New Mexico is one of those states that offers the best of both worlds – picturesque landscapes and mesmerizing culture.
Moreover, you don’t need to visit any expensive European locations to experience the cozy “small town” vibe.
New Mexico has some breathtaking small towns that will make your Hallmark dream come true!
In these quaint small towns, you’ll get to discover several exciting spots – scenic roads, cinematic locations, lush-green fields, and bustling streets, that will make you feel at home.
Now, without any further ado, let’s check out the 17 best small towns in New Mexico that should be on your travel bucket list!
Getting around New Mexico
Don’t forget that it’s much easier to see New Mexico by car so you can get around on your own.
Rental cars are perfect if you’re flying into the area.
We recommend using Discover Cars price comparison to find the cheapest deals!
If you are planning to explore a town in New Mexico that is both scenic and cultural, then I suggest going to Ruidoso.
This little village is located right near the Southern tip of New Mexico.
You can take a flight to Roswell Intl (ROW), and then take a taxi from there to Ruidoso.
It shouldn’t take more than two hours to get there!
Best Attractions in Ruidoso
There are too many things to do in Ruidoso.
If you’re looking for something adventurous, the good news is that this small village is surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest.
You can go camping as there are more than 19 camping spots here.
Or, you can even opt for hiking, horseback riding, or snowboarding.
Some other exciting options for nature lovers include Grindstone Lake, with its crystal-clear waters and pretty lush-green surroundings.
Or, you can visit Ski Apache, the famous ski resort, if you love skiing!
On the contrary, if you want to explore the history and culture of this place, we recommend visiting The Hubbard Museum of the American West.
You’ll get to know a lot of information about the early settlers and the Native Americans of New Mexico.
Don’t forget to catch a delicious meal at The Village Buttery!
This tiny café offers mouthwatering dishes.
Best Hotels to Stay in Ruidoso
Listed below are some of the high-rated hotels in Ruidoso.
You can book any depending on your budget and location preference.
2. Silver City
If you’re purely interested in exploring the cultural side of New Mexico, then Silver City won’t disappoint you.
This little town is located in the Southwestern part of New Mexico.
Best Attractions in Silver City
First off, you need to take a stroll around downtown Silver City.
You can visit the Cholla Cholla Art – one of the quirkiest art galleries out there!
Or, if you’re into organic foods and handmade pieces, then visit the Makers Market.
Cinema and art always go hand in hand.
So, the classic Silco theater is a must-visit for all film lovers.
You can have a cool old-school experience here, given its artsy vibe!
Silver City offers several festivals to its visitors too.
For instance, you can attend the Silver City Blues Festival or the Gila River Festival.
You can take a break from the cultural activities by relaxing at Big Ditch Park.
This park offers phenomenal views and is the perfect spot to read a book, or have a picnic!
Best Hotels to Stay in Silver City
Listed below are some of the high-rated hotels in Silver City.
Madrid isn’t just a large city in Spain, but also a lovely small town, with several stunning locations, in the northern part of New Mexico.
You can drive to Madrid from the Albuquerque International Sunport, as it only takes about one hour.
Best Attractions in Madrid
Initially, Madrid was simply a coal mining place.
However, over the years, this place has turned into an artistic community, with several museums, galleries, and restaurants to visit.
You can begin your trip by visiting the unique Johnsons of Madrid Galleries.
They exhibit unique artistic pieces, sculptures, ceramics, and whatnot!
Or, if you’re into jewelry, pay a visit to Crystal Dragon for some pretty turquoise accessories.
For a wholesome meal, visit the Mine Shaft Tavern And Cantina.
They also have live music which is bound to give you the small-town feel!
Best Hotels to Stay in Madrid
Listed below are some of the high-rated hotels in Madrid.
- The Inn at the Mine Shaft Tavern ($)
- The Hacienda Vargas Bed and Breakfast ($$)
- Java Junction ($$$)
Raton is again one of the best small towns in New Mexico that offer both adventure and culture due to its strategic location.
You can take a flight to Santa Fe Airport, and then take a taxi to Raton.
It can take up to three hours.
Best Attractions in Raton
Raton has several vintage spots that you can visit.
