Unique Travel Destinations

Kicking off our travel series, we bring you some of the world’s most unique places to visit. We recently discovered a terrific website, The Atlas Obscura, which defines itself as “the definitive guidebook and friendly tour-guide to the world’s most wondrous places.” The content of the web-site is generated by users and edited by the website owners, creating “… a collaborative compendium of amazing places that aren’t found in your average guidebook. If you’re looking for miniature cities, glass flowers, books bound in human skin, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or homes built entirely out of paper, the Atlas Obscura is where you’ll find them.

The website can be searched in one of two ways, either by region or by category. You can even let the site choose a random place for you to learn about and potentially explore should you choose it to be your next travel destination. Sites are listed in one of the following categories:

• Natural Wonders – whether wind, earth, water or fire this list of possibilities is extensive

• Museums and Collections – this is a self-explanatory category, but the entries are vast and very unique

• Unusual Monuments – strange statues and peculiar fountains round out this list

• Miniatures – the discoveries may be tiny but this list of sites is not

• Momento Mori – Latin for ‘remember your mortality’ this category include cemeteries, remnants, mummies, catcombs, crypts, and many more macabre locales

• Inspired Inventions – from the musical to the scientific and everything in between, including our favorite “marvelous map”, this is one rousing category

• Intriguing Environs – featuring ghost towns, optical illusions and a multitude of other mystifying spots

Cultures and Civilizations – if you enjoy local and perhaps even quirky performances, or spectating at cultural rituals, this is the category for you

• Commercial Curiosities – from the most curious of knick-knack souvenirs to unique accommodations to the most bizarre of local eateries and drink holes, look no further

• Architectural Oddities – creativity spans the globe as do the locations of the unique structures listed here

maps and tourism

One thing to note is that each of these wondrous places is assigned to just one category, yet sometimes just which category is the best choice is not always clear. For instance, the three-dimensional, five-block long, model of the Mississippi River on Mud Island in Memphis, TN is found in Miniatures: Small Worlds and Model Towns, rather than Intriguing Inventions: Marvelous Maps and Measures. Our advice is to really dig deep into the listings so you don’t miss any of the “World’s Wonders, Curiosities, and Estorica.” And last but not least, if you know of a curious place, you’re encouraged to add it to the atlas.