9 of the World’s Coolest Mazes You Can Visit

The Longleat hedge maze
The Longleat hedge maze
Niki Odolphie, Wikimedia // CC BY 2.0

It’s one of the most memorable scenes in film history: an ax-wielding Jack Nicholson chasing his son through a hedge maze outside the Overlook Hotel during the climax of 1980’s The Shining. But the building that inspired the Overlook (and the Shining story in general)—the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado—never actually had a hedge maze until 2015, when its owners finally gave in to public expectations and installed one. Visitors expecting the towering greenery of the film will be disappointed, however—the Stanley’s maze is only three feet high, to prevent children from getting lost, let alone attacked by psychos.

Hedge mazes have been a fixture of imposing estates for centuries, and have more recently been joined by corn mazes, straw mazes, and other confusing adventures in vegetation. Below, a selection of the most interesting and eye-catching from around the world.

1. Longleat Maze, Warminster, Wiltshire, England


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Constructed from more than 16,000 English yews, the maze at Longleat is the longest hedge maze in the world, stretching for close to 1.7 miles. It’s part of 8000 acres that have belonged to the various Marquesses of Bath since the 16th century, 900 of which were beautified by famed landscape designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown (so nicknamed for his tendency to describe landscapes as having “great capabilities”). The estate also now includes a Safari Park, said to be the first outside Africa, as well as three smaller garden mazes.

2. Masone Labyrinth, Parma, Italy

The Masone Labyrinth
The Masone Labyrinth
Labirinto della Masone

The world’s largest maze, the Masone Labyrinth, is located in an Italian town better known for giving the world Parmesan cheese. It’s also the result of a dare, made between Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci and author Jorge Luis Borges after Ricci declared he wanted to build the world’s largest maze and Borges said it couldn’t be done.

The star-shaped maze, which opened in May 2015, was constructed using 200,000 bamboo plants and stretches for 20 acres. The septuagenarian Ricci used fast-growing bamboo, as opposed to more traditional trees and shrubs, so he could see the maze completed before his death.

3. Andrássy Castle, Tiszadob, Hungary


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Located along the Tisza River near the Hungarian-Slovakian border, the hedge maze at the Andrássy Castle is supposed to resemble a squid. The castle itself was constructed in the 19th century for Count Gyula Andrássy, complete with the boxwood maze decorated by yew trees.

4. Dole Pineapple Maze, Wahiawa, Hawaii

Aerial view of Dole Plantation's Pineapple Garden Maze
Aerial view of Dole Plantation's Pineapple Garden Maze
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The world’s largest permanent maze until the Masone Labyrinth came along, the Pineapple Maze at the Dole Plantation includes 14,000 varieties of Hawaiian vegetation (many deliciously fragrant) crafted into two-and-a-half miles of paths. Not surprisingly, there’s a pineapple at the center, as well as eight “secret stations” and awards for those who travel through it the fastest.

5. Villa Pisani Labyrinth, Stra, Italy

The labyrinth at Villa Pisani
The labyrinth at Villa Pisani
Patrick Denker, Wikimedia // CC BY 2.0

Often said to be the most difficult maze in the world, the Villa Pisani labyrinth is also among the most photogenic—and the most historic, having been constructed in 1720. Even Napoleon tried to complete it, after he seized the estate in 1807. (Rumor has it that Napoleon was stumped by the winding paths and their many perplexing dead ends, and he gave up.) Hitler and Mussolini also had their first official meeting at the villa, but had other things on their minds besides mazes. Visitors who successfully navigate the labyrinth are rewarded with lovely views from an 18th-century turret.

6. Richardson Corn Maze, Spring Grove, Illinois


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The world’s largest corn maze involves not one, but four, separate “a-maize-ing” mazes inside 28 acres of live corn. The design is rebuilt each year—2018's celebrated the bicentennial of the state of Illinois. The maze is also part of an adventure farm that features rides, treats, and of course, a gift shop.