If you are enthusiastic about performing arts, then visit The Shuler Theater in downtown Raton.
With its antique interiors, it is a sight for sore eyes.
The Sugarite Canyon, located towards the east, is a soothing place, filled with cone-shaped volcanoes and gorgeous oak and pine forests.
You can also relax near the two artificial lakes in this region – Lake Maloya and Lake Alice.
Finally, consider visiting the Raton Museum to explore some old artifacts of the New Mexico region.
You can also get a guided tour here for a better experience.
Best Hotels to Stay in Raton
Listed below are some of the high-rated hotels in Raton.
Cloudcroft is a town that is entrenched within the beautiful greenery of the Lincoln National Forest.
This small town makes for the best town to visit during winter.
The nearest airports to Cloudcroft are the Roswell (ROW) Airport and El Paso Airport.
Best Attractions in Cloudcroft
The one attraction you definitely shouldn’t miss is the Bluff Springs Waterfall.
This place is straight out of a Disney fairytale – with towering trees, vividly-colored flowers, and ever-flowing blue streams.
You can set up your own tent here, or go on hiking trips.
If you’re into exploring the history of quaint towns in New Mexico, pay a visit to the Sacramento Mountains Museum.
Just like this town, the museum is also quite tiny and unique.
You can get to know about the early folks, and their struggles, and also come across artifacts.
You can also purchase handmade souvenirs from here.
For some entertainment, plan a visit to the Cloudcroft Light Opera Company.
Wine and beer enthusiasts can also visit the Noisy Water Winery for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Best Hotels to Stay in Cloudcroft
- The Crofting Inn Bed & Breakfast ($)
- The Lodge at Cloudcroft ($$)
- The Cabins at Cloudcroft ($$)
If you’re a movie buff, then Galisteo should definitely be on your list.
This town is located within Santa Fe County and is famous for its scenic landscapes.
The nearest airport to Galisteo is the Santa Fe Regional Airport.
Best Attractions in Galisteo
Galisteo is suitable for a one-day trip.
You can visit the various filming locations of the movies like Young Guns, Thor, and Crazy Heart.
Or, you can explore various places like the Galisteo Plaza to soak in the rustic architecture of the place.
For artistic folks, Galisteo offers many art galleries, like the La Sala de Galisteo.
Then, grab a scrumptious American meal at restaurants like the Legal Tender Saloon & Eating House.
Best Hotels to Stay in Galisteo
- Java Junction ($$)
- Casita Kalmar ($$)
- The Bobcat Inn ($$$)
Are you looking for a place in New Mexico for a weekend getaway?
Then, you need to visit Tucumcari, as it offers plenty of amazing sights and exuberant culture.
This city is located in Quay County, New Mexico.
The nearest airport to Tucumcari is the Clovis (CVN) Airport.
Best Attractions in Tucumcari
Tucumcari is basically a pop culture town, with its artistic architecture, neon signs, and energetic vibes.
It is also the best small town in New Mexico to live in.
Throughout the city, you’ll come across various murals drawn on the buildings.
You can also visit the Eastern New Mexico Arts and Cultural Center Art Space to meet the local artists and musicians.
Some might even conduct fun workshops!
If you’re curious about prehistoric times, the Mesalands Community College Dinosaur Museum features the footprints and skeletons of age-old dinosaurs.
The whole of Route 66 in Tucumcari is an Instagram-worthy place with its vivid neon billboards and stylish buildings.
Best Hotels to Stay in Tucumcari
The town of Gallup is pretty popular as it is the largest one between Flagstaff and Albuquerque.
It is also known as the “Heart of Indian Country” and has more than 40% Native Americans.
So, you can get to learn a lot about their traditions and attend various events.
The closest airport is the Four Corners Regional Airport.
Best Attractions in Gallup
You’re going to have an iconic time in Gallup!
There are many cute towns in New Mexico but there’s something for everyone in this tiny town.
If you’re into small-town fleas and markets, then the Gallup Flea Market might be right up your alley!
You can get everything here, from art pieces to jewelry.
The Gallup Cultural Center is also worth visiting as this museum has various artifacts and artworks.
