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September 5, 2017

Highway 28 is an old fashioned, two-lane road that runs from North El Paso to Old Mesilla, New Mexico. Lined with pretty pecan orchards that stretch for miles, Highway 28 offers you the unique opportunity to journey back to a simpler time. As you traverse the winding path, chile farms, wine vineyards, and horse and cattle ranches set on idyllic pastures open up before you. It’s a steady, relaxing ride over a beautiful bucolic landscape. So take your time and take in the scenery. But be cautious; you’re likely to pass a tractor or two along the way.

Hwy 28

While the ride itself is a breathtaking spectacle, Highway 28 has a diverse collection of alluring attractions to offer. The road is lined with celebrated wineries, authentic Mexican restaurants and important historical sites that you don’t want to miss out on. Here’s a few stops that you just have to make when riding down Highway 28.

Zin valle

Zin Valle
Nestled just off the side of the road, you’ll find Zin Valle Vineyards, a family-owned winery and vineyard serving up award-winning bottles produced both locally and abroad. Grapes for a variety of popular wine favorites like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grow in manicured rows right out front alongside sturdy willows, which provide perfect shade for the picnic tables. Upon entering the tasting room, you’ll be greeted by the friendly host, one of the family’s sweet dogs. And the equally welcoming staff will suggest three wines for your sampling pleasure. At Zin Valle, you can purchase exquisite wines by the glass, bottle or case, and you can view the on-site barrel room as well. Live musical acts perform weekly at the vineyard, and with a packed picnic in tow and a tasteful glass in hand, Zin Valle is the perfect place to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

Chopes

Chope’s Bar and Café
Chope’s Bar and Café is another must on your journey down Highway 28. Located in La Mesa, New Mexico, this beloved eatery has been serving up 100% authentic Mexican cuisine for the past century. Founded in 1915 by Longina Benavivez and named after her son, Chope’s stands today as a testament to family, tradition, community and of course, good eating. The bar and the café are located in separate buildings adjacent to one another, each offering a distinct, but equally satiating experience. Popular among bikers and beer lovers, the Chope’s bar is a favored hangout spot. The edgy, yet intimate interior encourages close communion while the friendly bartenders and hardy cocktails bring about the signature satisfaction that keeps locals and travelers alike coming back. The restaurant is just left of the bar. The layered aroma of fresh salsas, fried tortillas and simmering meats pervades throughout the cozy dining space. Seating is limited, so there’s usually a small wait, but it’s well worth it. Mexican food aficionados will find traditional menu items that recall home. And for those newer to the cuisine, the menu includes a list of favorites that won’t disappoint. Chope’s is famous for their family-recipe rellenos, tamales, enchiladas and burritos, but every plate they have to offer is delicious. Follow up your spicy Mexican meal with a sweet treat. The sopaipillas – soft, fried pastries – are drizzled with honey and make for the perfect finish to a delicious lunch or dinner at Chope’s.

Highway 28

La Viña Winery
La Viña is another great family-owned winery that you should visit during your travels on Highway 28. Established in 1977, La Viña is New Mexico’s oldest winery. Today, they make and vend a diverse array of signature wines that are sure to please all palates. Check out they’re current wine lineup here. Friendly sommeliers offer daily tours of the grounds and facilities at 11:30 am. The winery has 2 beautiful acres speckled with patio seating and picnic tables awaiting you on a warm, peaceful day. The winery hosts a number of fun events throughout the year. Their Music on the Patio Concert Series is happening currently. Bring a few tasty snacks to accompany your wine and enjoy live music from the folk, country and rock and roll genres. The concerts take place most Sunday afternoons. Additionally, La Viña also hosts a Sunday Market throughout the warmer seasons offering wine tastings, fresh farm produce and artisanal crafts. There’s a lot to look forward to at La Viña, so plan to stop by sometime soon.

Old mesilla photo courtesy town of mesilla

Old Mesilla
Your drive down Highway 28 culminates with a trip to Old Mesilla, one of New Mexico’s most momentous settlements. Native American tribes have occupied the Mesilla Valley as a strategic camping site since prehistoric times, and their influence can still be seen in the well-preserved pueblos and adobe buildings that stand today. Around the sixteenth century Spanish conquistadors pursued the area for its trails to El Paso and Santa Fe, which were economic incentives for establishing trade. Eventually Mesilla became a Spanish colony, but was ceded to the US after the Mexican War. Today Old Mesilla continues to be a rich epicenter of history and culture, and there’s so much to do and explore in the quaint town. Make sure to visit the Billy the Kid Gift Shop, which you’ll find tucked on the corner of the plaza. The shop as well as Wild West Express-O, a popular coffee house and ice cream parlor, is located in the very building where Billy the Kid was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Old Mesilla is bursting with activity all year long. Come out on a Thursday or Sunday for arts, crafts and produce in the plaza. And stay tuned for fun annual fiestas and festivals like Cinco de Mayo, the Mesilla Jazz Happening, Mariachi Sundays and so much more. Between the vineyards, the dining and the historic locales, you’re in for a great time everywhere you go on historic Highway 28!

