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El Paso, Texas: Your Essential Weekend Itinerary

El Paso, located in the far western corner of Texas, is separated from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, by the Rio Grande. The city, incorporated in 1873, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Part of the Chihuahuan Desert, El Paso enjoys over 320 days of sun each year, making it one of the sunniest places in the US. In recent years, the city has undergone a transformation, with its entertainment and dining venues rapidly expanding. Rated the safest large city in the US, El Paso features a number of outdoor attractions, including the Hueco Tanks State Park, the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, the Paso Mission Trail, the Franklin Mountains, McKelligon Canyon and Transmountain Road.

L&J Cafe

Via LJ Cafe

L&J Cafe, open since 1927, is one of the city’s most beloved Mexican eateries. Named Texas' Best Tex-Mex restaurant by USA Today, the cafe is run by the fourth generation of the founding family. Located next to the historic Concordia cemetery, this no-frills diner serves a variety of scrumptious tacos, fajitas and green-chile chicken enchiladas. House specialties include the pollo en salsa española with rice and beans, the T-bone steak with tomato, onion, and jalapeños, and the tampiquena plate with grilled chile strips and onions served with rice, beans, onions, and guacamole. As fan Nick Holroyd says, "Everything here is amazing. Everything. Just order with your eyes closed and plan on returning for more."

Wakeem/ Teschner Nature Preserve at Ressler Canyon

Via Frontera Land Alliance

Set on 91 acres, the Wakeem/Teschner Nature Preserve at Ressler Canyon is open to the public for hiking, wildlife observation, and other low-impact activities. Water flows from Resler Canyon to the Keystone Wetland, a natural area that holds the archeological remains of a 4,000-year-old Native American village. The preserve is home to countless birds, such as the golden eagle, turkey vulture, Gambel's quail, mourning dove, white-winged dove, greater roadrunner, and great horned owl, among others. The area is also inhabited by black-tailed jackrabbits, coyotes, mule deer, and Texas horned lizards, among other animals. Plants include the native desert marigold, mountain peppergrass, prickly pear cactus, and stinging cevallia, as well as exotic species, such as the Mexican paloverde, the yellow bird of paradise, and the Siberian elm.

El Paso Museum of Archaeology

Via El Paso Times

The El Paso Museum of Archaeology showcases 14,000 years of prehistory in the El Paso region, the greater Southwest, and northern Mexico. The museum features dioramas and exhibits of Native American lives, from the Paleoindian hunters of the Ice Age to modern day peoples. The auditorium houses drawers of indigenous artifacts from across the US. The museum also includes 15 acres of nature trails with more than 250 varieties of Chihuahuan Desert plants, outdoor exhibits, and an Indian Garden. Permanent exhibits include the Casas Grandes exhibit, which features artifacts from the empires of Mesoamerica and the ancient cultures that populated the American Southwest from AD 700-1450. The Casas Grandes culture is celebrated for its geometric pottery of the Pre-Columbian world. The collection of pottery is one of the largest in the Southwest.

Stonewood Modern American Grill

Via Behance

Stonewood Modern American Grill, a stylish steakhouse, features high ceilings, an open kitchen, and an inviting central bar. The scent of the pecan wood used in the grill welcomes visitors as they walk through the door. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, and brunch all day on Saturday and Sunday. Guests are invited to make themselves comfortable in the main dining room and on the patio. Stonewood also has a 40 seat mezzanine upstairs for large groups. Menu standouts include the smoked baby back ribs, the grilled salmon with citrus and coriander pesto, and the grass-fed tenderloin served with house cut fries. The menu also includes a first-rate signature cocktail list and a wine selection curated by the in-house sommelier.

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Visitors to El Paso shouldn’t miss out on the Centennial Museum, which features exhibits that cover the life, culture and the natural surroundings of the Borderlands. Also, the Second Floor Gallery features local artists from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, and the Tigua Cultural Center, home to the Tigua tribe, displays a photography exhibit, as well as pottery. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the center hosts a bread-making workshop, and on Saturdays and Sundays, and Fridays in June and July, the tribal youth group performs social dances. Finally, the Mission Ysleta, the state's oldest congregation, which dates back to 1680, was founded to aid Spanish refugees and Tigua Indians fleeing New Mexico after the Pueblo Indian revolt. The original mission was built in 1682, and the adobe-brick mission seen today was erected in the mid-1800s. Let us know what you think of our suggestions and feel free to share your own.

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