Golden hour fall panorama of Plaza Blanca, New Mexico

Things to do in  New Mexico

Days in the desert

Dubbed the Land of Enchantment for its mesmerizing quality of light, charming adobe architecture, and dazzling desert sunsets, New Mexico is truly a unique destination. From yucca-studded white sands in the south to the artsy mountain towns in the north, the state offers a multitude of outdoor, culinary, and cultural experiences. Some of the top things to do in New Mexico include attending the International Balloon Fiesta, visiting historic landmarks like Taos Pueblo and Petroglyph National Monument, driving Route 66, and browsing art at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Top 8 attractions in New Mexico

Old Town Albuquerque

The narrow colonial streets of Old Town Albuquerque are filled with colorful shops, curbside craft stands, and the rich aromas of Southwest cooking. You can explore the winding alleyways, shop for souvenirs, and discover the history and culture surrounding Old Town Plaza and the city’s oldest church—18th-century San Felipe de Neri Church.More

Turquoise Museum

With a collection of turquoise drawn from more than one hundred different mines, Albuquerque’s Turquoise Museum is considered a worldwide authority on the mineral. When the Santa Fe Trail brought traders and settlers west, turquoise became a valuable commodity. Native Americans in the area have also been using turquoise for centuries in their art. With both of these legacies, New Mexico has become a world famous spot for turquoise. The brightly colored stone, shining the color of its name, takes on a variety of different shapes, forms, and histories in the museum’s displays.A visit allows for an education on mining processes and techniques as well as the natural geology and mineralogy of turquoise. There’s even a replica of a mine tunnel that leads to where the most precious and rare turquoise specimens. The main J.C. “Zack” Zachary collection features turquoise stones from 80 different locations around the globe. Guests can also see how the mineral is formed from a natural material into jewelry at a working lapidary shop.More
Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Situated in Santa Fe’s scenic Museum Hill neighborhood, Santa Fe Botanical Garden offers 12 acres (5 hectares) of landscaped gardens and wooded areas that showcase the natural beauty of New Mexico’s flora and desert terrain. The garden opened in 2013 and continues to grow and expand.More

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is the world’s only living Native American community that has been designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. Taos Pueblo is a sovereign nation with its own government, with the inhabitants speaking English, Spanish, and the native language (Tiwa). Tourism is an important part of the Pueblo’s economy and visitors are welcomed. This settlement in northern New Mexico, which was established in the late 13th and early 14th century, consists of ceremonial structures and multi-storied adobe homes built into terraced tiers. The entire pueblo is made from adobe, and the roofs are made of large timbers that have been hauled in from the forests. Some of the buildings are as tall as five stories. Although at places it looks like one large single building, the Pueblo is made up of individual homes that are built next to (and on top of) each other. Taos Pueblo has been continuously inhabited since its creation, and is the largest of the existing Native American pueblo communities. Around 150 people live full time in the pueblo, with other families that are part of the community living in more modern homes outside the ancient walls but still on Pueblo land.More

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Spanning the Rio Grand, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is among the highest bridges in the US. The gorge is surrounded by desert cliffs and volcanic lands, and the Rio Grande winds through it for 74 miles across the state of New Mexico. Once covered in lava by from nearby erupting volcanoes, the river flowed after a rift valley was formed by a geological separation in the earth’s crust. Part of it is the first designated National Wild and Scenic River, and it is a scenic spot to take part in water activities such as kayaking and whitewater rafting.Outside of boating and fishing, hiking and biking are also popular outdoor activities in or around the gorge. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway system, with scenic views from high above on its observation platform. In some sections it drops more than 800 feet in depth. Views from the West Rim Trail (beginning on the west side of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge) are particularly dramatic.More

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is one of the Southwest’s most important archeological sites, protecting cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and over 33,000 acres (13,355 hectares) of rugged desert. One of the National Park Service’s first protected areas, the monument was established in 1916 and the site holds evidence of life dating back 11,000 years.More


