Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Ever consider traveling to Silver City, New Mexico? No? Never heard of it? That’s probably because this small town in southwest New Mexico is a hidden gem. It is off-the-beaten-path, but it is not your average small town. It is bursting at the seams with art and has more than its fair share of amazing locally-owned restaurants. But what really makes Silver City a great place to visit is its proximity to a number of national parks and attractions in this part of the country. This makes it the perfect place to establish as a base for making day trips explore the surrounding area. And to get you started, here are 15 things to do in Silver City that your family will love!
Stop by the Visitor’s Center
The first thing you should do when you get to Silver City is to stop by the Visitor Center. You can pick up a map of the area and information about things around town. The center is always staffed with a friendly local who can answer any questions you have and give you recommendations of places to eat. You can also see some great art pieces at the Visitor’s Center.
Do some art & antique shopping
You will be amazed at how much art you can find in Silver City. Spend an afternoon shopping for art and antiques in the many downtown shops. Even if you can’t afford to take home a unique piece, you can still have fun browsing.
Explore the Silver City Museum
To learn more about the history of Silver City and the surrounding area, head down the street from the Visitor’s Center to the Silver City Museum. There, you can walk through a historic house and learn about the origins of the city, the area mines, and some of the city’s early residents. As a bonus, head up to the third floor of the museum for unique views of historic downtown Silver City in every direction.
Have fun at City of Rocks
Not far outside of Silver City, you will find City of Rocks State Park. This collection of large rock formations was created from volcanic ash million of years ago. Today, it is a fun place to get out into nature. Camp, hike, have a picnic, fly a kite, or just let the kids run around and have fun. City of Rocks is a great and uncrowded place to enjoy the great outdoors.
Play at Penny Park
If you have kids with you when visiting Silver City, head over to Penny Park to let them run free and have a blast. This is one of the best parks in America. It is not far from downtown and has a large, unique playground with separate areas for older and younger kids. There is also a climbing wall and covered pavilions. And be sure to check out the mural on the side of the bathroom building. You and your kids will love spending an afternoon at Penny Park.
Catch a WNMU game
If you are a sports fan and want to see some live action during your time in Silver City, Western New Mexico University has you covered! Whether you prefer basketball, football, volleyball, or softball, when in town, head over to the campus for some college action. The mustangs are a NCAA Division II school that plays in the Lone Star Conference. The games are fun. The tickets are cheap. And there’s always space for you and your family.
Check out Billy the Kid’s Log Cabin
While at the Visitor’s Center, wander over to the replica log cabin on the edge of the parking lot. This small cabin is similar to one that the famous outlaw Billy the Kid lived in during his short time in Silver City. Touring the cabin will only take a few minutes, but it will give you a real sense of what it was like to live in the area back in the 1800’s. This is a fun (and free) little diversion that your kids will enjoy.
Hike the Continental Divide
If your bucket list includes hiking the Continental Divide, then Silver City is where you want to be. The Continental Divide sits right next to the city, making it a great place to set up base. From here, you can either begin your hike of the entire trail or just hike a portion of it to say you did it. Be sure to tell the staff member at the Visitor Center that you are interested in this hike. They can give you further information and hook you up with some local tips and advice.
Enjoy the restaurants
I mentioned above the Silver City has a ton of delicious local restaurants. So, definitely take the time to enjoy some of them during your time here. Whether you are looking for Mexican food, a brewery with great pub grub, a cozy coffee shop, or a quiet place for lunch, Silver City has you covered! Most places to eat in town have a great selection of dishes with the beloved green chile, so be ready for some heat! And because of the city’s small size, you can usually get into most places with little to no wait. Be sure to read our list of places to eat in Silver City for more details on specific restaurants.
Catch some live music
As you might imagine, because Silver City is home to a large number of artists, there is a pretty healthy live music scene in town as well. You can sometimes find local musicians on the street corners playing for pedestrians. You will also find several venues in and around town that have live music playing on one or more nights during the week. Little Toad Creek Brewery, located in historic downtown, has live music quite often. Check out the calendar of events on the Visitor’s Center website for more details.
Explore Gila Cliff Dwellings
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a fascinating look back at civilization 700 years ago. The cliff dwellings are located in the heart of the Gila National Forest, about an hour and a half drive from Silver City. The town is the best place to stay if you are planning on visiting the cliff dwellings. This national monument is free to visit, but you will need to hike a one-mile loop to get up to the cliff dwellings and then back to the parking lot. This is a surprisingly fun thing to do, even for kids. And to make your day trip to the cliff dwellings easier, check out our tips.
Enjoy the hot springs
There are several places around Silver City to enjoy natural hot springs. Some of them are off the road between Silver City and the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Most of these are privately owned and require some hiking to reach. Definitely enjoy a warm soak during your time in southwest New Mexico.
Admire the local art
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: Silver City has some amazing art for such a small town! There are murals and art pieces all over town. You will find them in parks, empty lots, the sides of buildings, on top of fences, and just about everywhere you look. So, if you enjoy art, spend some time cruising around town admiring all the different pieces on display.
Marvel at the Chino Mine Overlook
While Silver City originated as a silver mining town, the current mines in the area mine for copper. There are a couple different mines just outside of Silver City. The Chino Mine, located on the way to Deming, can be seen from the highway. If you turn off on Highway 152, you will eventually see a sign for the Chino Mine Overlook. From here, you can get a view of the entire mine. It is impressive to see. Be sure to look for the Kneeling Nun statute high up on the cliff overlooking the mining activities.
Go for a hike
Because Silver City sits on the doorstep of the huge Gila National Forest, it is surrounded on all sides by some amazing hiking trails. If your family loves hiking, this is a great place to get out and explore a trail or two. You will find trails of all difficulty levels in the area around Silver City. So pick one that is right for your family. And enjoy the fresh air!
While Silver City, New Mexico is not anywhere close to being at the top of the list of the hottest tourist destinations in the United States, it does offer a lot for such a small town. For artists, hikers, or lovers of nature, it is definitely worth a trip! It is a great home base for exploring the Gila National Forest and other national and state parks in the area. You will have no problems filling your time here with these 15 things to do in Silver City. Enjoy! Happy travels!
P.S. Are you ready to take your dream vacation? Our FREE worksheet will help you make it a reality! Grab it in the box below and get started planning your trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you’ll receive our weekly email newsletter full of travel tips, advice, and inspiration.