Top 25 New Mexico Attractions You Will Absolutely Love

Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Nikki Jain

New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment because you will fall in love as soon as you visit. There are natural wonders and deserts spread throughout the state, as well as unique museums, such as one focusing on aliens. You can go skiing in New Mexico, go for a hike, head to a museum, or spend the day with your family at a theme park. While traveling, you will find the finest Tex-Mex anywhere, as well as classic American dishes, all full of flavor and as much (or little) spice as you want.

Here's an overview of the top attractions in New Mexico.

Things To Do in New Mexico

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1: White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park
Flickr/Murray Foubister

The otherworldly ivory dunes of White Sands National Park are among the world's greatest natural wonders and certainly one of the top sights to see in New Mexico.

Here in the heart of the Tularosa Basin, gypsum sands have taken over 275 square miles of desert, creating an enormous, wave-like dune field.

It’s a playground like no other, ready for everything from sledding to hiking through the snow-white sand.

Tackle a strenuous trek or opt instead for cruising along the scenic, 8-mile Dunes Drive, which leads from the visitor center into the heart of the dune field.

Build in time to stop for walks in the sand, taking photos and learning about the area’s natural and cultural history. Cyclists can also follow Dunes Drive for a pleasant fresh-air tour of the area.

For the hikers, there are five established trails scattered through White Sands National Park’s unique landscape. Savor the silence and solitude – and the stunning views of surrounding mountains.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Alamogordo

Address: U.S. Route 70 Alamogordo, NM 88310

2: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

If you’re looking for authentic things to do in New Mexico, time your visit with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Set in the Rio Grande Valley, the nine-day event takes place each October and fills the field and sky with vibrantly colored balloons.

Watch a balloon rodeo, a variety of competitions by expert balloon pilots and as countless balloons lift off into the sky in a dazzling array of colors.

Stick around in the evening for Balloon Glows when the balloons fire their burners and light up at the same time – perhaps the most spectacular moment of the entire festival.

Learn about America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race, one of the world's two premier distance races for gas balloons.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the event operations and learn about the sport and science of ballooning at the Balloon Discovery Center.

Best of all? You can take a ride in a balloon yourself, thanks to the on-site balloon ride concession.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Albuquerque

Address: 4401 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113

Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Albuquerque, NM

3: Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument

For history and archaeology buffs, Bandelier National Monument is one of the top attractions in New Mexico.

The extensive park protects more than 33,000 acres of canyon and mesa country, a rugged landscape where evidence of human life some 11,000 years ago can be seen.

Look for petroglyphs, dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people carved into soft volcanic tuff and standing masonry walls.

Learn how the early people, who lived here from approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE, planted their crops of corn, beans and squash in mesa top fields and hunted for deer, rabbit and squirrel.

Start your visit with a walk on the 1.4-mile Main (Pueblo) Loop Trail, which starts at the Visitor Center and leads you through excavated archaeological sites on the floor of the Frijoles Canyon.

Tackle the 3-mile Falls Trail to the Upper Falls and additional trails that lead to the mesa tops. And don’t miss the Tsankawi area of the park, 12 miles from the main section, where you can view petroglyphs and the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Los Alamos

Address: 15 Entrance Rd Los Alamos, NM 87544

4: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Facebook/Georgia O Keeffe Museum

Whether or not you consider yourself an art critic, you should consider the Georgia O’Keefe Museum one of the top places to visit in New Mexico.

O’Keefe was famously inspired by the Santa Fe landscape and quickly soared to the top of the list of Southwestern artists.

Housed in a former adobe Baptist church, the museum appeals to all ages and all tastes, with more than 1,000 drawings, paintings and sculptures capturing “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it,” according to O’Keefe.

You’ll also find a couple of thousand pieces by other notable Southwestern artists.

Learn about O'Keefe's life and art through a documentary and a variety of insightful exhibits.

The free Georgia O'Keefe app is a smart download to listen to as you wander throughout the gallery.

