Hotels in El Paso, USA
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El Paso: The Sun City on the Southern Border
El Paso del Norte – Spanish for “The Pass of the North.” Now simply known as El Paso, this Texan border town in the Chihuahuan Desert is dubbed “the Sun City” due to its year-round sunshine. Nestled on the gleaming shores of the Rio Grande across from Ciudad Juárez, El Paso is part of a multi-town region dubbed “The Borderland.” With a long history of Spanish, Mexican, and American settlement, El Paso offers a rich blend of Texan and Latin culture. Today, this diverse and vibrant city attracts millions of tourists each year who are drawn to its famous cultural landmarks, outdoor activities, and sheer natural beauty.
From Spanish Colonial Settlement to Texan Border Town
The El Paso region was inhabited by Native American hunter-gatherer groups for millennia before the arrival of European settlers to the area. Although discovered by Spanish explorers decades earlier, “El Paso del Norte” was not settled by Europeans until 1598. The colonization of this territory and the eventual assimilation of the natives began with an expedition led by Don Juan de Oñate, a conquistador born in New Spain (modern-day Mexico) and one of the first Western explorers to lay eyes upon the Rio Grande. El Paso remained within the New Mexico territory until it became part of the United States in 1848, and later part of Texas in 1850.
Owing to its diverse population and rich history as a Spanish, Texan, and American territory, El Paso boasts a unique cultural vibe that sets it apart from other U.S. cities. The evidence of this melting pot’s Hispanic roots are everywhere, and many examples of Spanish colonial architecture still dot the town. One famous example is the miles-long Mission Trail featuring the Ysleta Mission, established in 1680 and recognized as the oldest parish in Texas (the current church building dates to 1851). Other historic and cultural landmarks worth checking out include the Socorro Mission, the Chamizal National Memorial, the Plaza Theatre, and Presidio Chapel of San Elizario, to name only a handful.
A Haven for Lovers of Nature and Tex-Mex Culture
As part of the Chihuahuan Desert region, El Paso is one of the sunniest towns in the United States. The Sun City enjoys over 300 sunny days each year and receives little rainfall, making it a favourite destination for travellers who head south to escape the winter. The area draws thousands of lovers of the great outdoors every year and is especially popular with rock climbers who flock to the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, one of the best rock-climbing spots in the U.S. For those who are happy to experience nature with both of their feet on the ground, there is plenty to see and do in and around El Paso. The city features America’s largest public park and plenty of hiking, cycling, golfing, and other outdoor activities await nature-lovers and sport enthusiasts.
As one of the best cities in America to experience Latino culture without having to leave the States, El Paso also draws large crowds who visit the area for its rich Hispanic heritage. Spanish remains the most commonly spoken language at home and it is common to hear older locals conversing in Spanish in public. While not necessary, knowing a few common Spanish phrases can be helpful when exploring the city. Many local art and entertainment venues, such as the El Paso Museum of Art and the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre, regularly host exhibits and performances that celebrate the town’s rich multinational heritage.
This multinational culture also makes El Paso a premier destination for Tex-Mex cuisine. One popular local specialty is Menudo, a Mexican soup. El Paso-Ciudad Juárez also claims the honour of being the home of the original Margarita, created in 1942 by a local bartender named Francisco “Pancho” Morales. Along with classic Texan cuisine like barbecue, traditional Mexican eateries such as burrito joints and street trucks abound are a great source for quick food that is both delicious and usually very cheap.
A City Divided
Being positioned right on the U.S.-Mexico border, El Paso forms the American half of a bi-metropolitan area with its sister city of Ciudad Juárez. There was much travel and trade between the two towns in the past, but sadly due to the drug trade and increased gang activity, there is less exchange between these estranged siblings today. Nonetheless, some travellers do take day trips over to the safer areas of Ciudad Juárez via the numerous international bridges or the Border Jumper tourist trolley.
The Franklin Mountains and Fort Bliss divide El Paso, TX into four main districts: The West Side, East Side, North East, and downtown. The affluent West Side contains Kern Place, a popular entertainment district with a burgeoning nightlife. The North East is the location of Fort Bliss, one of America’s largest military bases which offers public tours. The bustling and rapidly-growing East Side features attractions like Las Palmas Marketplace and Cielo Vista Mall. The East Side is also situated near the Mission Trail and Hueco Tanks, something to bear in mind for those who are looking for hotels near these popular attractions.
Downtown El Paso offers a cornucopia of Mexican and Spanish-style architecture as well as plenty of small shops, cafes, and eateries to be found when exploring on foot. The downtown area boasts some of the city’s main attractions as well, including the El Paso Zoo, the Plaza Theatre, and the El Paso Museum of Art. Hotels in this area may be more expensive but will put you right in the beating heart of this vibrant city.