New Mexico is full of quirky towns and beautiful scenery, so it’s a great place to take a weekend getaway. With New Mexico vacation rentals ranging from quaint, old-fashioned adobes to state-of-the-art mountain lodges, you can plan everything from a cozy romantic adventure to an outdoorsy family trip. If you’re looking for a quick trip that offers easy access to entertainment and plenty of hiking trails, here are some destinations to consider.

1. Ruidoso

ruidoso new mexico
Source: Flickr/Beatnik Photos

Nestled in the gorgeous Sierra Blanca mountain range, this town trades in the austere desert that surrounds most of southern New Mexico for towering pines and lush mountain meadows. It’s also conveniently located near plenty of easy day trip activities. Whether you want to enjoy a meandering hike in the Lincoln National Forest, ski at Ski Apache in nearby Mescalero or experience a day of exciting horse racing at Ruidoso Downs, this town has something for everyone. It’s also located just about an hour and a half from the historic town of Lincoln, a well-preserved historic town best known as the home of Billy the Kid. Ruidoso is one of the major vacation destinations in the state, so there are plenty of top-notch restaurants, charming boutiques and amenities such as golf courses and live entertainment to experience.

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2. Cloudcroft

cloudcroft new mexico
Source: Flickr/Jason Wolff

If you want the gorgeous scenery of Ruidoso but prefer a smaller, quirkier location, head slightly south to Cloudcroft. This charming mountain town is located in the southern portion of the sprawling Lincoln National Forest, so there’s plenty of hiking and exploring to do. It’s situated at approximately 8,600 feet above sea level, which makes it one of the highest altitude towns in the United States, so winters tend to be snowy and cold. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are popular winter activities, along with downhill skiing at nearby Ski Cloudcroft. Most of the restaurants and shops are located in the historic business district. Be sure to stop in at the Burro Street Exchange, a one-stop shop for a variety of stores, restaurants, and local information.

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3. Carlsbad

carlsbad caverns
Source: Flickr/Zac Fox

Carlsbad may be one of the perfect New Mexico weekend destinations due to its major attraction: Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The caverns are an easy day trip, with regular ranger-guided and self-guided tours available. Another popular activity is watching the bats depart from the caverns at sunset every night. The rest of the park has plenty of easy, accessible walking trails, although it can get uncomfortably hot during the summer. The caverns stay cool and accessible year-round, however. The town of Carlsbad is also located on the Pecos River, which is a popular destination for boating and kayaking.

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4. Taos

old taos guesthouse
Source: Flickr/Robert Wilson

Taos may be the quintessential New Mexican vacation destination. This northern mountain town is known for its winter sports, with its own ski resort and close proximity to Angel Fire. During the summer, there are countless hiking trails to explore in the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Taos is also an artistic and cultural hub. Stroll along historic Bent Street to enjoy galleries and restaurants located in historic adobes, or take an artist’s tour to see workshops throughout the area. The town gets its name from nearby Taos Pueblo, a historic Native American community that is open to the public on most days. Taos Pueblo is an excellent destination for day trips, but plan ahead as photography is restricted and the community is closed on certain days.

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5. Tijeras

tijeras highway
Source: Flickr/Jim Legans, Jr

Located on the east side of the Sandia Mountains, Tijeras has all the quiet charm of a relaxed mountain village combined with easy access to the arts and entertainment options in nearby Albuquerque. Vacation rentals in this area range from quaint log cabins to upscale modern homes. Plenty of areas let you watch wildlife and embark on hikes right from your backyard, or a very short drive takes you into Cibola National Forest and endless opportunities for exploration. Albuquerque’s popular Nob Hill and Downtown entertainment districts are located just about half an hour away, and the artist colony of Madrid is about 40 minutes to the north.

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6. Silver City

gila cliff dwellings
Source: Flickr/John Fowler

Silver City is a small, old-fashioned mining town that has plenty to do on a quick weekend getaway. Spend a day exploring the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is an archaeological treasure, or hiking in the pristine Gila Wilderness. The City of Rocks State Park is also nearby, which is a great choice if you want to try your hand at bouldering. History buffs are sure to enjoy visiting Fort Bayard, a frontier-era fort that is preserved as a monument today, and the Silver City’s old-fashioned downtown district blends historical buildings and sites with art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. The town is small enough to get a taste of everything in just a few days, but large enough to keep everyone busy.

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7. Abiquiu

ghost ranch abiquiu
Source: Flickr/Larry Lamsa

This hidden gem isn’t a major vacation destination, but its small-town charm and stunning mountain views are an excellent choice for a quick, cozy weekend getaway. The dramatic red rock cliffs in the area have served as the backdrop for numerous Hollywood films, and it was the home of Georgia O’Keeffe, whose residence and studio are open for public tours. In addition to the mountains and canyons available for hiking and exploration, Abiquiu is also home to a large lake, where you can spend the day fishing, boating, or swimming. This small town is only about 50 miles from Santa Fe along low-traffic highways, so it is easy to make a day trip into the city to explore the historic plaza.

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8. Alamogordo

white sands alamogordo
Source: Flickr/Woody Hibbard

White Sands National Monument is a little-known wonder in southern New Mexico. This stunning park gets its name from its gypsum sand dunes, which are pure white yet stay cool and comfortable to the touch even during the summer heat. It’s a great place to spend a day or two exploring and sledding down the dunes, and is only about 20 minutes from the town of Alamogordo. This mid-sized town is also home to a small zoo, a historic downtown shopping district, and plenty of restaurants.

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