Although we still have much to see in Texas, New Mexico is so close, that it keeps calling me; perhaps this is why they call it the Land of Enchantment! For us, the state has so much to offer - warm winters, great golf courses, beautiful landscapes and delicious cuisine! Less than an hour from El Paso is Las Cruces. I was initially drawn to this city because it's located less than an hour from three national monuments including: Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument, the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, and White Sands National Monument. After spending a long weekend there, I've learned that there is much more to see!
Checking out the pool at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces, NM
705 South Telshor Blvd
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Hotel Encanto is part of the Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Inc group - which also owns Hotel Albuquerque. We stayed at Hotel Albuquerque when we made our initial trek down from Canada to move to West Texas. Knowing what the vibe at Hotel Albuquerque was like, I had high hopes for Hotel Encanto. The hotel has a Spanish/Mexican flare with a beautiful fountain in the lobby and saltillo (terracotta) tiling throughout. My favorite part of the hotel was the outdoor patio. Our room was on the first floor, which opened up directly to the patio with a great seating area just outside. Also on this level is an outdoor firepit, which we absolutely loved. Access to ground level was especially convenient as we traveled with our dog - so another bonus, Hotel Encanto is pet friendly!
Unfortunately, the weather was a bit chilly this visit (40-50F), so we were unable to take advantage of their beautiful outdoor pool area. The property is filled with huge palm trees and makes you feel like you're on a tropical vacation - it's really beautiful! So I'd have to say that the outdoor amenities here are outstanding.
The rooms are average. The bed was very comfortable and the bathrooms looked like they had been updated recently with some really pretty tilework and modern showers. My only complaint about the room was that they did not have a refrigerator or microwave. (We always seem to end up with leftovers when we dine out, so we had to leave everything behind this trip...).
In addition to the pool, the fitness center was great. It had some nice cardio equipment, including a Peloton, free weights, and a Cybex machine. It was very clean and bright. I also loved that the cardio machines had working televisions.
Sadly, we planned poorly to eat dinner on site at the Mezcla for Sunday - the day they are closed. So I cannot comment on the food/drink at Hotel Encanto - but the atmosphere inside the restaurant appeared really calm and relaxing.
Our first visit to White Sands National Park close to Alamogordo, NM
White Sands is under an hour drive from Las Cruces. We visited the same day as our arrival, so we only had about an hour in the park. Given our time restraint, we asked the park ranger for suggestions on what we "must see". He advised us to drive to the furthest point of the loop to the Alkali Flat area to see some of the bigger dunes. We walked around this area and got some great photos. We didn't bother sliding down any of them (remembering that sand sliding is not near as fast as snow!) - so I guess we are snobs when it comes to sledding after living up in Northern Canada, but you can rent the discs at the visitors center if that interests you!
Other things to note - when driving from Las Cruces to White Sands you'll encounter a border patrol checkpoint - so be sure to have passports on hand. They also allow alcohol in certain picnic areas except during February to May. Entrance for one vehicle is $25.
17198 N Valley Drive
Las Cruces, NM
Inside the slot canyon in Las Cruces, NM
Getting to the Slot Canyon itself was an adventure for us. The pin in Apple Maps brought us to nothing...we continued down 185 for another mile or two and came across a bunch of parked cars, so we figured that was the spot.
Once parked, we noticed the area was fenced off with barbed wire and were hesitant to proceed. After doing some quick internet research, we learned that the area is listed as public...so we climbed the fence and off we went.
This hike is extremely rewarding for minimal effort. Although we didn't do the entire loop, the trail is only 2.5 miles out and back. Once you get inside the canyon, the "slot" can get pretty narrow, which makes passing other groups interesting. We had our toddler with us and she loved climbing around inside. So it's a great family hike that has all the views, too!
7502 Red Hawk Golf Rd
Las Cruces, NM
Swinging for the mountains at Red Hawk Golf Club in Las Cruces, NM
Red Hawk is a Ken Dye designed course right in Las Cruces. It's moderately priced $63 pp and does not include range balls. (Frugal me always get peeved when I pay for a round and they can't offer a bucket...haha).
This course is beautifully set at the foothills of the Organ Mountains and offers amazing views on every hole. The course does not have much tree cover or shelter from the elements, so definitely be mindful of the weather; the wind here was intense. I liked the links style layout and friendliness of the staff. I found the course to be quite challenging - the fairways are rolling, so most shots are on some sort of slant. The pin placement was also quite challenging and I seemed to find the sand on most of the holes. But all in all, a gorgeous spot to enjoy a round!
1720 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Amazing appetizers at D.H. Lescombes WInery & Bistro in Las Cruces, NM
During our visit to Albuquerque in October, we visited the D.H. Lescombes there and loved it - the food, the wine, the ambiance; the location in Las Cruces was very similar in terms of vibe and menu. We were not overly hungry, so we decided to order a few appetizers and a bottle of wine. For food we had the marinara meatballs, jalapeño bacon wrapped shrimp and brussel sprouts with the 6•3•1 Signature Merlot. The service was great and they had live music during our visit, which was extra special. Definitely make reservations, as it was packed when we went!
3961 E. Lohman, Suite 1
Las Cruces, NM
Sushi spread from Sakura Japanese House in Las Cruces, NM
Down the road from Hotel Encanto was Sakura Japanese House; after golf on Saturday, we stopped by for supper. We ordered the Lohman roll, sweet heart roll, hibachi noodles, the salmon + tuna sashimi. The salmon was great and I loved the Lohman roll in pink soy paper. Everything was beautifully plated. We also enjoyed a few of the large sakes at only $7 each!
741 N. Alameda Blvd. #16
Las Cruces, NM
Southwest benedict with Christmas chile and our wikki stix creation at A Bite of Belguim in Las Cruces, NM
Breakfast is my favorite, so I was excited to eat at A Bite of Belgium. New Mexico is known for their red and green (Christmas) chile sauces, so I had to order something that incorporated that. My husband and I both got the eggs benedict and my daughter, a Liège waffle. The restaurant was super busy at brunchtime, so definitely make reservations here too. Luckily they had these fun wax craft sticks, called wikki stix, to play with while we waited; they kept us all entertained until the food came and made for some funny creations. Although I'm not into sweets for breakfast, I was intrigued by the Liège waffle. I had never had that style waffle before so I had to have a bite - it tasted to me more like a doughnut, which I was surprised by. So definitely give those a try if you haven't had one before!
1233 Fort Selden Road
Las Cruces, NM
A glass of Gewürztraminer at Fort Selden Winery in NM
Most often, if I ask my husband to "hike", I need to provide some sort of motivation. On this occasion, a winery visit was the reward. Although the slot canyon was not a long ordeal, we were ready for a glass of wine on the way back.
To be honest, the winery was not what I expected. The facility consists of the owners house, a small building behind as the tasting room, and a few rows of vines. Fort Selden Winery is a small family run business - so when you visit, you'll meet the owners Desiree and Franklin Simon who started the winery in 2005. The wine they make is a little sweet for my palate, but the conversations we had were priceless. I loved hearing about their previous lives in Holland and Indonesia, and how they made it to Las Cruces. The Gewürztraminer was my favorite. Also note that due to NM law, you cannot take an opened bottle of wine back home with you! (This was news to me.)
In closing, Las Cruces is a great destination for a weekend getaway; it has so much to do, but is easily accessible and the traffic isn't bad. Just be prepared if you're coming in from the South that there are several dairy farms along highway 10...the smell of manure really kicked us in the face! Next time I'd love to check out the New Mexico State University golf course and head further up to Hatch for the pepper season! Til next time...!