While your friends are planning their summer getaways to enchanting Cape May and sunny San Diego, set your sights on the mountains of New Mexico. Although the slowest off-season tends to be during December and January, Silver City has a decidedly easygoing pace during the summer months, too. Don’t be daunted by the Southwest’s reputation for sweltering summers, because you won’t find them here. Instead, peruse our picks of Silver City attractions, restaurants, and traditions, and be sure to put these traveler-tested, local-approved experiences on your itinerary.

We recently rounded up 20 places that are better off in the off season, and Silver City is one of the destinations that practically begs for a closer look. This former mining town is home to a darling downtown and it gets its fair share of sunshine and warmth—usually in the 80s F on a given July day—which are just a couple of reasons this is one of our favorite places to visit in New Mexico in the summertime. Check out our top four!

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Photo via Flickr/Tucker Sherman

1. Every road is the scenic route

Whether you’re flying to the nearest airport or taking the speedways by storm, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time driving. Surrounded by mountain crests and starkly blue skies, the open road is, hands down, one of the most stunning New Mexico tourist attractions you’ll see along the way. Roll down the windows and let the warm breeze whip through your hair as you soak up the scenery.

When the days are longer, you have plenty of time to explore the area before catching sight of New Mexico’s spectacular sunsets. Just drive toward the scent of chile sauce simmering in local kitchens and the sound of live tunes pouring from the parlor at Diane’s Bakery & Deli.

2. The patio scene is perfection

The folks in Silver City know nothing beats sipping a gourmet java or herbal infusion on a lazy summer’s day. Order the signature Silver Chai and sit on the patio surrounded by succulents at Javalina Coffee House on Market Street—it’s like hanging out in your own living room, but better.

For your daily dose of vitamin D with a generous side of breakfast, lunch, or dinner, get yourself a table outside Vicki’s Eatery on North Texas Street (Psst! The Entrance is on Market Street.) Sunday brunch is a local pastime, as is eating owner Greg’s Famous Carrot Cake.

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3. Downtown Silver City looks like a rainbow

While you’re grazing through downtown, take a look around! The red brick storefronts and elevated sidewalks harken back to the Old West, but with a colorful kick. Yankie Street is awash with bright blue, green, yellow, and orange facades, and that’s on just one corner!

If you picture tie-dyed horse-drawn wagons rolling through town back in the day, we don’t blame you. But before this town took on a psychedelic aesthetic, Native Americans—likely the Apache nation—lived atop the hill. Historians continue to discover artifacts left by these first inhabitants and Silver City’s copper and silver miners. Wander over to Silver City Museum and the Silver City Tourism & Visitor Center for more information on the history beneath the rainbow.

Viewfinder Tip: Signal Peak Trail is a moderate hike in a forest setting, perfect for all level hikers and bikers

4. The community calendar is hoppin’

Turn your summer stroll into a day with Silver City locals. Yankie Creek Coffee House regularly hosts club meetings and events, including card games and songwriter showcases. Stop by for tasty treats and terrific talent. As if you needed another excuse to check out the cool caffeine scene.

When the New Mexican landscape calls your name—and it will—join a mountain biking group and head for the hills. Cyclists usually meet up at Little Walnut Picnic Grounds multiple evenings a week and take on routes of varying experience levels. Pack your spinning gear!

Have no doubt, every day is the best time to visit New Mexico, but Silver City really shines under the summer sun. From the postcard-perfect downtown streets to covet-worthy coffee houses and everything in between, there are definitely more than four reasons to visit Silver City in the off season.

What’s on your off-season itinerary?

Header photo via Flickr/Dean Souglass