Scenic drives, mountain hikes, historic facades, Southwestern eats, fine art, and quirky traditions await you in El Paso, the sixth-largest city in Texas and, according to CQ Press, one of the safest large cities in the United States. The Spanish first arrived in the area in 1581, but it wasn't until after the Mexican-American War ended and the Rio Grande was designated the international boundary between Mexico and Texas in 1848 that El Paso became part of the U.S.
Also known as Sun City, El Paso blends big-city biz with small-town vibe as smoothly as a margarita (which you can sip under a stunning El Paso sunset).
The city lies on the western edge of Texas, with New Mexico to the north and Mexico to the south, and has been home to human settlements for thousands of years. Influences from its many inhabitants — Native Americans, Spanish explorers, Mexican revolutionaries, and western pioneers — can be seen and felt today. El Paso's landscape features the Franklin Mountains, which cut across the city from the north. The Mesilla Valley begins west of the mountains, while to the east you'll find the arid landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert. The Rio Grande wends around the south end of the mountains, forming the boundary between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Once a rural outpost of fewer than 200 residents in the 1870s, El Paso today has a growing population close to 700,000. The vibrant city thrives in the international trade, healthcare, oil and gas, and tourism sectors. It's also home to Fort Bliss, the nation's second-largest military installation and one of El Paso's largest employers. El Paso has landed on many best-of lists, including being named by Fixr as the most affordable city in Texas and by Moot.com as the third-best city to raise a family.
If you're visiting El Paso for the first time, you'll find plenty of things to enjoy, from the architecture of downtown to its many interesting museums to challenging outdoor adventures. You'll also find amazing cuisine, interesting shopping, performing arts, sporting events, fun festivals, and concerts.
With 302 days of sunshine and four centuries of multicultural history, there are plenty of options for fun: Explore Franklin Mountains State Park with the family, cheer on the Miners at UTEP, or catch a performance at the Plaza Theatre. Or maybe you're calling this fascinating city "home" for the first time. Regardless, you'll soon discover that this ever-evolving town is vibrant and beautiful and welcoming — it's simply El Paso. Your adventure starts here.
Photo by Laurence Parent
History And Beauty Abound In the Heart Of El Paso.
If you love history or architecture, take the 90-minute, self-guided Downtown Historic Walking Tour, which explains the growth of El Paso and points out 25 architectural landmarks and historic sites. The tour begins at San Jacinto Plaza, remembered fondly as Alligator Plaza because of the live reptiles that lived in a pond there from the early 1900s to 1967. Today, don't miss the fiberglass sculpture created by local artist Luis Jimenez in honor of the legendary gators.
Famed architect Henry C. Trost designed many of the buildings downtown, including five reinforced concrete skyscrapers that forever changed El Paso's skyline. Trost incorporated different design elements, and you'll find buildings reflecting art deco, Spanish Colonial Revival, Chicago Commercial, and Italian Renaissance styles. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Camino Real Hotel, known as the Hotel Paso del Norte when Trost designed it in 1912, still has the 25-foot Tiffany stained–glass dome that once graced the lobby. Stop in and see it at the hotel's Dome Bar.
Nearby in Pioneer Plaza, El Paso's original commercial downtown district, you'll find the Plaza Theatre, a beautifully restored 2,400-seat theater that opened in 1930. Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the theater recalls the opulent movie palaces of the past and hosts Broadway shows, concerts, and performances.
When You Go
Camino Real Hotel
101 S. El Paso
Downtown Historic Walking Tours
download at elpasotexas.gov/visitors
125 Pioneer Plaza