Atlas Obscura
Type of site
Online magazine
Available inEnglish
Created byJoshua Foer
Dylan Thuras
OCLC number960889351

Atlas Obscura is an American-based online magazine and travel company.[1][2][3][4] It was founded in 2009 by author Joshua Foer and documentary filmmaker/author Dylan Thuras.[4][5] It catalogs unusual and obscure travel destinations via user-generated content.[6] The articles on the website cover a number of topics including history, science, food, and obscure places.


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.[7] They hired a web designer in 2008 and launched Atlas Obscura in 2009.[7]

In 2010, the site organized the first of the international events known as Obscura Day.[8] Thuras has stated that one of the site'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."[7] As of 2021, Atlas Obscura has originated Atlas Obscura Societies organizing local experiences in nine cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Seattle.[4][8]

Sommer Mathis (formerly of The Atlantic's CityLab) was the site's editor-in-chief from 2017 to 2020. She was succeeded by Samir Patel, formerly of Archaeology magazine, who became the site's editorial director in 2020 and editor-in-chief in 2021.

In October 2014, Atlas Obscura hired journalist David Plotz as its CEO.[5] David Plotz was the site's CEO for five years (October 2014 – November 2019). Warren Webster, former president and CEO of digital publisher Coveteur, and co-founder of website Patch, assumed the position in March 2020.[9]

Co-founder Joshua Foer in 2013

In 2015, Atlas Obscura raised its first round of major funding, securing $2 million from a range of investors and angels including The New York Times.[6]

In September 2016, the company published its first book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders written by Foer, Thuras, and Ella Morton under Workman Publishing Company.[10][11]

Following a second fundraising effort that netted $7.5 million, in late 2017 the site launched Gastro Obscura, a food section covering "the distinctive food locations of the world."[12]

In 2019, Series B funding round raised $20 million from investors like Airbnb (lead investor), A+E Networks and New Atlantic Ventures.[13][14]



  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 c "About Us". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b Kaufman, Leslie (23 November 2014). "Slate's Former Top Editor Takes Helm at Travel Site". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b Sawers, Paul (27 February 2015). "Atlas Obscura raises $2M to become a National Geographic for millennials". VentureBeat. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Cooper, Arnie (24 July 2013). "Celebrating Obscurity". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b Glusa, Elaine (10 April 2016). "A Day to Explore, Above Ground and Below". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Warren Webster Will Lead Atlas Obscura". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  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. ^ "Atlas Obscura to Expand in Video After Funding Round Led by A+E Networks". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  13. ^ Alpert, Lukas I. "Airbnb Leads $20 Million Funding Round Into Atlas Obscura". WSJ. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  14. ^ Guaglione, Sara (2023-01-30). "Atlas Obscura wants to be profitable before raising funds in a tricky media market". Digiday. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  15. ^ "Reviewed by Andrew Liptak in The Verge". 21 September 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Reviewed by Cindy Helms in New York Journal of Books". 18 September 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2018.