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

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hotels.com to bring forth some of the stunning wanderlust destinations in the USA. As always the opinions and ideas are my own.

El Paso is located in the state of Texas. Being a border town, El Paso has a large Mexican influence and is rich in history and culture. The best part of visiting El Paso is that many of the 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.

Note: As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind. Many of the museums may be closed during these unprecedented times. Please check the official website for guidelines, current services, and the latest closures.

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

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.

There is a lot of history in the city. You can easily find attractions in the downtown area, and this 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 during the course of 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 will be able to 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 amazing historic sites in the downtown, it is completely worth going on a self guided walking tour of the neighbourhood. This walking tour takes about 90 minutes, and it 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

El Segundo Barrio Street Murals

Alternatively, you can also 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 the city of 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 

For art lovers, a visit to the El Paso Museum of Art is a must. It is free to enter and explore the museum. 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 to learn 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 4 indoor exhibit areas (including the entrance and the lobby) that contain exhibits and fossils from the prehistoric era. There is one outdoor gallery that showcases native plants and wildlife of El Paso and neighbouring 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

Located close to the Holocaust Museum is the National Border Patrol 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 showcasing the history/timeline of the Border Patrol Agency. It showcases interviews, incidents, items (weapons, vehicles, etc.) news and 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 $5 USD per adult entry).

Other things worth exploring in El Paso

Although not free, these are some of the other activities and sightseeing attractions 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, and you can visit the theatre and 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 are renting a car, or have access to a vehicle hit the 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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