Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Roswell, New Mexico

by Julie Cohn
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When you think of Roswell, New Mexico, what is the first thing that comes to mind?   UFOs right?   Roswell is famous as “that” little city in New Mexico where an alien spaceship “supposedly” crash landed in 1947.  The city embraces that legacy in the most clever of ways,  but there is so much more to this vibrant southwestern city than spaceships and aliens.  It’s time to take off your space goggles and take a look at Roswell is all about.  Here are ten things you (probably) didn’t know about Roswell, New Mexico (but should)!

I visited Roswell with Deb from Just Short of Crazy as part of our Southwest road trip!  Thank you See Roswell for hosting us for a visit. My opinions are my own.

Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Roswell, New Mexico

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1) Roswell has a thriving art & cultural community…

Roswell, New Mexico has a thriving art community and the artists do so much more than paint little green men.  Local museums and galleries including the Roswell Museum & Art Center, with collections by Georgia O’Keefe and Rogers Aston Indian Gallery, and the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring talented local and regional New Mexican artists.   Main Street Arts, a downtown art space with gallery and artist studio, holds art classes for the public.

Tip: Roswell encourages new artists with a unique artist-in-residence program.  Up-and-coming artists can reside in Roswell for one year, with a housing and a monthly stipend, while they create works of art.

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2) Roswell has delicious culinary options…

Roswell is a fairly small town, so I did not expect much in the way of cuisine, but was I ever wrong!  From burgers to burritos to coffee, we were pleasantly surprised at the variety and diversity of local fare.  Lunch at Big D’s Downtown Dive (which was not at all a dive) consisted of an open-faced flame-broiled burger with bacon, fried egg, and jalépeno jelly on Indian fry bread.  OMG!  The  breakfast burrito at Cowboy Cafe, drizzled with famous New Mexican green chile, was flavorful and filling.  Our coffee at Stellar Coffee Co. was out of this world!   There are over 75 dining choices in Roswell, with something for everyone.

Tip:  Be sure to check out the restrooms at the Cowboy Cafe.  Hilarious!

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3) Roswell is family friendly…

Roswell, New Mexico offers many family friendly activities for free, including free parking for all museums, free admission to the Spring River Park zoo, and free admission to area parks, movies in the park (in the summer), and holiday parades and festivals.

Tip:  The Roswell Symphony Orchestra hosts a free Labor Day concert at Spring River Park & Zoo, with an instrument “petting zoo”.

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4) Roswell is an outdoor lover’s haven…

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 11 miles northeast of Roswell, is a bird and dragonfly watchers paradise.  Bottomless Lake State Park, twelve miles east of Roswell,  offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating, and with a low light pollution index, the perfect place for stargazing (or catching a peek at a UFO?)  Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Monument, Pecos National Park, and Guadalupe Mountain National Park are all within a three hour drive of Roswell, and Ruidoso, one hour west of Roswell, offers hiking, fishing, and winter skiing.

Tip:  The Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge hosts a dragonfly festival every September.

5) Roswell has world class performing arts…

The Roswell Symphony Orchestra, in operation since 1959, features a classical musical series performed by professional New Mexican musicians.  The symphony also supports local musical education with grade and high school community programs.  Roswell Community Little Theatre features broadway-style live performances such as Hello, Dolly!

Spencer Theater Chiluly Glass1

Tip: 1 1/2 hours from Roswell is the world-class performing arts exhibition hall, Spencer Theater.  Spencer Theater showcases Broadway shows, dance company, and symphony orchestra performances.  Many shows rehearse at Spencer Theater, known for its exceptionally large stage, before being featured in New York and other cities.

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7) Roswell is surprisingly easy to get to…

With daily non-stop service from Phoenix and Dallas (on American Airlines), Roswell is an easy flight from almost anywhere.   If you prefer to road trip to Roswell, the city is only a few hours from I-10, I-25, and I-40, and three hours from Albuquerque, El Paso, and Lubbock.

Tip: If you are heading to Roswell from the west, take Rt 60 east to Rt 380, so you can pass through Socorro, NM, where the large-array telescopes reside.

8) Elvis has left the plane…

Elvis Presley’s personal airplane, complete with velvet seats and carpet, sat on at the runway at Roswell airport for over 35 years.  It recently sold to a private owner for $485,000.

9) Roswell means business…

The world’s largest producer of mozzarella cheese in the United States, LePrino Foods, calls Roswell, New Mexico home.  LePrino produces 6 million pounds of cheese every day, and uses 1/3 of the milk in New Mexico to product its cheeses.  Other local farming includes cattle, dairy, pecans, and chiles.  Roswell Seed Company, with seeds for flowers, vegetables, and grain, is one of New Mexico’s oldest family owned businesses.

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10)  Roswell embraces its UFO legacy…

Roswell certainly knows how to embrace its UFO legacy.  From the saucer-shaped Welcome to Roswell sign greeting visitors to the alien-eyed lamp posts, Roswell celebrates its famous history in clever ways.  Shops on Main Street sell every type of t-shirt, toy, and blow-up alien you could ever want.  The famous International UFO Museum and Research Center houses not just alien and UFO memorabilia, but is also the world’s second largest UFO research library in the world, and the only one open to the public.  (The world’s largest is at The Vatican–who knew?!)  A little kitschy, a little curious, the UFO culture in Roswell adds an off-beat charm to the city.

Tip: The “supposed” UFO crash landing of 1947 did not take place in Roswell; the crash site is actually seventy miles north of Roswell in a cattle ranch.  The Roswell sheriff’s office was called to investigate, and the alleged crash landing was supposedly weather balloons from nearby Walker Air Force base.

Perhaps Roswell, New Mexico is just a curiosity for you,  or it’s at the top of your bucket list…either way, make 2018 the year you visit Roswell, you will be pleasantly surprised!

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