About the Author

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton has a knack for writing and a passion for food, fun and people. She recently received her BA in English and Professional Communications from Armstrong State University, and when she’s not writing she’s serving in the US Army Reserves as a Human Resources Officer. She loves NPR and is interested in food justice, sustainability, travel and international affairs.

August 21, 2017

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You’re gonna get thirsty out there…and hungry. Hiking or mountain biking in Franklin Mountains State Park is a great adventure. There are high peaks, thorny plants, and so much more wildlife than people expect.

After enjoying a GeoBetty tour you’ll be ready to refuel. Let’s finish the adventure off with a stop at an El Paso brewery for great beer and food! In conjunction with the folks at Visit El Paso we are offering a special Adventure is Brewing package from now until December 15, 2017.

Below are the details:

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OK, this doesn’t really count as rehydrating, but it’s still a great way to top off an adventurous day! (Photo courtesy of Ode Brewing)

Package includes:
Customized hike or mountain bike ride, tailored to you or your group. We’ll spend 2-3 hours on the trails exploring the best parts of the park on an adventure designed just for you.
Experienced and fun guide who knows the mountains and trails and can tell you what else you’ll see out there.
Pick-up at any El Paso area hotel (or meet us at the trailhead).
Lunch/dinner and a beer flight at a great El Paso brewery.
Wander the Franklins (WTF) souvenir sticker.
Photos from the trail to remember your adventure.
Mountain bike rental available for an extra fee.
Total tour time typically five hours.
Cost:
$135 per person. Includes pick up and drop off, tour, park entrance fees, entree/beer flight/gratuity at brewery, WTF (that’s Wander the Franklins) sticker.
Rent a high quality, dual suspension mountain bike with helmet for an additional $40.
10% discount for your group of three or more.

Reservations Required. Call 915-526-1091 or reserve at GeoBettyTours.com

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We have easy hiking trails and harder ones. Just tell us what you want! (Photo by Dennis McElveen)

Don Baumgardt

About the Author

Don Baumgardt

Don Baumgardt is a long time volunteer at Franklin Mountains State Park. He is also chief adventurer at GeoBetty.com and GeoBetty Tours. The company offers online and printed maps of hiking and mountain biking routes in the area as well as guided tours.

May 24, 2017

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Visit El Paso

About the Author

Visit El Paso

Welcome to the official Visit El Paso blog, your leading source for all things El Paso!

May 10, 2017

The best way to truly capture the magic of the Sun City is in an eight-foot high, 18-foot in diameter cabin on the Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park. Whether you are a local or a tourist, a simple tram ride may just be the enjoyable experience that you need to fully grasp the supreme degree of beauty in the borderland. The fiery desert sunrise, the lustrous ocean of lights, the canyons and towering mountains, these elements can be seen from a bird's-eye view on the breathtaking ride. The tramway all began as one man's brave vision and gift to El Pasoans. Karl O. Wyler's last request was signed in ink to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1997. They granted his wish after an extensive renovation in 2001 and made it a public attraction.

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The tramway spans a distance of nearly 200 acres of intangible golden lure, an omnipresent natural wonder found in the desert. Drivers who enjoy a few sharp twists and turns will appreciate the drive to the tramway, where they can enjoy a four- minute journey overlooking three states and two nations. A Swiss-made gondola travels along a 2,600-foot long steel cable through a 240-foot deep canyon and offers a central view of 7,000 square miles of Southwest terrain. Suspended in time and space, this is the dream getaway from reality. To be at one with yourself, with your family, with the borderland and one with the world, the Wyler Tramway is the source of peace that you need. The delightful creations all intertwine in the midst of the overpowering beauty of the mountain formations.

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This flourishing region is home to plant life including moss-like greens on the ground and large, sunflower-style plants that hover high, wild grasses and flowers that bloom in radiant colors with the seasons. Wildlife of different species and classes inhabit the natural dwelling as well. The Franklin Mountain State Park is the largest urban state park in the United States so it goes without saying that the spacious area draws in a vast array of bird species. Visitors can explore the land with high-powered telescopes that can be wielded from a sky-high observation deck with a 360-degree view. Besides a lens it will feel as if nothing stands between you and the wild. At the edge of Texas if you reach out to touch the blue distance the horizon is still infinite. Further up the canyon, you can see a formation of granitoid igneous rock that has merged with the plates in the Fort Bliss Sandstone. This is all a result of the Rio Grande Rift. The product is a cool collection of blocks along the mountainside.

