El Paso, TX

Destination Location

El Paso, TX
  • 31.761878, -106.485022:primary
  • 31.80722, -106.3775:secondary

Overview

Since the early days when Spanish Conquistadors arrived at the banks of the Rio Grande in 1598 to today, where millions of visitors come to see where the spirit of Texas and the cultures of New Mexico converge, El Paso has become a celebration of beauty waiting to be discovered.

The beautiful and majestic Franklin Mountains are the pride of El Paso. Visitors can ride the Wyler Aerial Tramway to Ranger Peak to get a panoramic view of the city, or drive along Transmountain Road, which cuts right through the mountain. Enjoy a picnic in Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban park in the U.S. For outdoor adventurers, there's also mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing virtually any time of the year.

Walking tours are a great way to soak up El Paso's great outdoors – and learn about its rich history in the process. A tour of downtown only takes about 90 minutes and will take you to see historic architectural landmarks. If you're up for a half-day walking tour, don't miss the chance to experience El Paso's Mission Trail. Stroll through rustic churches originally built in the 1600s. Still owned by the Catholic Church, many of them remain open for services, usually during daytime hours.

Spend a little time at one of the city's 10 art galleries. Adair Margo Fine Art showcases more than 400 artists from countries around the world and has worked to see its art placed in national museum collections, the White House and in U.S. Embassies worldwide. If you're really looking to be inspired, check out the Creative Kids, OLO Gallery, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts for disadvantaged youth, youth with disabilities and youth fighting cancer. The gallery features works of art from children enrolled in the organization's programs.

It's always a good time to discover El Paso. WestJet is pleased to offer service to this destination through our code-share agreement with American Airlines, one of our great airline partners.

Destination basics

El Paso offers a warm climate with hot, dry summers. You can bet the sun will be shining, on average, 302 days a year, giving this city it’s most recognizable name, "the Sun City."

Average temperatures range from 7.3 C in January to 29 C in July. The warmest temperatures usually occur in June, but there can also be rain during this time. It's usually a good idea to keep a light rain jacket with you as brief rain showers are known to occur throughout the year.

If your El Paso adventures include a trek through the Franklin Mountains, we recommend dressing in layers.

 

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for El Paso, TX

El Paso being a border town, you'd be right in guessing that the city specializes in Mexican food. But that doesn't mean there isn't a large variety of cuisines from which to choose. Finding a nice restaurant may at first seem intimidating, what with the extra-high concentration of fast-food joints, but with a little searching, you are sure to find something just right for your palate.

Downtown/Central
Good ol' downtown El Paso! The Camino Real Hotel boast two fine dining establishments, Azulejos Restaurant & Patio and Dome Restaurant & Bar. Azulejos features good Mexican food with a touch of Southwest and California influences. Their tortilla soup has garnered high praise from many-a-patron. The Dome, a more expensive option, boasts the title of El Paso's finest dining establishment. The menu changes seasonally, but the decor stays elegant, & the Tiffany dome makes a classy impact. Venturing out of downtown and up to north Central, head to the Great American Land & Cattle Co. steakhouse, an El Paso institution for more than 30 years, featuring hearty steaks and fresh seafood, with views of the majestic Franklin Mountains.

Airport Area
Many quality restaurants dot the landscape around the airport, a number of them touristy, but in a good way. Looking for some fun with your chips and salsa? Try Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey's, just a little ways west of the airport. They serve authentic Mexican food, but those who come here know it's all about the margaritas, the crowds of people and the rockin' Mariachi band. Shogun Steak House, said to be El Paso's best sushi bar, features fancy knife work from chefs, a treat for the eyes and the whole family.

West Side/New Mexico
El Paso's vast West Side sports more than a few good eating places. For some quality Mexican food, Avila's can't be beat. Its reputation precedes it, touted as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city and the country. Hankering after something a little less Mexican? Paco Wong's Chinese Restaurant & Bar will hit the spot. Though a little pricey, the dishes are a cut above average.

East Side
The ever-growing East Side sprouts almost as many fast food restaurants as otherwise, with virtually every fast food chain you can think of. In the mood for some Mediterranean fare? Head over to Charbroil Wrap for some gyros and souvlaki. Down by the Misión de Corpus Christi de Ysleta del Sur, the Tigua tribe rustles up some fine Mexican food at Wyngs Restaurant, along with a divine shrimp and avocado cocktail. Be sure to check out the Tigua-run Speaking Rock Entertainment Complex.

Juárez
Though the truth may hurt, when it comes to Mexican food, la Ciudad Juárez kicks El Paso's efforts to the curb. Take Barrigas, for example. For very reasonable prices you can order from a wide array of foods, from tacos and burritos to pasta and steak, all while surrounded by authentic Mexican decor. 

El Paso, home to more than 700,000 people, is a sprawling city, spread across the vast Texas landscape, an active cultural hub that mixes the flavors and spices of its neighbors and creates something distinctly El Pasoan. From the parades, festivals, fiestas and la musica, the city has plenty to offer.

