Exploring the dunes at White Sands National Park is just part of the fun. There's plenty to do in Alamogordo and Las Cruces as well. Photograph by Tira Howard. 

CONSIDER MAKING Alamogordo or Las Cruces your home base during a trip to White Sands. They can even add to the adventure. Be sure to call ahead to check on availability and any potential schedule changes.

Stay at the Magnuson, a boutique hotel with Southwestern accents.

Snag breakfast at the Waffle and Pancake Shoppe.

Swing by 575 Brewery for a White Sands Wit microbrew.

Check in with your astronaut heroes at the New Mexico Museum of Space History and more local history at the Tularosa Basin Museum of History.

Stock up on locally grown pistachios from Heart of the Desert and McGinn’s PistachioLand.

Fill up on New Mexican food in nearby Tularosa at Casa de Sueños

Hike in the Dripping Springs Natural Area, in the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument.

Browse vendors, food, and crafts at the Saturday Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces, which is open until Christmas.

Pop out to the nearby and historic Mesilla for patio dining at Salud! de Mesilla.

Back in Cruces, sip on a pecan-flavored beer at the Pecan Grill and Brewery.

Brave a custard sundae topped with both green chile and pecans at Caliche’s Frozen Custard (various locations).