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When the fire of twilight arrives the sky produces a marvelous array of color. This is a sight for sore eyes that all will rejoice over. Wherever you may venture after this experience you can never forget what was seen, captured and felt. The desert is a realm that the human mind cannot author. Overall the panoramic view from the Wyler Aerial Tramway is a hidden gem that exhibits a unique splendor of grandeur, color and soul-piercing utopia.

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Visit El Paso

About the Author

Visit El Paso

Welcome to the official Visit El Paso blog, your leading source for all things El Paso!

April 3, 2017

El Paso has tons to offer in the realm of dive bars and when we refer to dive bars, we’re not talking about a place that you’re going to walk into and feel a thick air with get out of here vibes, we’re talking about hole in the wall type places with tons of character and more importantly, characters. As the dive bars that they are, not all of them will have a full service bar. A lot of these places are beer and wine only types. On that note, take it from us: don’t order the wine, stick to beer.

There are a few cardinal set of laws to consider before you embark on this dive bar journey and rule number one is: carry cash. Some of these places don’t accept credit cards and more importantly, you don’t want to cheat yourself out of a bonus tasty treat from the slew of street food vendors that rotate through these bars. If you’re adventurous when it comes to food, and I’m not saying that strange things will walk through the door or anything like that, I’m saying that these are treats made by someone’s mom in her kitchen and she may or may not have a health permit, the odds of eating one of the best tortas, burritos or gorditas are high in these establishments and it is your duty to give it a shot. Another rule of thumb: if it’s not food or live music from a trio of musicos, don’t buy it. This is about having an experience, and do you really need that battery operated LED flashlight or a rose? (Note: the rose will undoubtedly be offered to you some time during the night by a nice man in a tuxedo top with camera in tow who may or may not ride in on a bicycle).

While there are dive bars throughout the city, when diving in El Paso, it’s best to stick to the central part of town. As the oldest, most established part of the city, central El Paso is host to beautiful casitas built in the early 1900s and some of the best architecture in the city. As such, these dives that have down home feeling that can only come from being around forever; they’ve got that broken in, greased up feeling that only comes with time and a rotating door of party people of yesteryear.

Pershing Inn The Pershing Inn, known as the PI to insiders, is enchanting in the El Paso way; it pulls no stops and patrons love it for what it is—a good old-fashioned neighborhood bar with no signs of changing. It’s got a cool vintage feel so comforting that it makes you feel like it’s your little secret, only it so happens that the PI is everyone’s little secret.

Pershing inn

While this bar is home to many regulars, it gladly accepts new faces. You won’t have that “NEW YORK CITY!!!” affect on the natives when you enter the PI’s red door. As the PI has regained traction with a younger crowd (and by younger we mean old kickball players that stop in to drink after a game), the PI recently opened its back yard for business and although it’s not written in stone, the bar is generally split like this: regulars and neighborhood locals in the main bar, new patrons that don’t necessarily care about the charm, in the back yard. Both demos get along famously and this unwritten formula works. If you like your bartender to be older with a raspy voice and a friendly smile, go to the front. If you prefer your bartender to be scantily clad, go to the back yard. Simple as that.
Pershing Inn, 2909 Pershing Drive. Hours: 12p to 12a M-Sun. Full bar service, credit cards accepted.

Chicken Coop Located in the same building as the once glamorous Stagecoach Motor Hotel that was a regular stop for road tripping Americans of the 1950’s, The Chicken Coop is a homey, locals only bar run by a mother-daughter team that is known to cook up some happy hour goodies. While you won’t feel hostility when you enter the door, you’ll know right away that they know that you’ve never set foot in the place. But never fear, the surefire way to win this crowd over goes like this: Walk straight to the jukebox, look for Disc 08, Track 01 and play the tejano version of the Bowie High School fight song. Oh yes, you are officially in Bowie Bears territory and this is their bar. If all goes according to plan, the entire bar will break into a sing along and there you are, the unofficial hero of the night. Do not divert from this system. It’s a guaranteed winner. While you’re at the juke, pay heed to the homemade mixes, you can’t pay for the El Paso style oldies education that this juke holds. Sunny and the Sunliners, check. Brenton Wood, check. Mary Wells, check. There’s even an entire disc dedicated to animal songs, you are in a Chicken Coop after all. This is one of those beer and wine only joints where logic goes out the window when it comes to figuring out your pay as you drink tab. $8 for 5 beers is par for the course. Oh, and don’t bother asking for an IPA. This is Bud and Bud Light town and you’re here for the experience.

