A familiar and oft-visited website, Atlas Obscura has just come out with the second edition of their print book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders (2nd Edition). You can spend countless hours perusing their online stories and content, the experiences they provide, the trips they plan, soaking in their treasure trove of hidden wonders. But then crack open their newest book, a revised and updated edition of their bestseller, which includes 100 new destinations and images, 12 new city guides, and a full-color foldout map for a dream world tour. This edition is a fantastic book even if you have the first edition already.
A traveler’s dream, Atlas Obscura covers attractions across the entire world (all seven continents). It breaks our planet down into smaller zones spanning from several to more than a dozen pages highlighting many off-the-beaten-path locations that are worth visiting. This isn’t the travel reference to use for sites like the Eiffel Tower, the Berlin Wall, or the Great Wall of China. Here you’ll find descriptions of the Mechanical Turk; No Man’s Land Luxury Sea Fort; the micronation of the Republic of Kugelmugel; Brutalist monuments of the former Yugoslavia; the last wild apple forests in Kazakhstan; Australia’s Big Things; Chihuahua, Mexico’s Cave of the Crystals; and countless medical museums, crypts, natural sites, oddities, festivals, and other places and things you’ve likely never heard of.
The book’s pages include some maps, a dozen city guides (for large cities around the world), tons of photos, thorough descriptions, tips for how to visit each of the places, their GPS coordinates, and all kinds of bonus suggestions. No book can be as definitive these days as an internet search, but this book complements your online research nicely; much of what is contained herein isn’t likely to be on the first page of search results when you’re researching your next trip. Including some of them in your next itinerary will feed your curiosity and make your trips richer. Even if you still want to visit the major attractions, there are enough spots included in this book that some should be easy to intersperse in between your other stops. The unusual attractions are likely to be a lot less crowded as well.
On the front cover of the book, underneath the dust jacket, it says, “Let curiosity be your compass.” That mirrors my life goals and general philosophy, and it also completely directs my travel desires. Though I’m not into a lot of the death-related sites (though I feel no trip to Savannah, Georgia, is complete without a visit to Bonaventure Cemetery—not included in this book), there are plenty based on science or natural phenomena, or cultural attractions, or just unusual and notable spots. Some may not be worth going too far out of your way for, but many are. There are only two locations from my state of Arizona included in the book: the Titan Missile Museum and Arcosanti. I’ve not been to either, but they have been on my list for years. The website includes countless other locations, including one of the attractions at my town’s living history museum. I can’t wait to use both the book and the website to plan future cross-country road trips (my last one was in 2011—it’s about time for another).
If your idea of world travel isn’t seeing the same things that everyone else sees, but instead seeking out the weird, wonderful, and wild options, Atlas Obscura is a must-read for planning your future world (or even nearby) adventures. As someone who’s been passionate about travel her whole life, I recommend this with two very vigorous thumbs up. It will perpetually be on my pile of travel reference books, always there to inspire and inform future itineraries.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders (2nd Edition) is for sale now, and is the perfect gift idea for yourself or anyone you know who loves a good adventure.
Note: A copy of the book was provided for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links.