20 Cities in New Mexico

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A member of the Southwest’s Four Corners states, New Mexico is one of the most captivating states in the United States. New Mexico is as historic a state as you’re ever likely to come across and features canyons, deserts, plains and mountains that were inhabited by people as early as 23,000 B.C. The cities in New Mexico are as delightful to explore as the state’s natural landscapes. 

Albuquerque is the state’s most populous city and its cultural and economic heartbeat, with tons of Spanish, Hispanic and Native American influences to experience all around the city. The state’s capital, Santa Fe, is the oldest state capital in the United States and is home to outstanding examples of adobe architecture and a vibrant arts scene. From the mysterious skies of Roswell to the ski slopes of Taos, New Mexico never ceases to amaze travellers with its raw beauty, melting pot of cultures and prehistoric past that can be experienced throughout America’s fifth-largest state.

Cities in New Mexico

20 New Mexico Cities To Discover

1- Albuquerque

Aerial view of Albuquerque
Albuquerque is at the top of our “cities in Mexico” list.

The largest city in New Mexico and very much the cultural and economic epicentre of the state, Albuquerque is a vibrant city that treats travellers to a healthy mix of old and new attractions, landmarks and architecture.

Albuquerque was founded back in 1706 by then Nuevo México governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, who promptly named the newly established city in honour of the Viceroy of New Spain, the Duke of Albuquerque.

Albuquerque is surrounded by some of the most unique natural features in the Southwest, which travellers can seamlessly discover and experience thanks to the La Luz and Paseo del Bosque nature trails.

Old Town Albuquerque is the city’s historic centre, with attractions such as the Albuquerque Museum and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center great places to stop by if you want to learn more about the region’s storied past.

One of the city’s biggest spectacles is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place every October and attracts hundreds of brightly decorated hot air balloons to the skies above downtown Albuquerque. 

Top tours:

2- Santa Fe

aerial view of Santa Fe at dusk
One of the coolest cities in New Mexico to visit is Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is the legislative capital of New Mexico and a real melting pot of culture and history.

This city is nestled in the southernmost tip of the Rocky Mountains and is both the oldest and most elevated state capital in the United States, making Santa Fe one of the most unique cities in New Mexico to visit. 

Founded in 1610, the city was shaped by Anglo, Native American and Hispanic influences and is today renowned for its artistic edge and distinct Spanish-Mexican architecture.

Santa Fe is surrounded by more than 1.5 million acres (607,028 ha) of untouched Rio Grande Valley forest, making it a fine city for nature enthusiasts.

Unmissable Santa Fe attractions and landmarks include the New Mexico State Capitol, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture.

Top tours:

3- Roswell

roswell road sign with UFO flying above
One of the quirky cities in New Mexico is Roswell, which you’ll find intriguing for its UFO culture.

Roswell has been the centre of mysterious happenings and UFO sightings in New Mexico ever since the famous Roswell incident of 1947, a now infamous event in alien pop culture highlighted by the apparent crashing of a UFO.

The city fully embraces its otherworldly claim to fame with attractions such as the International UFO Museum & Research Center and the annual UFO Festival.

Apart from being a hotbed for sightings of the paranormal, Roswell is also a major hub for contemporary arts and is home to mesmerising outdoor attractions such as the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Bottomless Lakes State Park.

Whether you’re stopping by to see UFOs first-hand or to soak up the culture of one of New Mexico’s smaller cities, Roswell is a fascinating destination to visit and an authentic slice of New Mexico. 

4- Taos

adobe building in taos
One of the fascinating towns in New Mexico to visit is Taos.

Tucked away between the foothills of the scenic Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico, Taos is the state’s unofficial skiing capital during winter and one of the state’s most influential cultural and artistic hubs.

Taos has long been regarded as one of the best places to live in New Mexico, thanks to the city’s plethora of attractions, the diverse array of shops and restaurants, and stunning natural landscapes.

The city’s compact downtown area features several superb examples of adobe architecture, with the historic Taos Pueblo situated just outside downtown. 

There is also no shortage of striking gorges, desert terrain and mountain peaks to hike and climb around the city, so be sure to add Taos to your New Mexico itinerary. 

Top tour: Taos Walking Tour.

5- Corrales

Corrales is a vibrant mid-sized New Mexico city just north of downtown Albuquerque that offers visitors access to two of the state’s most significant metro areas, picturesque natural landscapes and some of the state’s best dining options.

The city is deeply rooted in agriculture, with several award-winning wineries dotting Corrales’ surrounding hills and valleys.

Corrales also hosts various fun events and festivals throughout the year, including the Scarecrow Festival, the Starlight Parade and the Harvest Festival.

With tons to do and experience inside and outside downtown Corrales, it’s easy to see why the city is rated as one of the best places to live and travel to in New Mexico, making it a great addition to any New Mexico itinerary.

6- Abiquiú

The former home of renowned local artist Georgia O’Keeffe from 1949 until she died in 1986, Abiquiú is among the most scenic and storied places New Mexico has to offer.

Abiquiú is roughly 53 miles (85 km) north of Santa Fe and has served as the setting for countless Hollywood films, including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Red Dawn, City Slickers and Cowboys & Aliens.

