With over 32,198 restaurants worldwide, there aren’t many places on the planet where you can’t get a Big Mac, fries, and other familiar favorites. In fact, one major factor in McDonald’s success is its consistency. No matter what city you’re in, you know what to expect when you visit a McDonald’s.
But that doesn’t mean all McDonald’s look alike. While they must follow certain franchise guidelines, the look of each McDonald’s can vary depending on its location.
Many McDonald’s restaurants have gone to great lengths to blend in with the local styles and landscapes. Additionally, other restaurants are designed to stand out with elaborate designs, gigantic PlayPlaces, and other special features.
Whether you’re looking for fancy, fun, or just something different from the traditional Golden Arches, you’ll find plenty of themed McDonald’s locations both in the US and worldwide.
Roswell, New Mexico
720 N Main
Roswell, NM 88201-4816
If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world dining experience, check out this McDonald’s in Roswell, New Mexico.
Inspired by the infamous Area 51, the classified Air Force facility long rumored as the epicenter of alien investigations, this McDonald’s is built to look like a 1950’s-style flying saucer.
I recommend visiting after the sun sets, as the restaurant features colorful neon lights across the exterior.
Inside, you’ll find a universe of unique decorations, including alien-themed paintings, parking spaces, and a giant mural with a rocket-riding Ronald McDonald.
The Roswell McDonald’s also has one of the chain’s largest and most elaborate Play Places. It’s an impressive 2,000 square feet with enough room for 65 people.
You’ll love the detailed sculptures featuring beloved McDonald’s characters dressed in spacesuits!
1611 E Main Street
Barstow, CO 92311-3239
The California city of Barstow sits right between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, making it a popular pit stop for highway travelers.
If you find yourself cruising along I-15 in either direction, I suggest checking out the Barstow McDonalds. It’s designed to look like a fake train station – complete with dining areas inside fake train cars.
In the 1970s, local businessman Fred Rosenberg built Barstow Station, a rest stop/shopping center that looked like a train station, inspired by Barstow’s reputation as a major transit hub.
The site’s first tenant? McDonald’s, and they’ve remained ever since.
In an interesting twist, Rosenberg didn’t just own Barstow Station, he also owned the McDonald’s. Local legend says he won the restaurant from founder Ray Kroc himself in a card game.
1035 Randolph St
Chicago, IL 6067
McDonald’s isn’t just one of the most prominent restaurants in the US; it’s also one of the most popular restaurants in the world.
If you’re interested in sampling McDonald’s fare from foreign countries, head to the McDonald’s Global Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
They serve up an ever-changing menu of international Mickey D’s cuisine, including Hong Kong’s McSpicy Chicken Sandwich, Canada’s Poutine, France’s Mozza Salad, and, my favorite, the Cheese & Bacon Loaded Fries from Australia.
While the first-floor restaurant is open to the public, the other eight stories in the building are reserved for employees only.
Departments within their Global Headquarters include Hamburger University, a training program for managers, and an employee cafeteria with stadium seating.
13105 Montfort Drive
Dallas, TX 75240
Also known as the “Happy Meal McDonald’s,” this restaurant is a kid’s dream come true. It’s shaped like a giant Happy Meal, complete with colorful murals and a gigantic PlayPlace.
Adults will love it, too. The restaurant has mahogany booths, crystal chandeliers, and Ralph Lauren décor. It’s luxurious while remaining family-friendly and comfortable.
Bring your camera because there are plenty of excellent picture-taking opportunities.
The restaurant features several large paintings and sculptures of famous McDonald’s characters, including many of them wearing classic Western outfits.
10207 Lakewood Boulevard
Downey, CA 90240
The city of Downey, California, is famous for two reasons: the Apollo space program began here, and it’s home to the oldest operating McDonald’s in the US.
If you’re heading here for the first time, keep your eyes peeled because the Downey McDonald’s looks nothing like the ones you’ve seen before!
The store’s original owners franchised it from the McDonald brothers, not Ray Kroc, the man who made the chain a national presence. As a result, this McDonald’s never had to follow the branding rules.
Instead of the hallmark Golden Arches, the Downy McDonald’s features a single arch, a different roof style, different fonts, and even a new mascot – Speedee, a moon-faced chef.
However, despite its outward appearance, they still serve the same menu items as any other McDonald’s – with one notable exception. You simply must try their apple pies, which are deep-fried instead of baked.
