This post is sponsored by the Village of Ruidoso
Known as the Texas Alps, the Village of Ruidoso is home to the 2nd largest ski resort in the State of New Mexico. Ski season is a popular reason to head to the quaint mountain Village of Ruidoso and hit the slopes at Ski Apache. But why not skip the crowds and discover this off the beaten path New Mexico mountain town during the summer?
Summer is absolutely beautiful in the Sierra Blanca mountains. At a base altitude of 6,500 feet, you’ll find days in Ruidoso are warm and sunny, but the evenings are refreshingly cool. It may be the southernmost ski resort in the United States, but you can find a wide range of outdoor fun in the summer too.
Save Big on Your Ruidoso Vacation
Check out the Top Tours & Day Trips from Ruidoso
Read Reviews of the Best Hotels in Ruidoso on TripAdvisor
The Village of Ruidoso (pronounced “Rui-doe-so”) is truly a four-season resort town. In fact, you’ll even find year-round golf available.
This mountain town offers a much cooler summer alternative for those living in many parts of New Mexico as well as nearby Texas and Arizona. With an average year-round high temperature of 65 degrees, it’s a haven in the summer months.
Though it’s a little bit off the beaten path, the Village of Ruidoso is well worth discovering. The small town of 10,000 holds its own with beautiful vistas, abundant natural beauty and tons of outdoor activities.
My visit to the Village of Ruidoso was part of a larger three-week summer road trip with my son. We visited a variety of great American towns including a few big cities like San Francisco, a super tiny town in Kansas with an incredible art community and locations on Route 66, but the Village of Ruidoso was our only stop steeped in nature. (Stay tuned for more articles from our road trip!)
For your perfect summer day in the Village of Ruidoso, we have planned an outdoor enthusiast’s dream! The day starts with breakfast at a favorite local restaurant known for New Mexico’s famous green chile, followed by a visit to Grindstone Lake, some off-roading and an evening stroll where you’re guaranteed to spot wildlife. We didn’t forget a stop in the quaint village for a delicious dinner and a bit of window shopping.
A Perfect Summer Day in Ruidoso, New Mexico
It’s amazing how much nature–it’s beauty and fragrance–can change your outlook and attitude. Arriving in Ruidoso and getting out of the car for the first time, Roland turned to me and said, “can you smell the trees?”. There is something incredibly grounding for me when I spend time in nature.
Visiting the Village of Ruidoso is a great option for an adventure-filled vacation as well as a chance to spend time outdoors enjoying beautiful New Mexico.
Guide to a Perfect Summer Day in Ruidoso, New Mexico:
(click on any link to jump to a specific topic or simply scroll down through the article)
- Where is the Village of Ruidoso?
- Best Place to Go Fishing (and Rent a Kayak) in Ruidoso
- Best Off-Roading Tour in Ruidoso
- Explore Quaint Downtown Ruidoso
- 2 Great Tea Shops
- Wine & Cheese Please!
- Best Restaurants in Ruidoso
- Best Place to try New Mexico Green Chile!
- Where to Find the Best Pizza in New Mexico
- What is a Kolache?
- Best Walking trail in Ruidoso
- Best place to stay in Ruidoso
- How to Get to Ruidoso
Where is the Village of Ruidoso?
The Village of Ruidoso is located in Southern New Mexico. By car, it’s about 1.5 hours from Roswell, New Mexico, 2.5 hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2.5 hours from El Paso, Texas and about 6 hours from Tucson, Arizona. The town of Ruidoso sits at the foot of the Sierra Blanca (White Peak) mountains.
A perfect day exploring Ruidoso’s outdoor beauty
Grindstone Lake: Where to Fish, Paddleboard and Kayak
One of my son’s favorite things to do is fish, so whenever possible I try to add this into our travel itinerary. One of my favorite water activities is kayaking, so spending time at Grindstone Lake, was an absolute must. Grindstone Lake is ‘the place’ to fish, kayak, and paddleboard.
Located just a few minutes from downtown Ruidoso, Grindstone is a manmade lake, with aquamarine water surrounded by pine trees. It’s is a perfect spot to spend a few hours (or a whole day). The lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout and on occasion catfish and smallmouth bass.
We rented a kayak and fishing pole from Back Country Attitudes for our morning on the lake. When renting, they provide life jackets in all sizes. They also have a food stand selling drinks, snacks, water, a small lunch menu and even bait.
