You probably think that most McDonald’s locations around the world look more or less the same, and that’s because they do: a rather plain-looking building or storefront (some more modern than others), with an interior of chairs and tables bolted to the floor, a counter, maybe a Playplace, and not much else. But there are some outposts of this ubiquitous chain out there that are completely unique, and we’ve tracked down 20 of them.
The first McDonald’s opened at Liat Towers in Singapore in 1979, and since then more than 120 McDonald’s restaurants have opened on the island. Singapore’s first green McDonald’s opened at Jurong Central Park in 2011. It received the inaugural Green Mark Award for Restaurants from Singapore’s Building Construction Authority. With smooth edges, swaying palm trees, and breezy patio dining room, this is easily one of the most laid-back McDonald’s restaurants in the world.
Near the Black Sea, this palatial McDonald’s features a large terrace and a second floor balcony. This busy McDonald’s was one of five built for the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014; a move that helped grow McDonald’s business in Russia and allowed it to not only add restaurants to its Russian portfolio but menu items too, including smoothies, parfaits, and grilled chicken wraps.
The aesthetics are more bungalow than burger joint at this McDonald’s in Thailand’s capital, which boasts calming water fountains, teak flooring, and an airy veranda.
While nearly all 37,000 McDonald’s locations around the world feature the company’s signature golden arches, the “turquoise McDonald’s” as locals have dubbed it, features turquoise arches. The city felt that the famous “golden arches” would be an eyesore and clash with the natural coloring of the area. McDonald’s offered to swap out the yellow with turquoise to blend in with the local color palette.
We just can’t stop staring at this spaceship-like McDonald’s, with its sweeping wing-like awning and kaleidoscope lighting. The combo McDonald’s drive-thru and gas station is a welcome nighttime spectacle in southeastern South Korea.
The 10,000th McDonald’s in the Asia Pacific region also happened to be Vietnam’s first. It’s all about the 24-hour drive-thru at this McDonald’s — the first drive-thru restaurant in the country. During opening day last year, hundreds of fast-food fans pulled up in their scooters to order Big Macs, French fries, and McPork sandwiches.
While its exterior may at first appear typical for the South, it’s the inside that makes this one of the coolest McDonald’s around. When it opened in 2005, this was the first ‘green’ McDonald’s (meaning it attained LEED certification), and it features large windows which reach 75 percent of the interior (reducing the need for electric lighting and heating), waterless urinals, and a cistern that harvests rainwater for irrigation. Outside, there is preferred parking for hybrid cars and bike racks.
Even in France, a country brimming with Michelin-starred restaurants, “McDo” (as the locals call it) is the largest fast-food chain. The fast-food giant has stepped up its game, serving up French-inspired fare like the McBaguette, and McDonald’s designed dining rooms that include comfy cushioned chairs and striking art gallery-like interiors. One Paris McDonald's, on Rue Saint-Lazare (pictured), has a landmarked exterior from a 1900-era beer hall called Au Roi de la Biere (“The King of Beer”) and maintains all of the former establishment’s trappings, including a statue of beer-loving Gambrinus.
The Strand location on Sydney’s George Street looks more like a study in modern architecture than a fast-food joint. Design firm Juicy integrated printed graphic wall art, bold pops of orange, pink, white, and black, and cool lounge-like furniture. The glass and steel exterior is beautiful, reflecting the interior light.
Yelp/ Mike N.
Around the back of this picturesque Irish building dating back to the 19th century, McDonald’s has once again found a home in a historic building. The walk-up restaurant looks a tad out of place in such a pastoral setting, but with a location right inside the Town Hall, they’ve certainly figured out the most central location in the city!
Yelp/ Maya Y.
A gorgeous Georgian mansion that dates back to 1795 houses one of the most beautiful McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. McDonald’s originally purchased the house with the intent of tearing it down and building a standard restaurant, but the citizens of New Hyde Park managed to wrangle landmark status for the residence (whew!). This resulted in one of the most elegant restaurants in the McDonald's franchise, complete with a glassed-in veranda seating area and a grand staircase.
Yelp/ Kimberly J.
This marble- and mosaic-filled restaurant is among the fanciest McDonald’s locations we know of and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Located in historic Piazza di Spagna next to the Spanish Steps, the restaurant, which has a large salad bar, created an uproar when it opened in 1986 but has since succeeded for the most part in blending in with the ancient city’s architecture.
Roswell has had its fair share of strange UFO sightings since the first supposed alien crash landing in 1947, and this one might rank high on that list. Downtown Roswell’s “Unofficial Crash Site” McDonald’s location boasts a UFO-shaped exterior complete with fluorescent lights. The restaurant also features flying rockets with Ronald McDonalds in the playroom.
The opulent McDonald’s in the hillside city of Porto in northern Portugal is housed in the former Imperial Café, an historic coffee shop from the 1930s. It has become a popular tourist spot for visitors to admire the Art Deco stained glass windows, embellished facades, and ornate chandeliers.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and for one McDonald’s, that is decidedly true. Driving down Montfort Drive, you’ll see the world’s biggest Happy Meal. The inside of the restaurant features Austrian crystal chandeliers, Ralph Lauren wallpaper, granite floors, mahogany booths, and a playroom. Fancy digs for burgers and fries!
Taupo, New Zealand, has the honor of being home to the only McDonald’s location that includes a decommissioned plane as part of the restaurant. The former DC-3 passenger plane was built in 1943 and ferried passengers around the country for a New Zealand airline company called SPANZ during the 1950s and 1960s. After her life as a passenger plane, she carried large loads of manure. The plane’s last flight was in October 1984, and she was brought by road to Taupo by a local aircraft enthusiast and placed in her current position, originally as a feature attraction for a car dealership called the Aeroplane Car Company. McDonald’s purchased the plane in 1990 when they built the McDonald’s, which opened that November. While the restaurant is separate from the plane, diners can enjoy their meals inside it. Now that makes for one happy meal!
Relations with Cuba may be warming up, but not enough for McDonald’s outposts to start popping up all over the place. There’s still only one McDonald’s in Cuba, and it’s on the Guantanamo Bay naval base. The base, which is located on 45 square miles of land in southeast Cuba, has been leased by the United States since 1903, and is perhaps best known for its military prison, which has been in operation since 2002. In 1986, a McDonald’s opened on the base, and it remains the only one in Cuba.
Dubbed “the world’s largest entertainment McDonald’s,” this 18,716-square-foot McDonald’s, constructed in Orlando a couple years ago near the site of the previous largest McDonald’s, is a sight to behold. It stands 48 feet tall; has a massive 22-foot-tall play structure and a 2,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art arcade; a 30-foot-tall Ronald McDonald; a singing animatronic Mac Tonight; and a unique menu with offerings including omelettes, waffles, wraps, pizzas, and pastas (albeit ones that aren't as tasty as these).