While the world goes to McDonald’s for cheap and tasty fast food, exquisite locations, unique buildings and distinctive décor is not what people are looking for at their local outlets. Surprisingly though, some McDonald’s outlets are housed in truly unexpected locations. Check out these 10 McDonald’s locations that actually exist!
10. Train cars in Barstow, California
When a fast food craving hits you, a good-old burger, fries, soda and shake from the nearest fast food place is all you want. And the big daddy of all fast food joints is McDonald’s! The omnipresent McDonald’s has hundreds of outlets across North America and hundreds more across the world. While the food and drink offerings at some local and international outlets may vary, customers have come to expect all the usual signs and symbols of a typical McDonald’s outlet, namely the ubiquitous golden arches, a smiling Ronald McDonald, happy meal toys, red, yellow and white décor and the smell of French fries! How surprising would it be then if you came across a McDonald’s built like an old-school train station, complete with train cars and a water tower! Well, that’s exactly what you would find at the McDonald’s outlet at Barstow Station in California. This McDonald’s takes full advantage of its location along the legendary Route 66 that is popular the world over with bikers, road trippers, Americana enthusiasts, RV-driving tourists, etc. Building a unique ‘themed’ outlet is sure to attract all sorts of visitors passing along Route 66. And the Barstow Station location of McDonald’s is a train enthusiast’s dream fast food destination! It has a very cool setting consisting of three original railroad cars that are converted into a dining room that customers can enjoy their delicious meals in. The Insta-worthy outlet also features a red water tower adorned with the famous golden arches so you can spot the outlet from afar! In addition, there is a heritage Barstow Station signage that adds to the vintage train station charm of the place.
9. In an airplane in Taupō, New Zealand
The famous golden arches have fans not just in America, but all across the globe, as far as New Zealand, in fact. The friendly Kiwis love the Big Mac and golden fries just as much as Americans. They love McDonald’s so much that they even created the world’s most unique McDonald’s outlet in Taupō town on the North Island of New Zealand. Nicknamed as the ‘World’s Coolest McDonald’s’, this outlet is a truly standout one, for it has a freakin’ airplane on its premises! And the plane is not just for decoration, it also has a spacious dining area where you can enjoy your burgers and fries or indulge in some local New Zealand variations of McDonald’s favorites. The airplane has an interesting history; it was originally a Douglas DC-3 aircraft used by the South Pacific Airline passenger plane to ferry passengers across New Zealand for six years. When it retired from the airline’s fleet, it was used as a crop duster until it was finally decommissioned in 1984. A car dealership called the ‘Aeroplane Car Company’ bought it and parked it next to its main building. The propellers of the plane and the original cockpit were left intact, but the engines were removed. When McDonald’s purchased the property in 1990, the plane was part of the deal. It still stands as is next to the main building of McDonald’s. The only changes that McDonald’s made to it were the installation of seats for the dining area. It has now become a huge tourist attraction in Taupō, where visitors can click pictures next to it, see the cockpit and even eat in it, just like a pilot!
8. As a UFO ship in Roswell, New Mexico
Aliens, flying saucers, UFO, conspiracy theories, government cover-ups, etc. are all part of the legend of the town of Roswell, New Mexico. The alleged crash site of an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) in 1947, Roswell is a haven for people with even the tiniest bit of interest in space and aliens. While many believe that an alien craft did land in Roswell, the U.S. military has vehemently denied the existence of any such event. Yet millions of tourists visit Roswell each year looking for signs of outer space aliens, and feeding these visitors’ frenzy are the myriad shops and restaurants lining the streets of this alien-themed town. And McDonald’s has joined this alien bandwagon too! The world’s only UFO-themed McDonald’s is right here in America, that too, in Roswell, New Mexico. And in keeping with the spooky, space-y feel of Roswell, the McDonald’s outlet here is shaped like a giant alien spaceship. At night, taking the alien theme to another level, the outlet is lit up in bright fluorescent lights giving it an even more eerie feel. Inside, the outlet is designed to resemble a spaceship as well. And Ronald McDonald can be seen flying about in the kids’ PlayPlace. This alien-style McDonald’s is the perfect place to grab a bite for families, kids, hungry investigators, Star Wars fans, Star Trek fans, and hungry aliens too!