7. Peace Maze, Castlewellan, Ireland


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At 2.7 acres, Northern Ireland’s Peace Maze is one of the largest permanent mazes in the world. It also has one of the coolest backstories—it was planted in 2000 to celebrate the signing of the Good Friday agreement and the end of the region’s “Troubles.” The hedge height is lower than normal for mazes, in order to encourage interaction while the maze is completed. The maze has two halves, and completing the maze requires crossing both. Those who finish are encouraged to ring the “Peace Bell” in the center.

8. Ashcombe Maze, Victoria, Australia


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The unique soft textures of Australia’s Ashcombe Maze are provided by more than 1000 Monterey cypress trees, maintained with careful trimming several times a year (each trimming session lasts an entire month). Visitors must traverse two halves, each with a separate layout, and there are no straight lines anywhere in the maze. The grounds also boast a lavender labyrinth constructed out of more than 4000 lavender plants—which sounds like one of the most relaxing places in the world to get lost.

9. Hampton Court Palace Maze, Surrey, U

Commissioned by William III around 1700, the Hampton Court Palace Maze is the oldest surviving hedge maze in the United Kingdom. Its original hornbeam has been replaced by holly and yew, but that hasn’t made it any less difficult—it’s known as a puzzle maze, and has a reputation for being devilishly difficult to complete. Supposedly, the key is to turn left on entering, and then stay to the left, even through the apparent dead ends.

This list first ran in 2016 and was republished in 2019.

When Should You Book Your Thanksgiving and Christmas Flights? Right Now!

zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images
zoff-photo/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, paying for distressingly expensive airline tickets is just part of life when it comes to traveling for the holidays. And, while you might think you’ll get the best deal by checking fluctuating prices obsessively from today until the day before Thanksgiving, you’re probably better off booking your flights right now.

“Once you get within three or four months, the chance of something cheap popping up for Christmas or New Year’s is not very likely,” Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure. “Certainly don’t wait until the last week or two because prices are going to be way higher.”

This is partially because airlines devise algorithms based on last year’s ticket sales and trends, and they know many travelers will fork over some serious cash rather than decide not to go home for the holidays—and there are always plenty of people who wait until the last minute to book their flights. In fact, so you know for next year, the absolute best time to book holiday travel is actually during the summer.

Scott Mayerowitz, the executive editorial director of The Points Guy, admits that it is possible to save a little money if you’re extremely diligent about following flight prices leading up to the holidays, but he thinks your mental health is worth much more than the pittance you might (or might not) save. “The heartache and headache of constantly searching for the best airfare can drive you insane,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Your time and sanity [are] worth something.”

If you’re not willing to throw in the towel just yet, you could always track the prices for a little while, and give yourself a hard deadline for booking your flights in a few weeks. Mayerowitz says buying your seats at least six weeks in advance—or earlier—is a good rule of thumb for holiday travel. That still leaves you several weeks to periodically scroll through flight listings and get a feel for what seems like a reasonable price.

To minimize your travel anxiety even further, try to fly one one of these dates, and check out eight other tips for a stress-free holiday trip.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Welcome to Cool, California. Population: 2520

Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It’s not hard to find U.S. towns with some pretty weird (and sometimes depressing) names, so we shouldn't be surprised that people have the option of settling in the tiny town of Cool, California.

Initially named Cave Valley, due to the limestone formations nearby, the town popped up around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The population eventually grew to 4100 people.

It's unclear when the town went from Cave Valley to being Cool. One legend suggests that a beatnik named Todd Hausman bequeathed the name after passing through in the 1950s, but the veracity of that story is doubtful since the Cool Post Office was founded as early as 1885. According to Condé Nast Traveler, records show that a reverend named Peter Y. Cool came out to pan gold and settled in the town in 1850, possibly serving as the source of the change.

Whatever the origin of its name, the town of Cool has ample branding opportunities. There’s the Cool Grocery Store and the Cool Beerwerks brewery and restaurant, which specializes in Hawaiian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Cool has held the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run every year since 1990.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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