Top 11 Things to Do in Roswell, New Mexico

Famous for an UFO sighting, this city also offers art and outdoor activities

Roswell NM

 

Joseph Sohm/Getty Images 

Roswell, New Mexico, is best known as the location of a strange event in 1947 when an unidentified flying object crashed on a farm just outside of town. While no one has definitively figured out exactly what it was (Aliens? A hot weather balloon? A secret government project?), Roswell embraces its unique connection with the alien and extraterrestrial world with tourist attractions galore.

While Roswell has many options relating to little green men from outer space, the city has so much more to offer. Roswell is rich in natural beauty with a gorgeous state park nearby with lakes that are perfect for outdoor sports activities, a vibrant art scene, and a cultural museum about the aviation industry.

No matter if you are a UFO believer or not, Roswell will keep visitors to New Mexico happily busy during a visit.

01 of 11

Go on a UFO Tour

Roswell's sign for area 51

 Getty Images

What exactly happened in 1947 in Roswell still remains a mystery. People flock to the city from across the United States and the world to learn about potential UFOs, aliens, and to have all of their questions answered. While there's more to Roswell than just the alien culture, UFOs are a big part of the city and a UFO tour is a necessity to get the full picture. Several companies offer tours in Roswell of Area 51, the place where the UFO was spotted. Two top tour companies are Roswell UFO Tours and Top Secret Tours. Try to solve the mystery for yourself on your trip to Roswell.

02 of 11

Investigate at the International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center

 Wikimedia Commons

Address
114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203, USA
Phone +1 575-625-9495

If you're ready to believe in Roswell's alien landing, this is the place to go. This museum is dedicated to the incident, UFO history, alien sightings, and research related to extraterrestrials. Expect to see the definitive collection of written, audio, and video history related to the crash. The museum also has a gift shop for any alien lovers in your life. It is open year round, with the only exceptions being Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. The museum closes at 3 p.m. the day prior to each of the holidays.

03 of 11

Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico

Address
200 N Lea Ave, Roswell, NM 88201-4655, USA
Phone +1 575-622-8333

If you want to dig into the history of Roswell before the UFO changed the city's history, you can pay a visit to the Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, where you'll find a dedicated museum that also has special exhibits on other great historical figures of the old west like Billy the Kid. The tour includes a short film and you'll also get to see this 1900s-era home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, from the inside where you can get a closer look at the antiques. The building's archive is a treasure trove of rare books, photographs, maps, and newspapers.

04 of 11

Ride the Mescalero Sand Dunes

Address
Roswell, NM 88203, USA
Phone +1 575-627-0272

Only a 35-minute drive east along US-380, the Mescalero Sand Dunes offer more than 600 acres of 90-foot high sand dunes which can be traversed by dune buggy, ATV, dirt bike, or truck. Campsites and RV sites are available and there are restrooms if you need them, but there will be no running water. You don't need an off-road vehicle to enjoy the dunes, as many visitors often arrive to simply enjoy the sunset from a unique perspective.

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05 of 11

Explore the Roswell Museum and Art Center

Address
1011 N Richardson Ave, Roswell, NM 88201, USA
Phone +1 575-624-6744

The Roswell Museum and Art Center displays the American Southwest's art, culture, and history. The museum has more than 11,000 permanent pieces of Native American artwork and historical artifacts on display, as well as a variety of exhibitions that change during the year. Take your time exploring the large collection and check out their calendar of events before you go.

06 of 11

Relax at Bottomless Lakes State Park

Bottomless Lakes State Park

Stephan Hanafin/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 

Address
545 Bottomless Lakes Rd, Roswell, NM 88203, USA
Phone +1 575-988-3638

Bottomless Lakes State Park is located 14 miles south of Roswell and is just a quick drive away. This is the perfect place to explore if you're looking for a relaxing day in nature. The lakes are open for kayaking, canoeing, camping, fishing, and swimming. You can even scuba dive in the deepest areas. Even if you're not in the mood to be in the water, the lakes' bright blues and greens and are a beautiful sight to see.

07 of 11

Walk Through the Downtown Historic District

Roswell NM downtown

 DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Downtown Roswell caters to alien and UFO followers, so come prepared. The downtown area has many cute (and cheap) shops and stops selling kitschy things such as blow-up alien dolls. While the area may not be a typical historic district that tourists are used to, this area is unique and very Roswell. Brush up on your UFO history before you visit to truly appreciate the homage on display.

08 of 11

Complete the Roswell Spacewalk

The Roswell Spacewalk is a different way to explore Roswell's mysterious history. The Spacewalk is a trippy art installation illuminated by blacklight that takes visitors through the past and present world and outer space. This spacewalk is a quick and simple stop to make after a day at the UFO Museum, and it is constantly changing and upgrading.

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09 of 11

Visit the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art

Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art

 AllenS/Wikimedia Commons

Address
409 E College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201-7524, USA
Phone +1 575-623-5600

The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art is one place in Roswell where you won't be completely surrounded by the alien culture. The Anderson has a large collection of artwork from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s from artists in Roswell's artist-in-residence program. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free but they encourage donations.

10 of 11

Watch Wildlife at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

J Dykstra/Wikimedia Commons 

Address
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 4200 E Pine Lodge Rd, Roswell, NM 88201, USA
Phone +1 575-622-6755

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of migrating birds throughout the year. There are 357 species of birds, 59 species of mammals, over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, 24 types of fish, and more than 100 species of dragonflies that reside in the refuge. While the refuge is best known for its birds and dragonflies, it is also a great space to see many other animals in their natural habitat. The refuge offers hunting during specific times of the year and encourages biking year round. 

11 of 11

Explore the Walker Aviation Museum

Walker Aviation Museum

Walker Aviation Museum 

Address
1 Jerry Smith Cir, Roswell, NM 88203-8427, USA
Phone +1 575-347-2464

The Walker Aviation Museum is the perfect place to take young children and older aviation enthusiasts. The museum has many displays of unique helicopters, planes, and other aircrafts. They also have several dedicated memorials for those lost in air travel. Their main display provides the history the Walker Air Force Base from December 1, 1945, through November 23, 1955.

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The Coolest Things to Do In Roswell, New Mexico