Downtown Roswell, New Mexico is the alien capital of the world but all is not what it seems… find out which attractions are better than the UFO Museum.
1947 Roswell UFO Incident
Roswell was thrust into the spotlight in 1947 when rancher Mac Brazel discovered unidentifiable debris on his property. The local Air Base described it as a weather balloon, but newspapers sensationalized it as a flying saucer.
This started the frenzy of UFOs in Roswell and Area 51. Regardless which position you believe, downtown Roswell is full of little green men.
Although it’s known for UFOs and aliens, we thought that the art museums actually shined the brightest. Let’s explore some of the best things to do in Roswell during your visit…
Roswell, New Mexico Attractions
#1. International UFO Museum and Research Center
For UFO believers and skeptics alike, the ultimate destination in Roswell is the International UFO Museum and Research Center. This museum has collected a plethora of information on the Roswell Incident. Come prepared to read!
We stepped inside and saw newspaper clipping after newspaper clipping, and decided this wasn’t the museum we were expecting. There are a few dioramas that provide photo opportunities inside.
Entrance fee: $5
Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm everyday
#2. Downtown Roswell
You can spot a fair share of aliens as you walk around South Main Street. There are green footprints that lead you to the International UFO Museum and Research Center, murals on the sides of buildings, and even alien head lamp posts.
Step into some of the stores for souvenirs and selfies with your favorite little green men and women. Even the national chains have gotten in on the action. Although you may spot aliens at Walmart and KFC, McDonald’s steals the show with a saucer shaped restaurant!
#3. Roswell Museum and Art Center
When we came to Roswell, we were expecting to be wowed by fun and creative attractions related to aliens. Instead, we found them at the art museums. The Roswell Musuem and Art Center had a nice collection of art, but what stole the show was the Robbert H. Goddard exhibit.
He is an American engineer and credited with creating the first liquid-fueled rocket despite not getting half the publicity of the German V-2 that you can see at White Sands Missile Range Museum.
Entrance fee: By donation
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9 am – 5 pm; Sunday 1 – 5 pm
#4. Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art
The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art has a truly unique way to curate their art collection. They house and provide a living stipend for a year for six lucky artists. This is a novel idea, and was paying off with creative artwork on display.
Entrance fee: By donation
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9 am – 4 pm; Sunday 1 – 5 pm
Downtown Roswell Restaurants
If you are trying to visit several New Mexico destinations in one day, then you will probably want to grab lunch in Roswell. Here are your top choices.
Cowboy Café – This is one of the few restaurants in Roswell that has embraced the UFO kitsch, featuring an Alien Omelet and The Mothership Burger. Pay them a visit for breakfast or lunch only as they close at 2 pm.
Big D’s Downtown Dive – They will put green chile on just about everything so come prepared – hamburgers, cheesesteaks, Mexican dishes…
If you are in need of fast food, the local saucer shaped McDonalds’s is our top pick as they are owning it!
Hotels in Roswell, NM
There is a large assortment of affordable hotels in Roswell, NM with prices starting at $19 with breakfast included at Simple Rewards Inn. This is a great base not only for visiting Roswell, but Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Prices around there are more expensive so you may want to visit as a day trip instead.
Airbnb lists around 45 places to stay but there are no hostels in Roswell.
Plan Your New Mexico Road Trip
In order to get around New Mexico, you need to have a car. We were surprised to find that Sheena was able to rent a car much cheaper as an Australian than I was as an American. If you’re an international visitor, keep that in mind during your online research as this could save you a lot of money.
Although the U.S. is a relatively safe country for travel, medical costs are high so if you’re an international visitor we recommend purchasing travel insurance before any trip. We’ve been using World Nomads through 80+ countries over the past 12 years and have been really happy with their coverage and services.
Places to visit around Roswell include:
There are plenty of excellent outdoor and cultural attractions in New Mexico – pick up a guidebook and start planning!
Know Before You Go
- International UFO Museum and Research Center
- Roswell Museum and Art Center
- Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art
Hours: Businesses open at 9 am, and close between 4-5 pm. There are restricted hours on weekends.
Duration: 2-4 hours
Hotel: Simple Rewards Inn (starting at $19)
Restaurants: Cowboy’s Café; Big D’s Downtown Dive; McDonalds
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Visited in October 2018