El Paso and Ciudad Juárez comprise a binational urban area of some 2.6 million people. If you're one of the many who choose to venture south, you'll be traveling through the No. 1 border port for passenger traffic in the United States to a vibrant city brimming with places to explore.
Visit Juárez (visitajuarez.com) partners with Turibus Juárez (turibusjuarez.mx) for weekday tours of the city's historic district; Plaza de la Mexicanidad, home of La Equis sculpture (shown above); and Casa de Adobe, where the Mexican revolution is brought to life. Tours also depart from the city to the Samalayuca Dune Fields, a weekend draw for sandboarding and four-wheeling, and to Distillery Sotolera, which offers sips of tequila and regional dishes. Oh Yes Juárez! (ohyesjuarez.com/juarez) also offers a downtown walking tour map that leads to marquee destinations, including Mission of Guadalupe, a sister church to those on El Paso Mission Trail, and Kentucky Bar, where, according to local lore, the first margarita was mixed.
Ciudad Juárez is undergoing rejuvenation, epitomized by an up-and-coming attraction. Stakeholders are raising funds for El Punto ("The Point"), a grand city development project that will soon stand at the Juárez Fairgrounds, which were consecrated as a holy site when Pope Francis spoke there during his 2016 visit. When complete, El Punto will include a more than 225,000-square-foot building, featuring an expansive Catholic church expected to hold 2,500 worshippers. The site will also house a music academy for children and a community center. Outside the modern adobe structure, an open-air, terraced plaza will host concerts and religious services.
Prominent architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron of Switzerland (famous for designing the Beijing National Stadium, aka the Bird's Nest, for the 2008 Olympics) is planning the site. The privately funded, $80 million project is slated to begin construction in mid-2017, and planners anticipate the project will open in 2020. The site will be visible from Interstate 10, beckoning travelers to experience a revitalized Juárez.