1. Cerrillos, Santa Fe County
This tiny town has been the site of turquoise mining for hundreds of years. In the 1950s, Hollywood bigwigs discovered Cerrillos and found the town so appealing that it was used as a movie location. “Young Guns” was the best-known movie shot here. The town also boasts a state park and the attractive St. Joseph’s Church.
2. Rodeo, Hidalgo County
This town of 101 people, located next to the Arizona border, is a hidden gem. Surrounded by views of the Chiricahua Mountains, visitors to Rodeo can explore the Chiricahua Desert Museum, the adorable art gallery (pictured), and savor a well-seasoned steak at Rodeo Tavern and Grill.
3. Mesilla, Doña Ana County
Mesilla is a quintessential small New Mexican town, with an impressive plaza, traditional architecture, and great restaurants. Strolling these streets is like stepping inside a postcard. Mesilla is also the site of historic events such as the formalization of the Gadsden Purchase.
4. Magdalena, Socorro County
This diamond in the rough is charming both day and night. During the daytime, the brick facades of this mining town are quaint, and at night, the low levels of light pollution make it ideal for viewing a wonderland of stars.
5. Eagle Nest, Colfax County
Eagle Nest is situated in one of the most alluring settings in New Mexico. Visit Eagle Nest Lake State Park to admire the dark blue waters of the lake and to watch for wildlife.
6. Hillsboro, Sierra County
This old mining town in the Black Range is dripping with charm. For an overload of cuteness, stop in at the dinky Hillsboro General Store and Café.
7. Capitan, Lincoln County
Nestled in the scenic Capitan Mountains, this small town is famous because the bear cub, which became the symbol for fire safety, was rescued here during the 1950 Capitan Gap Fire. Visit Smokey Bear Historical Park then grab a burger at Smokey Bear Restaurant.
8. Fort Sumner, De Baca County
Fort Sumner has played a significant role in New Mexican history. It was part of the Goodnight-Loving Trail and the place where Billy the Kid met his maker. For the Navajo and Mescalero Apache imprisoned here, Fort Sumner was a place of great suffering. Learn more about this chapter in history at the
Bosque Redondo Memorial.
9. La Luz, Otero County
La Luz lies in the Tularosa Basin, near Alamogordo. This pretty little place has a reputation for growing fruit and pistachios.
10. Peñasco, Taos County
Penasco is one of the stops on the High Road to Taos. This town boasts several galleries, along with the Penasco Theatre (pictured), and Sugar Nymphs Bistro. The scenic location makes the town especially picturesque.
11. Chama, Rio Arriba County
Chama is famous for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Part of the railroad’s popularity stems from the perspective it provides on the beautiful landscapes surrounding Chama. This cute town offers several good restaurants, such as JV’s Place, Elk Horn Café, and the High Country Restaurant and Saloon.
12. Cuba, Sandoval County
Vintage signs and colorful murals lend character to Cuba, a town close to the remote Ojito Wilderness.