Posted October 19, 2009 by Jamie Moore
Add some Southwest zing to your vacation without zapping your bank account in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Test your heat tolerance with some local chili bites, and then hit a farming museum to discover why chilies are so spicy. In the evening, head for a hilltop hacienda and watch the sun set over a cactus garden.
Nellie's Cafe: For authentic Southwest Mexican cuisine, Nellie's is the place to be according to locals and Sunset and Gourmet magazines. The star of the breakfast and lunch menus (there's no dinner) is Nellie's four-alarm green chili. Or choose from a huge selection of burritos topped off with red (hot stuff) or green (very hot stuff) chili sauce—half and half for those who can't decide. Soak up the heat and extra sauce with puffy sopaipillas, Mexican fried bread, and a huge glass of ice water.
Hilltop Hacienda Bed & Breakfast: Immerse yourself in Southwest style at this hilltop adobe bed and breakfast. The native garden showcases local flora and fauna. Look out for prickly cacti and critters such as quail, roadrunners, and jackrabbits. Walk through the arched doorways and red-bricked halls to leaf through Southwest-themed books in the library. The granola, Dona Ana green chili quiche, or "Dutch Baby" pancake breakfast is complemented by a spectacular 360-degree view of the desert valley. Rooms are $115 to $145 per night.
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum: Delve into 3,000 years of farming history at this 47-acre interactive museum. Inside the huge hacienda-style barn, you can check out ancient farming equipment, watch blacksmiths at work, learn how to prepare food grown in New Mexico's fields, or see a milking demonstration. At snack time hit the on-site mercantile, which is well stocked with fresh pistachios and seven varieties of New Mexico wine. Admission is $5 for adults.
To search for flights and compare prices to El Paso, which is home to Las Cruces’ nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.(Photo: iStockphoto/Jill Fromer)
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