It is no exaggeration to say that, pound for pound, games don't come much more content-packed than the GTA series. Every inch of their worlds are packed with things to do, weird people to see, and mysteries. This has been a constant throughout the series since its early top-down days, but it really came into its own with San Andreas. This game, stretched across three cities, with massive swaths of desert and forest in between, contained more mysteries than the previous games in the franchise combined. Every one of the three cities contained heaps upon heaps of places to go, but for my money, the greatest nuggets were to be found in the rural areas. Here, according to the GTA fanbase, there are all kinds of strange and spooky occurrences. While some of them are baseless rumors, some are also really juicy, like the infamous ghost fighter planes.
GTA IV continued the trend of packing just about everything it could into its square mileage, but its design, as nothing but a city, left me feeling a little hollow. Now we come onto GTA V, one of the best games I've ever played. This went back to the San Andreas style of having, in addition to urban areas, miles upon miles of countryside. I've put hundreds of hours into GTA V and can safely say I've not noticed most of the locations on this list. How about you? Read on, and let us know what you've seen!
30 The Abandoned Mine Shaft
Did you play L.A. Noire? If you did, you’ll remember that at the end, Officer Cole Phelps drowns in a mine. In this mine, located in Great Chaparral, you’ll find a body dressed in a classic 1940s suit, as well as a film reel. While the game states that the body is that of a cartoonist called Issac, who crossed Solomon Richards, it’s also a hidden callback. You can find the mine off the twisting road just to the bottom left of the G of Great Chaparral.
29 The Airport Bunker
I’m sure that you’ve explored the airport aplenty while carrying out your various hijinks; however, I’m willing to bet that you’ve completely missed this bunker. You can access it via either a hatch on the roof or through the building’s back doors. Inside, you’ll find vending machines, a water cooler, and doors that say “authorized personnel only.” There’s not a lot to do here, but you can use it to hide from the cops. It’s possible that Rockstar planned to put more stuff here, but had to cut it due to time constraints.
28 The Giant Snowman
Whether you find this one funny or creepy is all down to your views on our frozen compatriots. Located in a warehouse in La Mesa, you can find this guy by entering an alleyway, and then heading into the cold storage warehouse via a gate. Inside, one of the four double doors will be open a crack. Take a look through in first-person mode, and you’ll spot this absolute unit of a snowman. Huge, cold, and wrapped in an equally big scarf and wearing a hat; this guy is a bizarre easter egg.
27 The Golden Tree
Who made this game, James George Frazer? This tree has more than just the singular Golden Bough, however. Near Braddock Pass on Mount Gordo, you can find this strange bit of foliage. While it appears normal during the day, go there at night, and you’ll see that the tree has changed to a bright, luminescent yellow color. What made it this way? Radiation? A mutation? Vandals with spray paint? Several bushes in the desert have also been known to glow, suggesting that this may be a glitch.
26 Alien Enthusiast’s House
The presence of aliens in GTA V is well-known by players. What’s less well-known is that one of the area’s residents appears to have put on a welcoming committee for our invaders. Located southwest of the prison in Blaine County, you can see a house with a large satellite dish and a banner saying “WELCOME,” complete with a picture of an alien. If eavesdropping on the residents’ conversations, you’ll hear in-depth discussions about rock formations on planets, captures, and UFO sightings.
25 The Underwater Hatch
Ah, Lost. Despite your fall from grace, you're still a pretty influential TV show. The show's famous hatch, which is an entrance to an underground station, has been replicated in GTA V. Off the East Coast, you can find the small circular hatch embedded in the seabed; however, there's a sting in its tail. It is just inside the pressure battle zone, and if you approach it, you'll meet a sticky end. You can hear tapping nearby, which turned out to be Morse code. The message? It's pretty hilarious.
24 The Grave On The Mountain
I think everyone remembers what happens at the end of Red Dead Redemption, don’t we? It’s tragic, but we end up with a grave to John Marston. On top of the mountain to the south of Cape Catfish’s lighthouse, you’ll find a lonely grave, marked with a simple cross. According to Ursula, this is the grave of her mother, the former owner of the Lighthouse Cottage. It is, however, very similar in appearance to Marston’s grave, and was used by Rockstar in a treasure hunt to promote RDR2.
23 Jolene Cranley-Evans’ Ghost
Go to Mount Gordo between 11 PM and midnight and make your way towards a large flat rock painted with the name "JOCK." Here, you'll find a spooky looking ghost of a woman, who is Jock Cranley's wife. The dishonored stuntman is responsible for her good-bye, but he escaped conviction for the crime due to a lack of evidence. Apparently, her ghost has not forgotten this fact, and is still waiting for vengeance. Sadly, it's not possible for you to help her out, but maybe that will come in a later GTA.
