There’s a good reason Vanity Fair called El Paso the “Best Little Music City in Texas.” That’s because whether you’re just here for the night, or thinking about making El Paso home, you’ll be sure to find shows here that’ll delight, inspire, unwind and entertain you.
At club venues like The Lowbrow Palace and Tricky Falls, you can catch performances from rising and established acts; think Green Day, The Chamanas, or Gary Clark Jr.
At concert halls like the historic Plaza Theatre and Abraham Chavez Theatre you’ll find performances from big stars like Wilco, Natalia LaFourcade and The Killers.
El Paso is also host to live music festivals that draw audiences from across the state and region. Festivalgoers take over the streets of downtown El Paso, the Coliseum Fairgrounds, the Convention Center Plaza and Ascarate Park to witness national and international acts, and discover acts they might never have seen elsewhere. Making the most of El Paso’s excellent weather and eager fans, these outdoor festivals have garnered national recognition and bring world-class talent to the city year in and year out.
The music festival offerings of the city are growing and proliferating with each passing year, and while there are options to meet every budget and interest, there are some notables that have managed to stick out among the crowd.
SUN CITY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Now entering its eighth year, Sun City Music Festival, or SCMF, has made a habit of bringing the best electronic music acts in the world to El Paso. Held over Labor Day weekend at El Paso’s Ascarate Park, the festival draws thousands of people from across the region to hear what’s new in electronic music. Last year’s headliners were Marshmello and Above & Beyond, with appearances also from Malaa, Rezz and Snails.
Sun City Music Festival
Sun City Music Festival
EL PASO DOWNTOWN STREET FEST
The annual event, which will be held in October, features local, regional, national and international acts in and around the El Paso Convention Center and holds the distinction of being El Paso’s longest running street festival. Past headliners include Alice Cooper, Weezer, Joan Jett & the Heartbreakers and Seether. The event pulls from the local talent as well, with several stages dedicated exclusively to homegrown acts.
Downtown Street Fest
Downtown Street Fest
TEXAS COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL
One of El Paso’s newest music festivals is the Texas Country Music Festival. Held at the El Paso County Coliseum, this one-day festival brings big country artists under one roof. Last year, music lovers saw the likes of the Josh Abbott Band and Tracey Lawrence. This year, the festival will be held again in February.
Texas Country Music Festival
Texas Country Music Festival
WAY OUT WEST
In its third year, the Way Out West music festival will once again grace the Southwest University Park, home to the El Paso Chihuahuas. This one-day festival will host big country stars as well as a chili contest, family fun and the unique setting of being in the baseball field. The festival has brought talent such as Jake Owen, Brooke Eden and Canaan Smith. Happening in October, be sure to get your fill of country music at the tip of Texas.
Way Out West Fest
Way Out West Fest
NEON DESERT MUSIC FESTIVAL
Also entering its eighth year, Neon Desert is a world-class music festival held in the heart of downtown El Paso. Over the weekend, the streets surrounding San Jacinto Plaza are transformed into a festival ground, and attendees are treated to an eclectic mix of hot, proven and rising talent. Last year’s event featured Logic, Alesso, Foster The People, Nelly and El Paso’s own Khalid. The event is typically held Memorial Day weekend and kicks the summer off right.
Neon Desert Music Festival
Neon Desert Music Festival
Drop off your bags at Hotel Indigo in DTEP (Downtown El Paso). This boutique hotel was specially curated to represent El Paso with the city’s architectural influence and local art. Opened in 2016, it offers amazing views of downtown and a handful of activities (like yoga) on the fifth-floor bar and pool area. Curb your hunger down the street at the local crêperie, Crepe + Co and get ready to explore downtown. Take a stroll and head over to Famous Dave’s Pawn Shop to explore the expanse of shelves containing nostalgia, oddities and the occasional samurai sword. Continue your walk down to Rocketbuster Boots in Union Plaza, a custom boot store/factory/studio that offers some of the most artistically unique boots you can find anywhere in the world. Then grab a bike from the bike share located across from San Jacinto Plaza. Sit on the rooftop patio and watch as the sun begins to fade and the lights turn on, washing the plaza in a golden-blue glow.
On the last Thursday of every month, you can walk around downtown for a self-guided “artwalk.” Grab a map from one of the art galleries and enjoy the colorful walk. Stops on the tour include: pop-up art galleries, shops selling local goods and historic landmarks. End your night at DeadBeach Brewery. Once you walk in, you won’t want to leave anytime soon. You come for the amazing local brews, but stay for the Smoke Wagon food truck. Now, in Texas, BBQ is a way of life and we do it better than anyone. Go all out, get the 4-meat plate, extra sauce, elote and another pint. Feeling slightly more adventurous? Check out West Texas Tattoo and the Red Door Vintage shop while you are in the area. A nice “El Chuco” tattoo would look great on you.
