Searching for great tips on what to do in El Paso, Texas? You’ve reached the right place. One of the 25 largest cities in the United States — and reportedly the sixth largest city in Texas — El Paso is located at the western tip of Texas, where Texas, New Mexico, and Old Mexico all meet. Nicknamed “The Sun City,” El Paso is known to blend together a variety of cultures and traditions into everyday life. This simultaneously includes touches of Mexico, the historic Old West, Native American heritage, and desert culture, while still incorporating many of the components one would expect from a thriving city with great infrastructure (e.g. fine dining, artisanal coffee, craft breweries, concert venues, high-end thrift stores, bike trails).
I had the chance to spend four and a half days in El Paso in May 2023 alongside my wife Melissa, and below are some of the “must experience” attractions, destinations and recommendations from our trip.
What To Do in El Paso, Texas: Our Short Guide
The Reagan (313 East Mills Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901)
In its own words from the establishment’s website: “The Reagan is a bit of a chameleon, in that the experience one will have varies depending on the day of the week.” What I had the pleasure of experiencing on that particular Sunday was a 1980s goth-influenced brunch spot with excellent music, quirky artwork, and friendly staff.
DeadBeach Brewery (406 Durango Street, El Paso, TX 79901)
Known to make “El Paso quality craft beer for all,” DeadBeach was established in 2013. The brewery had comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces, and unlike most breweries I have ever experienced, it had a menu for gourmet fare prepared on-site. As an added bonus, its beer menu changes regularly.
The Tiki Room (115 Durango Street, Suite D, El Paso, TX 79901)
Billed as “the ultimate destination for pupu platters, tiki-inspired drinks and so much more in Union Plaza,” The Tiki Room mixes together traditional El Paso culture with traditional tiki history. Its food menu offers up Asian-inspired dishes (e.g. bao buns, poke bowls) and vegan options beyond its top-notch cocktails. Situated next to historic Duranguito, The Tiki Room is located near Southwest University Stadium, the El Paso Convention Center, the Museum of Art and San Jacinto Plaza.
Rosa’s Cantina (3454 Doniphan Dr, El Paso, TX 79922)
While the debate continues regarding Rosa’s Cantina’s influence on Marty Robbins’ iconic song “El Paso,” it is undeniable that the venue has made its mark in the music industry. In a nod to its cultural significance, Leon Bridges showcased Rosa’s in his latest music video, “Beyond.” Beyond its musical connections, Rosa’s Cantina offers an authentic rustic ambiance, complete with its own merchandise section, where patrons can enjoy a delightful combination of country music, refreshing beers, flavorful margaritas, and a delectable Mexican menu.
Abraham Chavez Theatre (1 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901)
As located adjacent to the El Paso Convention Center, the Abraham Chavez Theater features a three-story high glass windowed entry and unique sombrero-shaped architecture. I had the pleasure of seeing a concert from hometown heroes The Mars Volta at the Chavez Theatre while in town, which featured a stand-out opening slot by Terry Gender Bender.
Plaza Theatre (125 W Mills Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901)
A National Historic Building of Significance, the Plaza Theatre was built in 1930 and restored to its original atmospheric theater splendor in 2006. It is located in downtown El Paso, just a brief walk from both the Judson F. Williams Convention Center and the aforementioned Abraham Chavez Theatre. One of the few remaining atmospheric theaters in the United States, The Plaza conveys the illusion that viewers are seated outdoors in a Spanish courtyard, comparable to Rockford, Illinois’ Coronado Performing Arts Center.
In addition to the magnificent Kendall Kidd Performance Hall, the Plaza Theatre boasts two other remarkable venues within its premises: the intimate Philanthropy Theatre with 200 seats and the enchanting Alcantar Sky Garden.
Watch this video to get a glimpse:
Rocketbuster Boots (115 Anthony Street, El Paso, TX 79901)
When it comes to authentic craftsmanship, a visit to Rocketbuster Boots is an absolute must. Situated at 115 Anthony Street, El Paso, TX 79901, this one-of-a-kind establishment operates from a captivating brick warehouse, where every step of the process, from design and cutting to carving, stitching, and assembly, takes place on-site, resulting in the creation of exquisite Rocketbuster Handmade Custom Boots. Based in the historic Union Plaza District of downtown El Paso, Rocketbuster takes pride in doing things “the old-fashioned way.” Among its notable clients are Kendrick Lamar, Sylvester Stallone, Jane Fonda, Taylor Swift and Julia Roberts.
Piedmont Café (4172 North Mesa Street A, El Paso, TX 79902)
The Piedmont Cafe features a Veranda-style patio, along with its dining room and bar seating. The restaurant serves wines and craft beers from all over, beyond hand-pressed juices, hand-crafted cocktails, a full espresso coffee bar, and all-day breakfast, beyond pastries, lunch, and dinner options. It’s proprietary “Panda” coffee blend comes from Picacho Coffee Roasters.
