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Unforgettable Adventures: Things to Do in Santa Rosa NM

Unforgettable Adventures: Things to Do in Santa Rosa NM

Santa Rosa, New Mexico, a charming town along the historic Route 66, is an essential stop on your road trip. Known for its Route 66 legacy, Santa Rosa continues to be a top tourist destination in New Mexico.

Santa Rosa offers a diverse array of attractions for every traveler. Whether you’re seeking classic Route 66 diners, scenic outdoor adventures, or a taste of Wild West history, you’ll find it all here.

Dive into the Blue Hole’s crystal-clear waters with your family or watch your kids race on the inflatable obstacle course at Park Lake. Explore vintage cars that once ruled Route 66 or step back in time at the Trail of the Forty-Niners site, a route taken by Gold Rush pioneers.

Your Santa Rosa itinerary will be brimming with exciting activities and must-see sights. And don’t forget to savor the mouth-watering Mexican and All-American cuisine.

Santa Rosa, New Mexico, is a budget-friendly destination, offering plenty of free and affordable attractions. Whether you have a few hours or a couple of days to spare, Santa Rosa promises a memorable experience for all. In this guide, we’ll uncover the fun things to do in Santa Rosa, ensuring your visit is filled with unforgettable experiences.

Plan your visit to Santa Rosa, NM, and make the most of your Route 66 adventure today!

Let’s explore the 15 things to do in Santa Rosa NM:

1. Route 66 Auto Museum

Route 66 Auto Museum
Route 66 Auto Museum

As you embark on your Santa Rosa journey, a must-visit destination is the Route 66 Auto Museum. While it might modestly describe itself as the “best car collection in the world,” it’s undoubtedly a haven for automobile enthusiasts. Featuring over 30 custom and classic cars, motorcycles, vintage posters, and memorabilia, this museum encapsulates the spirit of the Mother Road.

What makes it even more enticing are the special events, temporary exhibits, and Friday night shows held at the Downtown Gazebo Park. After immersing yourself in automotive history, you can dine at the on-site restaurant and pick up Route 66 souvenirs at the museum shop.

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2. Old Route 66 Signs and Neons

Old Route 66 Signs and Neons
Old Route 66 Signs and Neons

One of the hallmarks of Route 66 is its iconic signs and neon lights. Along the stretch from Santa Rosa to Tucumcari, you’ll encounter several memorable ones that serve as nostalgic milestones on your journey. Be sure to capture the essence of this historic route by marking your map with stops at The Blue Swallow Motel, the famous Route 66 Restaurant, and the Cactus RV Park. For an authentic experience, consider staying at the renowned Blue Swallow Motel, a true relic of the past.

3. Joseph’s Bar & Grill

Joseph’s Bar & Grill
Joseph’s Bar & Grill

For an authentic taste of New Mexican cuisine and a dash of quirky charm, head over to Joseph’s Bar & Grill. With over six decades of history, this establishment specializes in Mexican delights, including mouthwatering burritos, fajitas, and margaritas. The menu also boasts an array of options like burgers, fried chicken, pizzas, and, of course, cold beers. As you dine, explore their gift store and pick out the perfect Route 66 souvenir to commemorate your visit.

4. Comet II Drive-In

Comet II Drive-In
Comet II Drive-In

Founded in 1927, the Comet II Drive-In is another delightful eatery that transports you back in time. Offering the option to dine in or take food away, it’s the ideal stop on your historic Route 66 road trip. The Comet II Drive-In is no tourist trap; it’s cherished for its delectable New Mexican menu, fusing flavors from both Mexican and North American culinary traditions. Don’t miss the chance to savor dishes like Chile Rellenos, Chile Verde, Chimichangas, and their classic fried chicken, best enjoyed with their flavorful salsa.

5. Bless Me Ultima Park

Bless Me Ultima Park
Bless Me, Ultima Park,

Dive into the world of Chicano literature with a visit to Bless Me Ultima Park. This novel, authored by Rudolfo Anaya and published in 1972, has become a classic, offering insights into Mexican culture in 1940s New Mexico. Located within Park Lake, this park celebrates Rudolfo Anaya, one of Santa Rosa’s illustrious residents. While the park is open year-round, summer visitors can enjoy additional activities like swimming, water slides, boating, car shows, and community events.

