I'm so glad that we finally made it to the annual UFO festival in Roswell this year. It took two flights and a 3-1/2 hour drive to get us there, but it was well worth the effort. If you have an open mind, an interest in UFOlogy, and enjoy strange and fun things, then this festival is for you! I attended with my 15 year old daughter, and we both had a fantastic time and learned a lot in the process. We met many really nice people in Roswell, and I will never forget this most unusual mother-daughter trip.
We spent the majority of our time between three places: the UFO Museum, the convention center, and Pearson Auditorium at the New Mexico Military Institute. We pre-purchased the 5-day pass to the UFO museum, which was a great deal at $20 each. It allowed easy entrance to the museum and included everything except a few of the workshops. We visited there for at least part of every day, and it was our favorite spot in Roswell. We had pre-registered for all of the talks at the CE4 conference, but in hindsight should have paid as we went along. There were some excellent talks competing for our time at the UFO museum, so we didn't get to see as many of the CE4 talks as we would have liked.
The convention center was a great spot to pick up souvenirs, books, and other UFO-related items. The place is loaded with vendors, and we found lots of things to take home with us. There are also many excellent shops in and around the UFO museum.
Next door to the convention center is the Roswell Museum and Art Center (free entry, donations requested), which contains some interesting modern art. There was also an Alien Village, which we skipped due to the fact that our cold New England bodies could not handle the intense heat and humidity of Roswell (it was in the mid 90's or higher every day). On the plus side, I think I sweated off 5 pounds.
You don't need to worry about getting lost in Roswell. Since the Pearson Auditorium, convention center, and the UFO museum are all on the same street as the major hotels, it's nearly impossible to lose your way. Driving is really easy, too. If you pass your destination, there are plenty of places to reverse direction. We also had no problems finding parking spots, and parking was free.
Besides the fireworks on the 4th, we also attended the parade on July 5th. It only lasted 10-15 minutes, but it was very entertaining. There were some rather unusual entries, including a hillbilly wearing alien glasses and riding a tractor, an alien recovery team, and a bright green dog.
If you are used to big city and tourist trap prices, then you will be pleasantly surprised by Roswell. We paid $113 a night at the Hampton Inn for a spacious room with two double beds. Most T-shirts were $15-20, and there were a lot of great items that could be purchased for $5-10. There are plenty of good places to eat at reasonable prices, as well as loads of fast food chains. We especially enjoyed Tia Juana's, the Mexican restaurant next to our hotel; the Pasta Cafe; Farley's Food, Fun & Pub; and the Not of This World Cafe.
I've been to a lot of great places, but attending the UFO festival in Roswell is certainly one of the most unusual and memorable vacations I've ever taken. I think I've convinced a couple of my friends to attend next year, and I hope to return some day.