11 Mallet Dr
Freeport, ME 04032
Freeport is one of Maine’s most popular tourist towns, known for beautiful ocean landscapes and classic northeastern charm.
In 1984, when McDonald’s announced they planned to turn the 150-year-old Gore House mansion into a restaurant, locals were more than a little skeptical.
Thankfully, it turns out those fears were unfounded. The Freeport, Maine, McDonald’s is one of the first “archless McDonald’s,” which refers to a McDonald’s restaurant that incorporates the local landscape and style into its design.
The restaurant retains a historic, colonial look with clapboard windows, blue paneling, and a large fireplace.
Plus, it’s decorated with old photos from around town, making this the perfect place to stop, even if you’re more interested in history than Big Macs.
6201 Brecksville Road
Independence, OH 44131
Hail to the chief (of burgers)! Welcome to what’s called The White House of Burgers. It’s a two-story restaurant with white pillars, expansive balconies, large windows, and brick.
You need to look closely to even recognize the place as a Mickey D’s, as it lacks Golden Arches and the name is written in black script.
Inside, it’s glamorous, beautiful, and perhaps even appropriate for date night. As you enter, you’re greeted with a double staircase, chandeliers, and dark-wood tables.
One fun aspect of this restaurant is that the menu is the same as you’d find at any standard McDonald’s. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I swear the fancy environment makes these familiar favorites taste even better!
Las Vegas, Nevada
3475 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
If you’re opening a McDonald’s on the Las Vegas strip, you need to customize its design to fit the local landscape. The Las Vegas McDonald’s fully embraces the Sin City aesthetic with a two-story arch, lots of neon, and 24-hour service.
Aside from the food, another reason I often stop by this McDonald’s when I’m in town is for the free Wi-Fi. In my opinion, it’s also one of the best spots in the city for people-watching.
After you’ve finished your meal, you can head next door to Planet Hollywood or across the street to CityCenter.
6875 Sand Road
Orlando, FL 32819
While I’ve highlighted a few McDonald’s so far that have two stories or more, nothing’s in the same league as this McDonald’s in Orlando. Nicknamed the Epic McD (really!), it’s a 19,000-square-foot structure that feels like an amusement park.
Among the features found here are a 30-foot-tall statue of Ronald McDonald, a 20-foot-tall PlayPlace, and over 100 arcade games. Kids of all ages have plenty of opportunities for fun.
The menu here is bigger, too. Aside from the usual favorites, you can also order from the Bistro Gourmet menu, featuring upscale fares such as panini sandwiches, Belgian waffles, and pizza.
Even better, the Epic McD is open around-the-clock every day of the year.
600 E Derenne Ave
Savannah, GA 31405
When the first McDonald’s restaurants opened in the 1940s, concepts such as “environmental sustainability” and “climate change” were far from the average person’s mind.
Of course, companies today, especially ones as large as McDonald’s, are looking for ways to lower energy costs and reduce their environmental footprint.
The Savannah McDonald’s is the first restaurant in the chain to earn LEED certification. Awarded by the US Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification is given to businesses that follow specific utility and energy guidelines.
In this case, the restaurant uses an energy-efficient roof, is made from recycled materials, and includes over 1,000 square feet of windows.
2380 West US Highway 89a
Sedona, AZ 86336-5344
You won’t find any traditional golden arches here. The McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona, fully embraces the Southwestern style with a tan, adobe-style exterior, and turquoise accents.
In 1993, when McDonald’s first started building the restaurant, the city of Sedona implemented strict design rules. They felt large, golden arches on the building would clash with the natural red rocks found throughout the landscape.
When driving through Sedona, you should have no problem finding this restaurant. Just look for the turquoise arches!
Vazha-Pshavela st., 1
Some of the most eye-catching McDonald’s are outside of the US, such as the one in the country of Georgia.
The Batumi McDonald’s is the product of internationally acclaimed architect Giorgi Khmaladze, and it’s worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.
The dome-shaped structure consists of 420 individual glass panels surrounded by a serene reflecting pond. On the inside, one of the highlights is the open-air patio, where you can dine surrounded by lush vegetation.
It’s a comfortable, masterfully designed building that turns McDonald’s into a true work of art.
Péterfia utca 18.