22 Ghostly Voices
Continuing on from the last entry, Jolene’s isn’t the only ghost in town. After 11 PM, head down to the beach on the east side of Mount Gordo. If you spot a bunch of tents, you’re in the right spot. If you linger at the spot and peel your ears back, you’ll start to hear the sinister sounds. These include whispers, screams, and more. Aside from that, the only noises you’ll hear are the roar of the ocean and the quiet sounds of fireflies. A variety of voices are heard, suggesting many people are resting in anything but peace here.
21 Fort Zancudo’s Underground Lab
Getting in here requires a mod, but if you’ve got the PC version of the game, it’s well worth doing. One building on Fort Zancudo is apparently targeted by UFOs, with one appearing above it every night at 3 AM. The mod allows players to access the building for the first time, riding down in an elevator to the lower levels. Here, they’re met with a red-and-blue tinged lab, which is packed with soldiers. It’s a huge lab, and features numerous strange objects and experiments. As I said, it’s well worth a look.
20 The Taco Van
There’s nothing more pleasing to the hungry soul than a food truck, and there’s nothing more pleasing to those wanting to cause destruction than GTA V’s taco truck. Located between 1 and 2 PM just north of Sandy Shores, it’s hard to miss, with loads of patrons hanging around. It’s a massive, heavy vehicle, ripe for causing a bit of mischief. However, if you’re looking for something more interesting to do with it, you can use it in certain heists to transport your crew. Neat, huh?
19 The Tennis Coach’s House
You know the tennis coach? That dirtbag who does the deed with Michael’s wife, leading to one of the funniest moments in the game, where you pull a house-clean off the hillside? Sadly for Michael, that house isn’t actually the coach’s. You can find it, though. Drive down the street from Martin Madrazo’s house. On the other side of the road, you can see a dilapidated house. It may not look like the residence of a successful tennis coach, but in the backyard, there are a ton of rackets and balls.
18 The Real-Time Clock Tower
Dominating the skyline of West Los Santos, there’s a massive skyscraper with a black and white clock. There’s a flat area on the top that’s accessible via the air, and it can prove to be a very useful sniping location, especially in GTA: Online. What’s most interesting about the tower, despite its great view of the city, is that the clock is connected to real-time, and is actually functioning. This is one of the very few concessions that GTA V makes to reality.
17 Thelma & Louise Reference
Have you seen Thelma & Louise? A classic film where a pair of women who escape their dull lives and go on the lam; it’s often regarded as a modern classic. Apparently, Rockstar liked the film too. Fly to Raton Canyon in the Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness, between 7 and 8 PM. You’ll see a convertible Tornado that’s surrounded by police, who are firing at the car and the two women occupying it. They’ll slowly approach the car, which will then speed off the mountaintop, exploding on the valley floor below, mirroring the film’s ending.
16 The Desert Warehouse
Another film reference by Rockstar, this time to the film To Live and Die in L.A. This rusted, rundown warehouse, located in the Senora Desert, to the east of the airstrip, bears a striking resemblance to the one in the film where counterfeit money is produced. There are a pair of dumpsters, as in the film, where one was used to store a police officer’s body. There are also a whole lot of tables and bags, as well as armed workers who patrol the warehouse and will attack the player.
15 The Famous Mansion
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll be well aware of a certain magazine's famous “Mansion.” The legendary place that many men long to visit, where Hef lived the high life. It’s actually featured in GTA V, in Richman, next to the golf course. It really, really looks like the real mansion. It has a patio at the back, a bar, and the grotto. Not many people are there during the day, but at night, it’s filled with people in various states of undress.
14 The Abandoned Sawmill
Featured in the mission Lamar Down, you can visit this sawmill anytime you like. Its Ballas inhabitants will be long gone, replaced during the day with workers. However, surrounded by the Paleto Forest, it’s no wonder that many many myths are associated with this place. These include sightings of Slenderman, as well as supposed sightings of ghosts. These ghosts are rumored to have met their end on the sawmill’s saw blades. With GTA V being the huge game that it is, these rumors are yet to be confirmed or busted.
13 Deal Gone Bad
Did you watch No Country For Old Men? I count it as one of my favorite films of the last few years, and it’s replicated perfectly in GTA V. Near the bridge across the air base, in Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness, you can come across this scene of utter destruction. Cars are parked haphazardly in a forest clearing, all riddled with bullets. You come across a wounded dealer who tells you not to take the suitcase, or you’ll pay with your life. Said suitcase contains $25K. Take it, and you’ll be relentlessly pursued by a crew of gangsters.
12 Mount Chiliad Drawing
The Xbox One, PS4, and PC versions of GTA V brought with them a lot of improvements, first-person view being the one most remembered; however, it also brought this thing with it. On the east side of Mount Chiliad, way up on the face of the mountain, you can stumble across a ... rather rude drawing. Etched in chalk, there’s a drawing of a rooster that looks rather like a certain organ. Oh, the wordplay involved in this creation must have been worthy of Keats.