Abiquiú, meaning “wild chokecherry place” in Tewa, is home to several interesting attractions, including the Georgia O’Keeffe House Museum, the Echo Amphitheater, Abiquiú Lake and the historic Penitente Morada, making it a Southwest city that’s worth visiting.

7- Farmington

Farmington Museum
Farmington is a laidback city in New Mexico. Pictured here is the Farmington Museum.

As the gateway to the famous Four Corners monument and New Mexico’s Navajo Nation, Farmington in northwest New Mexico is renowned for its important archaeological sites and striking natural beauty.

The city sits at the confluence of the La Plata, San Juan and Animas Rivers and was first settled during the 7th century by the native Anasazi people.

Farmington has a laid-back atmosphere and several family-friendly attractions, Farmington is perfect for nature enthusiasts and urban explorers, with tons of fascinating places to discover at every turn.

Check out Farmington’s Salmon Ruins, the Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the Farmington Museum to get the most out of your trip to this charming city in New Mexico’s Four Corners region.

8- Santa Rosa

Town Of Santa Rosa New Mexico At Sunrise
Santa Rosa is one of the towns in New Mexico to visit.

Considered the unofficial scuba diving capital of the Southwest, Santa Rosa is a fascinating mid-sized city situated in New Mexico’s east-central region along the historic US Route 66.

The Spanish settled in Santa Rosa in 1865, the first European-American settlement in the region.

Santa Rosa is home to the popular Blue Hole, an 81-foot deep (25 m) artesian spring that’s perfect for year-round diving and swimming thanks to its consistently warm temperature, which never dips below 62 °F (17°C).

Home to countless quirky Route 66 roadside attractions and a charming historic district, Santa Rosa is a favourite destination among many visiting New Mexico for the first time, thanks to its accessibility and proximity to Amarillo and Albuquerque.

9- Alamogordo

White Sands
Alamogordo is one of the popular towns in New Mexico for its White Sands National Park.

Situated in the high desert landscapes of the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico’s south, Alamogordo treats travellers to everything from towering sand dunes to stunning examples of Pueblo Revival-style and adobe Pueblo architecture.

Alamogordo was first inhabited as far back as 11,000 years ago, with traces of Folsom and Clovis cultures found in and around the city.

Among Alamogordo’s most visited attractions are the perplexing dunes of White Sands National Park, which features white gypsum dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Apart from its world-class outdoor attractions and ancient history, the city is also home to family-friendly attractions, such as the Museum of Space History and the Alameda Park Zoo, making it a fun city to discover.

10- Carlsbad

Carlsbad Caverns
Carlsbad is one of the best cities to visit in New Mexico for caverns.

Home to the scenic Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the Lincoln National Forest and the Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad in southeast New Mexico is a nature lover’s dream destination.

Carlsbad was a significant potash mining hub during the early 20th century, with the city experiencing an economic boom since the early 2000s thanks to Carlsbad’s reputation as a petroleum and natural gas hub.

The city lies near the Texas state border and is situated less than three hours from large Texan cities such as El Paso and Lubbock.

With so much to see and do around this prosperous mid-sized New Mexico city, it’s well worth stopping at the next time you’re travelling through America’s Southwest. 

Download the Carlsbad Crusade Scavenger Hunt

11- Las Cruces

Bordered by the Chihuahuan Desert to the south and the White Sands National Park dunes to the east, Las Cruces is a deeply historic New Mexico city shaped over centuries by Native American, European and Hispanic influences.

Las Cruces is among the largest cities in the state and is situated just 46 miles (74 km) from El Paso and the Mexican border, allowing travellers to experience two US states and America’s southern neighbour from one convenient location.

The city features plenty of amazing attractions to keep you busy and entertained, including the unique campus of New Mexico State University, the nearby Organ Mountains and a vibrant nightlife scene, making Las Cruces one of the state’s must-visit cities.

Download the Las Cruces Crusade Scavenger Hunt.

12- Gallup

tribal dancers in Gallup
One of the best cities in New Mexico for colourful intertribal events is Gallup.

Gallup is a mesmerising city in New Mexico’s red-rocked northwest region that’s as entrenched in Native American cultures and traditions as any city you’re likely to come across in the United States.

Bordering the lands of the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni Native American tribes, Gallup is a central cultural and economic hub for the region’s native population.

It is the largest city between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, Arizona.

This New Mexico city is an incredibly significant hub for Native American art.

Over 70% of the world’s authentic Native American art can be traced back to Gallup and the surrounding area.

Gallup is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with over 30 miles (48 km) of scenic nature trails to traverse in and around the city.

Gallup also regularly hosts fun events and festivals, such as the Second Street Arts Festival and the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, so be sure to plan a visit to this truly unique American city for a once-in-a-lifetime New Mexico experience.

13- Los Alamos

aerial distant view of Los Alamos
Los Alamos is a smaller city in New Mexico in a picturesque setting.

Tucked between some of the Southwest’s most picturesque mountains, forests and valleys, Los Alamos in northern New Mexico is the state’s technology and research capital.

