9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Roswell
Located in southeastern New Mexico, Roswell is most famous for the 1947 "Roswell Incident": a purported UFO crash that some suspect was covered up by the military. The town and many of the local businesses take advantage of the UFO theme by plastering quirky images of aliens on storefronts and lampposts.
But the small town has a deeper history to discover. Established in 1870, Roswell now has five museums that include UFO exhibits, armament displays, antiques and artifacts. There are also a number of outdoor attractions with state parks and trails nearby.
See also: Where to Stay in Roswell
1 International UFO Museum and Research Center
When the International UFO Museum and Research Center opened in 1992, few imagined that it would become such an international attraction for tourists and UFO fanatics. One of the most powerful parts of the museum is how it is organized. With no attempt to sway the visitor one way or another, the museum encourages people to question, doubt, research and learn on their own. Exhibits and information are not limited to the "Roswell Incident", and the museum also presents information about alleged abductions, crop circles and the infamous Blue Book.
Admission: Adults $5, Children $2, Seniors $3
2 Bottomless Lakes State Park
A state park located along the Pecos River about 15 mi southeast of Roswell, Bottomless Lakes is made up of a series of nine small and very deep lakes. Carved from limestone by the river and aquifer, the lakes are actually ancient caves that have collapsed. Technically they are known as cenotes, and are fed by underwater seeps. The lakes are the perfect place for a swim and a picnic on a hot day. Other things to do in the park include fishing, boating and bird watching.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day
3 Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art
With more than 200 pieces of art spread over nine galleries, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art features participants from the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, begun in 1967. The museum's collection is a diverse and eclectic one, featuring photographs, drawings, prints, paintings and sculpture. It offers an excellent opportunity to see the evolution of contemporary art over the last 40 years.
Hours: Open Mon-Fri and weekend afternoons
4 General Douglas L McBride Military Museum
The General Douglas L McBride Museum in Roswell offers free exhibits about military history. The museum, located inside the Enrollment and Development Center, features firearms, static displays, uniforms, insignia, and decorations.
5 Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico
This institution is located in the century-old home of Mr and Mrs James Phelps White, one of the most important families in the history of southwestern New Mexico. The house has been restored to its original condition and is a valuable insight into life on the southern prairies in days gone by. A new building, located right next door to the museum, hosts a priceless collection of historical archives including 11,000 photographs.
Hours: Open daily 1-4pm
6 Robert H Goddard Planetarium
The 120-seat Robert H Goddard Planetarium is an adjoining wing to the Roswell Museum and Art Center. The Planetarium presents star shows and multimedia programs, including UFO exhibitions and science programs for children. The planetarium is located in the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
Hours: Open Mon-Sat
7 Roswell Museum and Art Center
Featuring exhibits on the history and art traditions of the American Southwest, the Roswell Museum and Art Center hosts a fine array of sculptures, artifacts, prints, painting and photographs. Originally a product of the New Deal Work Projects Administration (WPA), the museum's collection includes works from early modernists, the Taos and Santa Fe art colonies, Native American arts, WPA art and Spanish colonial works.
Hours: Open Mon-Sat
8 Spring River Park and Zoo
Covering about 34 acres, the Spring River Park encompasses several zoo areas, a children's zoo, miniature train, antique wooden horse carousel and a trail system that features native species. The Capitan Trail educates visitors about the Pecos River system, native wildlife and the southern Great Plains ecosystem - including prairie dogs and burrowing owls. The children's zoo has a variety of animals including lemurs, miniature horses and pygmy goats.
Hours: Opening times vary by season
9 Walker Aviation Museum
From 1945-1955, Roswell was home to the Walker Air Force Base and a powerful arm of the Strategic Air Command's fighting force. Displays include flight equipment, uniforms, communication equipment, videos, models and documents.
Hours: Open Mon-Sat
Where to Stay in Roswell for Sightseeing
Roswell, the Alien Capital of the World, is a small city, and where you choose to stay is more about hotel preference than location. Most hotels are a mile or two outside the main downtown area, where many of the attractions, restaurants, and eclectic shops are found. Below is a list of highly-rated hotels in the city:
- Luxury Hotels: Roswell is lacking true luxury hotels but has some lovely, well-kept, mid-range properties worth considering. The new Holiday Inn, in the north end of town, has an indoor pool and a highly-regarded restaurant. Near shopping and several restaurants, the Hampton Inn includes a free hot breakfast and also has an indoor pool. The Best Western Sally Port, also well positioned, features oversized rooms, an indoor pool, and an airport shuttle. For families and those wanting a kitchen, the TownePlace Suites Roswell, just under a mile from the Roswell Museum and Art Center, features large rooms with separate living areas and full kitchens.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Just off Main Street, in a quiet location, La Quinta offers large rooms and an indoor pool. A little more than a half a mile from the General Douglas L. McBride Military Museum is the newly renovated Fairfield Inn & Suites. Also recently updated is the Best Western El Rancho Palacio. This hotel is within easy walking distance of several restaurants and close to the Military Museum.
- Budget Hotels: On the western edge of town, the Rodeway Inn has recently been remodeled and offers good-quality rooms at a low cost. Offering an indoor pool and a hot breakfast, the Comfort Inn is next door to a popular Mexican restaurant. A 1950s-style drive-up option, within walking distance to a number of good restaurants, is the Budget Inn. This hotel has been updated and offers family rooms.