13 Best Things to do Near White Sands National Park

Heading out on family vacation to New Mexico? If you’re heading to the southern part, then you’re probably checking out White Sands. But national parks aren’t the only things to do down there.

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Here are a few of the best things to do near White Sands National Park that the whole family will enjoy. If you have a few extra hours or a few extra days, these ideas will fill your time with fun activities.

We recently went down to White Sands and I didn’t know how much time I should plan there. If you are wondering that too, and hoping to do more than just sled down soft, powdery, white sand, then this list will rescue your plans.

Check out all the fun things to do in Alamogordo and other nearby towns to White Sands for a vacation full of fun!

Like quirky roadside attractions? (We just HAD to stop and see the biggest pistachio in the world!) Enjoy hiking and petroglyphs? Want some fun, hands-on, history? There is something for everyone in this guide to fun activities near White Sands National Park.

pinnable image with text "13 fun things to do near White Sands National Parks", background image of a giant, 30 foot tall pistachio. Dark cloudy skies all around

Looking for a hotel, RV park, or campsite? Check out Best Places to Stay near White Sands National Park

a giant, 30 foot tall pistachio. Dark cloudy skies all around

1. Pistachioland

7320 US-54 #70, Alamogordo

Here’s a cool experience you’ve not done before… Visit the world’s largest pistachio at McGinn’s Pistachioland!

The farm has been growing pistachio’s since the 1980’s and is home to over 12,000 pistachio trees.

Whether you want a photo-op with the giant pistachio, to grab some delicious pistachio ice cream, or to learn about the farm on a farm tour, this is a great and affordable thing to do in Alamorgordo during your trip.

Book the PistachioLand Tour

2. Toy Train Depot

1991 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo

What started as a personal hobby and experience on the rails grew into an exhibition for a whole community to enjoy. At Toy Train Depot, you’ll get the fruits of John E. Koval’s labor throughout his life in collecting and building his passion for trains.

For over 30 years, the Toy Train Depot has called Alamogordo home. Visitors can walk through the museum and see real train artifacts as well as train yards and rail built on smaller scales.

You can also buy a ticket to ride the park train which takes its passengers around Alameda Park.

3. Take A Hike in Alamogordo

Alamogordo is a great town for resources, stores, lodging, and restaurants. But it has lots of great hiking as well. Here are a few trails to try with the family when you need some fun things to do near White Sands National Park.

Note that, especially in summer months, it gets hot and there isn’t much shade on many trails. Bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen.

Desert Foothill Park Loop is a great trail for families. It’s paved, short, and easy! At just 1.3 miles, this nice and wide paved trail allows many opportunities to see cacti and plenty of other vegetation, with a beautiful mountain backdrop.

Indian Wells Trail is another great, short family trail. It has a few great lookout points, including a view of White Sands. The trail is fairly easy and only about 1-1/4 miles total. Begin near the New Mexico Museum of Space History.


4. New Mexico Museum of Space History

3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo

Used as the start of the Indian Wells Trail (noted above), the New Mexico Museum of Space History is fun thing to do near White Sands that the whole family will enjoy.

Check out a real moon rock, satellite replicas, and learn all about rockets as you admire the rocket artifacts on site.

You can also go back through time to learn about Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Thomas Stafford, and other International Space Hall of Fame space travelers and explorers.

Finish your visit with the amazing space dome and planetarium. Enjoy a show that further explores nature, space, and the night sky.

Note: museum is closed on Tuesdays.

Check all their hours here.

old falling apart structure on a hill in front of tall brown mountains,

Photo credit: Organ Mountains WSA by Bob Wick, BLM on Flickr

5. Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument

15000 Dripping Springs Rd, Las Cruces (various entrances though)

If you’re looking for more things to do near White Sands National Park where you can also use that interagency / America the Beautiful pass, here is a great place! (And if you don’t have a pass, it’s still very affordable).

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDP) was established in 2014 as a way to protect this beautiful area. There are over 500,000 acres in the monument, made up from 4 different groups of volcanically formed mountains.

You can find this beautiful national monument just outside of Las Cruces, NM.

The OMDP is a great place for hiking and exploring petroglyphs, historic buildings, and springs.

In addition, kids will love it because you can find mountains, a cool cave (Geronimo’s Cave), Apollo Mission training sites, and needle-like peaks that appear as if an organ (hence, the name).

Enjoy a morning hike to Dripping Springs and, as the name suggests, enjoy the year-round springs that are vital to the local ecosystem. You’ll also come across a few historic buildings along the way.

6. Alameda Park Zoo

1021 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo

This zoo is small, but fun and exciting. It comes with a smaller price tag compared to big city zoos, as well.

Alameda Park Zoo is home to over 200 animals within 90 species that spread across 12 acres.

Children will enjoy seeing bears foxes, bobcats, butterflies, wolves, and many more animals that are found on various continents.

You’ll also get plenty of shaded areas to cool down in, a gift shop, playground, and a place to purchase some snacks and concessions.

At only a few dollars per person, this is a fun way to spend the day in Alamogordo.

7. Check Out a Park in Alamogordo

Looking for relaxing, free things to do near White Sands National Park?

Alamogordo is home to a few nice park areas the whole family can enjoy.

