Travel's been a little tricky recently. We're not totally sure why, but there sure do seem to be a lot of guards in hazmat suits and machineguns stopping us from wandering across borders. So since you might have trouble getting to some of the world's far-off places, we've compiled a list of some of the stranger ones so you can at least dream about them.
When you find any of the following summaries interesting, be sure to click the link to see a bunch of pictures. Or, if you prefer, just close your eyes and imagine what it looks like -- we're not the boss of you.
1. Cueva de los Cristales
Mexico's Cueva de los Cristales is a real-life version of Superman's fortress of solitude, with enormous crystals, the largest measuring 40 feet long and 13 feet in diameter. These aren't ice crystals, though. The place is 130 degrees, with a constant humidity of 100 percent.
2. The Yamal Sinkholes
A pit opened suddenly in July 2014 in Siberia. Then two more opened, 200 feet wide. We don't know why, but the theory is that pockets of methane suddenly exploded and burst through the surface.
3. Mponeng Gold Mine
This South African mine is two miles deep, and 4,000 miners travel down there each day. And some people live down there and never leave, selling sex to the workers or defending their illegal homes with AK-47s.
4. Fort Bragg
Trash dropped in the ocean usually looks pretty gross. But not in Fort Bragg, California, where the sea spits glass back as polished gems on the beach.
5. Tunel Kokhannya
The Tunnel of Love in Ukraine once used greenery to hide military trains during the Cold War. Now, it's a continuous green arch over a railway that still runs.
7. Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary
Parents tell kids they sent the dog "to a farm," covering up that the pet died. Or maybe they sent the pet here, a 3,000-acre sanctuary, with individual towns for dogs and cats and one section just for happy pigs.
Archaeology turns up a lot of dead people. But the strange thing about this Tunisian sanctuary, dating back to the fourth century B.C., is that most of the remains of the 20,000 buried here appear to be from babies.
9. Sidi Driss
Tatooine from Star Wars was based on Tataouine in Tunisia, and the traditional architecture there might remind you of the film's round space huts. And if you want to see the exact buildings from the movie, you're in luck. They've turned them into a hotel.
10. The Wood Pile
In 2005, a cyclone uprooted a bunch of trees in Sweden, toppling 2.65 billion cubic feet of wood. So the Swedes stacked it all into a massive pile a mile and a half long. They were supposed to have completely processed the wood more than a decade ago, but some of it is still there right now.
11. Cromarty Firth
A bunch of dormant oil rigs have been moved over to this Scottish bay. They might get pulled back into service again, but for now, they sit and wait for the price of oil to rise again.
60 years ago, a fire started in a strip mine below Centralia, Pennsylvania. It still burns today, sending smoke pouring out of the earth and creating sinkholes that eat cats.
14. Ijen Crater
Here's another place to get sulfur: this active Indonesian volcano. Miners climb 9,000 feet to the lip of the volcano, then descend 3,000 feet into the crater to fill baskets with 200 pounds of sulfur.
15. Angel Falls
The idyllic Paradise Falls from Pixar's Up is based on Angel Falls in Argentina. It's such an exact copy that you have to wonder what legal reasoning was behind changing the name.
16. Waverly Hills
This sanitorium in Kentucky isn't just a spooky old insane asylum. It's a spooky old insane asylum with a special tunnel for transporting all the dead bodies it found itself handling.
17. Sphinx Observatory
The Sphinx Observatory is perched on a tiny summit 12,000 feet above sea level in the Alps. Want to go there? Just ride the cogwheel railway, then take a special elevator through frozen tunnels.
18. Aquarius Reef Base
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration runs an undersea research base on the seafloor off Florida. When they're not studying the ocean, it's a good launching spot for training astronauts.
19. The Flintstones House
Dick Clark built a house in Malibu that looks just like the one from The Flintstones. It was eventually listed for $3.5 million and looks terrible.
21. Free School Under the Bridge
That's the school's actual name, which operates under a New Delhi metro bridge and teaches 300 slum children. It opened in 2006 and still runs today.
22. The DeLorean Fish Farm
What happened to molds from the DeLorean factory when the brand went must? They were dumped at sea -- to anchor fish cages.
23. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass sent Alice across a giant chessboard. Landscape artist Charles Jencks made a real-life version of that in Scotland, except weirder -- the walkable chessboard warps and melts, while other stuff looks like M.C. Escher's work.
This province of Laos has a bunch of huge stone jars, big enough to climb on top of. They look alien -- we don't know what they were built for or even which civilization made them.
25. The Great American Tire Pile
In the 1950s, Ed Filbin speculated on the price of rubber, not by buying commodities virtually but by physically buying 42 million tires. He left them in a pile, and they remain there today -- despite companies buying tens of millions of the things and despite the occasional fire.