Also, we highly recommend visiting the Rex Museum to know more about Gallup and its history.
For some nature time, visit Red Rock Park.
As the name suggests, this park has amazing red rock formations and hiking trails too.
While you’re in Gallup, don’t forget to visit the Historic El Rancho Hotel.
This hotel has welcomed several Hollywood stars, right from John Wayne to Katharine Hepburn.
Funny enough, this hotel was specifically made for movie stars.
Best Hotels to Stay in Gallup
9. Red River
Red River is an excellent small town for outdoor enthusiasts.
It has splendid hiking trails, skiing locations, and a magnificent location.
It is a resort town located in Taos, New Mexico.
The closest airports are the Albuquerque International Sunport and the Taos Regional Airport.
Best Attractions in Red River
You’re going to love Red River for its fun and adventurous activities.
This town is close to Wheeler Peak – the highest mountain in New Mexico.
You can enjoy the hiking trails here, and other activities like camping.
Also, you can get breathtaking views from the top during sunset time!
Moreover, there are many trails in Red River.
For example, the Red River Nature Trail is full of lush-green conifers and flowing streams.
You can also visit the Mallette Park Nature Trail.
The Red River Ski & Summer Area is a pretty ski resort for skiing enthusiasts.
If you plan to go outskirts, plan a trip to Lost Lake because the views are simply worth it!
Best Hotels to Stay in Red River
Aztec is the right place for anyone who is into exploring the ruins of early human civilizations.
It is located in Southwest New Mexico and near the Four Corners region.
You can choose to take a flight to the Four Corners Regional Airport.
Best Attractions in Aztec
Aztec is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Aztec Ruins National Monument.
This area has several ruins of structures built by Pueblo Indians over 1000 or more years ago.
Along with visiting the ruins, you should check out the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village.
This museum showcases artifacts and other pieces from the Aztec region.
Another museum to know the history of the Pueblo Indians is the Salmon Ruins Museum and Heritage Park.
After a day of exploring, you can also take a walk along the San Juan River Trail.
The San Juan River flows through the Aztec region and offers pacifying views.
Best Hotels to Stay in Aztec
11. Las Vegas, New Mexico
Don’t get confused between Las Vegas in Nevada and the one in New Mexico.
Unlike the glamorous environment of Las Vegas, Nevada, this one offers a wholly different experience with its historical side.
The Santa Fe Municipal Airport is the closest airport to Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Best Attractions in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is one of the best towns to visit for those who are into history and architecture.
This place has several historical buildings and sites to keep you occupied.
You should start your trip by visiting the Las Vegas Plaza.
This area is the epitome of history, with classic buildings sprawled across the entire region.
Then, don’t forget to check out the Montezuma Castle, an old hotel with marvelous architecture, covering an area of 90,000-square-foot.
Some other historic locations around Las Vegas are the Carnegie Public Library and the Fort Union National Monument.
If you want to take a break from the historical side of Las Vegas, visit the Storrie Lake State.
It’s located near Las Vegas and you can easily go for a picnic here with your family.
Best Hotels to Stay in Las Vegas
- Historic Plaza Hotel ($)
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Las Vegas ($$)
- Super 8 By Wyndham Las Vegas ($$)
If you’re into churches and wish to have a spiritual getaway, then visit Chimayo.
This town is located near Santa Cruz.
You can take a flight to the Albuquerque International Sunport.
Best Attractions in Chimayo
There isn’t much to see in Chimayo, but if you’re a spiritual person, the Santuario de Chimayo is going to fascinate you.
Every year, several people visit the Santuario de Chimayo, the famous catholic church, known for its “healing” dirt.
It is believed that this dirt has healing properties for both body and soul.
You can take a small amount with you.
Once you have visited the church, you can also check out the Chimayo Museum to take a look at the various artifacts.
For some recreational activity, we suggest taking a 30-minute drive to Nambe Falls.
You can choose to hike, or simply sit there and enjoy the mesmerizing sounds of nature and the water gushing!
Best Hotels to Stay in Chimayo
If you’re in New Mexico, you should visit Taos to experience one of the oldest settlements in the US.
