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MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens focuses on the natural and cultural history of the northern Chihuahuan Desert, including southern New Mexico, West Texas, and northern Mexico, and presents temporary exhibits on themes related to border life and culture. Native plants are displayed in a variety of settings. Museum is open 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tue-Sat, and the gardens from dawn to dusk every day. Parking is available behind the museum, where you will also find elevator access to the building. On the UTEP Campus at University and Wiggins. 915 747-5565. museum.utep.edu

El Paso Holocaust Museum offers an eye-opening, moving experience and is a memorial to the 11 million lives lost and a place where the lessons of the Holocaust can be learned. Visitors are informed about the Holocaust through five brief video presentations and many displays of artifacts and recreations. Visitors see the placid life of Jewish German citizens prior to the Holocaust. Exhibits unfold to show the rise of Hitler's Nazi party, with displays of elaborate ceremonial artifacts and anti-Semitic propaganda material. A walk through a night street scene shows buildings burning in the Kristallnacht exhibit depicting the "night of broken glass", the event that signaled the beginning of the Holocaust. In the "Final Solution" exhibit, visitors "board" a railcar illustrating the deportation and imprisonment of Jews in ghettos for final removal to death camps. There are also displays of heroic acts of rescuers and partisans and the survivors' liberation at war's end. A pause in the meditation room concludes the tour to give visitors an opportunity to reflect. Call for times of operation. 715 N. Oregon (at Yandell). 915 351-0048. elpasoholocaustmuseum.org

El Paso Museum of Archaeology at Wilderness Park presents 12,000 years of prehistory in the El Paso-Juarez region. Enjoy diorama scenes of Indian life from Paleoindian mammoth hunters and Pueblo cliff dwellers to the Mescalero Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers of today. See original artifacts of the Jornada Mogollon and Casas Grandes prehistoric cultures illustrating stone tool and fiber technologies, such as 800-year-old agave fiber cloth, and pottery, and trade items, such as shell jewelry. Displayed are a range of pre-Columbian objects from west, central and northern Mexico and the Maya region and cultural crafts of the contemporary Raramuri (Tarahumara). Walk nature trails on the 15-acre site in northeast El Paso. 4301 Transmountain Road just west of Highway 54. Open Tue-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun noon - 5 p.m. 915 755-4332. Elpasotexas.gov/arch_museum

El Paso Museum of Art From the Italian Renaissance to the contemporary, the museum's art collection spans several hundred years. Modern sculptures catch the imagination upon entering the galleries. El Paso native Tom Lea's western art adorns the walls in the first gallery, followed by the Kress Collection, donated by the founder of the famous five & dimes, with its fabulous Renaissance paintings. Other galleries display Federal Period Portraiture, American Impressionism, American Scene, American West, and New Spain (1700-1800). An exciting new gallery features contemporary pieces, incorporating different and unusual media, from artists along the Mexican/American border from Texas to California. Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry will be on display from Mar 27–July 25, 2010. This highly sought-after exhibit includes a collection of stunning jewelry from 3000 BC through the early 20th century as well as masterpieces and treasures from Walters Art Museum. Showcasing 150 pieces, this exhibit demonstrates the evolution of techniques and materials and the importance of jewelry as an expression of creativity, wealth and position. Museum tours available. Open Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat from 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs 9 a.m.– 9 p.m.; Sun noon–5 p.m. Downtown, corner of Santa Fe and Main, in front of the Convention Center

El Paso Museum of History is host to more than 16,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, featuring five galleries representing 400 years of U.S./Mexico border history. Two first floor galleries have featured traveling exhibitions highlighting the brilliant mind of Leonardo da Vinci as well as early Spanish exploration prior to the arrival of the Mayflower, a borderland racing history, the history of medicine, and much more. Second floor galleries include the Wall of Giants, an exhibition space dedicated to individuals and businesses that have impacted life in El Paso. The Changing Pass gallery explores centuries of cultural history. Neighborhoods & Shared Memories, the museum’s newest permanent gallery, features artifacts from El Paso’s earliest neighborhoods. 510 N. Santa Fe Street. 915 351-3588. www.elpasotexas.gov/history.