26. The Ringing Rocks
Strike one of these rocks in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, and you'll hear a tone like someone hit a piano key. This has something to do with the rock's freeze-thaw cycle, but no one's been able to figure it out fully, even after cutting some rocks open to study them.
27. Kuril Islands
28. Palmer Court
During the pandemic, some states used hotels to shelter the homeless. But Utah had the idea years earlier, permanently converting this former Holiday Inn.
29. The Nick Capsule
Speaking of Holiday Inn, beneath one Florida hotel from that chain is a time capsule buried by Nickelodeon in 1992. Some of the more notable items there are a piece of the Berlin Wall and an MC Hammer CD. Some of the less notable items include pencils and Joey Lawrence's hat.
30. Yuanyang Rice Terraces
Rice terraces look cool even when they're just green. But for a really weird sight, get a look at these Chinese rice terraces reflecting the sunset. They look unreal.
31. Manpupuner Rock Formations
A remote part of Siberia has seven stone pillars, 100 to 140 feet tall. They're top-heavy and look like they're about to fall over at any second, but they must be millions of years old ... despite nothing remotely similar existing for miles.
32. The Arizona Boneyards
When planes need to park long-term, hundreds of them go to the Arizona desert. The area became especially crowded during the COVID pandemic, but even otherwise, you can count on seeing loads of mothballed planes here.
The Indian village of Musharu doesn't do anything about the snakes infesting the place. They believe the snakes are an incarnation of the goddess Jhankeswari and won't bite ... and when they do bite, mud and fasting can cure you.
34. Majlis al Jinn
35. Give Kids The World
A lot of Make-a-Wish kids ask to go to Disney World. Well, Give Kids The World is a 70-acre Florida resort catering exclusively to sick kids for free.
36. Seven Colored Earths
As the name suggests, these sand dunes in Mauritius span pretty much all the colors of the rainbow. At one point, these different-colored grains were all mixed, but over time, they sifted into visible layers.
37. The City of the Dead
Cairo set up a necropolis outside the city 1,300 years ago. The tombs are still there, and so are half a million people who now live among them.
38. Finca Bellavista
This village in Costa Rica has dozens of treehouses joined by sky bridges, spanning 600 acres of rainforest. You can even buy your own plot of land there, so long as you build your own self-sustaining tree home.
39. Museum Vrolik
Uh, we're not going to share photos of Amsterdam's Museum Vrolik here, so you'll have to click elsewhere to see dozens of preserved malformed dead babies.
40. Harmandir Sahib
You might want to visit this place just to get a look at the holiest Sikh temple. But Harmandir Sahib in Punjab also feeds people for free 24/7, serving 75,000 a day.
41. Chittagong Shipyards
42. The Rhone
For a section of the Rhone river in Switzerland, half is blue-green while the other, having come off a glacier, is brown. These two halves flow alongside each other.
43. Chernobyl Homes
You might know all about the area affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. But did you know people still live in the exclusion zone? About 130 moved back there after the evacuation, and against all expectations, they've survived into old age.
One of the lesser-known casualties of Chernobyl was that helicopters, trucks, and other heavy equipment became contaminated and unusable. So they were towed to a giant lot, where they remain today.
45. Gulan Refugee Camp
When this Afghan camp set up shop in 2014, no one in charge realized they had chosen as their site a minefield from the Soviet war. So now tens of thousands of people live close to teams that slowly sweep the huge area for explosives.
46. The Spacecraft Cemetery
One spot in the ocean, southwest of New Zealand, contains the remains of 160 different space missions. Scientists carefully selected it for its remoteness, and it now contains 20 tons of historically significant, hard-to-salvage junk.
When the volcano on this island near Tokyo erupted in 1785, it killed half the population. But 200 people still live there, enjoying the geothermic energy and exporting volcanic salt.
48. Lake Natron
Off the coast of Mauritius is something you probably didn't think was possible: an underwater waterfall. Well, it's kind of an illusion, but it's still a unique formation resulting from the way silt deposits change the color of the water.
40. Cincinnati Union Terminal
The Hall of Justice from Super Friends cartoons looks like an appropriately cartoonish grandiose structure. But it's actually modeled on this inappropriately elaborate train station.
51. RP FLIP
The U.S. Office of Naval Research has a special floating instrument platform in the open ocean that's designed to capsize. The result is what looks kind of like a ship, but half the furniture and equipment is strapped to the walls at a right angle to the floor.
52. Maeklong Railway Market
Eight times a day, a train barrels through a Thai market. At a moment's notice, everyone scoops up their goods and packs away their stalls to avoid getting plowed through.
53. Shunan Bamboo Sea
China and Japan have a bunch of bamboo forests, with trees that are flimsy yet impossibly tall. One highlight is Shunan Zhuhai National Park, where Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. The forest there covers 500 hills.
Some people don't realize that the canyon city Indiana Jones visits in Last Crusade isn't a ridiculous set but an actual place that looks more amazing in reality. Shame on them!
55. Torre Girona