Looking for unusual destinations and experiences to add to your travel bucket list? Going on a trip and don’t want to miss out on a particular place’s hidden wonders? Dying to know where to go to sample cheese made from moose milk? Or do you simply love learning about odd and unusual places on our planet? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you probably know by now where to look for such tips: Atlas Obscura, the remarkable website found at www.atlasobscura.com, and the books that the project has spawned.
Sometimes described as a “National Geographic for Millennials,” Atlas Obscura was founded in 2009 by journalist Joshua Foer and documentary filmmaker Dylan Thuras. The website was designed to function like a wiki, with users easily able to add or edit information, or sign up on a listserv for a weekly e-blast of new entries. The community aspect of it soon migrated into the real world, with local Atlas Obscura Societies springing up in seven cities.
In 2016, the company began organizing guided tours to some of the remarkable sites that it describes so enticingly. That same year, it also published its first book for the armchair traveler: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders (Workman). Now a brand-new Second Edition has just been released, adding more than 100 new places and featuring a dozen city guides and a fold-out map for a round-the-world dream itinerary. A version for younger readers, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, was released in the fall of 2018. Not surprisingly, the company also publishes fabulous-looking wall and desk calendars, as well as travel journals.
Atlas Obscura’s central offices are in Brooklyn, but when co-founder Dylan Thuras became a father, he decided that he wanted to raise his kids outside New York City. So in 2014, the partners hired a CEO, Slate magazine editor David Plotz. This enabled Thuras to downsize his responsibility level to “creative director” and relocate to Rosendale with his wife, animator Michelle Enemark, their son Finn and their daughter Jean.
These days Thuras only has to commute to the City one or two days a week and does most of his work from home while practicing coequal parenting. There’s time in his life now to take the kids for an outing to explore some of the weird and wondrous destinations in the Hudson Valley, such as Rosendale’s own Widow Jane Mine (yes, you can read about it on Atlas Obscura). He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Rosendale Theatre.
To order a copy of the latest edition of Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, visit www.atlasobscura.com/unique-gifts/atlas-obscura-book.