Star City Studio Productions (120 W Castellano Drive, El Paso, TX 79912)
More than just “a recording studio,” Star City features three full-scale studios, an art gallery, and a live performance venue. Known to host live shows and streaming events, Star City can comfortably accommodate up to 120 guests. Performing credits for Star City Executive Director Eric Boseman include Buddy DeFranco, Justo Almario, The Boston Jazz Septet, and The Anchorage Symphony, while Boseman also works to further local causes via the El Paso International Music Foundation.
World Famous Kentucky Bar (Av. Benito Juárez 643, Centro, 32000 Cd Juárez, Chih., Mexico)
Located just across the border in Juárez, the World Famous Kentucky Bar is reportedly where the margarita was involved. The drinks are strong yet cheap at this spot, which has over 100 years of history.
Eloise (126 Shadow Mountain Drive, Suite A, El Paso, TX 79912)
Located in the Thunderbird Valley on El Paso’s west side, Eloise was established in October of 2012 by Kristine and Jim Ward; music fans ought to know Ward as the co-founder of the bands At The Drive-In, Sparta and Sleepercard. Focused on “food, coffee, cocktails and conversation,” Eloise is a community-oriented spot. More about Eloise can be learned by clicking here, per my recent interview with Jim Ward.
Franklin Mountains State Park (Tom Mays Park Access Road, El Paso, TX 79930)
As managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Franklin Mountains State Park is a Texas state park in El Paso, Texas. Park headquarters are reportedly at an elevation of 5,426 feet, with North Franklin Mountain — its highest peak — reaching 7,192 feet in elevation. This park serves hikers, campers, and skilled mountain bikers alike, and tour guides can be made available via the earlier-mentioned park headquarters. This should definitely be one of your top choices of what to do in El Paso, Texas.
L&J Café (3622 East Missouri Avenue, El Paso, TX 79903)
L&J is a local landmark dating back to 1927, well-known for its regional Mexican dishes and beers. An added bonus when dining on-stage is all the photos of celebrities and VIPs who have dined at L&J over the years. This family-run eatery also sells its trademark salsas online.
Concordia Cemetery (3700 Yandell Drive, El Paso, TX 79903)
The Historic Concordia Cemetery is a resting place for over 66,000 members of the El Paso community. This includes gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, Florida (Lady Flo) Wolf, Lawman John Selman, and various Buffalo Soldiers, Texas Rangers, Civil War Veterans and early Mormon pioneers.
Lincoln Park (4001 Durazno Avenue, El Paso, TX 79905)
Lincoln Park is home to numerous murals, some of which date back to the early 1980s. A particular stand-out for me was the mural painted by local artist Eric Dubitsky of wrestling legend Eddie Guerrero, who had ties to El Paso; other wrestling-related family members of Guerrero’s have since been added to the mural, including Chavo Sr., Chavo Jr., Gory and Vickie. A walking tour of the murals is available at any official Visitor Information Center within the city.
Old Sheepdog Brewery (3900 Rosa Avenue, El Paso, TX 79905)
Located very close to Lincoln Park, Old Sheepdog Brewery is situated in a historic El Paso building from the 1930s. Located next to the past home of El Paso’s first brewery, Old Sheepdog considers itself a “nanobrewery,” often collaborating with local artists on new brews. Great drinks aside, it is home to a venue space that often hosts The Barbed Open Mic Series — featuring music and comedy — beyond artwork by renowned local artist Tino Ortega.
El Paso Scenic Overlook (Scenic Drive, El Paso, TX 79902)
Arguably offering the best view of the city accessible by car, the El Paso Scenic Drive ought to impress visitors of all ages, day or night. Unlike most other scenic overlooks I have experienced, this one had a relaxed vibe to it and was not at all crowded at the time of the visit.
Watch this video by Jeff B to get a glimpse:
Taconeta (311 Montana Avenue A-1, El Paso, TX 79902)
Taconeta has earned a stellar reputation for serving up “authentic Mexican delicacies in a humble eatery adorned with a spacious and inviting dining area.” You order the great food at an outdoor window, get your numbered sign, put it on the table, and your top-notch food will be over to you shortly.
Hotel Paseo Del Norte Hotel (10 Henry Trost Court, El Paso, TX 79901)
One of the best hotels I have ever had the pleasure of staying at. Located across the street from the El Paso Museum of Art and Williams Convention Center, this hotel is less than 10 miles from El Paso International Airport. Beyond its rooftop pool and fitness center, also on-site is an upscale international restaurant, a casual Mexican restaurant, a lobby bar that serves cocktails under a vaulted ceiling topped by an original Tiffany stained-glass dome, and a rooftop bar offering excellent views of El Paso and Juárez.
Savage Goods (1201 North Oregon Street, El Paso, TX 79902)
Billed as “your neighborhood cafe,” Savage Goods is a popular spot in Sunset Heights. Offering donuts (among other baked goods), coffee, breakfast fare, beer and wine alike, Savage Goods arguably has something for everyone. Just keep in mind that they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and as of this article’s writing are only open between 7 am and 2pm from Wednesday through Sunday.