It’s easy enough to plan a Disneyland vacation or tour the Colosseum in Rome, and while these are certainly noteworthy and fun adventures, there are also some places that are just a bit more off the beaten path. From mysterious, unusual to just plain weird, check out some of these unique and different tourist destinations.
Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand
Step into another time and visit the Hobbit Village of Matamata, New Zealand. Built as a movie set for “The Lord of the Rings” films, it has been turned into a tourist destination that is sure to delight fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. Wander the hills of the Shire, explore the Hobbit Holes and sample a fine beverage at the Green Dragon Inn. There are various tour companies that offer both day and evening excursions, accommodating large parties and private tours.
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California
If beach-combing is your thing, you need to visit Glass Beach near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, CA. Used as an official water dump site back in 1906, the buildup of trash and debris were pounded by waves over time, creating a beach full of smooth, polished sea glass. The area was closed for dumping in the late ’60s and several cleanups ensued over time, but the glass remains. Visitors are discouraged from taking glass from the ever-diminishing supply, and it’s preferred that you take a photo of the treasures you find while leaving them behind for others to enjoy.
Tourists flock to Alaska every year, but unless your hobby is mountain climbing, you’ve probably never heard of Talkeetna. Located just a couple hours from Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage, the town of Talkeetna is the epitome of Alaskan quirkiness. It serves as a base camp for many climbers on their way to summit the peaks of Denali, yet also offers plenty of other tours and excursions. You can go flightseeing and see the mountain and surrounding areas, take a river tour of one of the three glacial rivers that converge there or ride a zipline above the Talkeetna river. Finish your day with a cold brew at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, a historic landmark built in 1914 that offers great food and a chance to rub shoulders with the locals.
Las Pozas, Mexico
For something truly different, consider a visit to Las Pozas. This amazing sculpture garden is in the town of Xilitla, about an hour from Mexico City. Built by Edward James, an English poet, artist and supporter of the Surrealist movement, the garden features more than 30 different structures, all housed in a natural jungle setting. From staircases that go nowhere to winding stone paths that lead to stunning Daliesque sculpture, Las Pozas embraces all that is weird and wonderful. There are various tours available from Xilitla and nearby cities, or you can rent a car and drive there on your own.
Want to live forever? Take a trip to Longyearbyen, the world’s most northern city and a place where, strangely enough, it’s illegal to die! The cemetery in Longyearbyen is very small and due to the town being built on permafrost, bodies never decompose. They stopped allowing burials there about 70 years ago, so officially, nobody dies in Longyearbyen. Visitors to this northernmost city can also experience reindeer wandering freely through the town, ride a snowmobile (called snow scooters there) or go to the world’s most northern museums, such as the Spitsbergen Airship museum.