Old Mesilla may only be about 5 minutes south of Las Cruces, but what a difference 5 minutes can make! Driving the couple miles is the closest I’ve ever felt like going back in time. unlike the modern city of Las Cruces, Mesilla looks like Old Mexico: tiny streets, old-school one story adobe homes and buildings, no bilboards, the majority of the signs in Spanish, etc. This most like is due to the fact Mesilla wasn’t made part of the US until 1853 – much later than it’s nothern neighbor, Las Cruces.
Easily the most visited part of Mesilla is the historic town plaza. The first thing that stands out is the Basilical de San Albino. The Basilica easily towers over the other buildings in the plaza, but is not actually the original church of Mesilla; that honor belongs to a building just off the plaza that now somewhat ironically houses a biker bar.
Proabably the most famous building in the plaza is the old jail, which once housed Billy the Kid. The famous outlaw was imprisoned in the tiny town of Mesilla, tired and sentanced to hang, but while being transported to another city, managed to escape. Now the building is no longer a jail, but a gift shoppe for Billy the Kidd. A little gaudy for my personal tastes, but perfect for anyone really into outlaw souvenirs/memorabilia.
I, not suprisingly, have my own personal favorite places to visit while in Mesilla. The first is the middle of the twon plaza. The gazebo isn’t much to look, but the whole atmosphere is very cozy. The plaza is lined with park benches and trees, making it a perfect place to sit and relaz on a breezy afternoon.
The second place is a small chocolaterie called The Chocolate Lady. The shoppe is tiny and doesn’t even have a place to sit, but the treats are delicious! In addition to the typical chocolates, The Chocolate Lady is known for it’s homemade ice cream. The ice cream is, of course, what got me through the door in the first place 🙂 Being homemade, it’s super dense, rich and creamy – the perfect treat for a summer afternoon. I personally recommend the chocolate flavor.
The third place I recommend is located just off the plaza and is called Cafe de Mesilla. The cafe itself is quite small, but the atmosphere is amazing, with some tables and chairs, as well as big comfy chairs in the corners you can just snuggle down in while enjoying your food. The menu isn’t very extensive, but the selections are beyond delicious. My personal favorite is the peach smoothie, which you can enjoy in the cafe or possibly outside in the plaza.
Finally, I really enjoy the shops on the west side of the plaza. For the most part, these stores aren’t your typical tourist traps selling the same old souvenirs, but are quite unique. There is a bookstore aptly named “Bookstore”, which has piles and piles of books on every shelf and in every corner. Not only is there a wide variety of genres, but there are books there I literally haven’t seen anywhere else. Several of the shops on the west side also have some really unique Day of the Dead memorabilia, including the birchwood postcard of a skeleton/Day of the Dead wedding party.