The United States provides plenty of opportunities for traveling and exploration. From the icy peaks of Alaska, the trails of the Appalachians, and the majestic beaches of California, America offers landscapes that suit everyone's taste. If, instead, you prefer an urban jungle to a natural one, you can lose yourself in the underbelly of Chicago, the vastness of Los Angeles, or the vertiginous heights of New York.
However, the broadness of the USA also hides a surprisingly large number of places that visitors and unauthorized personnel are forbidden to enter. Some of them are world-famous and conceal mysteries and secrets that are of importance to national security. Others you might have never heard of, but will definitely spark your interest once you read about them. Since you can't holiday there, why not go on a grand tour of them, so that at least you don't feel too excluded.
Is Area 51 hiding aliens and their spaceships? Is it the developing site for the US Airforce's most advanced and experimental crafts? Or, even better, are America's top scientists at work here to make weapon systems embedded with alien technology? No one knows! The enigma surrounding this notable Nevada military base is so big that people everywhere have attempted to unmask its secrets, and conspiracy theories about it have grown rampant.
In 2019, a Facebook event to storm Area 51 to "see them aliens" had more than 2,000,000 people marked as ready to attend, including plenty of celebs. While the event was meant as a joke, a significant crowd actually showed up and made a festival out of it. That's the power of attraction Area 51 has! Unfortunately, whatever riddles Area 51 is keeping, we might never be able to solve them. In the meantime, to temporarily satiate our thirst for knowledge, we can enjoy the many books and films dedicated to it.
Where does the limitless amount of data that the internet contains go? Well, a lot of it is stored in Google's Data Centers. There are at least ten such places in the U.S., and entrance to all of them is only possible for those who work there. The biggest centers are in Douglas County, Georgia, and in Mayes County, Oklahoma.
These massive facilities are made up of large drives, computer nodes in aisles of racks, network connections, and environmental controls. Because these servers host the personal information of millions of people, both physical and virtual high-tech security is a must. The centers are open year-round because our need for Google's business never stops. But you'll indeed be stopped if you ever try entering one of them.
The secret Coca-Cola recipe, the company's best guarded and most important treasure, is kept inside a chamber within the Coca-Cola vault. Competitors have tried to replicate the signature taste of this all-American beverage for decades, with no luck. The legend goes that only two people in the whole history of the company have actually seen the full recipe. While this might be an exaggeration, a huge mystery undoubtedly surrounds it.
The vault that conceals the chamber is located within the World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. Inside the vault, the secret formula, developed in 1886, is kept within a metal box, so if you are planning to visit the World of Coca-Cola to get a glimpse of it, you'll be hugely disappointed. However, you can visit the parts of the vault that are allowed to the public, including the Triangle Room, the Secure Train, and the Bank Vault, all places where the recipe was kept in the past.
Just off the coast of Long Island, this strip of land is around 435 acres and owned by Wall Street financier Louis Bacon, who purchased it in 1993 at an auction for $11 million. Before he acquired it, Robins Island had been neglected, and its natural environment had been endangered by human exploitation. Trees had been harvested, non-local wildlife had made their way there, and fishers illegally landing on it had caused plenty of wildfires.
Today, Bacon has transformed Robins Island into a beautiful natural reserve. It's home to the healthiest turtle population in the state, and only the owner, his family, guests, and the caretakers are allowed to set foot on it and enjoy its pristine small beaches and verdant forest.
Granite Mountain Records Vault is the world's largest collection of genealogical records that, as the name says, it's housed underneath Granite Mountain, Salt Lake City, Utah. The vault was built in 1965 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to preserve the Church's documentation and its vast collection of microfilms.
Today, the content of the vault is made public through the FamilySearch.org website, and its records encompass information from archives, libraries, and churches of more than 100 countries. For instance, after a devastating cyclone savaged the Pacific island of Niue, the Church helped the country save and preserve its records, and with them an important part of its history.
From the 1880s, this New York island was the home of the infamous Riverside Hospital, where people with infectious diseases like smallpox or tuberculosis were treated and isolated. "Typhoid Mary," an Irish cook who caused many typhoid outbreaks in New York, was quarantined here for over two decades until her death. Shortly after her passing, the hospital was shut down and later transformed into a drug rehabilitation center. However, rumor has it that many people were kept there against their will and that corruption ran freely. Because of these reasons, the center was finally closed in 1963, and since then, the island has been abandoned. Today, North Brother Island is a wildlife sanctuary, and entering it is strictly forbidden. This is to preserve the local flora and fauna, to avoid accidents given the state of its buildings, but also maybe to keep some of its secrets hidden.
Few places in the world are as inaccessible as the United States Bullion Depository. It stores over half of the nation's gold reserve, and it's considered the most secure place in the country. Gold and other treasures are kept away in its secretive vault, which is made of steel plates, beams, and cylinders. It's only 4,000 square feet and two stories high. The vault's door is made of an extremely resistant material that can't be torched nor drilled, and it can only be opened every 100 hours. In the past, Fort Knox has kept safe plenty of treasures, including the English Magna Carta, the crown jewels of Hungary, and the original copies of the American Constitution and of the Declaration of Independence. So, if you are planning on sneaking in, don't. There's a reason why we say "safe as Fort Knox!"
Ni'ihau is the Hawaiian island that you never knew existed and that you desperately crave to visit. Except you can't. The westernmost isle of the archipelago, Ni'ihau, is around 70 square miles and was bought by the Robinson family in 1864. Since then, it's remained private, and only members of the Robinson family, their guests, and U.S. military personnel are granted access. The owners care deeply about preserving Ni'ihau's environment and have worked hard to prevent the extinction of plants and animals that have disappeared on the other Hawaiian islands. There are no roads and no phone service on Ni'ihau, and its native population is said to be under 100 people. All in all, it's maybe better for the "forbidden isle," as it's popularly known, to stay forbidden so that it can remain a beautiful haven far removed from the impact of globalization, modern life, and mass tourism.
A lot and very little can be said about Bohemian Grove. This elusive spot of Sonoma County in California is the hide-out and meeting point of the historical Bohemian Club, a gentlemen's only club founded in the late 1800s in San Francisco. Every year, America's most powerful men meet here for two weeks to talk business. It is rumored that it was here that Reagan agreed not to challenge Nixon's nomination for President, and it's not surprising to know both Bush Sr and Jr were members. To get in, besides being a man and preferably a white one, you need to be formally invited by a member, or you can wait for a decade on the club's waiting list. The entrance fee is $25,000, and once you are accepted, you can enjoy the company of plenty of powerful men spending their days drinking, attending talks, and planning America's future. And then they say the patriarchy is dead!
This top-secret government facility is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and extends over 564 acres. It serves as a back-up location for Homeland Security in case of national emergencies, and it's also a secret bunker for top U.S. officials. It's a super secure fortress with plenty of amenities. Not only it's situated in one of America's most beautiful landscapes, but it's also serviced by a hospital, restaurants and cafeterias, sports facilities, and a mass transit station. It even has its own radio that connects most American security agencies to ensure coordination should an emergency happen. Overall, it's safe to say that Mount Weather is the best place to be should the apocalypse happen.