6. Historic Guadalupe County Courthouse

Historic Guadalupe County Courthouse
Historic Guadalupe County Courthouse

Immerse yourself in history by visiting the Historic Guadalupe County Courthouse, built in 1909. This two-story red sandstone building, with its Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style, earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Although it served as a courthouse for only a few years, it now serves as the Guadalupe County Youth Drop-In Center. Take a moment to admire its unique architecture as you explore Santa Rosa.

7. Historic Puerto de Luna

Historic Puerto de Luna
Historic Puerto de Luna

Just 16 kilometers from Santa Rosa lies Puerto de Luna, the settlement that preceded Santa Rosa in 1848. While it’s not a ghost town, wandering its streets feels like a step back in time. Explore intriguing buildings like the old Guadalupe County Courthouse, an abandoned gas station, and adobe houses that epitomize the architectural style of the region.

8. Pecos River Bridge

Pecos River Bridge
Pecos River Bridge

The Pecos River Bridge, towering at 83 meters, is the tallest highway bridge in Texas. It boasts a breathtaking overlook at the northeast end, providing panoramic views of the Pecos River canyon. A short distance away, you’ll find the Pecos River High Bridge, constructed during World War II, reflecting the resilience of the era with its steel usage.

9. Trail of the Forty-Niners

Trail of the Forty-Niners

In 1849, over 100,000 people embarked on a perilous journey to California during the gold rush. The overland route was fraught with challenges, from navigating unknown territories to dealing with Native American territories and treacherous mountain passes. The Trail of the Forty-Niners commemorated at mile marker 252 on I-40, invites you to explore this historic trail. Nearby, you can find a resting place and a store to purchase souvenirs.

10. Blue Hole of Santa Rosa

Blue Hole of Santa Rosa
Blue Hole of Santa Rosa

One of Santa Rosa’s true marvels is the Blue Hole, a sapphire oasis nestled in the desert. This unique lake is one of seven sister lakes interconnected by an underground water system—a geological phenomenon known as the Santa Rosa Sinkhole, formed over 20,000 years ago. The water is astonishingly clear, attracting divers to its depths. While it might be a bit chilly for swimming at a constant 16°C, it offers an unforgettable diving experience. Rent your diving equipment at the Dive Center adjacent to the Blue Hole for an underwater adventure.

11. Santa Rosa Water Park

Santa Rosa Water Park
Santa Rosa Water Park

Perfect for a family outing during your Route 66 road trip, Park Lake and its Water Park should be at the top of your Santa Rosa itinerary. With an emphasis on safety, lifeguards and life jackets are provided for water enthusiasts. The Water Park features a giant inflatable castle with climbing walls, numerous slides, obstacles, and games for all ages. Adults can rent pedal boats or enjoy a leisurely paddle or canoe ride on the expansive lake. A picnic area is also available. Admission is only $10 and includes access to the Blue Hole.

12. Santa Rosa Lake State Park

Santa Rosa Lake State Park
Santa Rosa Lake State Park

Santa Rosa Lake, an artificial reservoir formed by the Santa Rosa Dam, is a haven for nature lovers. The state park offers a variety of trails for hiking and horseback riding, showcasing the beauty of the desert landscape and grassy plains. These well-marked trails lead to captivating points of interest, including stunning lake views and abundant wildlife. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines from the shore or rent a boat to explore the lake’s waters, teeming with bass, catfish, perch, and more. The park’s campsite, complete with amenities like showers, potable water, and electricity, is perfect for stargazing and embracing the tranquility of the night.

13. Fort Sumner

Fort Sumner
Fort Sumner

Visit Fort Sumner to pay tribute to the Navajo and Mescalero Apache who endured unimaginable hardship during their internment at Fort Sumner between 1863 and 1868. The experience includes museums, exhibits, audio guides, and walking trails, offering a poignant glimpse into the history of these Native American tribes.

14. Billy the Kid Museum

Billy the Kid Museum
Billy the Kid Museum

Explore the life and legend of Billy the Kid at the eponymous museum. While it’s a fantastic resource for learning about this iconic figure, the museum also houses a vast collection of historical items depicting life in the Wild West from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.

15. Jesus M. Casaus House

Jesus M. Casaus House
Jesus M. Casaus House

Immerse yourself in Santa Rosa’s captivating history at the Jesus M. Casaus House, a true architectural gem. This historic house, with its territorial-style design, offers a captivating glimpse into the town’s heritage. Wander through its well-preserved rooms and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of a bygone era.

