The past year has been strange, to say the least. But as our lives have changed, often in difficult ways, finding new places to add to our collection of more than 22,000 wondrous places around the world, places that spark joy and curiosity, has been more important than ever. In 2021, Atlas Obscura’s community of intrepid explorers shared more than a thousand stories of distinct, fascinating places from every corner of the world. These run the gamut from isolated laboratories to mountaintop lakes, from temples covered in seashells to islands that technically exist only within mapping software. Every one is special, but some of them are especially near and dear to us. Our editors picked 21 of the most fascinating and inspiring places that crossed our desks over this past year. We can’t wait to see what you, our users, find in the year to come!