El Paso Travel Guide: Is El Paso Worth Visiting? [2023]

· Everything you need to know about visiting El Paso, including the best things to do. ·

Aug, 09, 2023
silhouette of couple embracing on wall overlooking El Paso at sunset

El Paso, Texas is situated literally on the border with Mexico, and the only thing between the city of El Paso and its southern neighbor is the Rio Grande River. This location has given El Paso a really unique vibe and culture, and it is a really cool, often overlooked place to visit. I found myself wondering “Is El Paso worth visiting?” and had to check it out myself.

El Paso is unique. In fact, one of the best things to do in El Paso is actually to leave El Paso and hop the border into Juarez. This post will outline the best things to do in El Paso and everything else you should know before visiting this city on the Mexican border.

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You can watch our whole experience in El Paso & Juarez on our YouTube Channel!

Is El Paso Safe to Visit in 2023?

Unlike its Mexican neighbor of Juarez, El Paso is generally a safe place to visit and explore. While there are parts of the city (especially along the outskirts) that aren’t the safest places, the downtown area of the city is a generally safe place where you have little to worry about.

There was a period several years ago where the violence started to creep up through to the US side of the border, but that is now completely squashed and no longer a concern. While you should still take the general precautions that you’d take in any other city, El Paso is a place where you have a lot less to worry about. So yes, El Paso is safe!

man in yellow shirt with outstretched arms overlooking texas border

Best Places to Stay in El Paso

Despite being a mid-major city, El Paso doesn’t have a ton of great hotels.

We chose to stay at the Gardner Hotel during our time in El Paso. It was very affordable and was pretty unique, as it is built into an old bank. It wasn’t luxurious, but we enjoyed our stay.

If you can afford it, another great option is Aloft El Paso Downtown. This hotel gets great reviews from guests, and it is located in the perfect area for exploring El Paso.

Best Things to Do in El Paso

1. Hike to the Top of Mount Cristo Rey

Cristo Rey is a mountain that’s actually located in New Mexico, but it’s only a short drive away from the center of El Paso. This mountain is really cool, as it has a giant cross at the top and has been a pilgrimage site for Mexicans for years. The hike is ranked as intermediate difficulty, and the trip to the top and back is about a four- or five-mile loop.

The best time to do this hike is in the evening, just in time for the sunset! The views of both Juarez and El Paso from the top of the mountain are breathtaking, and there are memorials of the Stations of the Cross along the hike as well.

Don’t Hike Mount Cristo Rey Alone

I advise that you don’t hike alone, as there has sometimes been danger here due to the proximity to the border. Hiking with a partner and not staying long after sunset should keep trouble at bay. Whether you’re a Christian or not, this mountain is definitely one of the best things to do in El Paso.

2. Catch a Sunset at the Scenic Drive Overlook

If you want to catch an awesome sunset and don’t want to hike 5 miles to do it, head to the Scenic Drive Overlook. This awesome area at the top of a big hill in El Paso provides incredible views of both El Paso and Juarez.

While both are some of the best things to do in El Paso, the Scenic Drive Overlook is much easier to access than Mount Cristo Rey. You can Uber to the foot of the hill and hike up, or even Uber right to the viewpoint if you don’t want to hike.

This area is totally safe and is much closer to downtown El Paso. This is also a really good spot for a picnic!

3. Check Out the National Border Patrol Museum

This museum is really neat and is a great thing to do if you’re trying to fill up your El Paso itinerary. As the only Border Patrol Museum in the country, this museum offers a unique view into what border enforcement is really like, especially next to the infamous city of Juarez. This museum is entirely funded by donations and receives no government funding at all.

While the border crisis has been an extremely sensitive and divisive issue in current events, the museum is still very educational and worth visiting. The museum is open from 9-5 from Tuesday to Saturday and is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Admission is free, but they encourage donations in order to keep the museum open. There is also a nature trail behind the museum that is fun to visit, especially during poppy season from January through April.

4. Visit a True Texas Steakhouse at Cattleman’s

While Cattleman’s is a bit outside of the city, the journey is worth it if you’re looking for a true, Texas-style dinner. This steakhouse is located at Indian Cliffs Ranch, about 40 minutes southeast of El Paso. Cattleman’s Steakhouse is on a large, family-style, fully functional ranch.