The Jesus M. Casaus House not only preserves Santa Rosa’s history but also showcases the architectural legacy of the region. As you explore its corridors, you’ll uncover the lives of early residents and the unique charm of this New Mexican community.

Best Time to Visit Santa Rosa

Spring (March to May):

  • Spring in Santa Rosa offers pleasant weather with temperatures ranging from the 50s to the 70s (°F).
  • This season is ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the area.
  • The Blue Hole is a great spot for diving and snorkeling during this time, as the water begins to warm up.

Summer (June to August):

  • Summers in Santa Rosa can be warm with temperatures in the 80s and 90s (°F).
  • It’s the peak tourist season, perfect for water-based activities like swimming and boating in Santa Rosa Lake and Park Lake.
  • Be prepared for occasional afternoon thunderstorms.

Fall (September to November):

  • Fall brings milder temperatures, ranging from the 60s to the 80s (°F), making it a comfortable time to visit.
  • The changing foliage in nearby forests offers scenic views for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
  • Crowds begin to thin out, allowing for a more peaceful experience.

Winter (December to February):

  • Winters in Santa Rosa are cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing at night.
  • While it’s the least popular time for tourism, it’s a great season for those who enjoy winter sports and solitude.
  • Santa Rosa Lake State Park is an excellent spot for birdwatching during the winter months.

Ways to Reach Santa Rosa, NM

By Car:

  • Santa Rosa is conveniently located along Interstate 40, making it easily accessible by car. It’s a popular stop for travelers on the historic Route 66.
  • The town is approximately 120 miles east of Albuquerque and 185 miles west of Amarillo, Texas.

By Air:

  • The nearest major airport is Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), which is about a 2-hour drive from Santa Rosa. From there, you can rent a car to reach the town.

Food Options in Santa Rosa, NM

Joseph’s Bar & Grill:

  • Specializes in Mexican cuisine, offering delicious burritos, fajitas, and margaritas.
  • You can also find American favorites like burgers, fried chicken, and pizzas.

Comet II Drive-In:

  • A classic Route 66 eatery founded in 1927, serving a mix of Mexican and North American dishes.
  • Must-try items include Chile Rellenos, Chile Verde, Chimichangas, and their famous fried chicken.

Local Diners and Cafes:

  • Santa Rosa boasts several local diners and cafes where you can savor hearty American breakfasts and comfort food.
  • Don’t forget to try New Mexican specialties like green chile stew and enchiladas.

Accommodation Options near Santa Rosa, NM

Chain Hotels:

  • Santa Rosa offers a variety of chain hotels and motels, many of which are located along or near Route 66.
  • These options provide comfortable and convenient stays for travelers.

Santa Rosa Lake State Park Campground:

  • If you’re a camping enthusiast, the State Park campground is an excellent choice.
  • It offers a scenic setting near Santa Rosa Lake and provides essential amenities.

Vacation Rentals:

  • Consider booking vacation rental properties or cabins if you prefer a more private and homey atmosphere.
  • These options are available in and around Santa Rosa.

Nearby Cities:

  • For more extensive accommodation choices, you can explore cities like Albuquerque and Amarillo, which are within driving distance.

Now that you’ve discovered the best things to do in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, it’s time to hit the road and experience the magic for yourself. Embrace the adventure, make memories, and savor every moment in this enchanting town along the Mother Road.

Start planning your Santa Rosa adventure today, and let the allure of Route 66 captivate your heart and soul.

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What is Santa Rosa, New Mexico is known for?

Santa Rosa, New Mexico is primarily known for its historical significance as a prominent stop along the iconic Route 66. It’s famous for its classic Route 66 aesthetics, including vintage motels, diners, and neon signs. The town is also known for natural attractions like the Blue Hole, a unique diving spot, and Santa Rosa Lake State Park, offering outdoor recreational opportunities.

Is Santa Rosa, NM worth visiting?

What does Santa Rosa have to offer?

Is Santa Rosa family-friendly?

About The Author

A hub for wanderers and travel enthusiasts, Travelophia is dedicated to curating valuable insights, practical tips, and inspiring narratives to elevate your travel experiences. Whether you're seeking hidden gems off the beaten path, practical travel advice, or a dose of wanderlust, Travelophia is your trusted companion in exploring the world.

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