There are tourist traps and tourist trips. When I saw signs near Alamagordo advertising The World’s Largest Pistachio,” my first reaction was– tourist trap. But I was wrong. This stop – at PistachioLand – is a real trip.
You can’t miss the pistachio. Two giant half-shells are slightly parted to reveal the massive, green nutmeat. Thirty feet tall, it provides an irresistible photo op. This unusual monument is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Michael McGinn (1929-2007), founder of Pistachio Tree Ranch.
After retiring, Mr. McGinn moved from California to New Mexico in 1977.
Having discovered that pistachio trees thrived in the high, arid area, McGinn bought 40 acres in 1980. His first harvest was in 1988. Since then, the orchard has more than doubled in size and a vineyard has been added.
The shop here is worth a visit. The PistachioLand team harvests, roasts, seasons and packages pistachios. In addition to roasted, salted pistachios, the shelves are lined with lots of other choices -- pistachios flavored with garlic, chile, lime, barbecue and more. Choosing a favorite flavor is easy -- samples are ample.  Additionally, you’ll find pistachio brittle and other candies, myriad gourmet products made in New Mexico, cold drinks and ice cream.
Free wine tastings allow visitors to enjoy and purchase wines made in the family winery – Arena Blanca. They make many wines but their signature wine is Pistachio Delight – a white zinfandel with a nutty aftertaste. Other interesting options include Hatch Red Chile, Hatch Green Chile and Chocolate Diablo, a cabernet/cocoa creation.
Motorized, twenty-minute tours of the farm are given daily on the hour from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. There’s a small charge for the tour. For large families, bigger groups or visitors with special needs, call ahead for reservations – 1-800-368-3081.
Pistachio trees begin to leaf out in April. Visitors will see nuts on the trees July through September and grapes on the vines in May and June.
I stopped here, lured in by the giant pistachio, but wound up spending much more time here than I intended. PistachioLand is more than just a photo op -- it's an opportunity.
Elaine Warner is a travel writer based in Oklahoma.  She often writes for AAA Home & Away, Oklahoman, 405, and other top publications that feature travel.