Start the morning off right with the most important meal of the day at Crave Kitchen and Bar by the university. Order their famous chicken and waffles. From the first bite, the crunch of the batter and the rich flavor of the chicken mingles with the sweetness of the waffle syrup—welcome to taste bud heaven. After breakfast, take a stroll up the road into the historic Kern Place neighborhood and bask in the architecture of some of the oldest homes in the city. Keep track of how many historic markers you come across as well!
Continue your expedition of the 915 and head over to the Montecillo Complex. This sprawling urban development houses an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bars. Start with a cold pint in hand at Tin Man. This local spot is the go-to if you are looking to support Texas brews. With over 20 beers on tap they will have something that will tickle your fancy. The shop across the way, Chuco Relic, hosts art and designs from various artists around the city. Get your hands on a “Chucolandia” or a “Just the Tip” shirt, but maybe don’t wear it around grandma. Wander your way through the maze of shops and you will find yourself at Hillside Coffee and Donuts. Enjoy the sweet aromas of fresh roasted coffee beans while indulging in a homemade donut.
Then make it out to Ode Brewing Company, with a menu that covers everything from beet and blue salads, to a beef wellington benny. Grab a Senator IPA and head out onto the patio that offers a breathtaking view of the Franklin Mountain Range, and challenge your friends in some corn hole (loser buys the next round). Lastly, El Paso, being one of the oldest settlements in the region, has with it some haunted history you should definitely check out. Go on one of the many Walking Ghost Tours with Ghosts915.
There are places to be and food to eat! Lucy’s Café is an El Paso staple, and you can’t leave without having their world famous machaca plate, a favorite of celebrity chef, Aarón Sánchez. Once you’re full, book an afternoon at Operation Breakout—El Paso’s escape game—and put your mind and puzzle-solving abilities to the test. Lunchtime calls for some fish tacos at Little Shack. The name is not a faux ami—it is a small shack in the middle of a parking lot with beach and coastal city regalia hugging the walls and ceiling. One bite of the fish tacos and you are already thinking of asking for another order. Austin may have the title of “Live Music Capital,” but we are on their heels. El Paso has a host of live music venues that have seen artists such as: The Killers, Two Door Cinema Club, Green Day, and a plethora of local artists trying to make a name for themselves. Anywhere you go on a weekend night, you can find a range of different styles of music being played. From Monarch and the Prickly Elder downtown, to Love Buzz in the 5 Points District, you can get your music fix. When walking into the Prickly Elder, you will feel like you stepped into your great-grandparents’ house, but with a rock band belting out chords and riffs. The scene is a mix of backgrounds and styles, where people-watching is an activity all on its own. About 20 yards away is Monarch, another re-purposed house that offers live music, and a patio for you to enjoy the cool El Paso nights.
The Arts: Did someone say brunch? The Kitchen at 150 Sunset is an unexpected break from the heat and hustle of the desert. Enjoy their delicious, fresh and creative fare with a healthy twist in the welcoming atmosphere of their restaurant and patio. Once you finish, you can even walk through their nursery, where they carry plants that are unique to the Southwest and also native to the desert landscape.
Once you finish walking around, make your way to downtown El Paso. While downtown has an array of historical buildings and landscapes, the El Paso Museum of Art is the perfect spot for an afternoon date. Free to the public, you’ll be moved by the passion painted and sculpted into the different works. While the museum has its staples, like the 500-year-old Madonna and Child painting, they also exhibit different artists on rotation. For lunch, you can walk down the street to the Anson 11 Bistro. Here you will enjoy a casual, friendly and inviting atmosphere where their stellar 5-star service is uncompromising, as are the servers who will ensure your every whim is met. With everything to see during the day, the evening holds treasures of its own. A romantic trip would not be complete without visiting El Paso’s award-winning Café Central, ranked one of the “Top 100 Romantic Restaurants” in the country. One of the perks of their private dining is that Café Central is open until 2 a.m., so you can eat here before OR after attending one of the Broadway in El Paso productions at the historic Plaza Theatre across the street.
Regional Twist: Don’t worry if you sleep in after a long enchanting evening. Stay casual and head to Ardovinos’ Desert Crossing in Sunland Park, where you can indulge in their homegrown brunch. Treat yourself to a prickly pear mimosa with your pozole con huevo. If you make your way outside of the restaurant you will walk out into their weekly farmer’s market. For more than 16 years, shoppers in the El Paso area have been able to find an ever-increasing selection of organic and pesticide-free produce, beef, pork, lamb, fresh-baked breads and salsas.