The museum also maintains O'Keefe's home and studio in the village of Abiquiu, worth a visit if you have the time.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Santa Fe

Address: 217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Santa Fe, New Mexico

5: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Wikimedia/Eric Guinther

When it comes to adventure-filled vacation spots in New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is top of mind.

With its ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons and caverns of all sizes, it's timelessly appealing to visitors of all ages.

Lace-up a sturdy pair of sneakers or hiking boots and take to the Chihuahuan Desert to explore both above grounds and below.

Admire flowering cactus and glimpse desert wildlife, then descend into the Big Room, the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America.

Take the relatively flat, 1.25-mile Big Room Trail into the cavern, which Will Rogers once called “The Grand Canyon with a roof over it.”

You’ll even see the rope ladder used by explorers back in 1924. Another option is to hike the very steep 1.25-mile Natural Entrance Trail, gaining or losing 750 feet.

You’ll follow in the footsteps of early explorers, passing Devil’s Spring, the Whale’s Mouth and Iceberg Rock.

Don’t stop with the caverns – the park has plenty of great surface hiking, as well as fun bat flight programs and night sky-viewing programs.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Carlsbad

Address: 27 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, NM, 88220

Also Read: Most Amazing Caves & Caverns in the USA

6: Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Gazing at the night sky in an official International Dark Sky Park is high on the list of unique things to do in New Mexico.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park was named such a place in 2013 and had been protecting the night skies ever since.

No permanent outdoor lighting exists in order to protect nocturnal wildlife and the natural rhythms of humans and plants that depend on an unaltered night sky.

Within the park, visitors can see evidence of the huge structures built by the Ancestral Pueblo people between 850 and 1250 AD.

Explore by guided tour, hiking, biking, around the campfire with a guide at night and, of course, during night-sky programs, including astronomy programs, daytime solar viewing and telescope viewing at night.

Most of the park and its cultural sites are self-guided year-round.

Take your time and visit the six significant sites on the 9-mile Canyon Loop Drive: Una Vida, Hungo Pavi, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo and Casa Rinconada.

Address: Nageezi, NM 87037

7: New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science

A local favorite and a popular New Mexico tourist attraction, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science is known for its life-size dinosaur skeletons.

The museum sits just outside Old Town and draws curious guests of all ages to learn about 12 billion years of local natural history.

Venture into the Jurassic era at the FossilWorks exhibit and learn about the process of extracting precious vertebrate fossils from the rocks that hid them for millennia.

Text and illustrations teach about the fossilization process and Jurassic Period dinos – read up, then check out the partial skeleton in the Age of Supergiants exhibit.

Don’t miss the Planetarium, with its 55-foot screen showing multimedia presentations on astronomy and space science.

In the Naturalist Center, you can use microscopes, study native animals and touch specimens for a hands-on approach to New Mexico’s natural world.

Address: 1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104

Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Albuquerque, NM

8: Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway

Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway

Go off the grid and chug your way into history on the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway, a historic New Mexico attraction.

As you steam along, admire the mountainsides covered in brilliant aspens, just as passengers did 140 years ago.

Rated one of America's most scenic trains, this National Historic Landmark actually moves.

Your authentic steam train ride will take you through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico, covering 64 miles.

You’ll squeeze through mountain canyons and cross the high desert and green meadows, all in Victorian-era elegance in the parlor car or the more budget-friendly coach car. Lunch is included.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Chama

Address: 500 Terrace Avenue, Chama, NM 87520

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Also Read: 30 Best Railway Museums in the US

9: Loretto Chapel

Loretto Chapel

Calling Loretto Chapel “historically significant” doesn’t quite do it justice. For one, it includes 19th century stained glass straight from Paris. It also includes the Miraculous Staircase, which includes two 360-degree turns and no visible means of support.

The Loretto Chapel is located in Santa Fe and was completed in 1878. At the time of its construction, Santa Fe was a city with a mixed culture of Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and American citizens.

The chapel was constructed as a way to bring together Santa Fe’s citizens through religion.

Whether you are here for a visit or you are here to hold special events like weddings and anniversaries, you will enjoy the beautiful facade of the Loretto Chapel.

Have beautiful photo ops at the chapel's majestic staircase and bring home souvenir items with you from the chapel's gift shop.

