Named one of the country’s top 10 spring break destinations for families by Guidebook America, Las Cruces is an oasis of cultural exploration and discovery. It’s also easily accessible by car or plane, less than an hour’s drive from the El Paso International Airport.
Whether you’re just passing through or have a little more time to spend, family-friendly options abound in and around Las Cruces. Start the day Saturday at the Farmers and Crafts Market, where families can explore seven downtown blocks overflowing with local art and souvenirs, colorful fruits and veggies, kettle corn, coffee and baked goods, as well as musical entertainment to stimulate all the senses. While downtown, visit the Las Cruces Museum of Art, where kids can participate in hands-on projects, and the Branigan Cultural Center, which offers storytelling on Saturday mornings and a family exhibit activity every day.
At the interactive New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, families can stroll along corrals filled with livestock, enjoy several gardens, and watch milking and blacksmithing demonstrations. People have been farming and growing food in this region for thousands of years, and the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum tells the story through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, oral histories, artifacts and educational programs for the entire family.
After learning about New Mexico’s rich farming and ranching heritage, kids can apply their newfound knowledge through a horseback ride at Corralitos Ranch, a working ranch offering two-hour rides for ages 8 and older. The ranch is also home to Native rock art, old mines and abandoned homesteads for exploration.
Another popular family activity is sledding – sand sledding, that is – at White Sands National Monument, located roughly 45 miles east of Las Cruces. The monument protects the world’s largest gypsum dunefield and the unique plants and animals that survive in this otherworldly place. The dunes provide excellent recreation activities for families, such as picnics, nature hikes and special events, and waxed plastic saucers for sledding are available for purchase at the park gift shop. Also at the visitor center, kids can pick up a free Junior Ranger activity booklet, complete the activities and earn a Junior Dunes Ranger badge and certificate.
To make the most out of their trip, the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau invites families to join the Las Cruces Explorers Kids Club. With each hotel package booked on the CVB website, participants will receive an Explorers kit containing a free 12-megapixel camera, Explorers Kids hat, sunscreen, lip balm, tote bag and partner directory containing special offers at restaurants and attractions around town. Sample family itineraries and additional information are available at www.lascrucescvb.org. Click on the Deals & Packages link for Explorers Club hotel package offers and amenities.
Las Cruces Family Attractions
Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market
Downtown Main Street
Las Cruces Museum of Art
491 Main St.
See rotating multimedia exhibits and create a hands-on takeaway art project. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Branigan Cultural Center
500 N. Main St.
Make and take home a Frida Kahlo activity for the entire family. Free storytelling sessions are held at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and include a visit to the museum and coupon for the COAS Bookstore. Kids activity workshops are held the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
4100 Dripping Springs Rd. 1.5 miles east of Telshor Blvd. on University Ave.
Family workshops are held regularly. Pony rides for children are available from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays for $5 per ride.
White Sands National Park
Visitor center located on Highway US-70 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces
$3 admission for adults; children are free
Visitor center hours change with the seasons. Call ahead for hours of operations