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Visiting Roswell, New Mexico – A One-Day Itinerary

Planning on visiting Roswell, New Mexico? Dive into our captivating article for an insider’s Roswell itinerary. We’ll guide you through the best UFO-related sites, delightful dining spots, and hidden gems of the city. Whether you’re a UFO enthusiast or just looking for an offbeat travel experience, this article is your comprehensive guide to making the most of your visit to one of America’s most intriguing towns.

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Roswell New Mexico attractions - huge green Alien statue on the main street.

Visiting Roswell, New Mexico – Our Unique Journey into the Extraordinary

Welcome to Roswell, New Mexico – a city that uniquely blends history, mystery, and a touch of the otherworldly. Nestled in the southeastern corner of New Mexico, Roswell is a destination unlike any other, famed for its intriguing tie to extraterrestrial phenomena. This small town, which we enjoyed exploring during our New Mexico road trip, offers rich experiences, from its storied past to its vibrant present.

As you enter Roswell, you enter a world where the ordinary meets the extraordinary. It’s a place where the echoes of an alleged UFO incident in 1947 still resonate, captivating the imagination of visitors from around the globe. But Roswell is more than just its alien lore; it’s a hub of cultural and historical significance, a testament to the diversity of American history.

From the iconic alien-themed street art to the profound historical sites, every corner of Roswell tells a story. In this guide, we’ll take you through a detailed crafted one-day in Roswell itinerary.

Chris and I had a lot of fun while visiting Roswell, New Mexico. So, we’re excited to share our experiences and insights, helping you uncover this remarkable city’s hidden gems and must-see attractions.

Chris Labanowski, co-owner of the Van Escape blog, with huge Alien statue neext to Dunkin Drive Thrue in Roswell.
Advertising poster of International UFO Museum - one of the best things to do in Roswell, New Mexico.

Roswell’s Rich History: Echoes of the Past

The Cattle Ranching Legacy

Before the UFO lore, Roswell thrived as a cattle ranching town. Here stood John Chisum’s Jingle Bob Ranch, a name that once echoed as the largest cattle ranch in the United States. This era shaped Roswell’s early days, infusing it with a spirit of hard work and determination. The remnants of this ranching past are still visible in the town’s architecture and the enduring cowboy culture, offering a glimpse into a bygone era of the American West.

1947: A Year That Changed Roswell

Roswell’s journey took an unexpected turn in 1947. This was the year when a mysterious object crashed near the town, sparking widespread speculation and intrigue. Official reports claimed it was a weather balloon, but many believed it to be an extraterrestrial spacecraft. This event, known as the Roswell UFO Incident, catapulted the town into a global spotlight, forever altering its identity.

Investigating the UFO Incident

The 1947 incident isn’t just a tale of the unexplained; it’s a significant chapter in Roswell’s history. Over the years, numerous investigations, both official and unofficial, have tried to unravel the mystery. The incident continues to fascinate researchers and enthusiasts, drawing them to Roswell in search of answers. It’s a story that intertwines science, skepticism, and the endless human quest for understanding the unknown.

Roswell Today: A Melding of History and Mystery

Today, Roswell embraces its dual heritage with pride. The town balances its historic ranching roots with its status as an epicenter of UFO culture. This unique blend offers visitors a multifaceted experience – from exploring old ranch sites to delving into the depths of the UFO phenomenon. It’s a town where history and mystery coexist, creating a destination that’s as intriguing as it is historic.

In our visit to Roswell, we experienced this unique blend firsthand. Each street, museum, and historical site offered a new perspective on this fascinating town. In the next sections, we’ll share the key attractions and experiences that bring Roswell’s rich history to life, ensuring your visit is as enlightening as it is unforgettable.

Exhiit in International UFO Museum and Research Center - one of the main attractions of Roswell.

Roswell New Mexico Itinerary – How to Spend a Perfect Day?

This Roswell itinerary promises a dynamic and immersive exploration of Alien City. We recommend spending at least one night in the city to fully experience its most captivating Roswell attractions, particularly those highlighting its renowned UFO history.

Morning in Roswell: International UFO Museum and Research Center

Begin your adventure at one of the top attractions in Roswell: the International UFO Museum and Research Center. This destination is a cornerstone of Roswell’s identity and a must-see for anyone intrigued by the 1947 UFO incident.