The Kids Zone Park is one of the newer parks in the city. It’s great for all ages as there is a play area for both toddlers and older kids. Plus, it has ADA-accessible fun on site as well.

Families will love playing corn hole or pingpong, or staying cool under one of the covered pavilions. Kids can stay cool as well as the playground area is shaded.

Alameda Park is another great park pick. Families will enjoy the pavilions and picnic areas, but also the covered playgrounds and disc golf course.

This park is located by the Toy Train Depot if you’d like to make 2 fun stops at the same time, and you can purchase a ticket to ride the park train around.

Washington Park brings plenty of comfort in the shaded playground, shaded skate park, and pavilions.

At Washington Park, you’ll also get a futsol court, soccer field, and basketball court for plenty of play time.

8. Bridal Veil Falls

Co Rd A60, Alamogordo

While this counts as a hike, Bridal Veil Falls is getting its own spot because it takes you to a great waterfall, which always deserves its own spot.

This is a great stop to make as you leave White Sands and head to Carlsbad Caverns as it is right off the route.

Bridal Veil Falls is located a short drive off highway 82 in the Lincoln National Forest. You can park at the trailhead for Grandview Trail.

What makes this so special is that it’s an irony to think you’ll see a bit of water in the desert. But Bridal Veil brings a beautiful water display near High Rolls Mountain Park. You’ll be even more impressed if you visit after a rainfall or during the period of melting snow.

The hike is great for kids as it’s a fairly easy hike and only 2.3 miles roundtrip. Or, carry your younger children in a decent hiking backpack to take them along.

Begin at the Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead in Alamogordo (if you type that into Google maps, it’ll take you there). It starts at Co Rd A60, Alamogordo.

9. The Old Apple Barn

949 US-82, High Rolls

As long as you’re at Bridal Veil Falls, make sure to visit the Old Apple Barn right down the road.

Don’t let the name confuse you, this is so much more than an apple barn.

The Old Apple Barn was originally build in the 1840’s and was a stopping locating for the train that ran through. It would fill up with apples that were grown in local orchards, and then continue on its way.

Today, visitors can enjoy gourmet fudge, bakery items, cherry cider, and take it views from the 70-foot deck.

As you drive along highway 82, you’ll see plenty of signs leading you to the Old Apple Barn.

large boulder in foreground with petroglyph carving on it, snowcapped mountains in the background

Photo Credit: BLM on Flickr, #mypubliclandsroadtrip 2016: Step Back in Time, Three Rivers Petroglyphs

10. Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

455 3 Rivers Rd, Tularosa

Whether you are camping here or stopping by for a little hike, the whole family will love this fun activity in Alamogordo.

Three Rivers Petroglyph site is unlike any petroglyph place you’ve ever been.


Within the area rests over 21,000 petroglyphs!

Take the easy 1/2 mile trail to explore these amazing pictures of the past on the Petroglyph trail.

Another short trail, the Village Trail, will take you into the excavated, pre-historic Mogollon village that was occupied for around 400 years. These are the people that created the Petroglyphs around the park.

11. Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

4100 Dripping Springs Rd, Las Cruces

Grow your and your kids’ appreciation for farmers at the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.

The museum has plenty of fun, hands-on exhibits. For example, visit the Dairy Spot where you can learn all the ins-and-outs of dairy, including how ice cream is made. Or, practice churning some butter.

The Riding Herd exhibit features Billy the Kid and why he is such a big part of New Mexico history during early cattle drives. Learn about ranches, the military’s part in it, and government beef contracts as you walk along chuck wagons and visit the Lincoln County War.

Beyond that are many exhibits still, like the greenhouse or the sheep and goat barn.

Families will also enjoy live demonstrations and tours both inside and outside.

At under $10 per person, the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is a great and affordable activity near White Sands.

12. Museum of Nature and Science

411 North Main St, Las Cruces

If you’re looking for a free thing to do near White Sands, this is another great family activity in Las Cruces, and it won’t cost you anything!

The Museum of Nature and Science in Las Cruces has permanent exhibits that feature space and the night sky, the desert land, and fossils below.

Kids will love hands on exhibits and being able to watch a few small live animals in the museum.

It’s a great way to spend and hour or two in Las Cruces.

13. Fort Selden Historic Site

1280 Fort Seldon Rd, Radium Springs

Established in 1865, Fort Seldon was built as a place to bring about peace. There were several units that served here, among them the Buffalo Soldiers (African American only regiments), but by 1891 Fort Seldon was abandoned. Hostilities were falling, Geronimo had been captured, and a railroad was built along the Rio Grande, lessening the need of Fort Seldon.

Visitors can learn the history of the area as they walk among chuckwagons, covered wagons, and ruins that remain from hundreds of years ago.

Tip: Toward the end of the year, visitors can get tickets to Noches de Luminarias when over 900 luminaries light the property.

Best Things to do Near White Sands National Park

There you have it! While White Sands may seem like it’s far away and in the middle of nothing, there are actually a lot of fun things to do in the area. Whether you choose petroglyphs, space museums, historical sites, or giant pistachios, you can fill your days with fun things to do near White Sands National Park!

pinnable image with text "13 fun things to do near White Sands National Parks", background image of a giant, 30 foot tall pistachio. Dark cloudy skies all around

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