Los Alamos is sandwiched between the Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Rio Grande River, boosting the city’s reputation as one of the best places to live in New Mexico.

The city has many attractions, including the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, the Bandelier National Monument, the Los Alamos History Museum and the free-to-visit Bradbury Science Museum.

Nicknamed ‘Atomic City’, Los Alamos was where the first atomic bomb was developed and is just 33 miles (53 km) from downtown Santa Fe, making it one of New Mexico’s most exciting cities.

Download the Los Alamos Scavenger Hunt.

14- Silver City

Silver City in southwest New Mexico is a charming mid-sized city that combines its storied past as an important mining town with its scenic natural surroundings to create one of the most exciting destinations to visit in New Mexico.

The city was established on a Spanish settlement titled “La Ciénega de San Vicente” in 1870.

Silver City’s name stems from the region’s large silver, gold and copper deposits.

Downtown Silver City is renowned for its many Victorian and Queen Anne-style buildings and architecture, which now house the city’s liveliest bars, restaurants and cafes.

Silver City is also a popular destination to explore the nearby Gila National Forest and its stunning hiking trails, dramatic cliffs and thundering waterfalls make it a great option to add to any New Mexico itinerary.

15- Rio Rancho

Situated just 12 miles (19 km) north of downtown Albuquerque, Rio Rancho is a large cosmopolitan city conveniently located near New Mexico’s best and most popular art galleries, museums, national parks and important archaeological sites.

The city forms part of the larger Albuquerque metro area and is among the fastest-growing urban hubs in the state.

Rio Rancho has many unique attractions and landmarks to explore, with the most popular being the nearby Petroglyph National Monument, the Coronado Historic Site and the Santa Ana Star Center.

16- Ruidoso

A favourite destination among hikers and wildlife enthusiasts, Ruidoso in south-central New Mexico treats travellers to more than 1 million acres (404,686 ha) of unspoilt wilderness and designated forests around the city’s charming downtown area.

The city lies nestled between the beautiful Sierra Blanca Mountains and is among New Mexico’s most popular ski resorts during winter.

During the summer, Ruidoso becomes an equestrian epicentre when the annual All-American Futurity arrives at the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack, treating travellers to one of the biggest horse racing spectacles in the United States.

There’s also the nearby Lincoln National Forest and the historic Fort Stanton to discover just outside Ruidoso, where travellers interact with the region’s natural landscapes and Wild West past.

Download this Rad Ruidoso Scavenger Hunt.

17- Truth or Consequences

Formerly known as ‘Hot Springs’ when the city was established in 1916, Truth or Consequences has been a popular hot springs and resort town since the early 1900s.

The city was renamed after residents voluntarily voted to change the name, with ‘Truth or Consequences’ being declared the winner after a radio quiz show was launched to help find the town a new name.

Today, bathhouses, spas and resorts can be found dotted throughout the city, as well as several other interesting attractions, including the Geronimo Springs Museum and Veterans Memorial Park, making it one of New Mexico’s most exciting cities to visit.

Top tour: Macabre Tours of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico.

18- Las Vegas

Red Clerical Needle On A Map Of USA, New Mexico
Looking for cities in New Mexico to explore? Check out our list of the top 20.

The unofficial gateway to New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest, the city of Las Vegas (not to be confused with Las Vegas in Nevada) in the state’s north-central region is a destination steeped in Wild West tales, Hollywood notoriety and historical landmarks.

Las Vegas has served as the setting for dozens of well-known films and TV series, including Paul, Criminal Minds and House of Cards, and the city was also the former residence of actor Patrick Swayze.

Las Vegas is a must-visit city for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs and is conveniently situated near the attractions and landmarks of downtown Taos and Santa Fe.

19- Raton

Map Of The United States With New Mexico Highlight
New Mexico.

Raton is a historic mid-sized city in northeast New Mexico’s scenic Sangre de Cristo Mountains that was established in 1879 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway decided to set up a railroad, mining and ranching hub for the region.

The city sits just 6 miles (10 km) from the Colorado state border and roughly 85 miles (137 km) from the Texas state border, making Raton a convenient destination to explore the lands beyond New Mexico’s borders.

Raton has numerous attractions and landmarks to keep you busy and entertained during your stay, including the Sugarite Canyon State Park, the Old Pass Gallery and the annual Gate City Music Festival.

With plenty to do and see in and around the city, Raton’s a fun New Mexico city to stop by that’s well worth checking out the next time you’re travelling around the state.

20- Tucumcari

Route 66 Sign In Tucumcari, New Mexico
Tucumcari is one of the fun cities to visit in New Mexico along Route 66.

Established in 1901 as a construction camp for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, the small city of Tucumcari is situated along the historic Route 66 in eastern New Mexico.

Tucumcari lies 59 miles (95 km) from Santa Rosa and roughly 115 miles (185 km) from downtown Amarillo, making it a very accessible city to discover.

The city is home to several notable landmarks and interesting roadside attractions left over from Route 66’s heyday, such as the Mesalands Community College Dinosaur Museum and the Blue Swallow Hotel, making Tucumcari a popular destination for road trippers.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.