Las Cruces New Mexico
The City of Crosses
Las Cruces New Mexico is the largest city in the southern part of the state. With its warmer climate and university campus, Las Cruces is a great place to live or have a second house.
I spent a lot of time in Las Cruces NM when I was growing up. My mom’s family grew up in Deming, and several of the siblings moved 1 hour away to Las Cruces. As such, my sister and I got shuttled off every summer to spend 6 weeks to 2 months staying with various family members.
You know what's funny, though?
The things that stuck out in my mind the most as a kid were the palm trees. Palm trees seem so exotic and foreign to a kid raised in Albuquerque that it was almost like going to another world to see them lining the streets. The weather is very mild compared to Albuquerque, and freezing is rare, so the palms (while imported) do ok.
Today, Las Cruces New Mexico is the central economic and geographic district in the Mesilla Valley. As of 2008, population has risen to more than 90,000 and is continuously rising since it has become a favorite destination of retirees, people looking to reside in a quiet neighborhood, and tourists due to what it boasts as 350 days of sunshine in the region.
It offers numerous activities for locals and visitors such as golfing, biking, hiking, bird watching, and more. There are also Mesilla Valley excursions, La Morena walking tours, and Southwest expeditions that anyone can join. For the curious, there are ghost towns like Chloride, Hillsboro, Winston, and more that are open to visitors.
Museums like the Branigan Cultural Center, Fort Selden State Monument, and the Las Cruces Museum of Art are also open to those who are interested in learning more about the history and culture of the region.
The Farmer’s Market
The Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays to give visitors a chance to try local produce and buy locally hand crafted art. The region is known for their fine produce, and I encourage you to check it out. It's a fun way to spend a couple hours and even if you only buy enough to eat while you wander around, it's worth it.
Old Mesilla is found on the outskirts of Las Cruces NM and is a historic plaza dating back to 1848. Actually, Mesilla New Mexico abuts Las Cruces New Mexico, so it’s kind of a like a tiny suburb. This is where you’ll find Old Mesilla.
It’s a wonderful adobe center with dining, shopping, galleries, bed and breakfasts and tons of history and photo opportunities. While there is a ton of shopping to do with jewelry stores, apparel boutiques, home décor stores, and gift and souvenir stores, the reason I love going to Old Mesilla is the food.
Specifically, I love La Posta. It’s been in business for over 70 years and is a staple dining establishment. Yes, there’s a full bar which they’re known for having the widest selection of tequila and margaritas, but they are also renown for their steaks and Mexican food. Since opening in 1939, customers have been loyal to the good food, great service, and delightful atmosphere. I, personally, get the La Posta Grande, which is way more food than anyone could ever eat, but it is worth it to take it home and reheat later.
I choose the starter of chips and queso (chile and melted cheese dip), but you can choose also from guacamole salad or a tossed green salad. Then follow with a taco, chile relleno, green enchilada con carne, rice and beans all served on a platter. Follow up with a warm sopapilla and honey (or skip the honey and do like my honey does; sop up all the chile sauce off your platter) and you’ll wonder if you ever need to eat again.
Don’t worry. You will.
The food is really that good, though.
Finally, I can’t forget the pecans. Pecans flourish in Las Cruces New Mexico and it’s evident at Stahmanns where hundreds of pecan trees can be seen in their grove off Highway 28. Stahmanns has been growing the best pecans for over 75 years and we were never allowed to leave the city without picking up a pound (or two) of pecan bark. Pecan bark is milk or dark chocolate with mounds of sweet pecans mixed in.
So simple. So delicious.
Update May 2012: Stahmanns closed both of their retail businesses. They will continue their wholesale offerings, but sadly no more stops at their country store for us.
NMSU is based in an agriculturally rich environment and embraces this with their College of Agricultural and Home Economics. Here students can receive degrees in agricultural biology, agricultural economics, agricultural business, general agriculture, horticulture, and animal science. Their mascot is the Aggie (short for agricultural, of course). At approximately 20,000 students the campus is large, but feels like a smaller, intimate campus.
Read About New Mexico State University Here.
So go! Enjoy the sun, the food, and the activities in Las Cruces New Mexico.