I always feel very uncomfortable when I get to know that I skipped something very unique or interesting on my way especially when I travel very far from my home. Due to lack of both time and information it happened to me in El Paso.
First of all I skipped Fort Bliss, a United States Army military base partly located within El Paso city limits and the largest maneuver area in continental United States, almost the size of Rhode Island. Surely most of the base is closed for visitors, but I could visit Fort Bliss Museums (free, Mon-Sat 9.00 am - 4.30 pm).
The other attractions, I skipped and would like to visit next time, include:
- Centennial Museum & Chihuahuan Desert Gardens
- Mission Ysleta (1675), the oldest continuously used church in the United States
- Mission Socorro (1682), one of the oldest operating parishes in the United States
- Chamizal National Memorial.
Unique Suggestions: I had little time in El Paso as I wanted to visit first of all Big Bend National Park and Carlsbad Caverns and later White Sands National Monument and these three destinations were fantastic, I guess, much better than all attractions of El Paso I didn't see.
Fun Alternatives: El Paso has over 100 tourist attractions to visit (look here) and it's no way to see even half of them during 1-2 days. You have to come back to El Paso again or skip them forever.
As soon as you pass through the border you hit a main street which runs for about a mile.
All the way along that are snd street traders trying to catch your attention. You really have to search very hard on that side of the border to find anywhere you can just chill out.
Unique Suggestions: Take as little by the way of valuables and money. I was there on a quiet day in anuary but it was still bustling. Pick pockets are always around.
Juarez is big -- 2 million people big, and that's enough to dominate any border relationship, particularly with the massive amount of American investment there in hte form of maquiladores, factories for NAFTA goods. Also, many El Pasoans have family across the river, so the bridges get pretty busy.
Most people don't see that side of Juarez, though. They cross the border and hit the Tijuana-like Avenida Juarez, full of high-priced souvenir shops, tourist trap dives, and various border town types. Now, alas, I can't speak from personal experience since I ran out of time and couldn't see much, but I have it on great authority that this is the case.
Basically, and this goes for border towns the world over, if you go, be sure to bargain, watch for pickpockets, and don't drink the water.