As you step into the museum, you’re entering a realm that skillfully blends history with the allure of the unknown. The exhibits here are not just displays; they’re gateways into one of the most captivating mysteries of our time. You’ll find yourself surrounded by a wealth of information, from detailed eyewitness accounts to speculative theories,  Area 51, all aiming to shed light on what really happened in Roswell in 1947.

This museum stands as a beacon for one of the best things to do in Roswell, offering a deep dive into the incident that put this town on the global map.

Address: 114 North Main Street, Roswell. Before visiting, you can check updates on their FB Profile.

Roswell New Mexico Itinerary - visiting International UFO Museum and Research Center.

Exploring Alien-Inspired Roswell

After delving into the depths of the UFO incident, take your adventure outdoors for an alien-themed exploration of downtown Roswell. The city proudly showcases its unique identity with vibrant, extraterrestrial-inspired art and installations.

As you wander through the streets, you’re treated to an array of alien murals, quirky sculptures, and creatively decorated storefronts. This stroll is more than just a visual delight; it’s a living gallery that celebrates Roswell’s place in alien folklore. Make sure to capture memories with the iconic alien streetlights and the numerous playful alien figures that dot the landscape. This part of your morning is not only entertaining but also exemplifies why Roswell is renowned for its unique and otherworldly charm.

This morning segment of your itinerary in Roswell is designed to immerse you in the heart of the town’s alien legacy, setting the tone for a day filled with exploration and wonder. From the educational halls of the UFO Museum to the whimsical streets of downtown, you’re experiencing the best of what Roswell has to offer.

Alien murals on streets of Roswell.

Midday in Roswell: Culinary Delights and UFO Insights

Unique Dining in Roswell: A Taste of the Extraordinary

As you venture into the heart of Roswell for lunch, a world of unique dining experiences awaits. For a classic yet themed culinary delight, consider stopping at the Stellar Coffee Co., where the ambiance is as inviting as the menu. Here, you can enjoy a casual setting with a hint of the cosmic, making it a great spot for a light lunch or a refreshing coffee break.

While visiting Roswell, New Mexico, with kids, you can’t miss the UFO-shaped McDonald’s, one of the top attractions in Roswell for families. This McDonald’s is not your typical fast-food restaurant; its exterior is designed to resemble a flying saucer, complete with neon lights and space-themed décor. Inside, the alien motif continues, creating an out-of-this-world dining experience.

It’s a fun and memorable place to grab a quick bite, especially for those fascinated by the town’s UFO history. Although Chris and I typically steer clear of fast foods, we made an exception for the UFO-shaped McDonald’s in Roswell. We enjoyed coffee and ice cream amidst its captivating alien scenery.

Post-Lunch UFO-Themed Attractions

Your midday adventure in Roswell continues with visits to more UFO-themed attractions. These smaller museums and galleries offer a deeper dive into the town’s extraterrestrial connections. Places like the Roswell UFO Spacewalk and Gallery provide an interactive experience, perfect for families and individuals alike, keen to explore the town’s cosmic legacy. Here, you can engage with exhibits that blend science, history, and a bit of imagination, offering a comprehensive look at the UFO phenomenon and its impact on Roswell.

 UFO-shaped McDonald's in Roswell New Mexico - one of the most popular attractions in the city for families.

Afternoon in Roswell: Optional Cultural and Natural Explorations

Roswell’s Artistic Side: Museums Worth Visiting

For art enthusiasts, Roswell offers splendid options. The Roswell Museum & Art Center is a treasure trove of regional art and history. It features an array of exhibits, from contemporary art to historical artifacts. Then, there’s the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum showcases innovative works by current artists-in-residence. It’s a hub of creativity and inspiration, reflecting Roswell’s vibrant art scene.

Nature’s Retreat: Bottomless Lakes State Park

If you prefer nature over art, visit Bottomless Lakes State Park. It’s a serene escape, just a short drive from Roswell. The park boasts several deep lakes, perfect for an afternoon of relaxation. You can enjoy activities like hiking, picnicking, and bird watching. The park’s unique geology and tranquil setting make it a delightful contrast to the morning’s alien adventures.

