Golden Arch-itecture: Grand and Bizarre McDonald's Around the World

Golden Arch-itecture: Coolest McDonald's Around the World

Cheapism; Tripadvisor

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Golden Arch-itecture: Coolest McDonald's Around the World
Cheapism; Tripadvisor

Happy Meal

We're all used to our boring McDonald's location where we hit the drive-thru on the way to work in the morning. But they're not all humdrum — in fact, some locations are downright amazing. Whether it's the outlandish architecture, focus on cultural or historical significance, or creative repurposing of an old building, these global McDonald's locations are eye-openers.

Related: 23 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About McDonald's

Look Down on an Ancient Roman Road At Mcdonald's, Frattocchie, Italy

1. Frattocchie, Italy

It's a museum. It's a McDonald's. It's... both? Though Italian builders are accustomed to discovering ancient ruins, the story of this McDonald's construction might take the cake. A section of an old Roman road was discovered while the restaurant was being built, but instead of grousing about lost time and money, Ronald and company jumped in to sponsor the excavation. Today, customers can look down on the road through a glass floor, or visit through a separate entrance. Included in the exhibit: resin casts of three skeletons found in roadside gutters.

Related: Why McDonald's French Fries Used to Taste Better

Climb Aboard a Vintage Luxury Airplane At Mcdonald's, Taupo, New Zealand

2. Taupo, New Zealand

If a Big Mac craving strikes while you're in New Zealand, satisfy it at a McDonald's that includes a decommissioned Douglas DC-3 plane. The plane, which seats 20, languished for nearly 25 years next to the restaurant, which purchased the site in 1990. The one-time passenger plane, built in 1943, came as part of the deal. Instead of getting rid of it, the restaurant owners decided to make it a dining area, even painting it with the McDonald's logo. Ask nicely and you may even get a special peek into the preserved cockpit.

McSki by Per-Olof Forsberg (CC BY)
Consider Extraterrestrials At a Ufo-Shaped McDonald's, Roswell, New Mexico

4. Roswell, New Mexico

UFO buffs from around the world descend on Roswell, so it's only natural that the local McDonald's pays homage to the extraterrestrial influences that put this city on the map. Here, your kids can burn energy inside a play space shaped like a flying saucer, complete with all of your favorite mascots in space suits. Go at night for the full effect, when the metallic saucer-shaped structure shines with neon lights.

Sit on the Patio of a Futuristic Glass-Walled McDonald's, Batumi, Georgia

5. Batumi, Georgia

Travel to Georgia — the nation, not the state — to marvel at one of the most architecturally distinct McDonald's you'll ever lay eyes on. This futuristic, helmet-like restaurant in the Black Sea port of Batumi features 460 glass panels, a large reflecting pool, and an open-air upstairs patio. The unique design even manages to hide a gas station that's built into the back of the structure.

Eat a Big Mac in a Georgian-Style Mansion At McDonald's, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Emmie H./Yelp

6. New Hyde Park, New York

This landmark Georgian-style home on Long Island might just be the original McMansion, complete with coffered ceilings, wainscotting, and a stunning staircase. Originally known as the Denton House, the structure was built in the late 1700s as a farmhouse. Local residents pressured McDonald's to save the house instead of tear it down when it bought the property in the 1980s.

Bray, Ireland Mcdonalds
Bray, Ireland Mcdonalds by William Murphy (CC BY-NC-ND)

7. Bray, Ireland

This picturesque building is home to two important things: McDonald's and Bray's Town Hall. McDonald's occupies the first floor of the Tudor-style building constructed in 1883, while the town's offices occupy the upper floor. The first floor was originally a market house until the 1940s, and McDonald's moved in in 1997. 

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8. Clifton Hill, Australia

If you're heading to Macca's — that's Aussie slang for McDonald's — in Melbourne, beeline for the location in suburban Clifton Hill. It's inside a gorgeous example of Art Deco architecture that was constructed as a hotel in 1938 with curved corners, long balconies, thin metal railings, and a stepped central fin that makes it one of the most historically significant buildings in Victoria. 

Related: The Surprising History of the Humble Hamburger

Mcdonalds in Freeport, Maine
Mcdonalds in Freeport, Maine by NNECAPA Photo Library (CC BY)

9. Freeport, Maine

McMansion has a new definition: the McDonald's in Freeport, Maine. Back in 1984, the company was looking to build a new location in the town, but strict architectural building codes — and resistance from locals — made it impossible. The solution was to renovate an existing building, which in this case was the Gore House, an 1850 Greek revival mansion built by a wealthy merchant. The plan barely won approval, but the McMansion is still looking sharp today.

Related: Fast Food Restaurants Then and Now

Mcdonald's Kristiansand

10. Kristiansand, Norway

Perhaps the most imposing McDonald's in the world, this Norwegian location makes its home inside a former bank. The corner building has stately and monumental marble columns flanking the front door with a golden sign above on the 1897 building. Think they'll loan you some fries if you're out of kroners?

