Travelers to the United States are likely familiar with some of the top tourist spots like Times Square in New York, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park, but if you’re interested in seeing some things off the beaten path, here are five spots you should check out, according to alternative travel website Atlas Obscura.
City Hall Station
The first is New York’s no-longer-used City Hall subway station. It was opened in 1904 and closed in 1945 after it was no longer able to service longer trains and handle increasing numbers of riders. The station features tiled vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, dramatic sky lights and a unique curved platform.
According to the New York Transit Museum, entering the station is like time traveling back to 1904.
Tours are only available to members of the museum. You can find membership information here.
Abandoned LA Tunnels
According to Atlas Obscura, abandoned tunnels in Los Angeles were once used to host drinking parties during Prohibition, the time alcohol was banned in the United States from 1919 to 1933. Now, they’re mostly sealed off, but you can still access some of them.
Inside, you’ll find “mysterious street art, rusted machinery, and iron gates that limit your exploration to areas deemed earthquake safe,” Atlas Obscura says.
While officially closed to the public, Atlas Obscura says people can still access some of the tunnels from behind the Hall of Records on Temple Street.
What may look like a ruined Roman temple is actually an organ that uses the ocean’s waves to create eerie sounds.
The organ located on a jetty in San Francisco Bay was built in 1986 out of materials leftover after a cemetery was demolished.
According to Atlas Obscura, the organ “includes more than 20 pipes that extend into the water of the Bay. When the waves roll in, the pipes resound with liquid music: low, gurgling notes that ebb and flow with the restless movement of the ocean and the changing of the tides.” The sounds come from the pipes being filled and emptied of water as the waves and tides roll in.
Take a listen here.
Winchester Mystery House
Not too far away from the Wave Organ is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.
The odd house was built by Sarah Winchester, the heiress of the Winchester gun fortune and was built over 36 years starting in 1886. It reportedly cost about $5.5 million.
The house has 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms and more than 2,000 doors.
More bizarrely, the house has numerous secret passages, doors that go nowhere, flights of stairs that lead into the ceilings and stained glass windows that never see sunlight.
Some say it was built this way because Winchester feared ghosts. More probable is that she had no architectural background.
Tours of the house are available.
Evolution Nature Store
New York’s Evolution Nature Store is a throwback to another era, making you think you’ve walked into the laboratory of a Victorian naturalist. Nearly every space is covered with specimens of insects, animals, humans and more. You’ll also find fossils and seashells and even the skeleton of a giant sloth.
Atlas Obscura said the owners get their objects from the same dealers who supply museums.
For more information, check out Atlas Obscura.