 

El Paso Railroad & Transportation Museum showcases a restored "classic" American 1857 locomotive as well as exhibits on the history of the EP&SW No. 1 and the building of the second trans-continental railroad through El Paso. There are exhibits about the railroad workers and their jobs and the use of railroads in times of war. Another featured exhibit covers urban transit from the 1880's mule car through the electric streetcars of the early 20th century to mid-century streamlined art deco streetcars. Tours of historic railroad stations are also available. Free admission. Open Tue–Sat 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sun 1–5 p.m. Closed Holidays. 915 422-3420.

International Museum of Art, located at 1211 Montana Avenue at the stately Turney Mansion. African, Western heritage, Kolliker, student, Hall of Fame and changing art galleries. Thurs–Sun 1 p.m.–5 p.m. 915 543-6747

Los Portales Museum and Tourist Information Center in historic San Elizario is open six days a week. Hours: 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Closed Mondays. Excellent exhibits, veterans' room and more. Tours other than during regular hours available by pre-arrangement. Self-guided walking tours are also available. 915 851-1682

Lynx Exhibits, tucked away behind the Convention Center in Downtown El Paso at 300-320 W. San Antonio Ave., is the nation's only museum dedicated exclusively to traveling exhibits. It's a locally owned museum offering an exciting array of short-term, nationally recognized, interactive exhibits. In 2013, it will open Exploreum, a sampling of potential Children's Museums exhibits. Every entry ticket includes a free ride on the 25-seat simulator. The facility also houses El Paso Artisan Gallery, filled with unique works and gifts from nearly two dozen regional artists. Open Tuesdays through Sundays. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, at 915-533-4330 or LynxExhibits.com

Magoffin Home State Historic Site, nestled in downtown El Paso, reveals a striking adobe homestead, built in 1875, and tells the stories of a multi-cultural family that influenced the development of the Southwest borderlands. Here you can explore the authentic art and furnishings in El Paso's only house museum! Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tue–Sun. All tours are guided and given on the hour with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m. $4 adults; $3 children 6–18. Group tours available with advance reservations. 1120 Magoffin Ave., visitmagoffinhome.com 915 533-5147.

National Border Patrol Museum and Memorial Library is the only Border Patrol museum in the U.S. It is a private, not-for-profit museum, where exhibits cover the history of the Border Patrol from the Old West, Prohibition, and WWII right up to current operations. This history is told through displays of weapons, paintings, documents, equipment, photos, artifacts, videos, and "hands-on" vehicles, such as the Willy's Jeep, helicopter, 32-foot Scarab boat, snowmobile and ATVs. There's even an airplane. Guided tours may be booked in advance by phone. Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tue–Sat. Closed Sunday, Monday and major holidays. A gift shop is open during regular museum hours. Free admission and free parking. Handicapped accessible. 4315 Transmountain Road, 915 759-6060. Borderpatrolmuseum.com Stanlee & Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts This gallery, located on the UTEP campus on Dawson Drive in a building adjacent to the south end of Sun Bowl Stadium, features both local and national exhibits. Free admission. Open Tue/Wed/Fri 10–5 p.m.; Thurs 10–7 p.m.; Sat. noon–5 p.m. 915 747-6151.

War Eagles Air Museum, located at the Santa Teresa Airport in Santa Teresa, NM (12 miles west of downtown). A collection of 28 fully restored, flyable historic military aircraft of the World War II and Korean Conflict eras. Take I-10 west to Artcraft exit. Left on Artcraft and watch for directional signs to airport and museum. Tue–Sun 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 575 589-2000.