Macdonald restaurant logo in Yangshuo

11. Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, China

It's a jarring juxtaposition to see the golden arches sticking out like a sore thumb among picturesque surroundings in a southern Chinese town. The building's architecture matches the nearby buildings, though the emblazoned red and yellow signage isn't exactly becoming. The best way to view it is from across the small lake behind it, when it blends into a stately tableau of nature and bustling humanity.  

Related: Spectacular Fast Food Restaurant Designs Around the World

Sedona, Arizona Mcdonalds

12. Sedona, Arizona

Forget the golden arches and make room for teal ones. When McDonald's wanted to open in Sedona, the city wouldn't allow the golden arches for fear of not blending in with the natural surroundings. So the branch settled on teal to match the sky and stand out from the building color, which is also unusual: It's a two-tone warm beige and orange to match the surrounding desert red rock formations.

Related: Fast Food Items Overdue for a Comeback

Mcdonald's Rome
Alper T./Yelp

13. Rome

Located just off the Spanish Steps, this Roman McDonald's has become a tourist destination in its own right. It's on the first floor of an old building and has subdued signage, so it blends into the city pretty well. Inside, there's tilework and stone mosaics on the walls and floor, stone statues, and a plaque designating it the first McDonald's in Italy, opened in 1986. Don't miss the McCafe offerings, which include a gelato bar and fancy pastry case with tiramisu, cheesecake, and macarons.

Mcdonald's New York Canal Street
Kin T./Yelp

14. New York

You may not figure that a McDonald's in New York City would be anything special, but the one on Canal Street at the edge of Chinatown is unique. It occupies a narrow slice of a building, and the exterior is painted pitch black all the way up, making it stand out. The signs, too, have a black background — and restaurant name in Chinese — making them eye-catching and chic. 

Kara M./Yelp

15. Asheville, North Carolina

Just off the Biltmore Estate, the Gilded Age mansion-cum-tourist attraction, is what's considered one of the classiest McDonald's in the world. The red-shingled building is stately thanks to painted woodwork and a central stone fireplace in the dining area. You can eat your Big Mac under chandeliers and tin ceilings while listening to the baby grand piano. It even gets a Christmas tree and poinsettias in December.

Related: This Chain's French Fries Beat McDonald's in Our Taste Test

Moose Jaw Mcdonald's
Kolin C./Yelp

16. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada

Moose Jaw is a town surrounded by agricultural land, so it only makes sense that the McDonald's there would embrace that identity. One of the company's restaurants is built to look like a big barn, complete with a bright red silo at one corner. Rumor has it that the drive-thru is wide enough to fit a tractor.  

May..Lene D./Yelp

17. Barstow, California

Barstow Station is a collection of fast food and convenience shops on Route 66. Because of the town's history as a rail hub, the building is meant to look like a train station. The most interesting features of the complex are the train cars that house the McDonald's dining area. The three cars are all decked out in red and gold and are great fun for kids who love trains.

Paris Mcdonalds

18. Paris

Paris and McDonald's don't seem like they'd go together very well, but one outlet in the city is housed in an adorable, historic building. The building and its timber facade full of steins and tobacco pipes was originally a restaurant called King of Beer, which is why there's a "Au Roi de le Biere" mosaic-tile floor and a life-sized statue of Gambrinus above the front entrance. It's quaint and charming both inside and out.

McDonald's Porto Portugal
kjbyrnes2018 / TripAdvisor

19. Porto, Portugal

Before McDonald's arrived here in 1995, this palatial space was home to Cafe Imperial, a famous Portuguese coffee shop since the 1930s. Thankfully, renovations preserved the original Art Deco style and decor, including the crystal chandeliers and beautiful stained-glass windows above the ordering counter which act as a focal point of the building. Outside, a massive, fierce-looking eagle greets you above the entrance. 

McDonald's Budapest Hungary
Sahee / TripAdvisor

20. Budapest, Hungary

The Nyugati Railway Station is one of Budapest's architectural symbols, and this McDonald's is part of it. It has soaring ceilings, beautiful glowing lamps, and a central staircase. Though the location is currently closed for renovations, McDonald's says that it will keep the space's iconic style and incorporate natural materials, mirrored glass surfaces, copper-clad light fixtures, and even a food conveyor belt. 

McDonald's Rotterdam
Rotterdam Pages / TripAdvisor

21. Rotterdam, Netherlands

From the outside, this McDonald's looks more like a modern art museum than a fast food restaurant. The facade is all made of glass, so you can see right in to the floating spiral staircase and the people eating their Big Macs. On the back of the building, pixelated images of a crowd of people make it so you can't see into the kitchen. Considering the former building McDonald's occupied on this spot was voted the ugliest building in the city, this is a huge upgrade.

McDonald's Wisconsin Dells
Joan T / TripAdvisor

22. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Dells has been a summer tourist town known for its beautiful natural setting for generations. That's why this huge log cabin McDonald's fits in so well. It looks like a hunting lodge from the outside, and inside it's got soaring ceilings, wood walls and beams, and plenty of antlers and taxidermy, naturally. Once the weather gets colder, customers cozy up by the massive stone fireplace in the dining area.