11 Another Famous Mansion
The aforementioned famous magazine’s mansion is not the only renowned mansion recreated in the game. If you’re familiar with The Bachelor, you’ll know of the show’s famous residence. High in the Vinewood Hills, you can find a recreation of the show’s abode. The design and color are almost identical to the real thing, and there’s a fountain inside the courtyard, just as in the shows'. You can’t get in, but you are free to scale the decks to your heart’s content.
10 The Goatman’s Hideout
Now, it must be stressed that this is something of a GTA V myth. No one knows if it’s real, but there have been a few sightings. The goatman is an NPC that resembles the famous cryptid, with hair covering its entire body and a pair of horns on its head. It’s said that as soon as it's sighted, it’ll run under a nearby bridge. So, where do you find this creature? Well, head to Catfish View on Cape Catfish, and cross your fingers. While you wait, viewing this video is obligatory.
9 Blue Portals
Are you aware of Blue Hell? It's a space under the world of GTA, colored a sky blue, which you can occasionally fall into in GTA. It's hard to get into it in GTA V, but you can, if you're so inclined. One way to get into it is to fall from a great height into the water of the Los Santos River. Other entrances include Bell's End in GTA V, in the alleyway next to Bob Mulet, the blue and green shop in Little Seoul's strip mall, and on top of the Cluckin' Bell slaughterhouse in Paleto Bay.
8 A Reference To The Shining
At first glance, there are not many similarities between the world of GTA V and that of The Shining, one of the most famous horror movies of all time. However, look a little closer, and you’ll find a well-hidden reference. In Trevor’s safe house on Vespucci Beach, there’s an axe lodged in the bathroom door. This is a clear reference to the “here’s Johnny!” scene in the movie. Trevor can also buy and wear a jacket and shirt that looks strangely similar to the jacket and shirt worn by Jack Torrance in the film. Cleverly, it’s called “The Overlooked Jacket and Shirt.”
7 Welcome Back
“Grove Street...home. At least it was before I…,” you know the rest. The setting of the early part of San Andreas has not gone uncreated in this new vision of Los Santos. You can wander around the Cul-de-sac to your heart’s content, but there’s a cool easter egg nearby that only keen eyes will spot. At Chamberlain Hills, you can spot a large bit of graffiti. The graffiti depicts a skull wearing the Grove Street colors. The only text reads “Welcome Back,” and “We Missed You Last Time.”
6 The Perfect Cove
Finding places to hide from the cops is a tricky business in GTA. These guys seem to pursue you everywhere, no matter how ingenious you think you are. Why not head to this quiet cove? Located north of the Palmer-Taylor Power Station, there’s more than meets the eye at this location. While the cove itself is secluded, there’s a long, deep cave too. Head in here in a boat, or even a plane, and you’ll not be discovered for love nor money.
5 Fort Zancudo’s Control Tower
I recommend flicking invincibility on before you try to do this one. Break into Fort Zancudo, and, shrugging off bullets like Superman, go to the Aircraft Control Tower. Look around its base, and you’ll find a fenced in area, complete with a door. Head through, and you’ll be able to climb the tower. Offline, you’ll be met with a minigun and a great view. If you can do this without cheating, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
4 Paleto Bay Hideout
Ah, Paleto Bay. A beautiful locale to while away those lazy San Andrean days; however, that’s not all you can find here. Looking for a crafty spot to hide from the cops? You can find that here too. Back up in a tall vehicle against the low grey building off the road. Jump to the roof, dash forward, vault into the open window, and here you are. A perfect place to hide. Go through the window on the other side of the room and climb down the ladder and you’ll have another room, with a sniper’s eye view of the road.
3 Vinewood’s Walk Of Fame
If you've ever been to Hollywood, you'll likely have been to the Walk of Fame. A sidewalk studded with the names of past and present stars, Los Santos is not bereft of its own alternative. The names are characters from the games past and present, from almost every installment. These include the rapper Madd Dogg, Tommy Smith, Solomon Richards, Jock Cranley, Love Fist, Kent Paul, and more. It's something of a walk of infamy, as much as a walk of fame.
2 Underwater UFO
Despite the presence of aliens and UFOs across the world of GTA V, it seems that not every visit is as successful as they may like. Get yourself a submersible and head north of Paleto Bay. Here, you'll find sunken wreckage of a UFO. It seems to have crash-landed, encountering some fairly significant damage in the crash. It also looks like it's been there quite a while since seaweed is growing on it. I guess Fort Zancudo are unaware of this one.
1 Back To The Future References
Films don't come much more influential than Back to the Future, and it seems that GTA's devs are fans too. References to it are scattered across San Andreas. There are signs warning of a voltage of 1.21 gigawatts, the power required to use the flux capacitor. Michael can buy a top that looks like that worn by Marty McFly. Perhaps the coolest little easter egg is located in Pacific Buffs, near the Vinewood Cemetery. Here, you can spot a sign for Hill Valley Church: Hill Valley is the town featured in the movies.