As can happen in the mountains, our clear skies clouded over for a short bit and there was a quick summer storm. That didn’t deter my fisherman — we stayed out on the lake and enjoyed the rain!
In addition to lake activities, there are 18-miles of trails around Grindstone Lake that are open to mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
Note: Anglers 12 years and older must possess a valid New Mexico fishing license or game hunting & fishing license to fish here. We learned this the hard way. The easiest way to pick up a day license is from any outdoor supplier or a nearby Walmart. You can also get the license online from New Mexico Game & Fish, which is what we did.
OHV buggy tour
Another option for outdoor fun and one of the newest tours in town is an OHV buggy tour with Back Country Attitudes. This was one of our favorite things we did during our visit to Ruidoso! We took the 3-hour tour with owner, Lance Roe, who was our guide and driver. You can also join Lance for tours and drive your own buggy.
Lance’s passion is getting people away from their devices and out into the great outdoors. Spend a few hours with him and you will understand his love of Ruidoso and how he enjoys spending time in nature.
The tour is a combination of outdoor beauty, exploring the backcountry, race car driving and a bit of a wild ride. Of course, rounding a few curves at a fast is a huge adrenalin rush.
The beginning of the tour took us from town onto dirt paths and through farmland into the beautiful canyons of the Lincoln National Forest. We passed herds of cattle meandering on the dirt road. There is also the possibility of seeing mountain lions, bears and Mexican panthers (that Lance said are regularly seen on the tour).
I loved that Lance made a point of stopping during the tour, for us to see the breathtaking and beautiful scenery.
After reaching a few vistas and getting some great photo opportunities, it’s time for the adventure portion of the experience.
The only way to really do justice to the feeling of speed, the bumps, jumps (yes, we did some jumps and caught big air) is, of course, to take the tour yourself. Next best thing will be a video I’m putting together and will post here in the next week (so please check back!).
Prepare to be dusty at the end of the trip, if not muddy. Depending on if it has rained recently or rains during your tour, you should be prepared to walk away dirtier than you arrived, but with a big smile on your face (or a model pose, in the case of my son).
Shop & Explore in Ruidoso Village
It’s not uncommon to have late afternoon thunderstorms in Ruidoso, so it’s a great time to wander through the quaint downtown area. You’ll find everything from specialty tea shops, souvenir stores, candle shops, clothes and wine tasting.
Some of our favorite spots were Candle Power, a shop selling a wide variety of candles and incense, as well as two tea shops. Old barrel Tea and Spice sells mostly loose leaf tea as well as raw honey, fun teapots and accessories.
The store is jam-packed with everything a lover of tea could want. I really enjoyed the assortment of lesser-known teas and blends. They also have a nice variety of gourmet spices and herbs.
The other tea shop we loved was Natural Remedies. This was more of an herbal pharmacy that traditional tea shop. They have a great selection of tea remedies as well as essential oils, aromatherapy and a variety of specialty healing items.
You’ll also find an herbalist on staff who can make teas based on symptoms or needs.
If you are a wine lover, you need to check out what is currently happening with wine in New Mexico and do a wine tasting at Noisy Water. Make sure to try the Noisy Water world-famous green chile wine. Along with a wine tasting, you can sample artisan crafted New Mexico cheeses, including the worlds hottest cheese, made with ghost pepper (Bhut jolokia). Wine in New Mexico isn’t a new fad, Noisy Water was established in 1993 and has been operating in Ruidoso for over 20 years.
Best Restaurants in Ruidoso
A perfect day exploring Ruidoso’s outdoor beauty should start with a restaurant with a view and green chile! Luckily in Ruidoso, this is not hard to find.
During our visit to the Village of Ruidoso, our favorite spot for breakfast was Tina’s Cafe. They have a wonderful big patio with views of the Ruidoso River and beautiful forest.
New Mexico is famous for its green chile and there is no better place to try it than Tina’s Cafe. Our favorite dishes were the breakfast tacos (scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, bacon) served with beans and salsa as well as the Migas (eggs scrambled with tortillas, chorizo, green chile and cheese).
Tina’s Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch. If you visit for lunch, make sure to save room for their famous green chile apple or peach pie.
Other solid options for breakfast are the Khrome Grill if you are looking for an old-school diner experience or Sacred Grounds Coffee for outstanding quiche and a tremendous Ruidoso River view. Another breakfast option is Cornerstone Bakery & Cafe where you can find New Mexico Piñon coffee and a wide variety of pastries and baked goods as well as a full breakfast and lunch menu.