While the food here is incredible and literally farm-to-table, they offer much more than just food. There is a playground, live animals like buffalo and longhorns, a children’s zoo, a maze, and more!

This is definitely the best dinner experience you’ll have on your trip to El Paso, if you decide to make the trip! In fact, a trip to Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliff Ranch is one of the best things to do in El Paso, even without the food!

5. Visit the Most Popular Museums in El Paso

El Paso is loaded with great museums, and many visitors fill up their itineraries with them. Some of the best museums in El Paso are the El Paso Museum of History, the El Paso Museum of Art, the Fort Bliss Museum, the El Paso Zoo, the Centennial Museum, and the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.

One museum that I recommend in particular (apart from the National Border Patrol Museum that I mentioned earlier) is the El Paso Holocaust Museum. This museum is especially well done, very unique, and is located right in the heart of downtown El Paso. While every city has its art galleries and history museums, not every city has such a well-done Holocaust Museum.

6. Commemorate American History at the Don Haskins Center

If you’ve never watched the movie Glory Road, you should. Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, this movie commemorates one of the biggest moments in American sports history, as coach Don Haskins was the first coach in a major college basketball program to allow black men to play on his team.

This did more than just ruffle feathers around the country.

I won’t spoil anything from the movie, but Don Haskins became a key figure in the integration movement. The arena at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) is named after him because of what he did there. While I wasn’t in town during basketball season and couldn’t go to a game, I think this would easily be one of the best things to do in El Paso.

Wilson NCAA basketball on black board

How to Get to El Paso

The answer to this is completely dependent on where you’re coming from. Since this city straddles the border, you have the option of flying into either El Paso or Juarez. Both airports are safe and comfortable, and they’re equally good options depending on a few factors.

As neither one is an especially big airport, you may have a little trouble finding reasonably priced flights. But don’t worry! My in-depth guide to finding cheap flights will help you with that.

In my Juarez Travel Guide, I detailed the advantages of each airport when flying to this area. For more information about getting to El Paso, be sure to check out that post.

Traveling Safely Around El Paso


The best way to get around El Paso is Uber.

Firstly, as I mentioned in the section about Juarez International Airport, when you’re in Juarez you should really only use Uber. I would not use any other form of transportation there, including taxis, buses, or a rental car.

While it’s not likely that something bad would happen to you on a Juarez bus, there is simply no need to take that chance. While taxi drivers may be trustworthy, Uber drivers are all centrally verified by Uber. Uber is cheap and easy, it runs checks on its driver’s license plates, and uses GPS technology.

Ride Ubers in Juarez for safety. Ride Ubers in El Paso for convenience.

In El Paso, the reason to use Uber is less about safety and more about convenience. There is a relatively extensive bus system in El Paso, and it only costs $1.50 per ride. However, we find that most of El Paso is actually very walkable, and if you need to get somewhere that is too far to walk, you’ll probably have an easier time just taking an Uber.

Also, while El Paso is a generally safe place, I’d recommend using Uber if you’re heading anywhere outside of the center of town at night, as the fringes of El Paso don’t have an immaculate reputation for safety.

Is El Paso Worth Visiting?

We visited El Paso out of necessity and not by choice. We only visited this city because we needed to figure out some visa issues for our time living in Mexico. While we didn’t choose to go to El Paso the first time, we would certainly choose to go back!

This small Texan city is loaded with amazing things to do, and it is certainly a destination in its own right. When you couple the wide offerings of El Paso with its proximity to Juarez, you’re left with a city that has it all and is absolutely worth visiting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting El Paso, Texas

What attracts people to El Paso?

El Paso gets over 300 days of sunshine every year. This has earned it the nickname Sun City. Add a unique Tex-Mex flare, and you have one of the coolest small cities in the USA.

Can you see Mexico from El Paso?

You can see Mexico from El Paso. Juarez is located directly on the other side of the border, and it can be seen from many areas in El Paso. For the best views, head to Scenic Drive Overlook.

Is it safe to walk around downtown El Paso?

It is very safe to walk around downtown El Paso. Despite the danger across the border in Juarez, El Paso has a strong record for safety. Local officials work hard to maintain this.

That’s all we have for you about visiting El Paso! Hopefully this travel guide helps you to plan a nice trip and answers the question “Is El Paso Worth Visiting?”

If you have any questions, be sure to drop a comment in the comment section! We would love to personally guide you in planning your El Paso trip.


Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

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Meet The Author - Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.