Chicken coop

Chicken Coop, 4118 Alameda. Hours: 12p to 12a. Beer and wine, cash only.

Park Inn El Paso has a long-lived love for all things baseball and located across the street from our first baseball venue, Washington Park, the Park Inn is a baseball-themed hole in the wall that grandpas love to frequent. The Park Inn also happens to be the holy grail of street food vendors. If a lady with a tray full of tortas comes through the door, buy one and dig in.

Gordita and big beer at park inn

If a man walks in with a big red cooler on his shoulder and offers you a burrito or a gordita, do it. Again, we’re in beer and wine territory here and if you thought the pickings were slim at the Chicken Coop, the 32oz mugs of Natty Light at the Park Inn, will not cease to amaze. Here’s the deal, we all know that the best way to drink Natural Light is super ice cold, and a 32oz mug of Natty Light means you drink fast before you can’t stand it anymore. This bar is probably 20ft x 16ft and somehow they manage to get it all in. Old school bar with stools, tables with chairs, pool table in the middle, jukebox, TV and a live musical trio to play songs on demand—for a fee, of course. Unassuming and warm, the Park Inn feels like your granddad’s sweater.

Park inn

Park Inn, Hours: 12p to 12a. Beer and wine, cash only.

Bowie Feathers Bowie Feathers is a no frills rock and roll bar. You know the kind-flat black paint, scruffy bearded big guy at the door, bartenders with tattoos, and a stair case. I mention the stair case because it’s the only way in (unwritten protocol for rock and roll dives throughout the country).

Bowie feathers

Like other rock and roll bars, it’s kind of hidden and once you’re in the doors you’re home. There are a few marked differences that are not signature to most rock and roll bars. For one, the bathrooms are spotless and while the décor is minimal, you can tell that a lot of thought went into it. Huge stencil art portraits of musicians on plywood such as Ian Mackaye, Bjork and Buddy Holly adorn the walls and frenetic brass tube chandeliers hang from the ceilings. This is a place that can accommodate beer snobs, whiskey drinkers and Miller Light lovers all at the same time. While it’s a rock and roll bar with a carefully curated playlist that any music lover will appreciate, it’s still the kind of place where you can have a conversation with friends. This is the kind of bar that doesn’t require its patrons to be music snobs or mustached hipsters--there’s no secret handshake at the door. It should be noted that Bowie Feathers is an upstairs bar located in the historic Alhambra Theatre, El Paso’s first air-conditioned theater that came to be during the golden age of cinema. The main building currently serves as Bowie Feathers’ sister and live music venue, Tricky Falls. While Tricky Falls is only open when there’s a live show, Bowie Feathers is open six days a week.

Bowie feathers 2

Bowie Feathers, 209 S. El Paso St. Hours: Tues-Fri 4p to 2a; Sat-Sun 8p to 2a.Full service bar, credit cards accepted.

The Tap You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you came to El Paso and didn’t make a stop at The Tap. The Tap is an El Paso mainstay that sports the best sign in lights in all of downtown. Home to the most diverse crowd in this town—recently released prisoners from the nearby county jail, politicians and judges, touring bands and a general mixture of melee loving hipsters and hippie midwives, The Tap fits all of us like a glove. Black and red with mirrors and portraits of Aztec princesses in distress on the walls, The Tap is also home to the best nachos in town. Here’s the lowdown on how this works. The Tap is two businesses rolled into one, so your tab for your food is going to be separate from the tab for your drinks. This also means that should you choose to try the nachos (they have a full menu, but don’t bother with it, go straight to the nachos) you will have two waitresses tending to you. While they’re not entirely rude, you don’t want to ask your bar maid for something food related, it annoys them and there’s no point in aggravating the lady that will be serving up your drinks. Now on to nachos: There are several variations and if you’re a meat eater, it’s best to order half and half nachos. That is, half [shredded] beef and half chicken. It’s also important that you specify that you’d like chile, tomato and onion (or chile, tomate y cebolla—the ultimate Mexican trilogy) on your nachos. This is important because sometimes they see a non local and assume that you can’t handle the heat—for the record, they’re not that hot and besides, you can always pick the jalapeno off. Vegetarians need not fear, order the nachos with beans and trilogy and your experience will be just as good. Kitchen closes at 10p, sometimes earlier. Bottom line: go to The Tap.

The tap

The Tap, 408 E. San Antonio. Hours: M-Sun 8a to 2a. Full service bar and restaurant, credit cards accepted.

Visit El Paso

About the Author

Visit El Paso

Welcome to the official Visit El Paso blog, your leading source for all things El Paso!

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