FORT BLISS

Fort Bliss Museum and Study Center portrays the rich history of this Army post from its establishment in downtown El Paso in 1848 with a regiment of mounted infantry to its present day status as America's Air and Missile Defense Center of Excellence. The museum also houses the Air Defense Artillery Gallery, devoted to the introduction of the airplane as an offensive weapon in World War I, and delves into the general history of this branch of the service as well as chronicles the Army's unique history here along the U.S./Mexico border. Located in Building 1735, Marshall Road, Fort Bliss. Free admission. Open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon–Sat. Closed Sundays and all federal holidays. (Enter Fort Bliss through Cassidy Gate off Highway 54.) Call 915 568-3390 for information.

Old Fort Bliss Museum is a re-creation of the Fort Bliss post as it appeared at Magoffinsville from 1854—1868. Visitors experience 1857 life at Fort Bliss through authentic period room exhibits and outdoor displays. Interpretive exhibits tell the story of this important U.S. Army post from its inception in 1849 to present day. Free admission. Open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed on New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Located at the corner of Pleasonton and Pershing Roads on Fort Bliss. 915 568-3390.

CULTURAL SITES

Chamizal National Memorial, located at 800 San Marcial near the Bridge of the Americas, recognizes the 1963 amicable resolution of the dispute between the U.S. and Mexico over this section of borderland. A 55-acre park, museum, Los Paisanos Gallery, an outdoor amphitheatre and 500-seat theater are included. Visitors can see a 20-minute video in the visitors center documenting the history of the border. Home to the annual Siglo de Oro and Music Under the Stars. 915 532-7273.

Concordia Cemetery, located on Gateway West at the Copia exit off I-10, is an historical landmark which includes the actual "Boot Hill" where gunfighter John Wesley Hardin is buried. The Equestrian The magnificent, detailed bronze sculpture, The Equestrian, by sculptor John Sherrill Houser weighs 17 tons and took nine years to complete. Reputed to be the tallest statue of its kind, the horse and rider stand 44 feet tall. It took six flatbed trucks to transport it here in sections for final assembly at the El Paso International Airport, where it now graces the entrance to the facility. It depicts Don Juan de Oñate, the first Spanish colonizer to cross the river into what is now El Paso in 1598, establishing the very first settlement and introducing the horse to North America. Fray Garcia Monument, a 14-foot bronze sculpture by John Houser honoring the priest who founded the area's first mission. Located in Pioneer Plaza at the corner of El Paso and San Francisco Streets downtown. Keystone Heritage Park Just a stone's throw away from downtown El Paso is a little known treasure in the world of archaeology. The Keystone site, discovered in the 1970s and not yet open to the public, is what many consider the most significant of its kind from the Middle Archaic Period. Adjacent to the site and open to the visitors Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. is the

El Paso Desert Botanical Gardens and Wetlands, an adventure in the flora and fauna of the Southwest and a great observation point for over 200 bird species visible throughout the year. The wetlands area, the new Chihuahuan Desert Experience, is open 7 a.m.- 3 p.m. on weekdays. This feature allows visitors to stroll through twelve major eco-systems of the vast Chihuahua Desert, which stretches all the way from Mexico City to the south to the Mogollon Rim of New Mexico to the north. Tours by appointment are available, and birding tours are conducted the last Saturday of each month at 8 a.m., 4200 Doniphan, 915 584-0563. KeystoneHeritagePark.org

McKelligon Canyon Park & Amphitheatre, a 90-acre park located in El Paso's Franklin Mountains, is open to hikers and picnickers. A special feature of the park, a 1,500-seat amphitheatre, which is surrounded on three sides by dramatic canyon walls, is used for concerts and other events. Located on McKelligon Canyon Road off Alabama Avenue in northeast El Paso. Mt. Cristo Rey, on the west side off McNutt Road in Sunland Park, N.M. Atop an 800-foot peak stands a magnificent 29-foot statue of Christ by internationally acclaimed Spanish sculptor Urbici Soler, the site of an annual pilgrimage on Easter Sunday. Because of Mt. Cristo Rey's proximity to Mexico, it's best to hike up the mountain in a group. Plaza de los Lagartos, a fiberglass sculpture by Luis Jimenez honoring the city's colorful past, when real alligators graced San Jacinto Plaza in the center of downtown. Bordered by Mills, Mesa, Oregon and Main Streets. Tigua Indian Cultural Center Visitors to the center can experience over 350 years of tribal history in the exhibits at the pueblo museum. Several artists work in gift shops surrounding the grassy plaza, where tribal social dancing exhibitions take place every weekend. You can even smell and taste loaves of fresh bread baked in traditional outdoor ovens or hornos (call for schedule). From I-10, go south on Americas Avenue (Loop 375) and then right on Socorro Road, and it's just one-half mile to the center. Open Wed–Sun 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 305 Ya Ya Lane, 915 859-7700.

