Full admission: I’ve always been interested in the supernatural and the unexplained. It could be all the Unsolved Mysteries I watched with my dad as a kid, or the fact that my mom always had a mild fascination with aliens. Or I could just be a giant weirdo. Whatever the case, this time of year I love to fully embrace these interests by watching scary movies, reading Jezebel’s annual scary story contest submissions and binging on the Lore podcast. But this year I took this one step further and visited one of my favorite Wisconsin oddities: Benson’s Hideaway. Yes, the UFO Headquarters of the World.
Benson’s is my favorite kind of dive bar: looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 80s, has a few good drinks (but nothing fancy) and has a great bartender. Only Benson’s is more than just dive bar perfection – it’s chock-full of UFO and alien memorabilia. And love it.
I hadn’t been to Benson’s in ages and ages. My dad took me there as kid (yes, a child in a bar – judge away) because he knew I’d get a kick out of it. But this weekend, my dad and father-in-law were up in the same neck of the woods again camping, and I knew I had to see the UFO bar again (this time as an adult, not a 10-year-old sipping kiddie cocktails). So I of course dragged them, my husband, my mom and mother-in-law with me to see the spectacle. It was what I remembered but more.
More aliens, more pictures, more newspaper clippings. Owner Bill Benson was happy to share his book of UFO sightings all taken near Dundee, WI (it’s a UFO hotspot) along with a handful of books he and his bar are featured in. I couldn’t get enough. I will say I don’t believe in all UFO sightings or abduction stories, but, like Fox Mulder, I want to believe. Luckily for me, Bill had more than enough stories to share with me, and a few people at the bar had their own tales too. My mom and I sat riveted (while remaining healthily skeptical) and listened in. The rest of the family… not as much. But we had our fun.
A few highlights – beyond the old fashioned and UFO beer – were seeing a supposed petrified alien in a jar, showing off my X-Files pin game and chatting with Bill. Seeing places like this really make me so happy. Wisconsin is a wonderfully weird place, and Benson’s UFO Headquarters helps keep it that way. So, please go say hi to Bill and have a happy Halloween!
P.S. If you want to see more of Bill, you can check out this interview with Fox 6 News from May of this year.