7. In a Romanesque converted bank building in Kritsiansand, Norway
Throughout America and much of the rest of the world, McDonald’s outlets are associated with uniform décor, consistency of the taste of food, and similarity in customer service. Not much else is expected of the people’s most preferred fast food joint. A well-made burger, crispy fries, ice-cold sodas and creamy shakes are all that people come looking for at their local McDonald’s outlets. But that is not the case for McDonald’s in one particular city in beautiful Norway. At Kristiansand in Norway, McDonald’s is located in a historical building built around 1897. It has tall Roman palace style columns and an impressive façade that cleverly belies the fact that is just another McDonald’s outlet. Built in the traditional European architecture style, this McDonald’s outlet was formerly a very old bank. Though it has now been converted into a McDonald’s, the original giant marble columns in the front of the building have been left as is with a very dignified ‘McDonald’s’ signage posted above it. The original bank doors have also been left intact and lend a very refined appearance to the whole place. Without a doubt, this has to be one of the classiest McDonald’s outlets ever! Visitors can admire the beautiful exterior of the McDonald’s outlet in Kristiansand, but cannot use the front entrance anymore; they have to enter from the more simpler side entrance of the outlet. Inside, customers can indulge in the typical burgers, fries and sodas fare or try out some Norwegian-style McDonald’s favorites.
6. Ski-thru ‘McSki’ in Lindvallen, Sweden
Imagine the powdery slopes of snow-laden high mountains, the freezing European winters, ski suit clad vacationers swishing and swooshing down slopes, cable cars and ski lifts going up and down the mountains, luxurious ski chalets – the scene is all too familiar to everyone. When you think of food and refreshments in such a wintry setting, a plush dining room or a relaxed ski café come to mind. Never in a million years would anybody think of a McDonald’s on the slopes of a European ski destination! But that’s exactly what you can expect to find at the Lindvallen ski resort in Sweden. If a UFO, airplane or a train car themed McDonald’s have astounded you, this Swedish McDonald’s outlet will surely blow your mind! Nicknamed the ‘McSki’, this McDonald’s in northwest Sweden, some 200 miles north of Stockholm, is the world’s first ski-thru restaurant. Started in the mid-90s, at this McDonald’s, skiers can ski right up to the counter, order food, grab it and ski off – as simple as that! The outlet enables visitors to quench their thirst or fend off hunger pangs without having to take off their skis. And the entire restaurant menu is available at the ski-thru counter. Shaped like a ski-cabin, guests can also choose to dine indoors in the warm, inviting and tastefully done-up interiors of this McDonald’s. The outlet has a seating capacity of 140 customers.
5. Louvre-like glass structure in Batumi, Georgia
McDonald’s is the preferred fast food brand of millions of people all over the world. Even in countries that are not yet very popular on the tourist circuit or just emerging from the shadows, you are sure to find a McDonald’s or two. After all, who doesn’t like a delicious burger and fries? Such is the case of McDonald’s in the seaside city of Batumi in the country of Georgia. As an emerging tourist destination in East Europe, Georgia attracts thousands of tourists each year, and a McDonald’s was soon opened to cater to the locals and the tourist crowds. A brainchild of architect Giorgi Khmaladze, this futuristic structure bears a striking resemblance to the Louvre of Paris, with its multiple glass panels and unusual shape that looks like something out of a 1950s wallpaper. The structure was designed to house a new fuel station and a McDonald’s outlet in a busy European-style street in Batumi. Opened in 2013, the McDonald’s outlet is made from 460 glass panels. This impressive building also features a beautiful upstairs garden area, where diners can enjoy a meal in the summer looking at the flowers and admiring the view. There is a reflecting pool surrounding the glass building and serves as a peaceful sanctuary to get away from the hubbub of the city.
