Story updated 8 February 2022
Located on the border of New Mexico and Texas, Fort Bliss is home to the country’s largest center for educating and training Air Defense Artillery soldiers and units. If you’re looking for things to do in Fort Bliss and El Paso, know these are active hubs for many different branches of the military, bringing together 38,500 active-duty military personnel and their families.
Whether you’ve just moved, are getting ready to move, or simply just visiting Fort Bliss, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our 10 Things to Do Near Fort Bliss list of popular attractions that can help make Fort Bliss feel like home!
1. Scenic Drive Overlook
Some of the best things to do near Fort Bliss are the scenic overlooks. Whether you’re moving into the housing options on base or a nearby house, be sure to take in the best views of El Paso accessible by car.
The Scenic Drive Overlook lies in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains and offers a clear vantage point of El Paso, Juarez, Mexico, and the surrounding countryside. Day or night, the Scenic Drive Overlook offers spectacular views and is a great place to connect your family with the natural beauty of El Paso.
2. El Paso Zoo
If you’re looking for family-friendly things to do in Fort Bliss, this is a great idea. Locally recognized as one of the best places for families with young children, the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens are 35 acres of fun, adventures, and learning.
Beyond visiting the wide variety of animals living in the zoo, you can also spend the day exploring attractions like the African Star Train, the Hunt Family Splash Pad, the Foster Treehouse Playground, or the Endangered Species Carousel. If you’re looking for a date or picnic spot, the botanical gardens might just be the perfect spot!
3. Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
Many military bases are in or near interesting locations and landscapes, jam-packed with history and colorful stories. Celebrate Texas and explore the natural flora of the region near Fort Bliss. Founded in 1936 to honor Texas independence, the Centennial Museum is the oldest museum in the state of Texas and is dedicated to celebrating the natural and cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America.
4. Desert Strikes Bowling Center
Get your bowling game on at the Fort Bliss Desert Strike Lanes Bowling Center. With 52 lanes of fun and competition, this is one of the most fun and family-friendly activities located within the boundaries of Fort Bliss itself.
With four certified bowling coaches — and the only International Bowling & Pro Shop Instructor Association certified coaches in the El Paso area — Desert Strike is the go-to spot for both amateur and advanced bowlers.
5. Ascarate Park
Spend the day at the largest public-use recreational park in El Paso. Ascarate Park is home to an 18-hole golf course, a 48-acre surface lake that boasts the best fishing in the Southwest, and several sports fields available for practice and games. Book the San Elizario Placita for a private event or take cover in its shade as you venture from a nearby playground.
6. El Paso Museum of Art
Explore the art of Europe, America, and Mexico at the El Paso Museum of Art. In celebration of the diverse history and culture of the region, the museum houses donated collections of classic European paintings by Botticelli, Canaletto, van Dyck and more.
The museum’s collection currently includes more than 7,000 works and boasts more than a dozen exhibits each year, so there’s always something new to see with each visit. With education programs, scholarships, and the EPMA’s Art School, the El Paso Museum of Artworks bring art, culture, and people together year-round.
7. Magoffin Home State Historic Site
Explore the history of El Paso through the home of one of its most influential families. A striking example of Territorial style architecture, the Magoffin Home State Historic Site was the home of James Magoffin, an influential trader, and leader in El Paso from the late 1800s until the 1920s.
With public tours, authentic art exhibits, antiques, and furnishings, the Magoffin home transports visitors back in time and allows them to explore El Paso through the stories of the multicultural and dynamic Magoffin family. You can even have a picnic on the peaceful grounds or rent the home for a private event.
8. San Jacinto Plaza
Take refuge from the sun in an urban oasis for a day of vibrant fun. Once the home to alligators that roamed downtown El Paso, the San Jacinto Plaza is now a state-of-the-art community meeting spot. The centerpiece of the square is the Pile o’ Gators Statue and fountain (also known as the Plaza de Los Lagartos) by Luis Jiménez to honor the area’s previous inhabitants.
More than just a fountain, the San Jacinto Plaza hosts several gaming areas ranging from ping-pong and chess to washes (a local game similar to horseshoes), a children’s splash pad area, and a small cafe with plenty of colorful seating.
9. Franklin Mountains State Park
Explore high-desert mountains just 15 minutes from downtown El Paso, near Fort Bliss. Enjoy 100 miles of trails or pitch a tent with day and night camping. Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the nation. It spans 26,627 acres, covers about 40 miles, and sits all within the city limits of El Paso. Overlooking the Rio Grande, El Paso, and Juarez, Franklin Mountains State Park has some of the best views of the region.
10. El Paso Municipal Rose Garden
Stop and smell the roses at the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden. This four-acre garden got its start in 1958 with the planting of 200 roses on just one-and-a-half acres and has grown into a diverse and vibrant part of the city. The garden now features nearly 1,500 rosebuds from more than 430 varieties.
Volunteers manage and give tours of the grounds, guiding visitors through the wrought-iron fenced garden, along its walkways, and past the waterfalls. Though it’s only open to the public from the beginning of Spring to the end of Fall, several of the roses continue to bloom until early winter, making it easy to stop and smell the flowers any time.
Enjoy everything that the diverse and vibrant city of El Paso has to offer! With a rich history and a melting pot of cultures, there’s never a shortage of things to do near Fort Bliss.
More Things to Do in the Southwest:
Solutions for Your Military Family:
Life Insurance, Wealth Management, Home Mortgages, Survivor Services, and more. Learn more about AAFMAA.