Every day our community of travelers and writers unearths fascinating places from the hidden corners of the world and adds them to the Atlas, helping to build our collaborative database of over 9,000 hidden wonders. And while each and every place is worth a wander off the beaten path, some stand above the fray as particularly extraordinary. These eight unusual locales are some of the most curious and enticing places we came across this week.
This odd 1930s shop remains stranded in time and shrouded in mystery. Known as “The Haunted Milk Bar,” the shopfront retains much of its original 1939 interior and signage. It’s a Sydney area landmark, and the subject of much speculation.
Zone, a quaint Lombard village near Lake Iseo, would be all but forgotten if it weren’t for the Pyramids. The Pyramids of Zone are a product of years of erosion, resulting in a surreal landscape marked by boulders perched on top of spindly towers of clay, some reaching as high as 30 meters.
For 363 days of the year this bendy sculpture will make a curvy, twisted shadow. But when the sun is directly above it—a solar phenomenon called “Lahaina Noon” in Hawaiian—the height-changing ring casts a perfect circle on the ground.
Despite its location in the middle of nowhere, the town of Groom, Texas, has nearly as many unique attributes as it does people. These include a small stretch of the original Route 66, the site of the plot of Cross Canadian Ragweed’s song “42 miles,” the seventh-largest freestanding cross in the world (at 190 feet), and a strange leaning water tower slanted at an uncomfortable angle.
SCHROON LAKE, NEW YORK
This theme park in upstate New York boomed in the heyday of John Wayne Westerns, but then went bust like an old ghost town. Since then it has sat dormant, overgrown and rotting under the burden of almost 20 years of decline and neglect.
On the corner of Bank Street and Sixth Street in the quaint mining town of Wallace, Idaho, you will find a manhole. Initially, it may seem like an unremarkable sewer cover, but step a bit closer and you’ll realize it is much, much more: It is the Center of the Universe.
YUEYANG SHI, CHINA
The Haohan Qiao bridge in China’s Shiniuzhai National Park already had a fearsome reputation. You crossed the slender wooden structure that locals called “Brave Men’s bridge” at your peril. And then the park manager decided to take things up a notch. Engineers replaced Brave Men’s wooden slats with glass, allowing visitors to stare directly down at the 590-foot drop.
The Coudersport Ice Mine is an intriguing and puzzling geological anomaly. Contrary to what one might expect, ice forms inside this small cavern during the summer and melts during the winter. The dynamics that drive this counterintuitive process are not yet fully understood. Geologists are currently studying the mine to learn more about the natural phenomena at work.