It can be terrifyingly easy to fall into a routine and seek out both the mundane and the comfortable without a second thought. But if you want to shake things up, you̵
With its roots as an online magazine and travel company, it’s no real surprise that Atlas Obscura knows where the best off-the-beaten-path destinations are, even destinations in your city that you might never have discovered otherwise. The website bills itself as “The Definitive Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” and features all kinds of adventures from gastronomic wonders to historical tales to the coolest unusual attractions around the world. It’s a rabbit hole worth falling into.
Note: While most people are currently unable to travel due to COVID-19, Atlas Obscura is a great way to scratch that itch locally or get ideas for when it’s safe to start traveling again.
In addition to tons of fun things to check out online, Atlas Obscura is the perfect app to explore your hometown and plan an exotic trip, especially if you’re not the biggest fan of museums and other common tourist traps. It’s also a great resource for seeing places you may never visit, documented by other people who love to travel and explore as much as you do. And if you’re the wanderlust type, always looking for neat nooks and crannies wherever you go, the site even lets you submit new places that can be shared with other readers.
In an interview with NPR, Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras stated, “The world is still this vast, bizarre, sprawling place full of amazing things. And if you tilt your view a bit and start looking for it, you start to find it everywhere. Dylan and his co-founder Josh Foer both embarked on transformative journeys as young adults, focusing on in-depth exploration and exploration of global places and cultures.
Currently, Atlas Obscura has more than 20,600 catalog entries around the world, ranging from the unusual – like Egypt’s End of the World Cinema or Fantasy World’s Medieval Theme Park ruins in the Philippines – to the beautifully curious – like the Ah-Shi-Sle – Pah Wilderness Study in New Mexico or Zhangye National Geopark in China.
Atlas Obscura’s experiences are worth seeing as they provide uniquely interactive experiences that connect you to a location or idea in ways that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to experience on your own. They are also a great way to supplement your itinerary or learn more about your home city. Experiences vary daily, but include things like weird house tours, taxidermy, culinary anthropology, and Victorian hair arts. It’s wild but fun.
If you’re ready to explore the world but aren’t sure where to start, sign up for an Atlas Obscura journey with other users. The site states that “Atlas Obscura Trips is designed to have a positive impact on you, the places you visit and the people who live there.” These tours allow you to discover hidden wonders, meet local experts and insiders, and travel and discover responsibly, while doing something good along the way.
While searching for a trip, you can see the maximum group size, activity level, travel style and base price. Accommodation, transport and food are usually included and you can view additional details by clicking on a specific trip. It really takes the pressure off, especially when traveling abroad.
Explore a city (or plan a trip or experience) Atlas Obscura is simple. Just type the name of the place you want to view and then voila! A curated list will appear for that city, complete with attractions, experiences, food and drink options, and historical stories. When you are signed in, you can save locations or experiences you are interested in to your lists. You can also compete with others Atlas Obscura users on the site’s rankings for each city, fighting for dominance in the three categories: places added, places edited, and places visited. You can even view recent check-in activity for specific places, making travel and discovery a game.
Searching for a city also breaks down what kinds of things are in that city. This can include all types of destination categories such as ‘Architectural Quirks’, ‘Commercial Curiosities’ and ‘Unique Restaurants and Bars’. There are even regional forums where users can talk about specific cities or recommendations, ask for travel advice, and discuss a specific attraction. The website is so robust that you can easily find plenty of activities, attractions and meal options to fill your entire travel itinerary.
You can create an account for free or upgrade to an account with a paid membership that will help you support the site and keep it running. Membership options range from $ 5- $ 50 per month and will give you a discount on your next one Atlas Obscura trip, access to exclusive member experiences and new travel tools, and reduce the number of ads showing on the site.
So whether you’re looking for cool things to see and experience on your next vacation or just want to see the world from the comfort of your home, Atlas Obscura won’t disappoint.