It’s the birthday of Frank L. Baum, and what better way to commemorate The Wizard of Oz author than to imagine ourselves in Oz, ruby-slippers and all?
And for those of you who have done more than watch the Judy Garland movie by reading the books, you know the Land of Oz gets way weirder than a bunch of munchkins and a city where everything is green. If you want to experience the real, gritty, Technicolor Oz, here are some destination spots that are off the beaten, yellow-brick-road.
The Country of the Quadlings
Forget the Emerald City. Glinda’s Southern palace (Yes, she’s really of the South! We’re going by book canon, people!) is covered in rubies and guarded by girl soldiers in snappy red uniforms. And even if you’re not looking to get an audience with Glinda the Good, you’ll enjoy meeting the native Quadlings, who are, in Baum’s words, “short and fat, and looked chubby and good-natured.” A little redundant, but okay.
Check out: The spa inside Glinda’s palace. You need to look fancy and properly exfoliated to meet with her.
Watch out for: The Hammerheads who guard the hills into Quadling Country. They will literally hit you with their extending heads made out of hammers.
Travel tip: Wear red.
The Village Made of China
If, in your travels, you come across a tall wall, climb carefully! On the other side is a kingdom of tiny living creatures made of porcelain. Don’t worry—you won’t kill them if you accidentally step on them, but it’s not like they will enjoy being broken. Although the porcelain citizens can visit the mender’s shop, they’ll have a permanent crack running through their bodies—it’s a whole ordeal.
Wear: Soft shoes. Actual house slippers, not ruby “slippers.”
Look for: A joker who is cracked in a lot of places. If he’s in a good mood, he’ll sing you a rhyming song.
Visit for: Novelty, Instagram potential.
The Ozian Forest
If you’re the type of person who enters Tough Mudders for fun, the Ozian forest might be the place for you! It is the perfect place to train with its natural, endurance-testing obstacles, such as very aggressive trees and exotic animals who want to kill you. Among them: Shelob-style giant spiders and kalidahs (who are half-lion, half-tiger).
Bring: Portable weapon, Animal-Human dictionary.
Topography: Aggressive trees, rivers you will have to cross.
Watch Out For: Aside from the giant killer animals? Sudden poisonous poppy fields.
Though technically never named in the first book, Gillikin Country comes alive in the other books, and is definitely the weirdest place of all. Visit it for the unique sites. Purple grass! Balloon people! Underground dragons! Flatheads who carry their brains in jars! This is the place where you should buy your postcards.
Gillikin Trivia: The (good) witch who rules this land is named Locasta Tattypoo.
Check out: The winged monkeys. Just bring binoculars and make sure you look up if you’re in a forest. Don’t worry—as long as one of them is wearing a golden cap, they won’t hurt you.
Look For: Mist Maidens. If you look closely enough into fog (especially while in valleys), you’ll see them trying to blend in. They’ll help you in small ways, like if you need directions.