21 Things to do in Roswell, New Mexico

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Roswell brought to life in 1947

If Roswell, New Mexico is not on your bucket list of towns to visit, it should be. Even though Roswell’s history dates back to 1845, it really landed on the map after the UFO incident in 1947. Consequently, Roswell is known as the place where perhaps the largest UFO cover up ever existed. But the town is more than just UFOs. Below is a narrative of at least 21 things to do in Roswell, New Mexico.

The United States Air Force claimed a weather balloon crashed on the J.B. Foster ranch, roughly 30 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico in the year of 1947. It wasn’t until the late 1970’s when conspiracy theories promoted by ufologists began disclaiming the weather balloon story. They reported it was actually an alien spacecraft that had crash-landed. Conspiracy theorists claimed extraterrestrial aliens were recovered by the military and covered up the incident.

silhouetto of creature during golden hour
photo credit Brian McMahon

Journalists and investigators started publishing their findings in newspapers, magazines and books. For instance, The Roswell Incident, written in 1980, was one of the first popular books on the topic. The book was the first conspiracy medium published about the event. At the bottom of this article, there will be a list of books regarding the Roswell UFO incident. However, the UFO theory was debunked in the 1990s. Incidentally, the US military published reports claimed the crashed object was part of Project Mogul.

A Most Intriguing town

Due to the UFO history, conspiracy theories and plain curiosity, Roswell, New Mexico is truly the most intriguing town to visit. Let’s break down a list of must-see places and things to do in the little town of Roswell. The first place you will want to visit is the Roswell Convention and Visitor’s Center. Every time I travel into a new town, I always make sure to stop in the visitor’s center. This is often where you learn of unique opportunities that otherwise may not be found online during general searches.


Let’s face it, the main purpose for going to Roswell is for the aliens. This town LOVES to promote extraterrestrials. The first must-see place is the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Housed inside is the entire Roswell UFO incident complete with pictures and material found at the crash site. This is the go-to place to start (or continue) all your Roswell UFO research. After spending time learning the facts and eye-witness accounts, it’s time for some fun at the Alien Zone Area 51 gift shop. In it you will find unique alien themed trinkets and novelties. In the back of the store, for a small fee, you can spend some time taking selfies with aliens in a variety of positions.

If you have a good sense of humor, it is a fun time. Next is the Roswell Spacewalk located at the UFO Roswell Space Center. It is a black-light environment with hands on attractions. They demonstrate antique space toys and framed art. It is a small, quick walk through but highly enjoyable. It may not be suitable for small children. For lunch, a stop at the only UFO themed McDonald’s in the world. It is a wonderful photo opportunity!

photo credit TripAdvisor

Final UFO recommendations

In addition to the UFO activities, if immersion into the Roswell UFO crash is the main goal of the trip, you will want to sign up for UFO Tours. The guide Dennis Balthaser earned the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2014-2019. He is rated as knowledgeable and is a wealth of information about everything pertaining to Roswell’s history.  For some plain alien fun, take a stroll down Roswell’s Downtown Historic District. Make sure to look up and see the streetlights alien heads and take note of the random alien sitting on a bench or two.


After learning having some alien fun, another interesting place to visit is the Miniatures and Curious Collections Museum. It houses a permanent collection of miniature houses and accessories, shadow boxes, book nooks and more. There is also a rotating collection of Curious Collections. There is a children’s area and a unique gift shop. This is definitely worth your while.

Another museum to explore is the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. It houses 12 galleries and over 500 different works of art. The gallery reflects the work produced by artists who have participated in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. They host a variety of events throughout the year.

On the other hand, if music is your art of preference, watch the historic Pearson Auditorium’s schedule for upcoming events. It is Located on the New Mexico Military Institute Campus. It is a local performance and event venue. The Roswell Symphony Orchestra often plays here.

Another place to visit is the General Douglas L. McBride Military Museum. It is open to the public and free of charge. Be sure to check the hours of operation to confirm they are not closed for a private event. The displays concentrate on the New Mexico Military Institute. It is located on the second floor of the Enrollment and Development center.


In addition to museums, there is art to explore. Textured art has always been an interest of mine. The Tokay Beaded Art studio is the passion of Juanita Finger. She has over 20 years of bead-weaving experience. She is an exhibitor and a lecturer.  Her studio holds many unique and personalized items for sale.  

