I recently found myself in Roswell for the second time in as many years; this time on a road trip through New Mexico after a few days attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. After snapping almost a thousand photos of the Balloon Fiesta glows and launches, some of which you can see here, we took off on a 1,200-mile adventure across the state.

Of course, you can’t drive across New Mexico and bypass Roswell. I had visited Roswell a few years ago, but it was a chance for my husband to see Roswell for the first time. Roswell’s vibe is really not what you would expect. It is very much a typical busy, industrial desert town with just enough alien schtick to keep the tourists coming. The big draw is the International UFO and Research Museum on North Main Street, which is fine if you want to read about the Roswell incident on the numerous signs there.

However, the most fun thing you can do in Roswell is one block over and only costs $3.

Alien Zone on Main Street in Roswell looks like the typical kitschy t-shirt shop amongst all the other typical kitschy t-shirt shops, but hidden in the back is the secret room where you can visit Area 51 and have your photo op with the aliens. All you have to do is ask to pay for admission and the clerk will give you a knowing wink and a smile before taking your $3. We were directed to a wall of old photos – “for inspirational poses” according to the clerk – and then told to go to the back and don’t forget to shut the door behind us. You know, because secret location and all.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that you get what you pay for and that $3 doesn’t buy a lot in 2019. Also keep in mind that these sets probably haven’t been cleaned in at least a decade, so don’t touch your face or eyes until you can wash your hands again. However, the fun factor in Alien Zone’s Area 51 is off the charts. Where else can you pose with aliens in an upside-down room, for example?

Or maybe cook something up on the grill while your shirtless alien boyfriend takes a nap in his lawn chair? (By the way, I had to crop out the inside of that cooler. It looked like something had died in there, or it was a cooler that was used for organ transport at some point. So gross. But like I said, don’t touch your face until you can wash your hands again and you will be okay.)

If you can see past the clutter and the lack of cleaning, this stop really is the most fun you will have in Roswell. (Yes, even more fun than the museum.) So bring your hand sanitizer, your camera, and your sense of humor. It’s the best $3 you will spend in this town.