Address: 207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501

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Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Santa Fe, NM

10: Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway

Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway

This high-flying New Mexico attraction soars over deep canyons and dramatic natural beauty as it whisks you more than 10,000 feet – nearly three miles – up Sandia Peak.

The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway offers the best views of Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains from its observation deck.

On a clear day, you can see up to 11,000 square miles.

It’s particularly stunning at sunset, when the desert sky erupts in a kaleidoscope of color, cementing the state’s nickname as the “Land of Enchantment.”

Once atop the peak, take time to explore the various hiking trails of Cibola National Forest.

Address: 10 Tramway Loop NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122

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11: Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument
Flickr/Mobilus In Mobili

Home to one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, Petroglyph National Monument is one of the most impressive attractions in New Mexico for American history buffs.

Archaeologists estimate that there are more than 25,000 petroglyph images in the 17 miles of escarpment within the monument’s boundaries.

The petroglyphs you’ll view are believed to have been created by the ancestors of today's Pueblo people and were carved from about 1300 through the late 1680s.

The images, carved into the volcanic rock, are records of cultural expression and are spiritually significant to contemporary Native Americans and descendants of early Spanish settlers.

Stop by the visitor center first to get directions to the attractions with the park or attend an education program to learn more about ancient rock art.

The highly accessible, scenic trails are between a 1-mile to 6.5-mile drive from the visitor center.

Address: Western Trail NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120

12: Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo
Flickr/Phillip Capper

Spend a day in a living Native American community at Taos Pueblo, where centuries of culture and traditions come to life.

Tour the multi-storied adobe buildings, which have been continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years.

The buildings, made entirely of adobe, appear much as they did when the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1540.

The Pueblo contains many individual homes, side by side and in layers, with common walls but no connecting doorways.

Today, about 150 people live with Pueblo full time. Additional families maintain conventional homes outside the village walls and occupy their Pueblo home for ceremonials.

While you’re there, consider purchasing mica-flecked pottery and silver jewelry made by local artisans and for sale at curio shops within the Pueblo.

At the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos Pueblo is one of the most culturally significant places to go in New Mexico.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Taos

Address: 120 Veterans Highway, Taos, NM 87571

Also Read: 15 Most Charming Small Towns in New Mexico

13: Santa Rosa Blue Hole

Santa Rosa Blue Hole

Popular with open-water divers and those who just want to stare down into beautiful blue water, the Santa Rosa Blue Hole is a geologic phenomenon.

Part of a larger, unexplored cave network, the 81-foot-deep, 60-foot-wide artesian spring was formed when the local limestone bedrock was eroded and collapsed by an underground aquifer.

Enough water flows through the hole to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every three hours.

It’s that constantly moving water that keeps the visibility so excellent for divers.

Come to swim and stay awhile, lounging on the rock slabs that line the northern edge of the hole.

Be prepared, though – the water remains a chilly 61 degrees year-round. Experienced divers can take the plunge and swim with the hole's goldfish, carp and koi.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Santa Rosa

Address: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM 88435

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14: Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos National Historical Park
Flickr/Gary Cascio

If you’re seeking culturally important places to go in New Mexico, head to Pecos National Historical Park, which combines culture and geography in a beautiful setting.

Not far from Santa Fe, in the woodlands of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the park features the remains of Indian pueblos, a lasting reminder of the people who once presided over this land.

Visit the Pecos Pueblo and the Spanish mission, then walk the 1.25-mile self-guided loop around the site.

Learn about the Battle of Glorieta Pass as you walk along the 2.3-mile Civil War loop.

Ranger-led tours include an exploration of Forked Lightning Ranch and a van tour of key battle locations in the Battle of Glorieta Pass. There is no admission fee for the park.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Pecos

Address: 1 NM-63, Pecos, NM 87552

15: Very Large Array

Very Large Array
Flickr/Chuck Coker

A New Mexico must-see attraction and one of the most famous places in the US for astronomy fans, the Very Large Array consists of 27 massive white radio antennae.