SCENIC SPOTS

Scenic Drive, Rim Road over the southern tip of the Franklin Mountains. On the west side, take Mesa Street to Rim Road and turn toward the mountains. Rim Road will turn into Scenic Drive. On the east side, take Alabama Street to Richmond and turn toward the mountains. Richmond turns into Scenic Drive. Transmountain Road, connecting I-10 on the west side of the city to the Patriot Freeway (Hwy 54) on the northeast side. El Paso Municipal Rose Garden, one of only 134 all-American rose selections (AARS) public gardens in the United States, is highly maintained to achieve certification by the American Rose Society. An AARS designation guarantees that a rose will live in that climate. The society sponsors a spring show, pruning demonstrations, garden tours, a yearly seminar, and advice to the public on the growing and caring of roses. Open Saturday (8 a.m.–1 p.m.) and Sunday (noon–4 p.m.) March 1–October 31. 1702 North Copia (corner of Copia & Aurora), Information/memberships: 915 541-4331.

AND MORE...

Crazy Cat Cyclery, El Paso's premier homegrown bike shops, keep getting bigger and better. The first shop opened 15 years ago near UTEP. A few years ago, a west-side shop was added near great road and mountain bike routes. Now, there's an east-side location that's a Giant Concept Store just blocks from the airport and near Ft. Bliss. Varied lineups of bikes from the world's best names, including Specialized, Giant, Trek, Cannondale, Yeti, Bianchi and Orbea, are available at the different shops. A wide selection of accessories and rental bikes are available at all the locations. Crazy Cat also has one of El Paso's best service departments with most repairs completed within 24 hours. 2625 N. Mesa, 915 577-9666; 5650 N. Desert Blvd (I-10 at Redd Road, next to Starbucks), 915 585-9666; and 6625 Montana (one block west of Airway Blvd), 915 772-9666.

Downtown El Paso, a vibrant, historic district, is a unique, bustling and energetic blend of Mexican and American culture, where everything is conveniently located, the shopping is great and history abounds. Stores, restaurants, and entertainment are close, the atmosphere is unmatched, and discounted prices provide a shopping experience unlike any other! Over 500 stores offer an extraordinary range of merchandise. A large percentage of these stores comprise the Golden Horseshoe district in southernmost downtown from El Paso Street, starting less than a block from the international bridge, to San Antonio Street and Overland Avenue and back down Stanton Street almost to the border. Merchants who established these stores many years ago gave this U-shaped area this name because it was a very lucrative district with the steady stream of daily shoppers going back and forth across the border. On the cultural side, the downtown area boasts an impressive museum and entertainment district. The fabulous El Paso Museum of Art is next door to the recently restored, expanded and exquisite Plaza Theatre plus new construction along Mills Street broaden the scope and allure of downtown.

Downtown Walking Tour of El Paso is a 90-minute self-guided walking tour that begins in San Jacinto Plaza, original site of Ponce de Leon's ranch, winds through El Paso's downtown historic district and ends on Mills Street at the Kress Building, home of the famous dime store from 1938 to 1997. The tour includes several architecturally identifiable buildings, many of them designed by noted architect Henry C. Trost, the elegant, restored Plaza Theatre with its unique twinkling-star-and-floating-cloud ceiling, the beautifully restored Camino Real Hotel with its stained-glass dome ceiling, and other noteworthy buildings mastering many architectural styles. A walking tour brochure can be picked up at the Convention and Visitors Bureau (or download one from visitelpaso.com) and from several hotels and merchants.

