Santa Cruz Mystery Spot – Santa Cruz, California - Atlas Obscura
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Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

A "gravitational anomaly" located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. 

Described as an “ineffable, natural phenomenon that cannot be described or explained,” the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California is one of many such “gravitational anomalies” located around the world. Similar “Mystery spots” are found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Wisconsin Dells, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Jerusalem. The sites all bear similar “curious” properties: cars and balls roll uphill, people experience strange feelings of queasiness, and gravity seems to work peculiar tricks.

The Santa Cruz mystery spot, “discovered” in 1939, is centered around a “mystery shack” that appears to be falling over, pulled down by the strange gravitational forces. Speculation as to the cause includes: cones of metal secretly buried in the ground by aliens, carbon dioxide permeating from the earth, a magma vortex and in “scientific terms,” the highest dielectric bio-cosmic radiation known anywhere in the world.

Of course, the secret to the dozens of magnetic hills, anti-gravity hills, and mystery spots around the world lies not in any paranormal force, but in the peculiarities of our own minds. As our brains attempt to orient themselves, we use horizontal and vertical cues around us to establish up and down. Deprived of a horizon line, and given misleading cues–like looking at a cabin built on a 20 degree tilt–our brains can make some surprising mistakes. Even more curiously, when our bodies are put at an angle, as happens when standing inside the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot’s slanted cabin, the perceptual distortion doubles, increasing these odd illusions even more.

So convincing are these perceptual tricks that people do in fact lose their balance, become disoriented and feel ill within the walls of the mystery spot. Most people however, simply enjoy the pleasure of pulling one over on their own brains.

Know Before You Go

From HWY 1 North:
1. Take the Ocean Street exit.
2. At the third stoplight, turn left onto Water St .
3. At the first stoplight, turn left onto Market St.
4. Follow for 2.9 miles and the Mystery Spot will be on your left.

From HWY 17 South:
1. Take the Ocean Street exit.
2. At the third stoplight, turn left onto Water St.
3. At the first stoplight, turn left onto Market St.
4. Follow for 2.9 miles and the Mystery Spot will be on your left.

From the Boardwalk:
1. Follow Beach Street around to Riverside Avenue.
2. Turn right onto Riverside Ave.
3. At the next stoplight, turn right onto San Lorenzo Blvd.
4. At the next stoplight turn left onto Ocean St.
5. Turn right onto Water St.
6. At the first stoplight, turn left onto Market St.
7. Follow for 2.9 miles and the Mystery Spot will be on your left.