Bottomless Lakes State Park is a must-visit for bird lovers like us. Here, you can spot diverse species, including ducks, shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds. Keep an eye out for Sandhill Cranes, especially during migration seasons. For an unparalleled birdwatching experience, consider a trip to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, 165 miles west of Roswell. It’s famous for thousands of migrating Sandhill Cranes – a spectacular sight for nature enthusiasts.

sandhill crane in New Mexico.

Evening in Roswell: Dining and Entertainment

Savoring Roswell’s Flavors

As evening falls, Roswell’s culinary scene comes alive. For a memorable dinner, visit local favorites like The Cattle Baron. Here, you can enjoy sumptuous steaks and a range of American classics.

Another great choice is Peppers Grill & Bar, which offers a mix of Southwestern cuisine and a relaxed atmosphere. These restaurants not only provide delicious meals but also reflect the town’s hospitable spirit.

Nightlife and Entertainment

After dinner, Roswell offers various entertainment options. For a laid-back evening, check out Pecos Flavors Winery. It’s a cozy spot to taste local wines, and often features live music. If you’re looking for more lively entertainment, local pubs and bars host regular events and performances. These venues are perfect for unwinding and experiencing Roswell’s friendly community vibe.

Exhibits in Roswell, New Mexico.
Roswell - UFO Museum.

Where to Stay in Roswell: Accommodations for Every Traveler

When visiting Roswell, New Mexico, finding the right accommodation is key to a memorable experience. Roswell offers a range of lodging options to suit every traveler’s needs and budget.

  • Luxury and Comfort. For those seeking luxury, the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Roswell provides a blend of comfort and elegance. With spacious rooms and top-notch amenities, it’s ideal for travelers looking for a bit of indulgence. Another excellent choice for upscale lodging is the Holiday Inn Roswell, which offers contemporary rooms and a relaxing atmosphere.
  • Budget-Friendly Stays. While visiting Roswell, New Mexico, on a budget, the Days Inn by Wyndham Roswell offers affordable rates without compromising on quality. It’s perfect for those who want to save on accommodation while enjoying a comfortable stay.
Aliens figures in YUFO museum in Roswell.

Getting to Roswell: Travel Options and Tips

When planning your Roswell, New Mexico itinerary, considering how to get there is crucial. Whether you’re driving from a nearby city or one of New Mexico’s stunning national parks, Roswell is accessible and welcoming to all visitors.

From Santa Fe

  • Distance and Time: Approximately 200 miles, about a 3-hour drive.
  • Route: Take US-285 S directly to Roswell. This route offers a straightforward drive with scenic views of New Mexico’s diverse landscapes.
  • If you plan to drive from Santa Fe, you might be interested in how to spend time in Santa Fe, and what to see and do.

Driving From Albuquerque

  • Distance and Time: Around 200 miles, roughly a 3-hour drive.
  • Route: Drive south on I-25 S, then east on US-380 E to reach Roswell. This journey takes you through historic towns and beautiful scenery.

From Farmington

  • Distance and Time: About 330 miles, typically a 5-hour drive.
  • Route: Follow US-550 S and US-491 S, then continue on US-285 S to Roswell. The drive traverses a variety of terrains, making for an interesting road trip.
  • Make sure to check out our list of top attractions and activities in Farmington.

Driving From White Sands National Park

From Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Distance and Time: Around 75 miles, about an hour and a half drive.
  • Route: Head north on US-62 W/US-180 W, then continue on US-285 N to Roswell. This short drive is perfect for combining two of New Mexico’s most famous attractions in a single trip.
  • Be sure to check out our detailed article on how to spend time in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, offering valuable tips and insights for making the most of your visit to this natural wonder.
murals and suvenirs shops in Roswell.
Funny decorations at Roswell's streets.

Annual Extravaganza: Roswell’s Famous UFO Festival

Roswell’s UFO Festival is an annual extravaganza that transforms the city into a vibrant hub of alien-themed festivities. Held every July, this festival commemorates the famed 1947 UFO incident, drawing enthusiasts and curious visitors from around the globe. Planning on visiting Roswell, New Mexico, is worth considering July to have a lot of fun.

