With summer on the horizon—and the pandemic subsiding—getting out of the house might be top of mind. The call of the open road doesn’t have to take you far from home for you to arrive at fascinating destinations. The Central Rio Grande Valley and northern New Mexico are filled with family-friendly attractions, historic landmarks, and cultural diversions. From Belen to Las Vegas, here are a few places to explore on your next New Mexico road trip.
Belen – For History Buffs
Belen owes much of its history to the railroad. The Belen Harvey House Museum celebrates that past and present to its fullest. Housed in a 1910 Harvey House, the museum building was once a restaurant feeding Santa Fe Railway passengers around a lunch counter. The invention of railway hospitality magnate Fred Harvey, Harvey Houses like the one in Belen dotted the west bringing sophistication to train travel. Harvey House and train artifacts flood the museum, including the flatware once used in the restaurant. The museum also allows guests to explore former Harvey girls’ bedrooms, including one that went on to marry the mayor and become the first lady of Belen.
Los Lunas – For Cultured Travelers
Los Lunas can take an upscale turn with a visit to Tome Gallery, a co-op style gallery that sells some 40 artists’ jewelry, pottery, photography, fiber art, and other items. Taste the fruits of the vine and local craft beers at Camino Real Winery and Tap Room, which is also known for hosting live music on the weekends.
Albuquerque – For Technology Fans
One of the Duke City’s newest attractions, the Electric Playhouse, is ready to hit its stride after a pandemic hiatus. The immersive digital environment projects interactive games and light displays. Displays have also gone high tech at the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in the 4D Theater where a three-dimensional film gets additional sensations, like feeling the breeze on your skin during flight.
Rio Rancho – For Families
Even though Rio Rancho now ranks as New Mexico’s third-largest city, the City of Vision has kept its family-friendly roots. Family fun jumps sky high at the Elevate Trampoline Park. A Park Above sets a new benchmark for the best children’s play areas at public parks with a play space that everyone can access. (The park is ADA compliant.) There are also plenty of places to get outside, from the gentle walking trails along the Rio Grande bosque, like at the Willow Creek Trail to the Rio Rancho–adjacent Petroglyph National Monument where Ancestral Puebloans and Spanish settlers left their marks in the basalt boulders some 400 to 700 years ago.
Santa Fe – For Art Aficionados
Artists keep the country’s oldest capital city lively. After a year hiatus, Meow Wolf’s original Santa Fe location, The House of Eternal Return, is once again welcoming visitors to explore freshly updated and always otherworldly exhibits. The Santa Fe Railyard covers the spectrum of artistic experiences, from the mind-bending installations at SITE Santa Fe to Sundays’ Railyard Artisan Market featuring textiles, pottery, jewelry, and other creations from local crafters. Newly relocated to the Railyard, Optunia Café also serves artisanal meals in a Zen setting.
Las Vegas – For Movie Fans
You may know that Las Vegas is home to more than 900 homes and dwellings on the National Register of Historic Places. But you may not know that many of these buildings’ interiors and exteriors have been backdrops for movie magic. “Wild Hogs” (2006), “No Country for Old Men,” (2006), “True Grit” (2010), and multiple seasons of the TV “Longmire” are just a handful of the productions that filmed around town. Start your explorations at the Plaza, in front of the historic Plaza Hotel, for the most iconic backdrop.
We hope these ideas inspire you to hit the road and explore a community near you!
Did you know that State ECU has a summer auto loan program that is as easy and pleasant as a summer breeze? You can apply online or work with a State ECU member representative to secure a terrific rate on a new car, used car, or refinance loan—get preapproved before you shop! With $150 back and 90 days to pay, the State ECU summer loan gives you some extra green in your wallet so you can start planning your summer road trip today.