10 Best Sights in Las Cruces, Southwestern New Mexico

Branigan Cultural Center

Fodor's choice

The Branigan Cultural Center, in a striking 1935 Pueblo Revival building embellished inside with murals by Tom Lea, offers compelling programs covering such topics as the 1942–1964 Bracero Program (a Mexican guest workers initiative), or a reflection on Frida Kahlo's later years through rarely seen photographs, along with rotating exhibits covering local history and culture.The city-run Branigan is a focal point—along with the Las Cruces Museum of Art next door—of the revitalized downtown.

Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces

Fodor's choice

If you're in town on a Wednesday or Saturday, don't miss one of the Southwest's largest and most impressive farmers markets, where some 300 vendors sell produce, handcrafted items, baked goods, and even geodes and fossils along a lively seven-block stretch of the city's lively downtown. Mingle with the locals and enjoy the scene, which is open between 8:30 am and 1 pm.

New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

Fodor's choice

This handsomely designed museum east of town, near the Organ Mountains, documents 3,000 years of agriculture in New Mexico and the Southwest. Visit a re-creation of a 1,200-year-old Mogollon farmhouse, based on styles built by some of the first nonnomadic people to live in what is now New Mexico. Longhorn cattle, Churro sheep, and dairy cows are among the heritage breeds—descendants of animals the Spanish brought from Mexico—raised at the museum. At milking times, you can learn about the history of dairy farming in New Mexico, or take a look in the "beef barn" where six different breeds of beef cattle are housed. A span of the historic Green Bridge, which used to span the Hondo River, has been reassembled over the arroyo on the grounds. Chuck-wagon cooking demonstrations are offered during special events.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Chile Pepper Institute

Capsicum matters greatly to New Mexicans, and much of the research into this invaluable agricultural product takes place at NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute, where visitors can explore the Hall of Flame and the gift shop. Formal tours are available by appointment.

Las Cruces Museum of Art

Across an open courtyard from the Branigan Cultural Center, the Las Cruces Museum of Art shows the eclectic, contemporary works of regional artists. Subjects covered include life in the borderlands as well as landscapes of the Organ Mountains and nearby ghost towns.

491 N. Main St., Las Cruces, NM, 88001, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Tues.–Sat. 9–4:30, Closed Sun. and Mon.

Las Cruces Railroad Museum

Inside the historic (1910) Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway Depot, the Las Cruces Railroad Museum uses photos and ephemera to tell the story of early regional railroad history, and a model-train room and train table entertain kids especially. Temporary shows, such as one built around train travel advertisements from the last century, rotate throughout the year. Outside is a 1918 wooden caboose you can tour. The museum is several blocks west of the Cultural Center, by way of the Alameda Historic District.

351 N. Mesilla St., Las Cruces, NM, 88001, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Tues.–Sat. 9–4:30, Closed Sun. and Mon.

New Mexico State University (NMSU)

At New Mexico State University (NMSU), the home of the Aggies, museums have a decided focus on agriculture, although those on the arts and sciences also receive attention. The buildings themselves tend toward the uninspired, but there are still a few original structures from the 1907 campus design by Henry C. Trost.

University Art Gallery

The University Art Gallery displays both historic holdings—19th-century Mexican retablos, for example, representing the world's largest collection of this religious art form—and contemporary ones, such as Robert Rauschenberg lithographs.

University Museum

The University Museum, housed in a grand 1930s white stucco, red-tile-roof WPA building, shows off NMSU's role in regional archaeological research. Exhibits draw on extensive holdings of Southwestern and Mesoamerican pottery, and temporary exhibits delve into both regional and international subjects, from Diné (Navajo) weavers to African art.

Zuhl Geological Collection

Near the Chile Pepper Institute, the Zuhl Geological Collection comprises a rich abundance of petrified-wood samples (vibrant reds and yellows mark the Late Triassic pieces from the Chinle region of Arizona), fossils, minerals, and an oviraptor dinosaur nest.

775 E. College Ave., Las Cruces, NM, 88003, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free