Northern New Mexico's Chimayó may just have a few thousand residents, but it makes up for its small population with an extremely rich culture. The town is known for the sacred Catholic site El Santuario de Chimayó, a centuries old weaving tradition, and a village-like atmosphere with beautiful adobe architecture. Another local signature is the Chimayó red chile pepper.More
High Road to Taos

High Road to Taos

The High Road to Taos is a scenic road that links Santa Fe and Taos. The road winds through the towns of Chimayo and Truchas, Carson National Forest, and high desert scenery. Two famous churches are also along this route: Santuario de Chimayo, a popular pilgrimage site, and San Francisco de Asis Church, made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams.More

Top activities in New Mexico

Santa Fe Revisited

Santa Fe Revisited

Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Downtown Plaza 'Sip & Savor'
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Viator Exclusive: Gourmet Brunch in Santa Fe with Chef Carolina
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Canyon Road Arts District Tour
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Acoma Pueblo Sky City Private 6 Hour Tour from Albuquerque
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Savor Santa Fe: Wine Pairing Dinner
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Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Railyard Arts District
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New Mexico: Jemez Pueblo, Soda Dam & Falls: A Photographer's Landscape Dream
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Turquoise Museum Visit

Turquoise Museum Visit

The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show - Albuquerque, NM
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All about New Mexico

When to visit

Fall is one of the best times to visit New Mexico. The state's famous chiles are being roasted, temperatures are pleasant, and Albuquerque's International Balloon Fiesta is in full swing. Summer is also popular, with sunny days, low humidity, and world-renowned art events such as Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market taking place. Come in the winter season, though, and you’ll have the chance to rent a cozy cabin, ski a mountain, and enjoy the beauty of snowfall on a desert landscape.

Getting around

Typically, visitors fly or drive into Albuquerque to begin their New Mexico visit. Those without a car can easily depend on ride shares, taxis, and buses to get around town, or take the New Mexico Rail Runner Express to get to Santa Fe. If planning to visit sites beyond these main cities, it is best to have a car or take a tour for transportation. However, with Route 66 bisecting the state, travelers may want to add New Mexico to their US road trip itinerary.

Traveler tips

Many visitors are surprised to learn that much of northern New Mexico, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, are located at elevations at or above a mile high. It might be hard to catch your breath, and sunscreen (in both summer and winter) is crucial, as your body is closer to the sun. High elevation means four distinct seasons, and winters can be downright chilly. In fact, winter snow has made the state a popular destination for skiers.

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People Also Ask

What are 3 things that New Mexico is known for?

New Mexico is known for its stunning desert landscapes; New Mexico chiles that dominate the region’s cuisine; and a cultural blending of Native, Hispanic, and Anglo traditions—think Pueblo pottery, bolo ties, adobe architecture, and a quirky obsession with aliens, which were reported in the town of Roswell in 1947.

What is the most visited place in New Mexico?

Albuquerque is the most visited place in New Mexico, welcoming more than six million visitors per year. Behind that is Santa Fe, the artsy and historic capital city to the north, with roughly two million annual visitors. Other popular destinations include Taos and the spectacular White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns national parks.

Is New Mexico worth visiting?

With one of the most unique regional cultures in North America, New Mexico is certainly worth a visit. It’s rich in history and art, and the world-renowned International Balloon Fiesta draws some 750,000 attendees every fall.

Why is Taos famous?

Taos is a small mountain town in northern New Mexico. A ski resort and longtime artist colony, the town grew around the centuries-old Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO Heritage Site. With its many galleries, studios, and museums, the town is a popular destination for art lovers.

What's the prettiest city in New Mexico?

One of the most popular destinations for tourists in New Mexico is Santa Fe, and it happens to be one of the prettiest, too. The city's historic adobe architecture is infused with many charming details including blue doors, hanging chile ristras, and painted windows that make for a truly special atmosphere.

Is it better to stay in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

All things being equal, tourists prefer to stay in Santa Fe over Albuquerque. The historic capital is smaller, but it packs a bigger punch in terms of walkability, cultural attractions, and atmosphere. However, Albuquerque is worth a visit for its Old Town, Route 66, and the world's longest tramway.

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