3.3
21 votes

Official Center of the World

1 Center of the World Drive, Winterhaven, California 92283 USA

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Free
Free to Visit
Open Now
Fri 12a-11:59p
  • Wheelchair
    Accessible
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“It's official! Sort of...”

It might not be surprising to discover that the "Official Center of the Universe" is located in California. Well, sorta. In fact, it's situated in the middle of a pyramid out in a desert town where the mayor was legally elected by an invisible dragon. Yeah, it's kinda a weird story. So, how does a town go from desert wasteland to a place that the Institut Geographique National of France recognizes as the center of the world? Turns out, you just kind of say so. Jacques-Andre Istel fell in love with the patch of land while serving as a Marine in the Korean War, writing it into the children's novel he was working on, COE the Good Dragon at the Center of the World. Istel purchased thousands of acres of the desert and named it Felicity, after his wife. Using his book as a launchpad, managed to convince the leaders of Imperial County, California, to legally recognize Felicity as the Official Center of the Universe. From there, everything just kind of fell into place. Istel was then able to incorporate Felicity, making it a real town, and in a 3-0 vote, he was declared mayor. One of those votes, he's happy to point out, was from the invisible dragon himself, making it the only time a dragon, much less an invisible one, has legally voted in the state of Califorinia. With help from his wife, Istel came up with the perfect place to hide the center of the world - a 21-foot-tall, pink granite pyramid. Inside sits a small bronze plaque that declares the exact spot where the Official Center of the World is situated. Today, visitors who come to visit the center can partake in a very special ceremony that involves recording the exact time you place your bare toe on the plaque, awarding you a certificate signed by the mayor himself. Some people call it a "calibration". Felicity offers plenty more than just the center of the world, though. There's a sculpture of "God's arm" used as a sundial, a spiral staircase from the Eifel Tower, and even a giant monument that anyone can have their story etched onto, a massive record book meant to survive a nuclear war. Want to visit the Official Center of the World for yourself? Guided tours are offered from December through March. -Roadtrippers The Official Center of the World is the dot on the bronze plaque within the pyramid. The center of the world, or universe, can be anywhere. It was set by law, based upon a now popular book for children - who argues with a fairy tale? or states that Red Riding Hood wore a blue dress?

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Reviewed by
sdlibrarian

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
August 11, 2013

Don't forget to get a postcard sent from the Center of the World.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
HighlandQu

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
May 05, 2018
Rated 4.0

We hit this on a road trip east during the off season, which is May to October. Being in the middle of the desert it's a bit hot to be out there. We saw the 8 minute movie that explains the idea. We got our certificates, signed by Felicia Lee, the woman the town of Felicity is named after, and she let us into the pyramid and we made our wish.
I highly suggest a hat, water and picnic lunch if going during off season. And take the exit nearest CHP. The road has been replaced. We came in from the West, and played dodge the pothole.
We will be back in open season, November to April to explore all the amazing granite tributes.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
AlexandraBarrett

  • 14 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
February 11, 2019
Rated 3.0

Good place to stop and stretch. No bathroom. A little strange? But nice pictures. Would recommend at sunset.

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Reviewed by
waldprinz

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
December 07, 2018
Rated 3.0

Prep yourself for some weirdness! It’s an interesting but to be frankly also a weird place. The tour felt very creepy as it was only the two of us on the entire property. You pay $5pp to listen to the film and get a bit of a background story to the museum, and of course a certificate. (Here an interesting article: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/felicity-california-center-of-the-world). But tell me what you want, I’m convinced the intended audience for the engraved history are aliens. How can you seriously attempt to engrave the history of the entire humanity into a couple of paragraphs....

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Reviewed by
tntran422

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
November 17, 2018
Rated 4.0

Not a bad place to stop en route on a road trip. Good photo opportunities. Nothing is open and there are no restrooms, but you can walk around the grounds outside. There are pyramids filled with interesting facts that are etched into the stone.

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Reviewed by
julia.terry.50

  • 7 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
September 11, 2018
Rated 3.0

Would've loved to have seen what was on the granite but the sign said not to go any further without a tour guide. Only saw one truck on the property. Oh well.

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Reviewed by
meghanmcneer

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
June 17, 2018

note, this place is definitely worth a stop if it’s on your route - but the center of the universe building, museum and shop are all closed. so there is no food or restroom available and most importantly can’t put your foot on the COTU or get a certificate.

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Reviewed by
katrinapetrehn

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
August 26, 2017
Rated 1.0

Really disappointed that it's not even open. We drove out of our way to go there. Everything was closed and the doors to the pyramid we're locked. Looked like a ghost town.

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Reviewed by
savwad

  • 6 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
June 03, 2017
Rated 5.0

This place is so weird and cool. It's awesome to even drive by it if you know the background story.

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Reviewed by
MarcoPerez

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
April 25, 2017
Rated 4.0

We stopped Buy on our way from California to Texas. When we arrived no one was around. We parked and went to take a look anyway. About a half hour later a very nice lady came out and gave us a tour of the property. There are others who showed up who took the tour with us. We got to see a DVD on how the attraction came to be. We got to see the inside of the pyramid where the center of the world is. Took photos and got a certificate. The lady who runs the place was extremely nice and helpful. Definitely one of the more unusual spots to see along the way if you like this type of thing.

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Official Center of the World

1 Center of the World Drive
Winterhaven, California
92283 USA

Hours

Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

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  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Street Parking
  • Yes Parking

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