Taos is located near the north-central area of New Mexico.
The closest airport is the Taos Regional Airport.
Best Attractions in Taos
Taos is the native place of the Taos Native American tribe.
Hence, Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Center, is worth checking out.
Right from the architecture to the culture of the inhabitants, this settlement has a lot to offer.
You can also go for guided tours here.
There are many museums spread across Taos too, like The Harwood Museum of Art, The Millicent Rogers Museum, and the Taos Art Museum.
All these museums feature art and craft related to the Native Americans and Taos inhabitants.
Just like other towns, this one also has a plaza, with several tiny shops and monuments.
So, you can spend some time there too.
Best Hotels to Stay in Taos
14. Jemez Springs
Jemez Springs is located within the Santa Fe National Forest and offers scenic views.
It is also popular for its natural geothermal hot springs, making it a distinctive destination for people.
The closest airport to Jemez Springs is the Los Alamos County Airport.
Best Attractions in Jemez Springs
Jemez Springs is a combination of both history and nature.
For instance, you can visit the Jemez State Monument to explore the archaeological ruins of the ancient pueblo.
Or, the Jemez Plaza for any cultural events and attractions.
However, the main spots in Jemez Springs are related to outdoor activities.
You can visit the Soda Dam, a group of 15 hot springs, or Jemez Falls for a refreshing bath!
If you’re into hiking, you can also check out mountain trails, like the East Fork Trailhead, and begin your adventure.
Best Hotels to Stay in Jemez Springs
15. Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa has possibly everything that you’d want in a small town – quaint buildings, picturesque locations, and museums.
It is located in Guadalupe County, and the closest airport is the Santa Fe Municipal Airport.
Best Attractions in Santa Rosa
Motorheads are absolutely going to love visiting Santa Rosa as it has the Route 66 Auto Museum!
This museum features antique cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles that will leave you speechless.
If you’re more of a swimming person, Santa Rosa has a unique natural swimming hole, the Blue Hole, with sparkling blue water.
You can choose to snorkel, swim, or scuba dive here.
There’s also a lake, Park lake, where you can rejuvenate or go fishing!
Santa Rosa also offers eateries like Chico’s and Comet for some authentic Mexican food.
Best Hotels to Stay in Santa Rosa
Roswell used to be an uneventful town in Chaves County.
However, the conspiracy theories surrounding the Roswell incident made this town popular and cool.
Hence, you’ll find several museums and quirky places to visit.
The closest airport is the Roswell International Air Center.
Best Attractions in Roswell
Roswell is practically heaven for those interested in sci-fi and aliens!
You can visit the Roswell UFO Spacewalk, which is an indoor amusement park, or Area 51, for some funny pictures with fake aliens!
Near the town’s entry, you’ll also find a UFO-themed welcome sign.
Apart from its eccentric extraterrestrial side, you can also explore the downtown district, full of 19th-century buildings with Victorian architecture.
For some tranquil, spend some time relaxing in the Spring River Park and Zoo.
You can even choose to cycle here!
There are many museums and art centers here, like the Roswell Museum & Art Center.
Again, for space lovers, the International UFO Museum is a must-see.
Best Hotels to Stay in Roswell
The last on the list of the best little towns in New Mexico is this splendid place located in Doña Ana County.
This place is well-known for its historic significance and monuments.
The closest airport is the El Paso International Airport.
Best Attractions in Mesilla
There are too many places to explore in Mesilla.
But, we highly recommend taking some time out to sit and relax at the Mesilla Plaza to absorb the culture of the place.
This plaza consists of several historic buildings with ornamental architecture, shops, and dining places.
You can also pay a visit to the Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery for some wine tasting and discover cottage-core-like locations.
Some other attractions in Mesilla include Billy the Kid Gift Shop – with its antique building look and the Basilica of San Albino.
Mesilla has some excellent dining places like Josefina’s Old Gate Cafe and La Posta de Mesilla.
Both these places have scrumptious food and impressive ambiance.
Best Hotels to Stay in Mesilla
- Comfort Inn & Suites Las Cruces Mesilla ($)
- Holiday Inn Express ($$)
- Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces ($$)
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