Along with finding a variety of handmade souvenirs, you can also gather supplies for your next destination. Taking a quick trip up Highway 28, you will find yourself at Zin Valle Vineyards. As one of the only wineries in the El Paso area, you can enjoy live music, free wine tastings and, as the afternoon rolls on, have a picnic with the snacks you got at the farmer’s market. Taking in the sights of the vineyard, you will be reinvigorated with the fresh air.
As evening approaches, you will want to keep the romantic momentum going and make your way to Hotel Indigo downtown—but not to stay. One of the stars of the hotel is their restaurant, The Downtowner, serving delicacies made from locally-sourced ingredients, and their pool-side bar, Circa 1965, with one-of-a-kind views of the city that will leave you saying, “wow.” Grab your drinks and head outside where you can lounge on the surrounding cabanas and enjoy some live music, or be lulled by the sounds of the pool’s waterfall and the hum of downtown El Paso. If you’re looking for a more private spot to enjoy some quiet time together, take a drive up Scenic Drive where you can park and enjoy one of the most stunning sunsets around, overlooking a spectacular view of El Paso and Juárez.
Enjoy Nature: The best way to start off the last day of any El Paso trip is to visit the Wyler Aerial Tramway. However, since they don’t open until 10 a.m., the best place to grab some breakfast is at the Salt + Honey Bakery in the historic Five Points area. Locally owned, their inventive food gives you the opportunity to be the next Instagram “foodie” star with the beautiful photos that could be taken of their dishes. Take a cute couple picture on their couch with #saltandhoneycouch in the caption, while you enjoy some of their signatures like their Arabian Nights coffee—perfect for two. Once the time comes, you only need to drive a short distance to the tram. The Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park features an aerial cable car situated on over 195 acres of rugged mountain and rock formations on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. On the smooth ride to the top abundant wildlife, including reptiles and birds, offer exciting viewing opportunities. At the Peak, you and your loved one can enjoy a tender kiss above three states and two nations with the wind dancing around you. Once you are back on the ground, and since you will be in the neighborhood, visit Gussies Bakery to pick up some of their legendary sweet breads. Don’t eat all of them if you can help it; they are great travel snacks.
Jump right into things and get your day started at the El Paso Zoo. What’s more family-friendly than giraffe feedings or monkeying around at the Foster Tree House Playground? There’s a lot of continents and areas to visit. Make sure that you also take flight with the daily Wings of the World bird show. For lunch, you can either stay at the zoo and pick up something from their two cafés or you can venture out. Take the kids over to The Pizza Joint, where you can either order pizza by the slice (satisfy everyone) or order a whole pie for the family. There is a huge chalk wall that the kids can have fun drawing on, too. Or, bring out the kid in everyone and head over to Dave and Buster’s. They have great quality food as well as over 200 games and various entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. After your energy has been replenished by food, take a trip over to the El Paso History Museum. The spot you’ll all be sure to enjoy is the DIGIE Wall, an interactive screen of images depicting El Paso’s rich history. You can take your own picture and include it in the wall as well! Since you’re already downtown, walk over to San Jacinto Plaza for some more adventure. Rent out a chess or Pingpong table or try your luck at horseshoes. If you’re here in the summer and need to cool off, the splash pad is the perfect place. If all the walking has you needing a snack, the snack bar is full of El Paso favorites like corn in a cup and other savory snacks. Finish the day off with a baseball game at the Southwest University Park. Get the kids some Chihuahuas gear and take them out to the ol’ ball game. If it’s off-season, Western Playland is a fun alternative for the thrill-seekers. The roller coasters will be sure to wear them out, plus you’ll have pictures documenting just how much fun you had going down the ride (maybe not flattering, but definitely funny). If you’re a more cinematic family, then Alamo Drafthouse is a win-win place for you. Grab yourself a drink while the kids munch on bottomless popcorn and enjoy a good flick.
For a traditional El Paso breakfast with the kids, stay central and head to Delicious Mexican Eatery—it’s all in the name. For the more health-conscious family, there is Healthy Bite, where you can treat your taste buds to delicious food without the guilt. And while you can spend the day at the hotel’s pool getting a tan (while kids play on the aforementioned slide), you can also test your limits at Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park. Get the family bouncing and flipping around into the foam pit or play a game of dodgeball.
For lunch, head on over to the Fountains at Farah outdoor mall. There’s tons of choices for even the pickiest in the family. If you just need something to hold you guys over until dinner, you can get a snack at either Hana Banana or the Tropical Smoothie Café. You can also get some shopping done while you’re there.
