“We went to El Paso so that you wouldn’t have to,” my husband said. “That’s how you should start your blog.”
With the Mexican border to my left and a drunk man punching a concrete wall to the right, I wasn’t sure what to make of El Paso when we arrived but we kind of had to stay there for two nights instead of one because we accidentally left Austin a day early. Most restaurants and bars appeared empty and when we asked what there was to do around the area, even our Airbnb host had a hard time coming up with ideas. Not to mention that the only thing I wanted to do was go up Franklin Mountains State Park on the Wyler Aerial Tramway, until I found out that it is closed Monday through Thursday. It was Tuesday.
After grabbing a quick dinner, we headed back to our Airbnb to figure out a game plan for the following day.
We started the day by driving up the El Paso Scenic Drive which provided us with incredible views of El Paso, Ciudad Juarez in Mexico and the surrounding Chihuahuan Dessert. The 1.82-mile drive reaches an elevation of over 4,000 feet, 500 feet above the Rio Grande. The view from the tower viewer wasn’t as clear as I would’ve imagined, but it was still a neat way to start the morning!
Our “things to do in El Paso” searches were yielding no results, until we realized we were only an hour away from the White Sand Dunes National Monument in New Mexico so we covered ourselves in sunscreen, bought a 12-pack of water and headed out there.
This U.S. National Monument comprises the southern part of a 275-square-mile field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals, making it the largest gypsum dine field in the world. By the way, gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral used as fertilizer, plaster and blackboard chalk. #themoreyouknow
We paid $5 each to gain admission and even rented a sled to use at the sand dunes. The park wasn’t too crowded so I was able to get my happy little butt on the sled without the fear of being judged–which was perfect because I totally ate it when I flew off the sled like a rag doll, rolling down the hill. I blame the lack of sledding opportunities in my Puerto Rican upbringing.
The sun was beating down on us hard and I couldn’t stand to stare at the white sands anymore, so we headed to PistachioLand because why the heck not! The pistachio tree ranch and winery is hard to miss thanks to the world’s largest pistachio peeking out at us in the sun.
There are three daily motorized farm tours of the orchards and vineyards in which guests can learn how pistachios and grapes grow in the desert climate, but it was too hot for Halston and I to retain any new information so we went inside.
Two words: Free samples.
Free samples of wine, brittle and nuts and ice cream made me a very happy girl. Careful not to abuse the system, I tasted a few samples and fell in love with their Bacon Ranch Pistachios, the Lemon Lime Pistachios and the Three Nut Brittle. We enjoyed pistachio ice cream cones and chatting with a regular who suggested we visit La Posta De Mesilla for dinner. We were also afraid to say no because he was one of those aggressively friendly people that slaps your back seconds into meeting.
The friendly aggressive man was right. This sloppy plate of Mexican food was probably some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had–even better than food I’ve had IN Mexico. But I think what impressed me the most was that it took them about five minutes to bring the food out for it being a relatively busy restaurant. I don’t like to wait, man. We dined and dashed (and paid, of course) in less than an hour!
On our way back to the Airbnb, we were able to catch a gorgeous sunset in El Paso. Pictures didn’t do it justice.
El Paso isn’t terrible, but it was way too sleepy for me. I can’t see myself returning unless I had the misfortune of having to stay there for work-related reasons.
Have you visited El Paso before? What did you think of it?