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
slobo/iStock via Getty Images

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.

Driving This Thanksgiving Holiday? Here’s the Worst Time to Leave, According to Google Maps

Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images
Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, cooking the turkey correctly or dodging political arguments with family members aren't the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving. It's having to share the road with millions of other travelers on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. If you're hoping to make this element of the holiday a little more tolerable in 2019, plan your day with data from Google Maps.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Google Maps recently published a roundup of Thanksgiving travel tips, including the absolute worst times to hit the road. You may think that leaving the day before Thanksgiving will give you a head-start on traffic, but according to Google, Wednesday is the busiest travel day of the week. Congestion peaks between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday in many parts of the country. If you have no choice but to travel on November 27, plan to leave earlier in the day before roads get too crowded.

It pays to leave the house early the day of the actual holiday. Around 6 a.m., roads will be clear in most major cities, with traffic gradually increasing throughout the morning and peaking as early as noon.

As people who regularly travel for Turkey Day know, getting to dinner on time is only half the headache. Traffic can be just as brutal on the way home. To make the journey as painless as possible, plan to leave first thing in the morning—ideally on Sunday, when most travelers have completed the trip.

Traveling for Thanksgiving is rarely as simple as driving to and from dinner. If you plan on making pit stops along the way, Google has travel information for that as well. According to Google search trends, "ham shops" are busiest at noon the day before Thanksgiving, and outlet malls reach peak traffic around noon on Black Friday. Here are some more stress-free travel tips for the holiday season.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Journey to the Monarch Mosh Pit

iStock/Spondylolithesis
iStock/Spondylolithesis

Each fall, millions of migrating monarchs return to Mexico to wait out winter. The gathering makes Woodstock look like a business conference. Here’s how they get there.

Mosh Pit

In the mountains of central Mexico, the butterflies crowd on the branches of oyamel fir trees. The trees provide a perfect microclimate that prevents the butterflies from getting too hot or cold.

Texas Toast

After winter, the butterflies fly north to Texas in search of milkweed, where they lay their eggs. Many adults will die here; northbound monarchs generally live only three to seven weeks.

Juice Cleanse

One of the reasons monarchs love milkweed? Protection. As caterpillars, they absorb the toxins in the plant, which makes them less tasty to birds.

Connecting Flight

Eventually, a new generation of butterflies will make its way north to Canada. It takes multiple generations of butterflies to reach their final, most northerly destination.

Dine and Dash

On the way, butterflies will eat practically anything. Sure, there’s nectar—but they’ll also slurp the salts in mud.

Catching Air

When fall returns, a new generation of monarchs rides the air currents more than 3000 miles back to Mexico. They navigate by calibrating their body clocks with the position of the sun. (An internal magnetic compass helps them navigate on cloudy days.)

Latitude Adjustment

Monarchs “are one of the few creatures on Earth that can orient themselves both in latitude and longitude,” The New York Times reports—a feat sailors wouldn’t accomplish until the 1700s.

Southern Charm

Miraculously, each generation of southbound monarchs lives up to eight months—six times longer than their northbound descendants. Their longevity might have something to do with a process known as reproductive diapause (which is a fancy way of saying that the insects won’t breed until winter ends).

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