El Paso Zoo is locally recognized as the place "to take the kiddos!" Entering the El Paso Zoo is like stepping into another world! Experience the world of exotic animals from the Americas, Asia and Africa and visit the newest addition, an 8-acre passport to Africa showcasing species including lions, zebras, giraffes, meerkats and waterfowl. Step into the wild side and help feed the giraffes, but be careful with their sticky 15-inch long tongues because they'll take the food right out of your hand! Don't forget to take a ride on the African Star Train or splash around in the new Hunt Family Desert Spring (seasonal), the family-friendly water feature designed to cool off the kids. You will also get the chance to meet the new Prairie Dogs as they explore their recently remodeled exhibit. The El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure for the whole family. Daily animal encounter and educational programs are offered. Open daily year-round. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Summer Hours: Mon–Fri 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Sat–Sun 9:30 a.m–5 p.m. Winter Hours: Mon–Fri 9:30 a.m.– 4 p.m. daily. Active Military with I.D. $7.50; children under 2 free; 3 to 12 yrs. $6; 13–59 yrs. $10; 60 yrs & older $7.50.  El Paso Zoo Society Memberships $75 (reciprocal at many zoos across the country). Member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). 4001 E. Paisano, 915 521-1850, elpasozoo.org.

Farmer's Market is the place local farmers and artisans sell their finest wares each Saturday morning at Ardovino's Desert Crossing in Sunland Park, NM, 12 minutes from downtown El Paso and 5 minutes from Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. Breakfast and lunch are served on the patio, often accompanied by musical entertainment. Market is seasonal: opened late spring through autumn. Call 575 589-0653 for times, details and directions.

Indian Cliffs Ranch & Cattleman's Steakhouse, 20 miles east of El Paso at Fabens exit off I-10 and approximately 5 miles north. Ranch, private zoo, lake, movie set, hayrides, restaurant, bar. Enjoy the sights and sounds and stay for a great dinner. 915 544-3200. Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino offers a first-class casino yearround plus live horse-racing during the summer. In the mountain resort of Ruidoso, New Mexico. Call 575 378-4431.

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino features state-of-the-art slot machine gaming, daily simulcast wagering, live horseracing from December though April, four dining options, Las Vegas-style buffet, live entertainment, big-name concerts, convention space and meeting rooms. Free guarded parking and free valet parking. Casino opens daily at 9:30 a.m. Located just 10 minutes west of downtown El Paso, I-10 exit 13, 1200 Futurity Drive, 575 874-5200. sunland-park.com

Western Playland Amusement Park, a tradition for family fun for more than 50 years, is located across the street from Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. The amusement park is opened from mid-February through October and is located on 25+ acres full of fun and excitement. This is the #1 amusement park in West Texas and southern New Mexico with over 30 rides and games for all ages. Experience the Tsunami, the extremely popular, exciting and drenching downhill water ride that the kids absolutely love. Also try the other exciting rides like the roller coaster El Bandido, The Drop Zone, The Miner Kids Coaster, and family rides like Pharaoh’s Fury, Bumper Cars, Yo-Yo, Tilt-A-Whirl, Flying Skooters, and the Scrambler. Watch for a new thrilling and hair-raising ride, the Hurricane Roller Coaster, during the summer 2013. For a great time at an affordable price, you can’t beat Western Playland Amusement Park. Great food, games, and rides. From I-10, take Sunland Park exit 13 and head south to 1249 Futurity Dr. 

Wyler Aerial Tramway offers a view of 7,000 square miles, two countries and three states from the 5,632-foot elevation at the southern edge of the Franklin Mountains. The ride takes 4–5 minutes, climbing 940 feet. The summit at Ranger Peak includes observation deck, gift shop and exhibit panels. Adults: $7, 12 and under at $4. Call for hours. Take Alabama to McKinley Ave and turn toward the mountain. McKinley ends at the base of the tram. You can reach Alabama from the Fred Wilson exit off U.S. 54 (head west and Fred Wilson turns into Alabama). 915 566-6622.