We live in a time where it seems that everything has been explored and nothing new is to be found. Hike to the gates of Machu Picchu, that enigmatic city in the cloud forests of Peru, and place an order for a five-dollar Dasani. Enjoy secluded views of Fiji’s jaw-dropping beauty through the golden arches of a McDonald’s. Someone has already been there and done all that; time to take your travels someplace else and our best advice is to start at the fringe. Here, three places you won’t find in your average guidebook.
America’s Stonehenge, a.k.a. Mystery Hill (Salem, New Hampshire)
A quagmire of archaeological speculation, and some decent research, America’s Stonehenge/Mystery Hill was either built by a megalithic Native American Culture, the lost monastery of Irish monks traipsing through America before Columbus, the creation of ancient Middle Eastern peoples or — and this is what most archaeologists believe — the misinterpreted work of 18th- and 19th-century farmers. Still, no one has nailed down the origins of these large stone monuments and cave structures quite possibly used for shelter by the Underground Railroad in the 1800s.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology (Los Angeles, California)
A compendium of wonders and oddities big and small, the Museum of Jurassic Technology stands, at its core, to explore the very concept of museums themselves. From the MJT brochure: “In its original sense, the ‘term’ museum meant a spot dedicated to the muses — ‘a place where man’s mind could attain a mood of aloofness above everyday affairs.’” With an array of installations ranging from magnetic oracles and micromosaics, to microminiature statues poised in the eyes of needles and a Dogs of the Soviet Space Program exhibit, the MJT is a bemusing, if perplexing, place.
House on the Rock (Spring Green, Wisconsin) [pictured]
Built in the 1940s, this House on the Rock is a perfectly nonsensical collection of vaulted rooms filled with weird arcana: cathedral-shaped church organs; auto-playing chamber ensembles; a life-size model of the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; a trompe l’oeil “infinity room” lookout; reduced-scale small-town streets; and two-tiered merry-go-rounds. This vision of one Alex Jordan is open to the public as, of all things, a golf and spa retreat.
What mysterious destinations have you encountered in your North American and international travels? Tell us in the Comments, and we’ll see if we can generate a series.
Image courtesy of Christ Lott.