Roswell, New Mexico's annual UFO festival is undeniably out of this world

When you have kids who range in age from seven to 16, it's hard to pick a destination that pleases everyone. But there is one place that captures the interest of each earthling with whom I live: the UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico. Held every July to commemorate the day in 1947 when aliens, ahem, touched down near this middle-of-nowhere town, the weekend extravaganza attracts more than 20,000 of the paranormally attuned. Visitors wander the streets wearing green face paint, foil gloves, and coil-spring antennae. The action revolves around the International UFO Museum, which is packed with artifacts detailing the landing (and alleged subsequent government "cover-up"), including photos of spaceships and an operating room from the 1995 television movie The Roswell Incident. "The bomb attracted the aliens," says our guide, Shoe (no last name), stating the widely held belief that Roswell's proximity to the Trinity Site, the 1945 testing ground for the first atomic bomb, was the intergalactic draw. There are talks by sci-fi authors, former astronauts, and those who have communicated with extraterrestrials—or played one on TV.

The stores on Main Street peddle martian slime, lollipops on glow sticks, and T-shirts, popular among teens, that read i hear voices and they don't like you. In fact, it's the teens who seem most in tune with the zeitgeist of the gathering. Here's their chance to obsess freely about the possibility of alien life-forms—other than their parents, of course.

This year's festival in Roswell—a three-hour drive southeast of Albuquerque—runs from June 30 to July 3. See for details and lodging options. Hotels get booked early, so consider camping or going by RV.