If the day has you tired, take a quick nap back at the hotel before you head to the main event: dinner at Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch. Though it’s a bit of a drive (35 minutes from downtown), it’s well worth it. You’ll eat the best steaks of your life—award-winning cuisine—plus the kids can enjoy hay rides, a playground, maze, snake pit, petting zoo and more!
For your last day here, make it full of adventure. If you want to make a splash, take the family over to Wet N’ Wild Waterworld. Bring your own food to grill and have a blast hopping from water ride to water ride. Don’t have much time? Continue with arcade games and outdoor fun and visit Adventure Zone. There are bumper boats, go-karts and more for the entire family to enjoy. Don’t leave if you get hungry. Adventure Zone is home to the famous McCrory’s tacos. Or you can head to Bob O’s Family Fun Center and battle it out with laser tag or test your swing at the batting cages.
If you’re more of the outdoorsy family then head to the Franklin Mountains. The perfect hiking experience offers over 100 miles of scenic desert trails ranging from moderate to difficult. Check out our unique landscapes filled with native plants and animals—plus, the views from the top are breathtaking. Before you head out, you can also visit the area’s oldest inhabited village at Keystone Heritage Park and El Paso Desert Botanical Gardens. The 52-acre park is a migratory stop and home for more than 200 species of birds. Test the kids and see how many they can spot before you leave town.
El Paso is a bold and diverse metropolitan with a rich, blended history that’s well worth getting to know. History buffs can discover the land’s legacy in Sun City museums, eateries and other attractions, but locals know the most authentic historic encounter is to be had in El Paso’s long-standing communities. Many area neighborhoods date back to the early 1800s and beyond, each offering a distinct perspective on the borderland experience. Though it’s not the city’s first settlement, El Segundo Barrio is a great starting place to discover borderland culture. Located in southernmost El Paso, El Segundo Barrio was settled by Mexican immigrants during the late nineteenth century. And over the decades, El Segundo Barrio has become a valued community not only for its tenure; El Segundo Barrio has a booming, homegrown art scene.
Muralists and street artists borne out of the El Segundo Barrio community have been adorning facades of neighborhood buildings with breathtaking works since the 1970s, creating a unique and captivating open-air museum that both guests and residents can, and do, admire. El Segundo Barrio is host to literally dozens of murals, with more creations decking outward walls every day. The murals collectively represent important themes within the Chicano culture – like family, heritage, resilience, faith, music and community.
The Segundo Barrio mural is an imperative during your walking tour. Completed in 1975 by Arturo Avalos, Gabriel Ortega, Pablo Schaffino and Pascual Ramírez – who were collectively known as Los Muralistas Del Barrio – the Segundo Barrio mural was created as a testament to community pride and Chicano heritage in a period when El Segundo Barrio faced the threat of growing urbanization in Downtown El Paso. A hallmark of the vibrant mural is the use of geometric Aztec design, recalling the culture of origin with which many area residents strongly identify. The Segundo Barrio mural is located at 513 Father Rahm Avenue on the west wall of an apartment complex.
Boys & Girls Club Mural
Werc Alvarez installed this mural on the wall of the Boys and Girls Club at 801 S. Florence in 2012 to depict the youth-led artistic rebirth taking place in the Segundo Barrio community. There’s a compelling verve in the mural that stirs the senses, and the phrase ‘in living color’ is the perfect fit to describe the feat. A rich and saturated spectrum of hues almost literally jumps off the wall at you, encouraging a return to joviality and creativity in the mural-gazers. If you’re feeling sluggish, the Boys and Girls Club mural will definitely jolt you with energy. Of course, there are plenty more mesmerizing murals to set your sights on in El Segundo Barrio; we didn’t want to give them all away here. So head south to El Paso’s second ward, and see the community through the deft paint strokes that don walls of El Segundo Barrio.
Art lovers, history fans and people who like visiting treasured neighborhoods should plan a walking tour through El Paso’s only alfresco art gallery soon. You’ll find a diverse collection of commissioned murals by celebrated artists in the community as well as street pieces, tucked away in corridors like hidden gems, by nameless painters. There’s a bold, beautiful painting around just about every corner in El Segundo Barrio, but here’s three must-see murals to get you started as you traverse the ward’s longstanding streets.
Sacred Heart Mural
Located nearby at 231 Father Rahm Ave, you’ll find the Sacred Heart mural, which was commissioned by the church of its namesake in 2007. Painters Francisco Delgado and Mauricio Olague aided by 50 talented students from Bowie High School combine central icons of the Catholic Faith with symbols and figures that are important to the Segundo Barrio community. The mural is a telling tapestry of immigration hardships, Mexican pride, the contributions of revered religious leaders and more. With so much symbolism, the mural is sure to pull a long, pensive gaze out of all passersby.