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7 Free Things to do in El Paso TX for History lovers

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El Paso is located in the state of Texas. As a border town, it has a significant Mexican influence and is rich in history and culture. The best part of visiting El Paso is that many city attractions are completely free to explore. In this post, we will uncover some of the free things to do in El Paso that are perfect for history lovers.

7 Free things to do in El Paso: Planning Guide & tips

Looking for free things to do in El Paso Texas? In this post, we share the top activities in El Paso for history & culture lovers
Free things to do in El Paso, Texas

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El Paso’s origins can be traced back to the 1680s when it emerged as a mountain trading center and was an important pass. The city was founded by Juan María Ponce de León. 

He named the west site of present-day downtown El Paso as the “El Paso del Río del Norte,” meaning the crossing of the river. And that’s how the name ‘El Paso’ was used for the first time.  

El Paso was incorporated as a city in 1873.

The city has a lot of history. You can easily find attractions in the downtown area, which is one of the best areas to stay in El Paso during your trip. From here, you can walk to many of the museums and sightseeing sites. 

View of Downtown El Paso Streets
View of Downtown El Paso Streets

San Jacinto Historic Plaza

San Jacinto Historic Plaza is a small city plaza in El Paso. Although small, it has played different roles throughout its history. It served as a location for the US Army to conduct drills, a site for Baptist revivals, an alligator pond, and even a place for ranch corrals. 

Of all the purposes it had served, San Jacinto Plaza is best remembered for its alligator pond. Although you will no longer find real/living alligators here, you can check out a fountain and a beautiful statue in its place today.

All the surviving alligators from the old pond were moved to the El Paso Zoo. 

Address 114 W Mills Ave, El Paso, TX 79901

Free Walking Tour of Downtown El Paso

With so many unique historic sites downtown, it is worth going on a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood. This walking tour takes about 90 minutes and starts in the southwest corner of San Jacinto Plaza, at the 1910 E. Howard post clock. 

From here, you can enjoy all the historic architectural landmarks and sites on foot. You can download the map on your phone from the El Paso Tourism Website

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El Segundo Barrio Street Murals

Alternatively, you can embark on a self-guided walking tour of El Segundo Barrio street murals. This is also completely free and can be downloaded from the tourism website. 

El Segunda Barrio is a historic Hispanic neighborhood and one of the oldest in El Paso. There are a ton of artistic murals that you can find here, which reflect the historical and cultural blend of American-Mexican nuances. 

Downtown El Paso

El Paso Museum of Art 

A visit to the El Paso Museum of Art is a must for art lovers. The museum is free to enter and explore. Here, you will find a variety of art exhibits on display, including seasonal/temporary exhibitions and activities. 

Address: El Paso Museum of Art, One Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901

Hours

  • Tuesdays to Saturdays  – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Thursday – 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Sunday – 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Mondays Closed

El Paso Holocaust Museum & Study Center

The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center was founded in 1994 by a Nazi Holocaust survivor – Henry Kellen. It is one of the few (free) Holocaust museums in the country. 

The museum’s mission is to teach and educate the public about the history of the Holocaust. 

You can opt for free self-guided walking tours of the museum to explore the exhibits. 

Address 715 N Oregon St, El Paso, TX 79902

Hours

  • Tuesdays to Fridays  – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Weekends – 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Mondays Closed

El Paso Museum of Archaeology

The El Paso Museum of Archaeology is one of our top picks for learning about the prehistory of the surrounding city of El Paso. It is home to over 14,000 years of rich archaeological exhibits.

The museum is located in Wilderness Park, adjacent to the National Border Patrol Museum (another free museum) at the base of the Franklin Mountains.

There are four indoor exhibit areas (including the entrance and the lobby) that contain exhibits and fossils from the prehistoric era. One outdoor gallery showcases native plants and wildlife of El Paso and neighboring areas. 

You can book free guided tours for yourself or groups here

Address 4301 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Dr,  El Paso, TX 79924

Hours

  • Tuesdays to Saturdays  – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sundays – 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Mondays Closed
Scenic Drive El Paso
Scenic Drive El Paso

National Border Patrol Museum

The National Border Patrol Museum is located close to the Holocaust Museum. It is one of a kind and makes it to the list of free things to do in El Paso! 

The museum houses historical documents, photographs, and other exhibits that showcase the history/timeline of the Border Patrol Agency. It has interviews, incidents, items (weapons, vehicles, etc.), news, and the origins of the museum itself. 

There is also a border patrol dog exhibit on-site. 

Address 4315 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Dr,  El Paso, TX 79924

Hours

  • Tuesdays to Saturdays  – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Mondays & Sundays Closed

After visiting the museums, you can explore Franklin Mountains State Park. There are a ton of scenic hiking trails that you can embark on. Note that entrance to the State Park is not free (starts at USD 5 per adult entry).

Other things worth exploring in El Paso

Although not free, these other activities and sightseeing attractions are worth adding to your El Paso trip!

Chamizal National Memorial Site - Chamizal National Memorial site is nestled along the US–Mexico international border. The museum located at the park highlights the history of the two countries, and the peaceful settlement of the Chamizal boundary dispute.
Chamizal National Memorial site
  • The Plaza Theater—The Plaza Theater is one of the oldest buildings in El Paso. It is well-maintained; you can visit it to enjoy shows and concerts. 
  • Chamizal National Memorial Site—Chamizal National Memorial Site is nestled along the US–Mexico international border. The museum located at the park highlights the history of the two countries and the peaceful settlement of the Chamizal boundary dispute.
  • Scenic Drive—If you rent a car or have access to a vehicle, hit Scenic Drive from downtown El Paso. Be sure to pull over at the small park and viewing platform for a spectacular view across El Paso and Juarez.

So, these are some of the free things to do in El Paso Texas. Do you have a personal favorite that you would like us to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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