For dinner head to one of the newest spots in town; Hunt and Harvest. This restaurant is housed in what was the old roller rink. They kept the old wood floor and created a beautiful space that is a combination of a bakery, restaurant, and store.
Hunt and Harvest is an earth to fork eatery and head chef Kevin Ford is known for cooking his dishes from scratch. The menu has a strong emphasis on wild, organic and local ingredients. Some of the favorite menu items are bacon wrapped figs with goat cheese, truffle fries with parmesan and the Bahn Mi sandwich (a Vietnamese baguette with savory ingredients).
We had a delicious dinner that started with lobster lettuce wraps. I take my lobster and avocado seriously and these were fresh and absolutely delicious.
Roland opted for the bison tacos as his main course. Both the tacos and corn were beautifully seasoned and delicious.
My main course was a gorgeous bowl of Vietnamese soup with a poached egg.
Hunt and Harvest serves Noisy Water wines and New Mexico beers. Again, keeping it local.
If you are in the mood for something a bit more casual or the best pizza in New Mexico, head to Cafe Rio. That is not a typo— I didn’t mean the best pizza in Ruidoso, I meant the best pizza in New Mexico.
At Cafe Rio, you’ll find hand-tossed crusts prepared New York style. The thin, crispy crust with the perfect ratio of cheese and toppings have people raving about Cafe Rio’s pizza! Since, I’m gluten-free, Roland was the only one who got to sample the pizza. I had a Greek salad that was delicious!
Turns out a Kolache is a version of pigs in a blanket and very popular in Texas. The owners of the shop are from Texas and added the savory treat to their menu.
The Links Golf Course trail
Enjoy an after-dinner stroll on the Links Trail. Head there before sunset and you’re almost guaranteed to see wildlife such as elk or deer. The paved trail begins at the Links Golf Course and is a 2.9-mile path that you can walk, run or ride a bike.
Other attractions in Ruidoso:
I’ve added a few more fun things to do in Ruidoso. Some of these were recommended as things to do by locals I met in Ruidoso and some I found while I was researching our visit. We ran out time, but I plan to do them on my next visit:
- Ride the longest zip line in the world at Mescalero’s Ski Apache
- Go Horseback Riding (we got rained out. It looked like a beautiful trail)
- Visit a waterfall
- Visit Fox Cave Gem Mine
- Explore the Historic Town of Lincoln (home of Billy the Kid)
- Go to the Flying J Ranch Chuckwagon Dinner Show
- Visit Ruidoso Downs Racetrack
- Visit in Winter and ski at Apache and go tubing!
Where to Stay:
There are a variety of options for accommodations in the Village of Ruidoso including motels, hotels, casinos, house rentals as well as cabins. Because this is a mountain town, there are quite a few cabins and home rentals. We stayed at Story Book Cabins and our house had gorgeous views of the mountain and was surrounded by pine trees. There was a wonderful front porch with rocking chairs and a backyard with a BBQ. There were also several fruit trees in the front yard for a sweet and natural treat.
Nestled at the base of the majestic Sierra Blanca mountains, you now know there is so much more in the Village of Ruidoso than skiing. Come visit in summer for top hiking, biking, fishing and off-road fun!
Getting to Ruidoso:
Ruidoso is about 2.5 hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. It’s about 1.5 hours from Roswell, New Mexico. You can fly into all three of these locations, rent a car and make your way to the mountain getaway of Ruidoso.
Day Trips from Ruidoso & Top Tours
I love to do a combination of exploring on my own as well as a few organized tours when I travel. I love to learn about the history and culture in a new location and tours with local experts is a great way to do this. I recommend Get Your Guide because you can cancel most bookings for free up to 24 hours before they start and their customer service is available 24/7 in multiple languages.
A few Top Tours in New Mexico
Recommended Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads.
- Transport: AirfareWatchDog and Skyscanner (Best Sites to Research Flight Prices)
- Accommodation: Hotels.com and Orbitz
- Airbnb, Sign up here for a $40 credit.
- Top Ruidoso Hotel Reviews: TripAdvisor
- Cheap Flights to Mexico with Volaris Airlines
A huge thank you to the Village of Ruidoso for their generous hospitality. I enjoyed this visit as a professional blogger, but as always, all opinions are my own.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.