What do you think of when you think of Hatch, New Mexico? No, not that – the other thing. There’s a lot more to this lovely little village than you might think. Thousands of people will travel from around New Mexico and the US to enjoy the famous festival this summer. Make the most of your visit with these five things to do in Hatch.
1. Teako’s Giants of Hatch & Sparky’s
Teako Nunn is probably the most famous man in the area thanks to his enormous collection of giant statues. He opened the most unusual restaurant in town with his wife, Josie, and surrounded and covered it with these larger than life American icons. The full name is Sparky’s Burgers, BBQ, & Espresso, but the giant statutes get more attention than the food, tasty though it is. The parking lot is home to a giant chicken and a giant pig. An enormous Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders are hanging out on the sidewalk, and a 30 foot Uncle Sam stands between Sparky’s and the Hatch municipal offices. Papa Burger and the A&W Mama stand together on the roof.
Teako started this odd collection in 2006, and he and his wife named the restaurant after a robot that Josie built from old tractor parts. Inside the restaurant, there’s another collection of strange and extraordinary pieces, including neon clocks, a large moose head, and a painting of Teako chasing a truck of animals into the kitchen with his knife and fork. This is the first entry on our list of things to do in Hatch because it’s the kind of place that really leaves an impression. Be sure to check it out and get a picture with Colonel Sanders while you’re there.
2. The Village of Hatch Museum
You may have been to a few museums, but nothing like the Village of Hatch Museum. This interesting little place tells the story of the village with artifacts from old homes, schools, and dances. You can experience the unique artistic and cultural history of Hatch for free, though donations are welcome. The museum itself is composed primarily of donations from local residents, and each item has its own story to tell. They stay open during the most popular tourist season, so include this on your list of things to do while you’re in town this year.
3. Lake Valley Ghost Town
If you want a more personal look at the history of Hatch, visit Lake Valley, the old silver mining town along Lake Valley Backcountry Byway. Take a tour of this ghost town to see the restored chapel and schoolhouse to learn just what things were like for people in the 1800’s. Then, drive along the byway for some amazing scenic views.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division
4. Hatch Chile Express
You didn’t think we were really going to talk about Hatch and not mention the chile, did you? The number one thing this village is known for is its chile. The chile capital of the world, Hatch holds a yearly summer festival that draws thousands of travelers to celebrate. But even if you don’t make it for the Hatch Chile Festival, there are some pretty cool stores to explore and get a taste of the best chile you’ll ever find.
One such place is Hatch Chile Express. This shop is owned and operated by a third generation chile farmer and is one of the best places to find everything related to chile, including a range of mugs, jewelry, cookbooks, and souvenirs. The store has been featured on five different shows on Food Network and in several magazines and publications. It’s highly recommended by locals and visitors alike, so when you’re looking for things to do in Hatch, stop here a couple times before you leave.
5. Hatch Chile Festival
With all of these fun adventures, don’t forget the festival! The Hatch Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend is among the most popular events in all of New Mexico. There will be over 30,000 people coming to enjoy the carnival, the rides, the food booths, the chile contests, the pageants, and the parade. There are tons of activities, and for many, it’s a yearly tradition to visit and celebrate the chile capital of the world.
If you’re planning your visit around the chile festival, why not make a whole week of it? Check out all five of these exciting things to do in Hatch, and share your experience with us!