An Overview of El Paso
Cool and Unusual

Navigating El Paso: Don’t Pass Up These Must-See Places

Heading to The Sun City? From Tex-Mex to Stunning Views, Here’s What You Don’t Want to Miss.

The El Paso Skyline. Navigating El Paso

Thanks to the distinctive culture, sizzling climate, and, of course, massive size, a trip to the Lone Star State can feel like traveling abroad. Plane, car, bus, or even bicycle—however you get there, Texas is worth seeing. 

Neighboring the Rio Grande at the far western point of the state sits a not-so-little city called El Paso, Spanish for “The Pass.” The 22nd largest city in the country, El Paso lies at the intersection of Texas, New Mexico, and the Mexican state Chihuahua—and from its location to its atmosphere, the city is único in every possible way. Whether you tour El Paso by car or on foot, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in The Sun City.

Booking a trip to El Paso?

Check El Paso airport car rental deals »

Scenic Drive Overlook

Green hills filled with trees under a blue sky

Source: Scenic Drive Overlook

The Best View of the City 

Scenic Drive | Kern Place |

Sometimes, the best way to see a city is just going for a drive—and no city knows this simple truth better than El Paso. That’s why in 1920, the city commissioned the building of a roadway dedicated to appreciating its majestic desert-mountain scenery, aptly named Scenic Drive. 

This vantage point from the rim of the Franklin Mountains will allow you to see miles into the city, and there are even coin-operated binoculars that you can use to get a closer look. Just keep in mind that you’re bound to run into some traffic. After all, Scenic Drive is a public road, and the overlook is a popular tourist destination.

El Paso Museum of Art

A young woman surveys the art on the wall at the El Paso Museum of Art

Source: El Paso Museum of Art

Special Exhibitions, Permanent Collections, and Free Admission

1 Arts Festival Plaza | Downtown |

Explore American, Mexican, and European art when you take a trip to the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA), which prides itself on its diversity and remaining “unbound by borders.” The EPMA is the only art museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in a 200-mile radius.  

Open most days from 9 am to 5 pm, the EPMA is a great way to see the city through a different lens—or, rather, multiple different lenses. As part of the museum’s mission to be a creative resource to everyone, general admission as well as almost all of the events and programs are free to the public.

L&J Cafe

Source: L&J Cafe

Indulge in the Best Tex-Mex Around at This Local Legend 

3622 E. Missouri Avenue | Five Points East |

Many people consider El Paso to be the Tex-Mex capital of the world, and with a nickname like “The Old Place By the Graveyard,” how you could not want to eat at L&J Cafe? This city treasure even had to start selling its salsa by the jar due to popular demand. 

If you like Mexican food, you can’t go wrong with the menu at L&J Cafe. Get fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, chili con queso, and more when you visit this family-run El Paso favorite.

Downtown Art & Farmers Market

 Union Plaza Park at Downtown Art & Farmers Market

Source: Downtown Art & Farmers Market

You Don’t Have to Be a Local to Shop Like One 

117 Anthony Street | Union Plaza |

Take a trip to on Saturday morning for a healthy dose of culture—as well as handcrafted goods and locally-grown food. The Downtown Art & Farmers Market is a weekly event that visitors and city residents alike look forward to. After all, who doesn’t love a good farmers market?

With art and food vendors lining the streets and a crowd that’s eager to support them, this once-a-week pop-up street fair is an authentic El Paso experience that will be fun for the whole family.

White Sands National Monument

Source: White Sands National Monument

Make the Hour-and-a-Half Drive to See This Breathtaking Landscape

19955 US-70 | Alamogordo, New Mexico |

At White Sand National Monument, dunes of white gypsum sand stretch for hundreds of miles—at first glance, they might even look like snow banks. The world’s largest gypsum sand dunefield, White Sand National Monument holds a sight unlike any other, making it well-worth the (relatively short) journey from El Paso. 