Festivities and Fun

The UFO Festival is a lively celebration featuring a wide array of activities. Expect to see colorful alien-themed parades, costume contests that encourage visitors to dress up in their most imaginative extraterrestrial outfits, and a variety of vendors selling unique alien memorabilia. The festival atmosphere is electric, filled with music, dance, and an array of performances that captivate both young and old.

Learning and Exploration

Beyond entertainment, the festival also serves as a platform for learning and discussion. It hosts speakers and experts who delve into topics related to UFOs and extraterrestrial life. These sessions provide a deeper understanding of the UFO phenomenon and Roswell’s place in its history.

Community Spirit

What truly stands out at the UFO Festival is the sense of community. It’s a time when the town’s residents and visitors come together to celebrate Roswell’s unique culture and history. The festival showcases the town’s creativity, humor, and welcoming spirit, making it a must-visit event for anyone intrigued by the mysteries of the cosmos.

Visiting UFO shaped McDonalds is one of the best things to do in Roswell, New Mexico.
Advertising poster about visiting famous UFO McDonalds in Roswell.

Roswell in Movies and TV Series: A Cinematic Journey

Visiting Roswell, New Mexico, is a must-do for TV series fans. With its unique blend of mystery and extraterrestrial folklore, it has long been a captivating backdrop for filmmakers and TV producers. Its rich UFO history and scenic landscapes have made it an ideal setting for stories of the unexplained and the otherworldly.

Famous Appearances

One of the most notable examples is the TV series “Roswell,” which aired in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This show, a blend of teen drama and science fiction, revolved around the lives of alien-human hybrids living in Roswell. It not only showcased the town’s mysterious charm but also introduced its alien lore to a broader audience.

More recently, the reboot “Roswell, New Mexico,” which started in 2019, has continued to capture the town’s unique vibe. The series brings a modern twist to the original story, delving deeper into themes of alien life and government cover-ups set against the backdrop of the iconic town.

In cinema, movies like “Paul,” a comedy about two comic book geeks and an alien on the run, have scenes that pay homage to Roswell’s alien culture. While the movie wasn’t filmed in Roswell, its references to the town highlight its significant influence on popular culture and its association with extraterrestrial themes.

Roswell’s Lasting Impact on Pop Culture

Roswell’s presence in movies and TV series has played a significant role in maintaining its status as a focal point of alien and UFO culture. The town’s cinematic portrayals often blend fact with fiction, creating a captivating, mysterious image that continues to draw visitors and filmmakers alike.

Roswell on TV series - old posters.

Conclusion: Is Roswell, New Mexico, Worth Visiting?

Reflecting on our journey through Roswell, the answer to whether this unique city is worth visiting becomes clear: a resounding yes. Roswell, with its blend of historical intrigue, cultural richness, and a dash of extraterrestrial mystery, offers a truly unique experience. From the immersive exhibits at the UFO Museum to the whimsical streets lined with alien-themed art, every aspect of Roswell invites curiosity and wonder.

Our exploration of Roswell’s diverse attractions – ranging from historical sites to nature parks and from quirky local eateries to fascinating museums – reveals a city that celebrates its uniqueness with pride. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of the 1947 UFO incident or simply looking for a destination that’s out of the ordinary, Roswell is worth a visit.

If you’re fascinated by alien history, you might also be intrigued by New Mexico’s natural landscapes. This state is filled with astonishing and bizarre rock formations that outdoor enthusiasts will love, some appearing as if from another planet. Be sure to explore our articles on finding the Alien Throne Rock Formation, accessing the Kings of Wings, and venturing into the Bisti Badlands wilderness for a truly extraterrestrial-like experience.

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  1. New Mexico is one of the parts of the US that are on my bucket list and I found very inspiring posts on your blog with wonderful pictures of the scenery. Roswell, however, might be one place that I would skip. I’m simply not at all into extraterrestrial stuff – I find there are so many exciting things and places on planet Earth. For now, that’s good enough for me. But it doesn’t matter since it’s wonderful that each of us earthlings has our own interests and passions, right?

  2. What a great introduction to Roswell. I was very fascinated by the alleged UFO sighting when I was younger and I read quite a lot about Roswell. I would love to visit all the museum and take in the trashy, touristy side too! I looks like a fun outing!

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