(USA Today) -- These days it seems like you can't go anywhere in the world without being greeted by those familiar Golden Arches.
Sometimes the vision of them can be comforting, especially when you're traveling abroad and surrounded by mysterious, slightly intimidating food. Sometimes it can be annoying, like when you get off the interstate craving a steak and McDonald's is the only restaurant within sight. Usually, though, that meal of a Big Mac and fries is always welcomed.
Most McDonald's are comfortingly identical: the red-and-yellow color scheme, beige floors, plastic tables, cardboard cutouts of Ronald McDonald, and a ball pit for the kids. Around the world, though, there are some innovative examples of franchise owners creatively blending into (or standing out from) their surroundings, thanks to top architects hired by the brand. From the New Zealand location that incorporates a decommissioned airliner to the minimalist "Quarter Pounder" store in Tokyo, see the slideshow below to find out the top 10 coolest McDonald's locations in the world.
1) Taupo, New Zealand
Taupo, New Zealand, has the honor of being home to the only McDonald's location that includes a decommissioned DC3 plane as part of the store. There are seats inside the plane for your dining enjoyment, and you can view the cockpit as well! Maybe they hand out wings to first-time customers.
2) New Hyde Park, N.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 the most elegant restaurant in the McDonald's franchise, complete with a glassed-in veranda seating area and a grand staircase.
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 next to the Spanish Steps and entered through a Perugina Baci chocolate shop, the restaurant tries to blend into its very European surroundings, and succeeds. It offers a large salad bar and other rare (for a McDonald's) items like pastries.
4) Dallas, Texas
Driving down Montfort Drive in Dallas, Texas, you'll see something you'd probably only see in Texas: the World's Biggest Happy Meal. In the state where bigger is better, this massive meal of a building includes a playroom in the Happy Meal box, as well as huge hamburgers, towering french fries ,and massive cups of Coke. The inside of the restaurant sports Austrian crystal chandeliers, Ralph Lauren wallpaper, granite floors, and mahogany booths. Fancy digs for burgers and fries!
5) Bray Town Hall, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland
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 location, but with a location right inside the Town Hall, they've certainly figured out the most central location in the city!
6) Ulsan, South Korea
In Ulsan you'll find a fairly small McDonald's drive-thru/gas station. The feature that makes it so special, though, is the huge wing-like covering over the restaurant. Apparently, the drive-thru was a very unusual sight in the area as of the time of the original blog posting in 2010. Any Ulsan readers know if there are any more drive-thru McDonald's there now?
The Strand location on 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. So the clear agenda for our next trip to Australia will be surf, see sharks, sunbathe, and visit McDonald's!
8) Roswell, N.M.
Roswell has had its fair share of strange UFO sightings, but this one might be the strangest of them all. Downtown Roswell's "Unofficial crash site" McDonald's location boasts a UFO-shaped exterior complete with nighttime florescent lights. (Insert spooky UFO noise here.) The restaurant also features flying rockets with Ronald McDonalds in the Playroom. Might be time for a road trip out West!
The Quarter Pounder locations were McDonald's experiment to see if they could offer Tokyo residents a classier burger experience. "Classy McDonald's?" you say. No... just "Quarter Pounder" - no mention of McDonald's here. The only options on the menu were a Quarter Pounder with cheese or a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese. Compared to a normal restaurant's overwhelming amount of choices, there's something to be said for the simplicity offered here.
10) New York City
So black you could miss it on a dark night, the McDonald's on New York City's Canal Street is also one of the skinniest restaurants around, fitting right in with the rest of Canal Street's businesses and yet standing out due to its color. The dark building frame is made of cast iron and houses your typical McD's fare for hungry shoppers.