Downtown/Central
Downtown El Paso harbors a lot of historical and cultural attractions, including many of the city's museums and entertainment venues. The El Paso Convention Center, Plaza Theater, the Museum of Art, and the stately Camino Real Hotel all lie within a tight radius at the intersection of North Santa Fe Street and West Mills Avenue. City Hall stands just one block up from the Convention Center along with the Insights Science Museum; the Union Depot, Union Plaza, and a number of nightclubs lie a block to the west.

Walk a block east of Plaza Theater and you'll hit San Jacinto Plaza, also known as Plaza de los Lagartos, memorable for its colorful alligator fountain. South from here, on the blocks around South Mesa Street and South El Paso Street, throngs of shoppers walk streets filled with stores and markets strongly reminiscent of the Juárez mercados. Those looking for bargains would do well to shop here before heading for the border.

Airport Area
El Paso provides many services for those coming in and out of the airport, with a number of nearby restaurants and hotels. There's the Shogun Steak House (Japanese) and Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey's (Mexican), to name a few. The Marriott, Wingate, and Embassy Suites are all located in this area. The Fort Bliss Military Reservation is also near the airport.

West Side/New Mexico
This swath of El Paso is bordered by the Franklin Mountains to the east and New Mexico almost everywhere else, save for I-10 connecting the area to downtown. Sunland Park draws many visitors, what with its Racetrack & Casino and Western Playland Amusement Park. A little ways to the north the Keystone Heritage Park and its Desert Botanical Gardens warmly greet the curious passerby.

Further along Highway 28, those with a discerning wine palate can find La Viña Winery and Zin Valle wineries. Straddling the northern Texas/New Mexico border, the small town of Anthony draws water lovers with its Wet 'N' Wild Waterworld.

Deeper into New Mexico, the Las Cruces' fairgrounds hold a number of notable events, and the White Sands National Monument will beguile even the most jaded of globetrotters. A day-trip's worth of fun can be had at Alamagordo with its museums and at Ruidoso Downs, with their racetrack and casino.

East Side/Lower Valley
Where only a few decades ago there was nothing but desert, now rests a whole new addition to El Paso's metropolitan area. Beside the sprawling strip malls and myriad suburbs can be found some historical treasures. The Misión de Corpus Christi de Ysleta del Sur near the Tigua Indian Reservation & Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, for example, bears testimony to the early Spanish influence in the area. The tribe runs the adjacent Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, where a fun time is had by all.

A little further east you can reach the suburbs of Horizon City, Clint and Homestead Meadows; about two hours east, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park beckons with all its natural splendor. Just another 40 miles and across the border into New Mexico lies the stunning Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a popular attraction for nature buffs and casual visitors alike.

Juárez
El Paso's sister city, Cuidad Juárez, lies right across the border within easy walking distance (automobile traffic can get quite backed up). This city has seen increased violence in recent years, so exercise caution if visiting. There are several attractions in this city, such as the Mercado Juárez, which teems with tourists looking for (and getting) bargains on souvenirs and the like. The nearby Villa del Mar feeds the hungry masses and has restrooms. Also close by is the 17th-century Spanish mission, La Misión de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe, which holds the distinction as the oldest intact building in this part of the Southwest.

With over 300 sunny days each year, a lot of the outdoor fun to be had in Sun City takes place under sweltering conditions. It's best to play it cool and enjoy the many air-conditioned entertainment options El Paso has to offer, such as museums, shopping centers, cinemas and theaters. Otherwise, take a dip in the pool or wait until nightfall and go clubbing.

Museums
The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA), with an art collection of over 5,000 pieces, features European, American and Mexican artwork, with a special emphasis on contemporary works by local or regional artists. Every summer the museum holds the much-anticipated EPMA Binational art exhibition.

A visit to the El Paso Museum of History will broaden your horizons and deepen your understanding of the region, with the past 400 years of local history to explore. The Museum of Archaeology, found at the foot of the mountains, with its many large dioramas inside and varied flora outside, makes for an educational treat.

The Border Patrol Museum, also located by the Franklin Mountains, proudly displays various paraphernalia that chronicles the efforts of the Border Patrol as they tirelessly work to maintain the integrity of the border. It is the only museum of its kind in the country.

Pick a fair-weather day to trek on up to the El Paso Desert Botanical Gardens, a peaceful haven of well-manicured grounds featuring a variety of local plant life. The evening is the best time to head to New Mexico's White Sands National Monument, where the stunning and majestic fields of otherworldly sand will leave you gazing for hours. The monument also features a visitor center and museum.

Those interested in mechanics will want to explore the modest El Paso Railroad & Transportation Museum, where an authentic 19th-century locomotive silently sits - a testament to the rich railroad history of El Paso, all laid out piece by piece in the exhibits.

Theater and Music
The historic Plaza Theater, found in the heart of downtown El Paso, always has something worthwhile to see. The Plaza is one of the biggest venues between Los Angeles and Dallas, and has been going strong since the 1930s.

The Abraham Chavez Theater likewise boasts many crowd-pleasing functions, hosting a wide range of concerts, from Il Trovatore to Beck. For some music with more of a Latin flair, look no further than the large, red-roofed El Paso County Coliseum, one happening establishment that features performers like Alejandro Fernandez, Enrique Iglesias and Aventura.

