Atlas Obscura

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Atlas Obscura
Atlas Obscura logo.png
Type of site
Online Magazine
Available inEnglish
Created byJoshua Foer and Dylan Thuras
EditorSommer Mathis
Alexa rankIncrease 5466 (Global 6/2017)
OCLC number960889351

Atlas Obscura is an online magazine and travel company[1][2][3] led by American journalist David Plotz.[4] It was founded in 2009 by author Joshua Foer and documentary filmmaker/author Dylan Thuras.[5][4] It catalogs unusual and obscure travel destinations via user-generated content.[6] The editorial articles comprise a mixture of feature and news articles on topics including history, science and food, in addition to travel and exploration, as well as hosting a collaborative, definitive guide to the world's most obscure places.[7]


Co-founder Dylan Thuras at BookCon in June 2019

Thuras and Foer met in 2007, and soon discussed ideas for a different kind of atlas, featuring places not commonly found in guidebooks. [8] They hired a web designer in 2008 and launched Atlas Obscura in 2009.[8] In 2010, they organized the first of the international events known as Obscura Day.[9] According to Thuras, one of Atlas Obscura's main goals is "Creating a real-world community who are engaging with us, each other and these places and getting away from their computers to actually see them."[8] Atlas Obscura has since originated Atlas Obscura Societies organizing local experiences in seven cities: New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Seattle.[9]

In 2014, Atlas Obscura hired Plotz as its CEO.[5] In 2015, Atlas Obscura raised its first round of major funding, securing $2M from a range of investors and angels including The New York Times.[6] In September 2016, the company published its first book titled Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders written by co-founders Foer and Thuras, and Ella Morton under Workman Publishing Company.[10][11]

In 2016, the company expanded into travel with its first two guided trips. Now, in 2019, Atlas Obscura leads unusual trips to places like Mexico to witness the Monarch butterfly migration[12] or Lisbon to learn how to make pasteis de nata.[13]

In late 2017, following another funding boost of $7.5M, the site launched Gastro Obscura, a food section covering "the distinctive food locations of the world." [14]

Its current editor-in-chief is Sommer Mathis, formerly of The Atlantic's CityLab, while its deputy editor is Samir Patel, formerly of Archaeology magazine.

Further reading[edit]

  • Children's book, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, Workman Publishing Company, 2018[15]
  • Original book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, Workman Publishing Company, 2016[16]


  1. ^ Lessley, Sara. "You'll find eclectic L.A. tours like these only at offbeat Atlas Obscura". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  2. ^ Foer, Extracted from Atlas Obscura by Joshua; Thuras, Dylan; Morton, Ella (19 September 2016). "10 of the world's most unusual wonders – chosen by Atlas Obscura". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Nine of Canada's most curious sights, courtesy of Atlas Obscura". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b "About Us - Atlas Obscura". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b Kaufman, Leslie (November 23, 2014). "Slate's Former Top Editor Takes Helm at Travel Site". New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Sawers, Paul (February 27, 2015). "Atlas Obscura raises $2M to become a National Geographic for millennials". VentureBeat. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Bloom, Laura. "Dream Job Alert! These Positions Will Pay You To Travel The World".
  8. ^ a b c Cooper, Arnie (July 24, 2013). "Celebrating Obscurity". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Glusa, Elaine (April 10, 2016). "A Day to Explore, Above Ground and Below". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  10. ^ "'Atlas Obscura' Offers a Reference Book for Wonder Seekers". Boston. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  11. ^ Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders. Workman Publishing Company. 2016. ISBN 978-0761169086.
  12. ^ Collins, Bob. "Against the odds, a butterfly from Northfield survives a flight to Mexico".
  13. ^ Levine, Irene. "Holiday Gift Guide 2018: The Best European Cooking Vacations".
  14. ^ "Atlas Obscura to Expand in Video After Funding Round Led by A+E Networks". WSJ. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  15. ^ "Reviewed by Cindy Helms in New York Journal of Books". 2018-09-18. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  16. ^ "Reviewed by Andrew Liptak in The Verge". 2016-09-21. Retrieved 2019-05-16.

External links[edit]