Quirky travel find: Bubblegum Alley

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In the alleys of San Luis Obispo, Calif., layers upon layers of discarded chewing gum have evolved into a tourist attraction.

Deep within the alleys of San Luis Obispo, Calif., layers upon layers of discarded chewing gum have evolved into a tourist attraction that would make any germophobe tremble in their boots. The sticky walls are known as “Bubblegum Alley,” one the quirkiest – and probably most saliva-filled– attractions in the U.S.

Bubblegum Alley (Image: daveynin)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: daveynin)

The true origins and intentions of Bubblegum Alley are up for debate, but the fact remains these gummy walls were a San Luis Obispo reality by the 1960s. Although the walls have been scraped clean several times over the decades, the gum-chewing masses have continued to find their way back to the walls of Bubblegum Alley. And today, you can walk through the gummy halls – or even leave your own chewy mark, if you dare.

Over the years, the alley has grown from a gross-out dive to a living art installation of sorts. Creative gum chewers are hardly content with simply tacking a wad onto the walls; instead, they use gum to spell out messages, create intricate designs or tack up objects like coins or gum wrappers. With countless visitors leaving their marks on a daily basis, Bubblegum Alley is never the same experience twice. 

If the thought of adding your own gum wad is a little too much to stomach, you can always walk through without leaving a souvenir behind — or just get a glimpse from afar with these photos.

Bubblegum Alley (Image: Hey Paul)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: Hey Paul)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: youngthousands)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: youngthousands)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: kellinahandbasket)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: kellinahandbasket)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: daveynin)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: daveynin)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: ars5017)
Bubblegum Alley (Image: ars5017)

(Main image: Mark Fischer used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Quirky travel find: Bubblegum Alley was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.