Imagine green and blue hues drifting over your eyes as you go to sleep. Imagine a place in the world where the sun never sets. Imagine exploring abandoned parks straight off of a movie set and witnessing the dangerous and life-giving beauty of nature in ways you never have known before.
I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust today, and I’m going to share with you five surreal places haunting me. From breathtaking nature sights to creepy, abandoned parks that have been reopened, there’s something about each of these places that conjures up a sense of whimsy, magic and adventure in me:
Northern Lights + Midnight Sun in Norway
Experiencing the radiant night rainbow of the Aurora Borealis in Norway definitely makes my bucket list. I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky as a child, and if my family and I went camping, I’d ask for stories about every star and more s’mores, of course.
The best chances of witnessing the northern lights range between October and March, and if you’re interested in seeing them, too — we’re going to need warm clothes, folks. The northern lights form in a beautiful belt surrounding the magnetic force of the North Pole. There are camping sites where the roof is a sky light, and you may also sleep under the beautiful array of colors.
A warmer adventure also makes my bucket list in Norway — experiencing the midnight sun, which means never ending twenty four hours of sunshine. Reddish yellow hues of a simultaneous sunrise and sunset paint the landscape. The locals also make bonfires on the beach and celebrate summer solstice in June. What’s not to love?
The Poison Garden in England
Okay, so this sounds a little creepy, but in a cool way. There’s a garden in England dating back to 1750 filled with poisonous plants, and of course I need to visit, because nature is as deadly as it is beautiful.
Known as “the most dangerous garden in the world,” the Alnwick Garden is in Northumberland, England, bordering Scotland. The collection began with the third duke to inherit the property and grew into a larger conservatory. The current duchess decided to develop a poison garden of a hundred infamous killers, after visiting the Medici poison garden in Italy. From hemlock to laurel, visitors aren’t permitted to touch, taste or smell the plants. Do you dare take the tour?
The Land of Oz Theme Park in North Carolina, USA
44,000 yellow bricks make up the trail the winds you through a once abandoned park. If you’re a Wizard of Oz fan like me, this is a must-see.
Follow the yellow brick road in The Land of Oz theme park at Beech Mountain, North Carolina, which is in a resort town near Asheville, North Carolina. The land is private, but the very eerie park opened back up for tours that last about an hour, taking place on Fridays on June 16, 23 and 30.
The theme park was originally opened in 1970 but had to close in 1980. The park has opened periodically since and has been well-maintained, though there is an eerie atmosphere. Let’s dress up and go!
The Zhangye Danxia “Rainbow Mountains” in Gansu, China
Do you remember playing with colorful glitter sand as a child? No? Maybe it was just me. The memory reminds of the Zhangye Danxia landform, “Rainbow Mountains” that look hand-painted, but it’s a natural formation of mineral deposits and red sandstone piling down on each other across 24 million years.
Visitors may explore the Zhangyre Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu, China, and observe the colorful landform from four platforms that take anywhere from ten to forty minutes to access.
The “End of the World” Swing in Ecuador
I’m not afraid of heights, or maybe I am. My hands and feet start tingling when I see the Zen photos of tourists swinging on a swing you hold on to with your hands as you’re suspend thousands of feet over the mountains, near an active volcano. I’m not kidding — there’s no harness.
Yet, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, to sit in a swing that looks like it should be hanging from a tree in your back yard, but the swing’s at the edge of the world in Banos, Ecuador, hanging from a rickety old tree house. I’m going to need some gloves with better grip for this.
What are the places that get your adrenaline going, places so beautiful, surreal and daring that your soul aches to witness them?
For me, these five places are must-sees on my bucket list. I see the Rainbow Mountains in China and colorful northern lights in Norway so clearly in my mind and wonder if I would be tempted to smell the laurel branches in the Poison Garden. This world is full of beautiful, dangerous and inspiring sights to experience, more real and impossible than any one of us could imagine.