When you’re hungry in Hungary, head to the McDonald’s in Debrecen Plaza. It’s a large restaurant with a classic Hungarian look and understated branding.
Some of my favorite aspects of its design are the arched windows and ornate balconies.
The menu at this McDonald’s is quite a bit different than what you’ll find in the states.
Some of my favorites include the Smokey Sophies, a chicken breast sandwich, and the Pinky Burger, a pork patty with aioli sauce. I wish they’d bring some of these dishes to American shores!
14 Plaza Way
Fairhaven MA 02719
The McDonald’s in Fairhaven is one of my favorites! It has an awesome retro style that’s right out of the 1950s. Dining here feels like you’re stepping back in time.
It’s both instantly recognizable as a McDonald’s yet also different than any you’ve seen before. Two giant, golden arches frame the entire building.
Inside, the retro style continues, with vinyl booths, a black-and-white tiled floor, and neon lighting. You can even put some quarters in the jukebox and listen to hits from the 1950s and today!
New Hyde Park, New York
2045 Jericho Turnpike
New Hyde Park, NY 11040
The history of McDonald’s ties in closely with the history of the country, and nowhere is this idea more apparent than the McDonald’s in New Hyde Park.
The building is a massive, white mansion that dates back to the 1700s.
When McDonald’s purchased the building in the 1980s, the community designated the location as a historic landmark.
The franchise owner committed to preserving the original aesthetic by keeping the white pillars, painted shutters, and other features.
It’s no surprise that this restaurant is often referred to as “the most beautiful McDonald’s in the country.”
Praça da Liberdade
126 Porto 4000 322
Not to take anything away from the New Hyde Park restaurant, but the McDonald’s in Porto, Portugal, is frequently called “the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world.” You’ll find it in Porto, a city found in northwest Portugal.
The site is formerly home to Café Imperial, a famous coffee shop that opened back in the 1930s.
As with the case involving many restaurants on this list, when McDonald’s bought the location, they attempted to preserve its original style as much as possible.
One of the first features you’ll see is a giant bronze eagle perched above the door. Inside, the restaurant is decorated with crystal chandeliers, stained glass windows, and friezes on the ceiling.
Aside from the fancy designs, the McDonald’s also differs from traditional ones by offering a more diverse menu, including coffee with custard tart, a popular Portuguese dessert.
Taupo, New Zealand
48 Roberts Street Taupo
Taupo, New Zealand 3330
Take the McDonald’s experience to all new heights by visiting their location in Taupo, New Zealand.
It’s a themed McDonald’s location that features a real, decommissioned DC-3 plane built directly into the store. Diners can sit inside the plane and even take pictures of the cockpit.
In 1984, the decommissioned plane was added to the parking lot of the Taupo’s Aeroplane Car Company, a local car dealership.
When the building was sold to McDonald’s, they decided to keep the plane and convert it to seating for the public.
One important issue to note is that the plane only seats 20 people. If you want to sit in the plane, try to arrive during off-hours (although the restaurant also has plenty of traditional tables).
Will Rogers Turnpike
Vinita, OK 74301
While practically all McDonald’s have arches, nothing quite compares to the arch found on the McDonald’s in Vinita, Oklahoma.
It stretches across the four-lane Will Rogers Turnpike, allowing diners inside to watch vehicles on the highway drive right underneath the building.
This unique building dates back to 1957 when it was a restaurant called The Glass House. After that restaurant closed, McDonald’s moved in, and at one point was the largest McDonald’s in the world.
Today, while McDonald’s is still a major draw, the place also houses a Subway, gift shop, art gallery, and more.
Unfortunately, these recent renovations mean the large arch is no longer bright yellow, presumably because McDonald’s isn’t the only restaurant inside.
West Yellowstone, Montana
100 S Canyon
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
When dining at this McDonald’s, pay close attention to the signs warning you not to feed the wildlife.
Found near the border of Montana and Wyoming, the West Yellowstone McDonald’s fits into the surrounding landscape with a rugged, cabin-style design.
This is no city McDonald’s. Inside you’ll find photos of scenes and animals from the area. One of my favorite decorations is the bear sculpture!
Keep in mind that if you want to eat under the big skies of Montana, you might have to spend big, too.
For reasons I can’t explain, this is one of the most expensive McDonald’s I’ve been to, so expect to pay more for the same food you’ve had elsewhere. On the plus side, the service is fast and the crew friendly.