-- El Paso Museum of Art: It's not the Getty, but some of the Getty staff have spoken at the museum, which is fast gaining a regional reputation for its impressive touring shows. They include the current "Rembrandt, Rubens and Golden Age Painting in Europe 1600-1800," which may be the perfect show to which those wives among USC fans can drag their reluctant husbands. With 71 works by the Old Masters, including Rembrandt, it's a feast for the eyes. It's up through Jan. 6 and tickets are only $10, a fraction of what you'd pay at a SoCal museum. -- Wyler Aerial Tramway: There's a good reason lovebirds make marriage proposals up there. It's more than 5,600 feet up, at the top of Ranger Peak in the sprawling Franklin Mountains State Park, a haven for hikers and people who'd rather soak up natural beauty than another drink. Take the four-minute, 2,600-foot ride from the parking area to the top of the peak, then linger at the station, with its 7,000-square mile view of three states and two countries, which offers photo opps and draws visitors from all over the world. I never went on the ride as a kid, but when I moved back after 25 years, I made a point to go. -- Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino: Paying a visit to Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino offers visitors plenty of options for their entertainment dollar. After a day of gambling on live horse racing, which runs through mid-April, you can dine at Ventanas, a Las Vegas-style buffet, or in Riley's Restaurant. Ventanas offers a variety of delicious food and desserts to fulfill your appetite, while Riley's features great hamburgers and sandwiches to choose from. There is also the Jackpot Grill and Tecate Cantina.
If horse racing doesn't interest you, the casino is a popular spot for visitors to pull the slots and take their shot at winning some money. The casino opens up at 9:30 a.m. daily and offers a variety of daily promotions for players.
Visitors can also check out the variety of entertainment that is available throughout the year, including car shows, concerts and live music in Franklin Lounge every weekend.
-- Casino Crown in Juarez: A unique attraction is just across the border, offering 200 to 300 push-button slot machines and a sportsbook area. Visitors enter the place through a metal detector (no Glocks or Uzis allowed). Wagering is allowed in U.S. dollars or pesos on major U.S. sports leagues (NBA, college basketball, NFL, college football, etc.) and select U.S. horse and dog tracks (Philadelphia Park, Beulah Park, Zia Park, Gulfstream, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Derby Park, Southland).
Longtime border residents will remember the Crown Casino site as the former Electric-Q nightclub at the corner of Americas and Malecon avenues. It is easily accessed from El Paso via the Bridge of the Americas. If crossing the Paso del Norte Bridge, go a block into Juarez to Juarez Avenue and then a block east to Malecon and Francisco Villa streets, where buses stop every few minutes. Take Route 8-A (the root beer brown and white bus) for a 5- to 6-minute ride to the casino, going parallel to the border and skirting Downtown El Paso's skyline most of the way. Return to the Downtown bridges area on Route 8-B (turquoise and white bus). Bus fare is six pesos or 50 cents U.S.
A van shuttle recently began operating from the casino to Juarez Avenue and Azucenas Street near the bridge, but free tickets for the shuttle are only available at the casino. It makes five roundtrips daily beginning at 10 a.m. (El Paso and Juarez are on the same time zone.)
As you can see, you have only yourself to blame if you suffer from boredom in El Paso, because your options are endless.
On any given night you can check out some live music at Tricky Falls or Lowbrow Palace or soak up El Paso's DJ culture and go dancing at Union Plaza on the weekend. You're also welcome to tear it up at Souldies, a record party that features some of the best soul and funk on vinyl at the Black Market in the Cincinnati entertainment district, or spend a more mellow night at Eloise where you can sit and enjoy a cup of French-pressed coffee or take a shot of green chile infused tequila.
El Paso is an island of creativity in the middle of the desert and we don't need anyone to designate us as cool. We are real and so is the art, the music and the people who live here. Artists take it upon themselves to create venues to show their pieces through our pop-up art galleries and artfully decorated alleyways. You can find art anywhere -- vacant lots, old buildings and on the sides of warehouses.
The Late Nite Social Club always has a party or a show ready to liven you up. If you're a night owl, check out their all-night dance parties.
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