To celebrate the world’s “most curious and awe-inspiring places,” Atlas Obscura has weird events planned worldwide for its fifth annual Atlas Obscura Day on April 16. There will be eight events in Seattle.
On Saturday, digital-media startup Atlas Obscura is out to prove that even the most deeply rooted Seattleites can be surprised by their city.
For the fifth year, Atlas Obscura will celebrate the world’s “most curious and awe-inspiring places,” with 160 planned escapades in 26 countries April 16. A trip to the Baby Doll Museum in North Carolina, a 19th-century-themed party on a hidden burial ground in New York, and an overnight at the Odessa Catacombs in Ukraine are all on the agenda.
“The whole premise is that we want everyone to be an explorer, and realize that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, something around the corner from you is incredible,” Atlas Obscura CEO David Plotz said. “We are going to make it possible for you to have that discovery, wherever you are.”
IF YOU GO
Atlas Obscura Day
Buy tickets to individual events on the Atlas Obscura website. For free events, an RSVP is required.
In Seattle, Atlas Obscura has organized a walking tour of Fremont and the Kubota Gardens, a visit to the Meowtropolitan cat cafe, a tasting at the Old Ballard Liquor Co., a tour of MOHAI and the Harry Partch Instrumentarium (held by the University of Washington), as well as unusual access to the U.S. Coast Guard base and museum and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Midgett.
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In Tacoma, you can play golf with turn-of-the-century equipment at Meadow Park.
Admission prices differ for each event. A visit on board the Midgett is free, while a specialized tour of MOHAI is $25.
Atlas Obscura publishes original content, builds upon its ever-expanding atlas of hidden wonders and plans events worldwide. But what’s the point?
Plotz, the former editor of Slate, says it’s to have fun — spending one day looking at your city in a different way.
“We give people a sense that they can have experiences in the world that are special, and make them realize the world is more fascinating and expansive than they thought it was,” Plotz said. “I have been touched by Atlas Obscura and I want people to have that same experience of surprise and delight in the world.”
The fun that Plotz hopes will entice people around the world to attend Atlas Obscura Day is exactly what enticed him into accepting the role of CEO, mostly leaving the discouraging world of political journalism behind (he’s still a host of the Slate podcast “Political Gabfest”).
He says he’s particularly moved by his new ability to engage in a nonpartisan dialogue. Visitors to Atlas Obscura’s website don’t have a political agenda, unlike Slate’s audience.
“We have lots of liberal and conservative readers; that isn’t an important distinction. What they share is the sensibility of how to see and move through the world,” he said.
Atlas Obscura’s current demographic is urban 20- to 30-year-olds who are well-educated and curious, according to Plotz. So he isn’t surprised by his large Seattle following.
“It’s really nerdy in the best possible way,” Plotz said. “It’s like a nerd holiday.”