During your visit to White Sands National Monument, you can hike through the dunes and even bring a sled to slide down the soft slopes in designated areas. But make sure you consult the White Sands website before making the trek from El Paso—the park is sometimes closed to do missile testing at the nearby military base.

The Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center

Source: The Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center

Travel Back in Time When You Step Foot in This Downtown Landmark 

125 W. Mills Avenue | Downtown |

Built in 1930 and renovated in 2006, the Plaza Theatre is a piece of living history that has become a cultural icon in El Paso. One of the few atmospheric theatres remaining in the United States, the Plaza Theatre boasts Spanish Revival Colonial architecture and is designed to resemble a traditional Spanish courtyard. Even the ceiling, which is decorated to look like the Southwestern summer sky, is part of the illusion. 

Whether you see a movie, a live performance, or just take a tour, the Plaza Theatre is sure to amaze you with its intricate decor and rich history. (Tours are conducted weekly, and you can register online for a public tour.)

Craft & Social

Source: Craft & Social

Sip Craft Beer While Sampling Classic Sandwiches 

305 E. Franklin Ave. | Downtown |

Offering good beer and good food, this downtown delight is about as simple and straightforward as they come. Grab lunch, dinner, or just drinks when you hit this bar and restaurant that’s quickly becoming an El Paso hotspot.

A casual place to enjoy a beer and a bite to eat, Craft & Social isn’t anything fancy, but it’s welcoming atmosphere, tasty food, and various craft beers on tap are more than enough. Open daily (except Sundays) from 3 pm to midnight, you can head downtown for drinks and a late lunch, drinks and a late dinner, or just drinks. Whatever you do, you’ll leave wanting to come back.

Franklin Mountains State Park

Source: Franklin Mountains State Park

A Short Distance Outside of the City, This Park Is Worth Renting a Car

1331 McKelligon Canyon Road | Mountain Park |

Spanning approximately 40 square-miles with over 100 miles of multi-use trails, Franklin Mountains State Park is the nation’s largest state park that falls entirely within city limits. (Yes, everything really is bigger in Texas!) And just a 20-minute drive from El Paso, you can easily schedule some quality time with Mother Nature into your trip itinerary. 

In addition to the nominal Franklin Mountains, this state park is also home to an array of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, small mammals, and various plant species. Be sure to bring plenty of water before embarking on your expedition through this rugged desert terrain.  

What to Know Before You Go to Stunning El Paso

El Paso is a beautiful, vibrant city with lots to see, eat, and do. In the spring and summer, the weather is typically warm and sunny, and in the fall and winter, it’s usually cool and sunny—they don’t call it The Sun City for nothing! The most popular times of the year to visit are the transition seasons, due to the weather being at its most moderate during the fall and spring. 

So, pack your bags and hit the road—El Paso is waiting!

Thrifty encourages you to be responsible. Don’t Drink and Drive. To read about all of Thrifty’s Safety Tips, click here. To check out Thrifty Rental Terms, click here.

You May Also Like

The Thrifty Traveler’s Guide to Charleston

   Are you looking to hit up Chucktown without suffering a devastating blow to your wallet? We found the best places to include in a budgeted tour of the city, including . . .  Charleston, South Carolina, is a historic city that’s practically overflowing with fun stuff to do and cool things to see. And […]

The Cultural Capital of Florida’s Gulf Coast: Fort Myers

Everyone knows that Fort Myers is the destination spot for a fantastic Florida Gulf Coast vacation. Its sunny, warm climate and beautiful, shell-filled beaches beckon visitors from all over the world. But this city has so much more to offer than just beaches– although those are definitely worth a visit! Fort Myers is also home […]

Ultimate Offbeat Guide to Chicago

Chicago is one of the most traveled-to cities in the country (and for good reason!), and yet, very few get to experience its stranger side. Of course, everyone knows the token sights like the Bean (which actually called the “Cloud Gate”—who knew?), Wrigley Field, and the Skydeck at Willis Tower, but why stop there? If […]