My Favorite Travel Tools: Atlas Obscura

  • Tiffany Glass Mural
  • Sign for Emanuel Vigeland Museum
  • In Hammerfest, Norway

Sharing vacation pictures, we’re often asked, “Where do you find these things?” Well friends, there’s one place you can find all of these weird little things compiled online, and that place is Atlas Obscura.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links (the books). I will get a small commission on purchases made from them. You are under no obligation to use them, but I appreciate it if you do!

I’ve been some strange places. There was that time we were knighted with a walrus penis at the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society in Hammerfest, Norway. Or, on the same trip, stood silent in the indescribably weird Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, watching as the terrifying and erotic murals were revealed as our eyes adjusted to the darkness. We’ve seen the public toilets at Ephesus, AirBnb’d in the Arcosanti artist’s colony, and gazed at the largest Tiffany mural in existence, made with over 100,000 pieces of glass.

Atlas Obscura is literally the first place I look once I’ve decided to go someplace. In some cases, it’s the whole reason I end up visiting certain cities. You don’t need an account to search Atlas Obscura, but if you create one (for free) you can keep track of everywhere you’ve gone and everywhere you want to go. You can also add or edit locations, if you’re so inclined. I bookmark everything in the area that might be of interest as “I want to go” to make it easier to find when I get there.

If there are places that rise to the level of “can’t miss,” I take the opportunity to figure out hours and location to make sure it finds its way into my plans. Some, like the excellent Letterform Archive in San Francisco, require an advance appointment to visit so it’s always worth taking a few minutes to check.

Entries in the Atlas run the gamut from little things you might otherwise walk past to museum exhibits to natural phenomenon. It’s fun, too, to just search idly for what’s nearby when you have a little down time. Here in Arizona, you’re likely to find some goofy roadside attractions (or ruins of one, at least).

Atlas Obscura released a gorgeous book (Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders) at the end of last year, too. It’s along the lines of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: Revised Second Edition, but more offbeat and weird. I prefer the website for actual planning, but the book is fun to flip through and show off, too. Online or in print, though, be careful–you might end up spending way more time than you mean to! // 7×35

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  1. […] at the end of June. Originally, I thought it’d be fun to go to Vegas and check some of my Atlas Obscura destinations off of my list. But for whatever reason, the prices on hotels (usually dirt cheap in […]

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