Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

New Mexico offers visitors an authentic taste of the American Southwest. With its melting pot of cultures, archaeological sites and stunning landscapes, New Mexico has more than earned its Land of Enchantment moniker. To help you decide where you should go on vacation in this diverse state, U.S. News compiled a list of the best places to visit in New Mexico using factors like culture, accessibility and attractions. Have a favorite destination? Vote for your top spot below to help determine next year's ranking.

New Mexico offers visitors an authentic taste of the America

 

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

  • Santa Fe
  • Albuquerque
  • Taos, NM
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • White Sands National Park
  • Silver City
  • Roswell
  • Los Alamos
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Bandelier National Monument
  • Santa Fe
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    Santa Fe

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Known as "the City Different," Santa Fe showcases a mix of Hispanic, Anglo and Native American cultures. This artistic city features 250-plus art galleries, more than 100 of which you'll find lining Canyon Road. Additionally, Santa Fe is home to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, where you can see hundreds of the renowned artist's works, and unique art experiences, such as interactive exhibits created by Meow Wolf. When you need to satiate your appetite, get a taste of the city's fantastic food, including international bites and dishes made with local red and green chiles.

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  • Albuquerque
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    Albuquerque

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Albuquerque's proximity to the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande river make it a popular base for outdoorsy vacations. Bike the Paseo del Bosque Trail, or hike La Luz Trail to the top of Sandia Peak before riding the Sandia Peak Tramway back down to the city. After breaking a sweat, learn more about the city's culture and history at Old Town Albuquerque institutions like the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Albuquerque Museum. For an extra memorable experience, arrive in early October to see hundreds of colorful balloons take flight during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

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  • Taos, NM
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    Taos, NM

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos boasts an impressive arts scene and a rich cultural heritage that help it earn its "Soul of the Southwest" nickname. During summer, the town also offers ample opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities like rock climbing, ballooning and even llama trekking. Meanwhile, winter is when Taos' highly regarded ski destinations – Taos Ski Valley, Angel Fire Resort, Red River Ski & Summer Area and Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort – welcome skiers in droves. When travelers need to soothe their aching muscles, they can visit one of several local hot springs.

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
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    Carlsbad Caverns National Park

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Carlsbad Caverns National Park's network of 100-plus caves delights visitors with its fascinating rock formations. Travelers can take their time exploring the caves via two self-guided trails or discover other areas while on a ranger-led tour. For a glimpse at the park's resident bats, visit between May and October to watch them exit the cavern during the free evening Bat Flight Program. The warmer months are also an excellent time to enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage Site's hiking trails through the Guadalupe Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert.

  • White Sands National Park
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    White Sands National Park

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    White Sands may be one of America's newest national parks, but it has drawn travelers for decades. Nestled in the Tularosa Basin, the park features more than 73,000 acres of white gypsum sand, making it the world's largest gypsum dune field. Visitors can sled down the dunes or explore the park on foot, by horse, by bike or by car. Keep in mind, though, that Dunes Drive (the park's scenic thoroughfare) occasionally closes when missile tests occur at the park's missile range.

  • Silver City
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    Silver City

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Named for its prior life as a silver mining town, Silver City still retains some of its former charm in its central Historic District, which features Victorian-, Queen Anne- and Italianate-style buildings. History buffs can learn about the town's ties to legendary 19th-century figures like Billy the Kid and Geronimo at the Silver City Museum. Meanwhile, outdoorsy types can hike part of the Continental Divide Trail and trek the paths in boulder-filled City of Rocks State Park.

  • Roswell
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    Roswell

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Ever since a UFO crashed in a farm outside of Roswell in 1947, fans of the paranormal have flocked to this town to search for evidence that aliens exist. Roswell's alien culture runs deep, with themed attractions and events like the International UFO Museum and Research Center and the annual UFO Festival. But there's more to do in this mysterious town than learn about aliens. Visitors can look for animals at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, swim at Bottomless Lakes State Park and peruse the exhibits at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art and the Roswell Museum and Art Center.

  • Los Alamos
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    Los Alamos

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Considered a center for scientific advancement, Los Alamos is where the atomic bomb was created. But the Atomic City is also known as a gateway to fantastic parks and protected areas. Venture less than 17 miles southwest of Los Alamos to check out Valles Caldera National Preserve, where you'll discover a 13-mile-wide volcanic crater, mountain meadows and miles of hiking trails. Or, stay in town and head to Ashley Pond Park, which hosts free summer concerts on Friday nights.

  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
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    Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse into the lives and culture of the Mogollon people, who made their homes in its caves in the late 1200s. During your visit, you can tour the cliff dwellings and learn more about the site's former residents at its visitor center and contact station. What's more, you can go hiking, bird-watching, fishing and more in surrounding Gila National Forest. The area is also home to several hot springs, so remember to bring a bathing suit with you.

  • Petroglyph National Monument
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    Petroglyph National Monument

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Petroglyph National Monument contains more than 25,000 carved images from the area's early pueblo people and Spanish settlers, making it one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. Because the property offers so much to see, start your visit at the visitor center to learn more about the monument and its available activities. Then, take a short drive to one of three areas – Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon or Piedras Marcadas Canyon – to hike to various petroglyphs. Be careful where you step, though, as the monument is home to several kinds of snakes, including venomous rattlesnakes.

  • Bandelier National Monument
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    Bandelier National Monument

    #11 in Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

    Thousands of incredibly well-preserved ancestral pueblo ruins can be found just 40 miles northwest of Santa Fe in Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier's more than 33,000 acres contain 70-plus miles of hiking trails, including popular options like the Main Loop and Alcove House trails, which make it easy to reach several pueblo sites from Frijoles Canyon's visitor center. Additional paths for longer hikes are also available, as are trails suitable for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.

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