Just off US Route 60 in the high, drylands of western New Mexico, the dishes are arranged in a giant Y-shape.

Each dish weighs 230 tons and is 82 feet in diameter. The research here is in the space realm, gathering data on supernovae, black holes, dark energy and SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life).

Take a walk through the array – feeling relatively small as you do. Each leg of the array can be between a third of a mile and 13 miles from the center point.

At dawn or dusk, the dishes cast mile-long shadows. There is a visitor center on-site, open daily. Stop by for information on self-guided walking tours.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Socorro

Address: Socorro, NM 87825

16: Billy the Kid Museum

Billy the Kid Museum
Flickr/Greg Gjerdingen

Of all the things to see in New Mexico, the Billy the Kid Museum may be one of the most iconic.

Learn all about life in the 1800s and early 1900s from the perspective of this famous outlaw.

See relics from Billy the Kid’s favorite haunt, take a look at one of his rifles and check out his chaps and spurs – Billy used to wear them to dances and was known as quite a talented dancer and singer.

The museum also houses antique cars, wagons, buggies, horse-drawn hearse and memorabilia from the Fort Sumner military site.

Among the most notable items are an army blanket, cash box and spurs that belonged to the Civil War General Edwin Vose Sumner.

Address: 1435 Sumner Ave, Fort Sumner, NM 88119

17: Wheeler Peak Wilderness

Wheeler Peak Wilderness
Flickr/Kevin Muncie

Covering nearly 20,000 acres, the Wheeler Park Wilderness lies atop the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Within this high, rugged terrain – Wheeler Peak itself is 13,161 tall and the highest point in New Mexico – visitors find countless opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Day hiking and backpacking are popular here, with two main routes to the summit: the 16-mile roundtrip Bull-of-the-Woods Trail and the 7-mile roundtrip Williams Lake Trail.

Keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that makes its home in the forest.

You might see marmots, pikas, elk, mule deer and golden eagles. Bighorn sheep were reintroduced in 1993, so you might catch a glimpse of these year-round residents, too.

Address: Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525

18: International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center
Flickr/Greg Gjerdingen

Whatever your view on UFOs, the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell is worth a stop.

The museum provides the general public with information on all aspects of the UFO phenomena.

Study exhibits about the Roswell Incident, crop circles, UFO sightings, Area 51, ancient astronauts and abductions.

Examine dirt collected from the UFO crash site in Roswell and visit the museum’s famous prop alien corpse dummy from the 1994 Showtime movie Roswell: The UFO Coverup.

Take a good look around the low-tech, homespun museum, which is both whimsical and serious in its investigations of reported UFOs. The staff is eager to answer any questions you may have.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Roswell

Address: 114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203

Visit Website

19: ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

The top tourist destination in New Mexico, the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, is set along the Rio Grande River near downtown Albuquerque.

The park consists of several attractions, including the ABQ BioPark Zoo, Botanic Garden, Aquarium and Tingley Beach.

The zoo has been around since 1927 and is home to more than 900 animals from around the world.

Within the garden, visitors can see 32 acres of exhibits from the American Southwest and elsewhere in the world.

Don’t miss the elaborate BUGarium, dedicated to bugs and arthropods.

Move on to marine life at the Aquarium, with its 285,000-gallon ocean tank, home to tropical fish native to a variety of US ecosystems.

Finally, Tingley Beach offers access to the Bosque, as well as three fishing ponds and a model boat pond. Walk the mile-long loop trail around the ponds or bike on the nearby pathways.

Address: 2601 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104

Also Read: Best Botanical Gardens in the US

20: Four Corners Monument

Four Corners Monument
Flickr/Joel Sowers

The only place in the United States where four states meet, Four Corners Monument brings together Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.

The site is in a very rural area, with the closest service station miles away, so prepare for your visit with layers of clothing and plenty of water.

Historically, both Navajo and Ute people lived in the Four Corners area and the 25,000 square acres surrounding the monument are still Native American land.

When you visit, you’ll have the chance to see local artisans and purchase their wares at small booths by the visitor center.

If you have a couple of hours, let a Navajo guide take you on a tour of the valley on horseback, by Jeep or on foot.