Alternatively, there is Happy Jack’s Inc., Beads, Books and Home of Lacy’s Stiff Stuff. They are a full-service retail bead store and huge used book store combined. According to their website, they sell millions of bead and thousands of used books! Sounds like an afternoon well spent!

If beads and books aren’t your bag, how about soap? The Rustic Essentials Soap Company makes handmade, all-natural artisan soaps on site. They sell a variety of soothing products such as beard oils, soaps, body butters, essential oils, sugar scrubs and more. The store smells delightful!

Another unique place to shop is Nifty 50s Gift Shop, a vintage store. In it you’ll find vintage clothing and products. Plan to spend some time perusing the unique items of yesteryear. If you’re a crafter, you may want to stop in at Imagine That! Scrapbooks and Gifts. They are a 7200 square feet mega store filled with any crafting supply you may need. Scrapbookers can easily spend hours in this store!

Finally, another place to find great pieces of art work is The Gallery. It features work from several local artists working among various style and mediums. The Gallery is a project of Roswell’s Fine Art League promoting local artists and community engagement. This should be another stop along your tour of the town.

Outdoor Fun

In addition to museums and shopping, Roswell, New Mexico offers several beautiful outdoor opportunities. For family fun, visit the Spring River Park and Zoo. In the center of the zoo there is an antique wooden horse carousel hand carved by local artisans. There are only around 100 of these left in the entire country! There are a multitude of activities and workshops in which to participate.

For a different type of adventure, stop in at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The visitor center is open Monday through Saturday. The center offers a wide variety of educational programs and exhibitions.

Next you may want to visit the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center. Their mission is to expand your knowledge of all types of birds, their habitats and the ecosystem in which they thrive.

Another highlight in southeastern New Mexico – 45 miles east of Roswell – is the Mescalero Sands North Dune OHV (off highway vehicle) Area. If you have an all-terrain vehicle, this is  a MUST stop! I encourage you to open the link to their site (directly above) for details regarding the area.

Finally, one last nature stop that is a little more-low key than off roading, is the Bottomless Lakes State Park, located only 14 miles southeast of Roswell. It is a fantastic location for family friend, non-motorized boating, camping, picnicking, fishing, birding, hiking and even scuba diving!


Finally, what is a vacation without food! One of my favorite parts of any trip is finding local eateries. I purposefully avoid chain restaurants as I prefer to taste the community cuisine. OK, so I did mention McDonald’s above, but that was due to it being the ONLY McDonald’s in the world with a UFO restaurant theme, so that IS unique to the community! When I visited Roswell, I found an awesome home town burger joint called The Cowboy Café. As I ate lunch at the countertop, I met the owner and we had a lovely conversation. The food was delicious and completely affordable.

photo credit Anita DiBlasi

Also, the local Pecos Flavors Winery & Bistro is a place to visit. Their mission is to support the local wineries and breweries of New Mexico. The menu offers a fantastic variety of items that please any palate. Their shop sells a variety of New Mexico born products. This family run business is highly recommended as a place to indulge your tastes.

A great steakhouse to enjoy is the Cattle Baron Steak & Seafood restaurant. They are not a national chain but have expanded into Texas and 5 different New Mexico locations. If you’re hankering for a mouth-watering steak, you need to put this on your list.

There are a multitude of other dining opportunities available. When you stop at the Roswell Convention and Visitor’s Center upon arrival to Roswell, ask the employees where their favorite places are to eat. Locals always have their favorites that are unique to their town.

That’s a wrap

In conclusion, Roswell New Mexico and the immediate surrounding area has something for everyone to enjoy. The 1947 UFO incident brought national attention to this town, but it’s the people and their community that draws us in. It is one of my favorite places to visit.

UFO Resources

As promised, here are some recommended reading materials if you want to further broaden your Roswell, New Mexico UFO interests.

If you visit Roswell or any of the above places recommended, please leave a comment about your experiences. Also, if you plan on flying to your destination, save some money on airport parking by paying ahead of time through If you’re looking for other weekend getaways you may want to read about Amish in Ohio – The Best Kept Secrets. Perhaps you need guidance with which travel site to use? Check out some advice with Travel Planning Sites – the Top 5.

Drop in often, as more destination highlights from across the country will soon be published!

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