I spent last Saturday exploring catacombs and rummaging through 1920s morphine prescriptions…
You might say that was a pretty morbid way to spend a spring afternoon, but I was more happy than anything to finally take part in Obscura Day. Obscura Day is an annual event held by Atlas Obscura that gives you access to lots of strange, historical, sometimes abandoned attractions around the world. Think in terms of tours to abandoned theme parks, walks through Chernobyl ‘ghost cities’ or visits to hidden beaches. Just like my obsession with Roadside America, I like to follow Atlas Obscura when I want to explore lowkey spots your typical travel guide wouldn’t include, hence my visit to a gravesite and an oddities shop last weekend.
This year, WONDER COMMONS hosted an Obscura Day event at the Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs in Baltimore, a place where you can find the gravesites of Edgar Allen Poe and James Calhoun, the first mayor of Baltimore. I’ve been to Poe’s gravesite before, but it was an entirely new experience getting to poke around the catacombs beneath the church and have a guide share quirky historical anecdotes on body snatching.
About a 15 minute drive away was a little shop of oddities known as Bazaar, a store that offers up skulls, taxidermy, vintage Ouija boards and bone jewelry for sale (if you’re into those kinds of things). The shop hosted a “Find The Mole Hand” game for Obscura Day, which sounds more gross than it actually is because trust me, you’d spend a couple hours in there if you stopped by. I showed up too late to claim one of the eight prizes handed out for finding the mole hand, but still ended up spending a good while just looking at black and white photographs and air plants.
Obscura Day only comes around every April, but there are always tons of Obscura events happening all over the U.S. Check out their website before going on your next vacation!