4. Tudor-style building in Bray, Ireland
By now we’ve seen that McDonald’s doesn’t shy away from opening outlets in historic, futuristic or themed buildings. Whether you are on a ski slope or on an iconic road trip, your friendly Ronald McDonald is not far away. The smell of fries and burger patties will surely find its way to your nostrils and your rumbling tummy. And the charms of McDonald’s have even captured the fancy of the Irish. Situated in the Tudor-style Town Hall building, right in the centre of Bray in Wicklow County, Ireland is an almost-hidden McDonald’s. Almost hidden because unlike other McDonald’s outlets, this one does not have the usual golden arches and other signage prominently displayed outside or atop the building. You have to get very close to realize the existence of the fast food outlet in the building. The building was commissioned in 1881 to serve as the Town Hall of the city of Bray. The ground floor of the building served as a marketplace until 1940, and then McDonald’s took over in 1997. The Bray Town Council still operates out of the upper levels. Inside, McDonald’s has retained much of the period features of this Tudor-style building. Guests can enjoy taking in the medieval-era ambiance as they tuck into yummy burgers at one of the coolest and most impressive McDonald’s in the world.
3. Classy colonial building in Independence, Ohio
Hidden in the city of Independence, Ohio is a very sophisticated, classy and fancy McDonald’s outlet. Located in a classy neighborhood, this McDonald’s outlet has often been described by visitors as the ‘fanciest McDonald’s ever’! The Colonial-style building of this McDonald’s blends in very well with its surroundings and you would be forgiven to think that it was somebody’s mansion or even a bank. Except for the sophisticated black lettering stating ‘McDonald’s’ there is nothing else that gives away the fast food nature of this building. No golden arches, no red and yellow exterior and no garish promotional posters; it’s all classy here! This stunning Colonial building also has a brick exterior and beautiful tall glass windows. Inside, the outlet has crystal chandeliers and a self-playing piano as well. The upper floor of the building houses the seating area, from where guests can admire the surrounding views. If you’re in a hurry and have no time to check out the fantastic interior, a drive-thru is available too. And if you thought that a fancy McDonald’s might have a fancy menu too, you’re in for a surprise! The menu is the same as other outlets and all the McDonald’s classics you know and love are still available on the menu.
2. Scenic and picturesque outlet in Yangshuo, China
McDonald’s has some truly astonishing outlets around the world – North America, Europe, New Zealand, Middle East, etc. But Asia is not to be left far behind. There are many beautiful as well as wacky McDonald’s outlets on the largest continent in the world. And probably the world’s most beautiful McDonald’s outlet would be the one in Yangshuo city in the Guilin province of southern China. Set against the backdrop of jaw-dropping mountains, surrounded by lush greenery and nestled amidst many ancient Chinese temples and traditional pagodas, the McDonald’s outlet blends in very well with the surrounding scenery. Yangshuo is very popular with local as well as international tourists for its mountaineering, rock climbing and backpacking opportunities. And McDonald’s in Yangshuo brings America’s favorite fast food to adventurous locals and the growing number of tourists in this region. The outlet’s building is understated but it does have the famous golden arches and the familiar figure of Ronald McDonald welcoming diners at the entrance. Inside, some traditional Chinese touches have been incorporated into the décor. But the true beauty of this outlet lies outside. The outlet has an alfresco dining area set next to a stunning mirror-like lake that perfectly reflects the picturesque mountains and surrounding greenery. A pretty bridge nearby completes the picture of this gorgeous McDonald’s outlet.
1. Barbed wire building in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
By now, we’ve seen the extraordinary locations that McDonald’s operates out of – exotic, classy, spooky, historic, and more. But would have ever imagined that there was a McDonald’s in one of the world’s most controversial prison camps – Guantanamo Bay? It’s true, the one and only McDonald’s in Cuba is located on the U.S. naval base of Guantanamo Bay and serves more than 6000 employees of the armed forces. Added to the base in 1986, this McDonald’s is a franchise that is completely owned and operated by the U.S. Department of the Navy. The outlet is quite similar in terms of design, décor, menu and service to other McDonald’s locations around the world, but the only difference is that it is not accessible to Cubans; only the base personnel can enter the secure compound where the outlet is situated. Many other American restaurants like Subway, Starbucks, and KFC are also located within the compound. All the proceeds from these restaurants go to support the service personnel and their families. And yes, there is a barbed wire surrounding the entire compound, serving as a grim reminder of its controversial location.