On a recent road trip from Dallas to San Diego, my friends and I had planned to drive right past the border town of El Paso. We thought that maybe we’d drive into the city for lunch, but we had no plans to spend much time in El Paso. However, our car broke down right outside of El Paso, so we ended up staying the night in this Texas town. Fortunately, we were able to book a last minute hotel in El Paso through HotelTonight’s app, and within minutes we had a comfortable hotel room waiting for us in the city. Even though our car had broken down on a hot, dusty freeway, we decided to make lemonade out of lemons and planned our own mini vacation in El Paso. Rather than just stay in El Paso for one night, we extended our impromptu vacation into a two-night stay so that we could really experience the most that the area had to offer.
Wine may not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Texas, but the state actually has a surprisingly successful wine industry, some of which is in the surrounding area of El Paso. Apparently, the soil along the Rio Grande River Valley is ideal for growing grapes, which is why there are a number of wineries sprinkled along the Don Juan de Onate trail. After renting a car and checking into our hotel room, we headed out into the El Paso wine country to see what Texas wine was all about. While it certainly wasn’t like wine tasting in the rolling green hills of Napa, there was a certain charm and character to the wineries in El Paso, and we ended up tasting several wines we really enjoyed.
After a fun-filled afternoon of wine tasting, we headed to downtown El Paso, where we walked through the colorful shopping district of El Centro. This neighborhood boasts an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants that showcase El Paso’s rich cultural diversity. In this blended district, we walked past restaurants with cuisines from around the world, from Korean cuisine to Lebanese cuisine. Of course, since we were just miles from the Mexico border, we knew we had to try some authentic Mexican food, and we definitely agreed that it may have been the best Mexican food we’ve ever had.
The next morning, we decided to immerse ourselves in the desert landscape by heading to Hueco Tanks State Park, which is about 30 miles outside of El Paso. We spent our morning hiking through this desert sanctuary, which boasts dramatic rock structures and natural rainwater basins. The history of Hueco Tanks is fascinating – native people trekked to these beautiful rocky hills for its rainwater basins for thousands of years before Americans settled in El Paso. Today, visitors still enjoy the beauty and abundance of outdoor recreation available in this state park. Hueco Tanks is an especially popular destination for rock climbers, but since none of us were experienced rock climbers, we decided to stick to hiking.
We were exhausted after a morning in the hot desert sun, so we headed back to our hotel to shower and rest before exploring the Mission Trail. There are several missions located throughout El Paso: the San Elizario, the Socorro, and the Ysleta. These beautiful missions embody the rich culture and history of El Paso, Texas, and they also connect some of the city’s best spots. Along the trail, we stopped in at various cafes and restaurants to rest, relax, and enjoy some local cuisine.
By the time we completed the Mission Trail, we were ready for a good dinner and a good night’s sleep. First, though, we popped into El Paso’s beautiful Municipal Rose Garden and wandered through a lush, fragrant garden of flowers. The sun began to set as we wandered the idyllic garden, and we passed many locals enjoying their afternoon stroll in this beautiful public space. This small garden in El Paso felt like a dreamy oasis in the middle of this hot desert city, and it was a refreshing way to wrap up our stay in El Paso.
While we initially didn’t have any plans to spend time in El Paso, we were actually glad our road trip panned out the way it did. Nobody wants his or her car to break down on the side of the freeway, but this unfortunate event actually opened up the opportunity to explore a city I may have never visited otherwise. El Paso proved to be one of the most interesting, more culturally rich cities in the U.S. I’ve visited, and I was glad I got a glimpse of what living in this border town is like. I’m especially grateful for HotelTonight, as our last-minute El Paso trip would have been infinitely more stressful without HotelTonight’s great selection of hotels. So if I ever find myself near El Paso again and decide to explore more of the city, I’ll be sure to book my last-minute accommodations through HotelTonight.