The Chamizal National Memorial Amphitheater hosts a number of cultural events, such as the Siglo de Oro Drama Festival, the El Paso Chamber Music Festival and many more.

Nightclubs
If you think the daytime in El Paso is hot, just wait until nightfall - this city sizzles, and downtown is definitely where it's at. Briar Patch caters to the local LGBT crowd, serving the patrons some frothy beverages with friendly aplomb.

Family Fun
The El Paso area has a number of attractions the whole family can enjoy, like Western Playland Amusement Park. Although technically in New Mexico, that doesn't make it any less fun, boasting rollercoasters, carousels and the like. Wet 'N' Wild Waterworld is the perfect getaway to wash those hot summer blues away, with waterslides, pools, rafts and more. The modest, unassuming El Paso Zoo is the perfect spot for little kids to marvel at an assortment of exotic creatures, from orangutans and jaguars to tigers and sea-lions. In September the zoo puts on the annual Elephant Festival, where these wondrous animals capture children's imaginations.

For the outdoorsy, hiker types, Franklin Mountains State Park should be first on the list. Besides hiking, you can also also go camping and mountain biking. Be sure to pay the admission fee or the meter maid will pay an unwanted visit. About two hours north of El Paso in New Mexico lies the majestic White Sands National Monument, complete with sunset walking tours, and picnic grounds where you can enjoy a bite to eat.

Biggs Army Airfield is a must see, especially in October, when the spectacular Amigo Airsho arrives. Jets of all kinds roar into the open skies, pulling off crowd-pleasing stunts and maneuvers.

El Paso

State: Texas

Country: United States of America

El Paso By The Numbers
Population: 649,133 (city); 838,972 (metropolitan area)
Elevation: 3,740 feet / 1,140 meters
Average Annual Precipitation: 9.7 inches / 24.6 centimeters
Annual Annual Snowfall: 7 inches / 17.8 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 45.5°F / 7.5°C
Average July Temperature: 83°F / 28.3°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts AC, 50Hz; round two-pin plugs are standard

Time zone: GMT -7 (GMT -6 daylight saving time); Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Country dialing code: +1

Area Codes: 915, 575

Did You Know?
El Paso is home to the largest urban park in the country, Franklin Mountains State Park.

Legend has it that the Margarita was invented in El Paso at Tommy’s Place Bar in 1945.

Orientation
El Paso is situated in the far western tip of Texas. It is right on the border with Mexico, being directly across the Rio Grande river from Ciudad Juarez. El Paso is about 227 miles (366 kilometers) south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The origin of El Paso dates back to April 13, 1598 when a Spanish expedition led by Don Juan de Oate set up the colony El Paso del Norte on what is now Juárez. In 1659, the conquistador Fray Garcia de San Francisco founded a mission there. La Misión de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe was completed in 1668, and can still be seen in downtown Juárez.

Several years later, in 1680, the area became a major base of operations for the Spaniards as New Mexico's Pueblo Revolt weakened the Spanish hold on that area, forcing the settlers down to the Rio Grande. The Tigua Indians, who had also been run out of northern New Mexico by the revolt, founded the Misión de Corpus Christi de Ysleta del Sur two years later at what is now the Tigua Indian Reservation. El Paso del Norte grew and prospered as an important trade route linking Santa Fe to Mexico City. Mining and agriculture also fed the local economy.

The settlements along the river continued to bustle along until 1824, when El Paso del Norte became a part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. That distinction was to be short-lived, however, as the Mexican-American War of the late 1840s delivered the land north of the Rio Grande over to the Americans, effectively splitting El Paso del Norte down the middle.

After the war, the newly-Americanized land saw a steady influx of American settlers, with the establishment of the Fort Bliss military post in 1849 heralding the booming years to come. Fort Bliss welcomed many a Confederate soldier in 1861 during America's Civil War, only to be retaken by Union forces the following year.

In 1873, the American half of El Paso del Norte officially became the city of El Paso, Texas. The very next year the city took it upon itself to incorporate nearly all the 36 square miles of Tigua Indian land.

Things began to really boom with the arrival of a number of railroads in 1881, effectively turning El Paso into Wild West town with saloons, gambling, and prostitutes, run by trigger-happy "frontier law."

Mexico's half of El Paso changed its named to Ciudad Juárez in 1888. Violence and illicit activities in El Paso began wind down during World War I when the Army leaned on the city to clean things up. Prostitution, drinking and gambling largely moved south to Juárez.

The city experienced significant growth through the 1920s up until the Great Depression of the 1930s, and then enjoyed another lengthy comeback as World War II and then the Cold War turned Fort Bliss into a bustling military installation.

El Paso's prosperity progressed unabated until 1990 when globalization began adversely affecting the city's industrial economy. The attacks of 9/11 and subsequent wars in the Middle East incited renewed interest in all things military, creating another boost for the city as money started pouring into Fort Bliss and Biggs Army Airfield.

Despite many rough spots in its past, El Paso continues to expand and shore up its cultural heritage. From Spanish colony to Wild West town to military stronghold, the city's history evolves ever onward.

Points of interest in El Paso, TX

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