Address: 597 NM-597, Teec Nos Pos, AZ 86514

21: Cliff’s Amusement Park

Cliff’s Amusement Park

Combining thrill rides with a fantastic waterpark, Cliff’s Amusement Park is a great way to cool off in the summer heat.

From Kiddyland to Watermania, there’s something for everyone.

Soar 120 feet into the air on the Cliff Hanger, take a ride on the New Mexico Rattler, voted one of the top 25 wooden roller coasters in the world.

And on the Wind Rider, soar through the blue sky 115 feet above the park.

All the family classics are here, from bumper cars to the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Over in Watermania, there are splash pads and smaller pools for the youngest visitors and slides and fountains for older kids and teens.

Address: 4800 Osuna Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109

Also Read: 25 Best Amusement Parks in the US

22: Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch
Flickr/Larry Lamsa

Stay for the day or stay for a week at Ghost Ranch, set on 21,000 acres of towering rock walls and plains where dinosaurs once roamed.

You may recognize the landscape made famous by painter Georgia O'Keefe, but you’ll be floored when you see it for yourself.

Amidst the red and yellow cliffs and vivid colors of the plains, you are invited to hike,s ridge horseback, write or paint, visit the ranch museums and more.

Several tours are available, with topics such as Georgia O'Keefe, paleontology, archaeology and even movie sites of the ranch.

Take a trail ride at sunset, venture out on a guided hike, try your hand at archery or get a massage.

It’s all available to both daytrippers and overnight guests at the famous Ghost Ranch.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Abiquiu

Address: 280 Private Drive 1708 Highway, US-84, Abiquiu, NM 87510

23: The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
Flickr/Matthew Dillon

Explore the Atomic Age at The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, a Smithsonian-accredited institution and New Mexico attraction that teaches visitors about the past, present and future of nuclear science.

You’ll learn about the atomic theory from the very beginning, political scenarios contributing to World War II, the Cold War and modern-day advances in nuclear medicine.

Check out the "Critical Assembly" exhibit, an exact replica of the Los Alamos lab where American's first nuclear bombs were assembled.

Read up on the first discoverers of the atomic structure and pioneers of nuclear physics, medicine and quantum mechanics, including Albert Einstein, Madame Marie Curie, Enrico Fermi, Niels Bohr and others.

Head outside to the nine-acre Heritage Park to see planes, rockets, missiles, cannons and a nuclear sub sail.

Address: 601 Eubank Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123

Also Read: Best Science Museums in the USA

24: Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf

Walk through a mysterious house full of secret passageways and portals to magical worlds at Meow Wolf, an arts and entertainment collective in Santa Fe.

This unique New Mexico destination creates immersive, interactive experiences that will take you into fantastical stories and explorations through art, video, music and extended reality content.

The collective’s first permanent installation is the award-winning “House of Eternal Return,” created with support from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin.

Step inside to be transported through non-linear storytelling that unfolds through exploration and interaction.

Take time for the self-guided Artists Tour, which offers insight on 45 different locations or pieces through the exhibit.

Allow yourself to be mesmerized at Meow Wolf, a truly 21st-century attraction in New Mexico.

Address: 1352 Rufina Cir, Santa Fe, NM 87507

25: Wildlife West Nature Park

Wildlife West Nature Park

Get to know the delightful critters of the Wildlife West Nature Park, 20 minutes east of Albuquerque and home to 24 species of native wildlife.

Through educational exhibits and interactive areas, you’ll have the chance to talk with animal experts and meet Bob the Bobcat, Barbie the Porcupine and other adorable residents.

The nonprofit wildlife center rescues animals that have been injured or are in an inhospitable environment and provide them the peace and security of a home at the park.

Customized homes are suited to each animal's needs and natural instincts.

Look for coyotes, black bears, mule deer, javelina, raccoons and more.

This is the place to go in New Mexico to meet Bert and Ernie, the great horned owl pair, Festus, the turkey vulture and Dasher, the baby whitetail deer.

Address: 87 N Frontage Rd, Edgewood, NM 87015

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