houses all kinds of artwork and tribal artifacts, and it boasts utterly unique architecture that distinguishes itself from any other government building in the country: It’s round!

The locals call it “the Roundhouse” for this very reason.

Consider a trip to the New Mexico State Capitol if you’re looking for interesting places to go in the state.

It might not be a big, flashy destination, but it’ll still offer a worthwhile experience to have.

Address: 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501, United States

36. Western Playland

Western Playland

The Tsunami. The Scrambler. Pharaoh’s Fury. The Hurricane.

These are just a few of the rides that you can find at Western Playland, an amusement park located in southern New Mexico.

It’s a relatively small park, but it still manages to pack a big punch.

If you like thrills and chills, you can test your mettle on everything from roller coasters to vertical drop rides.

If you like winning prizes, you can play carnival games until you disappear under a mountain of stuffed tigers.

Concession options range from food stall hot dogs to fine dining at the park’s sit-down restaurant.

You can also buy plenty of souvenirs at the gift shop!

You don’t have to visit somewhere like Six Flags to have a good time in New Mexico.

Amusement parks like Western Playland are just as good, and since they’re smaller, less crowded and locally owned, they’re probably better than the big-name brands anyway.

Address: 1249 Futurity Dr, Sunland Park, NM 88063, United States

37. Living Desert State Park

Living Desert State Park

Zack Frank / Shutterstock

Have you ever seen a roadrunner outside of a cartoon?

At the Living Desert State Park, you can cross this unique item off your bucket list.

Formerly known as the Living Desert Zoological and Botanical State Park, this wilderness area is home to both plants and animals that are native to New Mexico.

Creatures include bobcats, prairie dogs, golden eagles and Gila monsters; flowers and trees include prickly pears, barrel cacti and all kinds of acacia and agave.

Activities at the park will depend on the season.

Depending on when you go, you can catch everything from summertime nature walks to wintertime animal feedings.

You can also take self-guided tours at any time of the year to enjoy the arroyos and sand dunes.

Get away from it all with a trip to the Living Desert State Park.

It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also removed enough from the bustle of big cities that you can take a deep breath, smile at a cougar and just enjoy a remote wilderness area for awhile.

Address: 1504 Miehls Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220, United States

38. Tiwa Kitchen

Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant

Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant

Did you know that many Native Americans are lactose intolerant?

It’s something that dates back centuries among their people, so much so that they actually created their own version of milk: blue corn mush.

Despite the “mush” part of its name, blue corn mush is actually quite delicious.

It’s made by mixing blue-tinted maize with water and the burned ashes of a juniper tree.

The combined results aren’t unlike cream of wheat, and in addition to their cool, unique color, they’re also packed with calcium and other necessary nutrients that the lactose intolerant can’t get from milk.

This brings us to Tiwa Kitchen.

Run by a local Native American couple, it offers many staple foods of their culture, including blue corn mush.

You can also try things like bison meat and blue corn fry bread.

The dessert menu is even better than the regular menu, but we’ll leave that as a surprise!

Broaden your horizons with a trip to Tiwa Kitchen.

It’s obscure enough that you might not find it listed among the usual New Mexico attractions, but it’s worth a side trip.

Address: 328 Hwy to Town of Taos, Taos, NM 87571, United States

39. Fiestas de Santa Fe

Fiestas de Santa Fe

Are you ready to party?

Throw on a sombrero and toss back a margarita with the Fiestas de Santa Fe!

Held every year in the fall, the Fiestas de Santa Fe is a city-wide event that incorporates food, drink, art, dance, theater and more.

It’s the kind of celebration where mariachi fiddle right in the streets as performers put on elaborate reenactments of important parts of New Mexico’s past.

There’s a somber side to the festival, too, as people come together to pray or to burn effigies to ward off suffering.

These might be interesting things to see if you want to witness some local flavor while you’re in New Mexico.

All things considered, however, the Fiestas de Santa Fe is a lively event where the beer is always flowing and the crowds are always cheering.

If you’ll be traveling through New Mexico during the fall, you won’t want to miss it!

40. Blue Hole

Blue Hole

The Blue Hole is one of the best diving destinations in the United States.

It’s also one of the most beautiful!

Located a few miles outside of Santa Rosa, the Blue Hole is a large, circular lake with water so deeply and richly blue that it looks artificial.

It’s all natural, however, and it maintains a constant, moderate temperature that makes it delightful for all kinds of outdoor activities.

Swimming is popular, of course.

Free diving and scuba diving are also very common since the water reaches depths of 80 feet.

The sandy walls expand at the bottom, so if you can reach the “floor” of the lake, it’s like you discover a secret room in an underwater castle.

A lot of people bring waterproof cameras to capture this sight forever.

Do you want to make a splash in New Mexico?

Put on your swimming trunks and dive headfirst into the Blue Hole.

You’ll be amazed that such cool, clean and vividly blue water actually exists in real life.

Address: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM 88435, United States

41. Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Zack Frank / Shutterstock

There are so many indigenous sites in New Mexico that you could create an entire itinerary with nothing but Native American tourist attractions.

Occupied between 850 and 1250 AD, this sprawling landscape offers both natural and man-made wonder.

On the archaeological side, it still has the crumbling remains of the ancestral Puebloan people; they consist of several hundred structures and dwellings, and they’re made with various types of mud, brick, straw and claw.

Tours are available from the local interpretive center if you want to learn more.

On the natural side, the flat plains of the park are absolutely breathtaking to behold.

There’s the rugged desert beauty that you’d expect from New Mexico, but there are also dazzling colors from both daytime and nighttime skies.

The park is a popular destination for stargazers in particular.

There are many places to see in New Mexico that preserve its Native American heritage, but the Chaco Culture National Historical Park is one of the best.

If you want to pay tribute to the people who lived on this land before us, make time for this destination.

Address: Nageezi, NM 87037, United States

Start Planning Your Trip To New Mexico

These are just a few of the coolest places to visit in New Mexico.

Whether you’re interested in brightly-lit shopping malls or dry, craggy deserts that are completely off the grid, it’s a state that can offer it all, so pack your bags and put in for those vacation days!




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