Basilica of San Albino.
Photo by Jon Foley
Ensconced in the town of Mesilla (an island community located within the sea of Las Cruces), Mesilla Valley State Park's trails show off the region's migrating waterfowl with walks along the river wetlands.
The village of Mesilla is worth exploring in its own right. The stately Basilica of San Albino, one of the region's oldest churches, presides over its town plaza, home to artist galleries, local shops (look for wine and pecans), and several notable restaurants such as Double Eagle and La Posta de Mesilla.
The plaza has been the village's heart for more than a century and a historic landmark since 1982. The stately Basilica of San Albino, one of the region's oldest churches, presides over the plaza's north side. Venture to the Gadsden Museum to learn how the city became part of the United States and see the original jail cell doors that restrained Billy the Kid. Catch an indie flick at the Fountain Theatre, which dates back to the 1870s. Or branch out from the plaza to explore historical restaurants, captivating galleries, and tastes of local pecans, wine, and beer.
gadsdenmuseum mesilla.com, mesillavalleyfilm.org
Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park
Stroll 2.3 miles of scenic nature trails along the Rio Grande at this New Mexico state park, located a mile and a half from town. Start in the interpretive center then wander among the native plants in the garden before venturing down the wetland trails for prime bird-watching — the park is an Audubon-designated IBA (Important Birding Area).
Mesilla Plaza Events Mesilla celebrates its cultural roots with several plaza festivities, including Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, May 4–5; 16 de Septiembre Fiesta, Sept. 14–15; and Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Nov. 1–3. The 150-plus-year-old mercado tradition continues on the plaza with an Old Mesilla Farmers Market on Fridays and Sundays. Boisterous mariachi music resounds on Sundays September through November.