Personally, I’m always up for a good challenge. We all know $25 is not a lot for three meals and a day of activities, so if your budget allows a few extra dollars for gratuity, know that it is greatly appreciated by our hardworking service industry members. And to keep it nice and neat, we didn’t include tax. Enough with the excuses, let’s get into the day!
Morning Hike up Tortugas Mountain – Free
Start your day early with a meandering hike up one of our more iconic spots in town. Tortugas “A” Mountain is located adjacent to New Mexico State University (NMSU) and can be accessed from various points but one of the more popular parking spots is just past the turn off for the NMSU Golf Course. Take the dirt path to the base of the mountain and then take the winding road up to the summit. You won’t be disappointed by the views of the entire Mesilla Valley. Check out the altar honoring the Tortugas tribe as well as the Tortugas Observatory building which is still used by astronomers to this day!
Breakfast: Pan dulce and a cafecito – $3
Las Cruces is lucky to have local bakeries that specialize in pan dulce (“sweet bread”) and is an all-encompassing term for a variety of baked goods made in the Mexican style. Some popular types of pan dulce are conchas, brocas, and empanadas de fruta. Conchas, arguably the most popular and the image you probably associate with pan dulce in your mind, are dome-like creations that are decorated with a seashell pattern and is where they get their name. The pattern can come in a variety of colors, and some patterns are associated with different regions. Brocas are pieces of delectable puff-pastry that is twisted and sugared. They resemble drill bits and that is where they get their name. Another popular pan dulce is the empanada de fruta which is a pie-like dough that is used to encase a variety of fillings. Local favorites include piña (pineapple) and fresa (strawberry). During the fall, the pumpkin-filled empanadas are a big hit. Pick up a couple pans and a small coffee at any of the bakeries listed below.
Pro tip: If you want to upgrade your coffee experience for a few extra dollars, stop by one of our excellent local coffee shops.
@visitlascruces Join me at COAS. The largest family owned, new and used bookstore in New Mexico, is located in Las Cruces heading down Main Street. #visitlascruces #lascruces #lascrucesnm #lascrucesnewmexico #coasbooks #newmexico #nm #booktok #bookstore #bookworm #books #book #bookstores #bookstorevlog ♬ In The Forest (Acoustic Indie No Copyright) - Instrumental - Lesfm & Olexy
Museum of Art then browse COAS books – Free
The Las Cruces Museums Systems consists of four museums mainly situated in the downtown Las Cruces area. They are City-run and are free admission. The Museum of Art (MoA) is one of them and currently has an exhibit called “Gaspar Enríquez: Chicano Pride, Chicano Soul” running from now through May 6, 2023. Enríquez paints with an airbrush and creates hyper-realistic portraits. Definitely something worth checking out.
Just down the street from MoA is COAS books, Las Cruces’ largest repository of used books. You can truly spend hours browsing the bookcases upon bookcases of well-priced books this store has to offer. They also have games, local and regional authors, music, movies and so much more. Don’t sleep on the $1 books on the carts outside; there are hidden reading gems to be found!
Lunch at Matteo’s – $10
Since you’re already in downtown Las Cruces, mosey on over to Matteo’s newest location at 138 S. Main St. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the jarros (“big jugs”) of aguas frescas. The next thing you’ll notice is the super-friendly staff.
Each day, Monday-Friday, they have a special meal that is $10. From flautas to enchiladas to their delicious tacos, whatever the deal of the day is will surely satisfy your appetite. Pair it with a small agua fresca of your choice (they do mix flavors too!) at an added cost.
Visit the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum – $5 adult
If you have the time, carve out at least a half a day to explore everything in this truly unique museum. Find yourself engulfed in the wonders of New Mexico Agriculture and the Old West. Showcasing the wonderful world of agriculture and its 4,000-year history in the southern New Mexico region, New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum has several interactive exhibits for visitors to explore. They include topics on New Mexico farm life, wagons, rotating exhibits, the ways of transportation and more. There is a greenhouse, holding pens for sheep and goats, horse stables and a section completely devoted to dairy and everything it provides. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for adults 60+, $3 for children 4-17, and $2 for active U.S. military & veterans. Kids 3 and under are free.
Sunset at Dripping Springs – Free
You cannot beat a Las Cruces sunset any time of year and it is more magical the closer you get to the Organ Mountains. Make sure to look up what time sunset will be that day and then give yourself plenty of time for a scenic drive up Dripping Springs Road. Since you’re already at the Farm and Ranch Museum, you’re halfway there! The Dripping Springs Natural Area Visitor Center usually closes at sunset and is $5 a car if you are there for a hike, but the monument sign is about a half a mile before center and has a cutout for parking. Set up there for some sunset selfies with the most majestic backdrop around. If you want a full view of the Mountains turn off onto Baylor Canyon Road and pull off on one of the designated areas or Baylor Canyon Pass lot.
Dinner at Burritos Victoria – $7 three gorditas and a beer
Some in-the-know locals will tell you that the after 5p.m. deal at Burritos Victoria is unmatched. For only $7 you get your choice of three gorditas (with your choice of filling) and a beer.
Alternate dinner idea: K-Bowl – $8.99
If you have a few bucks to spare and you don’t want a long drive from the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Monument sign, check out K-Bowl on University Ave. It is a Korean-inspired quick-service restaurant that serves up a variety of custom bowls. I personally enjoy the flavorful grilled chicken over half crystal noodles and half rice. Top it with your choice of fresh veggies, kimchis, and other delicious sauces and toppings and you have a meal that you might stretch into two.