Travel

The Most Captivating Abandoned Places to Explore in NYC

Perfect for eerie pre-Halloween adventures, grab your comfy walking shoes (and maybe some sage).

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock
Felix Lipov/Shutterstock
Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Across the five boroughs, hidden among all that’s new, bright, and shiny in NYC are remnants of the city’s storied past. While fresh architectural structures and contemporary glass buildings are constantly popping up around town, there’s also no shortage of crumbling-and very cool-spots around to remind us of the city’s landscape before everything turned into another uninspired corporate branch of a bank or retail outlet.

Perfect for eerie pre-Halloween adventures, this fall, grab your comfy walking shoes (and maybe some sage) and explore the most captivating abandoned places in NYC.

Flickr/gigi_nyc
Flickr/gigi_nyc
Flickr/gigi_nyc

Neponsit Beach Hospital

Jacob Riis Park, Rockaway Beach
Located directly behind what’s historically been the most popular LGBTQIA-friendly beach in NYC, Jacob Riis Park Beach, sits the Neponsit Hospital. Opened in 1915, the hospital was first intended for tuberculosis treatment of children and then World War II veterans, and was especially a big draw in thanks to its fresh sea air and sundecks. Following the hospital’s closure in 1955, six years later the grounds were reopened as a nursing home facility, which ultimately closed in 1998 due to controversial accusations of improper patient treatment. Now, the crumbling facility stands as an disheveled backdrop and well-known meeting point for sunbathers. Unfortunately, there’s little chance of exploring the grounds with a security guard patrolling around, so gazing from nearby sandy waters will have to do.

quiggyt4/Shutterstock
quiggyt4/Shutterstock
quiggyt4/Shutterstock

Fort Totten

Fort Totten Park, Queens
Once an impressive Civil War fortress, Fort Totten stands (mostly untouched) as a hauntingly beautiful relic. Built in 1862, the fort’s original purpose was to defend the New York Harbor from enemies approaching via the East River and then for the subsequent century, the fort was used in different capacities by the US Army. After being largely decommissioned in the 70s, the ruins now stands as a centerpiece for the 60-acre Fort Totten Park. Head over for a day in the park and witness some undeniably gorgeous views. In-person tours and information packets are available at the visitors center and with the park rangers.

Loew’s 46th Street Theater

Borough Park, Brooklyn
When this opulent theater opened for business in 1927, it’s said that more than 25,000 people showed up to the 3,000-seat theater for the chance to experience the incredible design of a New York City movie palace. With the rise of multi-screen movie theaters, the theater eventually evolved into a concert hall, hosting the likes of Jefferson Airplane, before it shuttered in 1973 and was converted, as it remains today, into a furniture store’s warehouse. And while it’s not the sort of abandoned place you can explore today, photos from the inside show that there’s definitely maybe some Phantom of the Opera vibes going down in there.

JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock
JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock
JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock

New York State Pavilion

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Constructed for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair (the largest ever hosted in the United States) by architect Philip Johnson, for decades, the grand structures of The New York State Pavilion have stood vacant. While the rest of the fair has slowly been demolished, the three concrete saucer-shaped observation towers and open-air arena-nicknamed “The Tent of Tomorrow”-have remained untouched. Plans are now in the works to renovate the site into a sustainable community hub (think eco-conscious suspended greenery and playgrounds), but before that, head over to glimpse this golden era of New York architecture and technology. For a complete historical rundown, tickets for a self guided audio tour are available online.

Flickr/NatureLifePhoto
Flickr/NatureLifePhoto
Flickr/NatureLifePhoto

Red Hook Grain Terminal

Red Hook, Brooklyn
Dubbed the “Magnificent Mistake,” the Red Hook Grain Terminal was a complete disaster from its inception in 1922. Failing to recoup its investment, the grain terminal never fully functioned and changed ownership multiple times before its eventual closure in the mid-1960s. Not all was lost though. Pop superstar Lorde saw the building as a diamond in the rough, and used the grain terminal as the location of her “Team” music video where she sings the lyrics, appropriately enough, “livin’ in ruins of a palace within my dreams.” If you’re not feeling entirely courageous enough for an up close lookaround, the building’s 12 stories high, so visibility is possible from a safe distance away.

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock
Felix Lipov/Shutterstock
Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Brooklyn Army Terminal

Sunset Park
Originally, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was used to house military supplies, and during Prohibition, it was full of booze confiscated from bootleggers. After being abandoned in the ‘60s, the terminal has undergone a revitalization treatment over the past few years, filling up with local small businesses and merchants like chocolatier Jacques Torres. Several of the terminal’s impressive structures are still abandoned, however, and are even available for walking tours.

Flickr/H.L.I.T.
Flickr/H.L.I.T.
Flickr/H.L.I.T.

Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital

Brooklyn Navy Yard
In what feels like a scene from Jurassic Park, parts of Brooklyn Navy Yard feel like they too were abandoned after scientists resurrected dinosaurs and had to flee. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but with the impending revitalization as a Steiner Studios film production site-projected to be completed sometime this decade-(hopefully sans dinosaurs) now’s the chance to explore the 19th-century Navy hospital, and every overgrown and dilapidated nook and cranny, that’s been mostly abandoned for over 50 years.

James Nesterwitz/Shutterstock
James Nesterwitz/Shutterstock
James Nesterwitz/Shutterstock

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Staten Island
There are plenty of abandoned buildings around the city, but to find an armada of abandoned ships you’ll have to head out to Staten Island. Located close to Fresh Kills Landfill-which is currently being renovated into Freshkills Park and set to be complete in 2036-getting around the area requires some sturdy shoes and the emotional stability to explore an area that’s ripe with post-apocalyptic visuals. Even better, your journey will likely include a trip on a ship, the Staten Island Ferry, so ahoy, matey!

Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock
Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock
Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock

Fort Wadsworth

Staten Island
From a bird’s-eye view, the multi-tiered fort known as the Battery Weed-which previously stood guard against naval attacks-looks reminiscent of some ancient Roman gladiator arena. But visitors to the island who have experienced supernatural phenomena-like the woman who claimed she was transported into the body of a wartime nurse and back again-will quickly let you know it was, in fact, a military installation. In-person tours are available now as well, just stop by the park rangers station.

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock
Felix Lipov/Shutterstock
Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Old City Hall Station

Downtown Manhattan
When NYC’s subway system first opened in 1904, the City Hall stop was widely considered as the crème de la crème of stations. Designed with tiled arches and ornate skylights by engineer Rafael Guastavino, it was one of 28 existing stops that ran from City Hall to 145th Street. By 1945, updated subway cars could no longer fit on the rails, so it was ultimately shut down and a newer City Hall station for the R and W lines currently exists. Luckily for us, the former station is not completely lost. Ride through it in an original train car with a ticket from the New York Transit Museum to experience all of its vacated glory.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Izzy Baskette is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.

Tanner Saunders is a contributor for Thrillist.

Travel

8 Suburbs Near Phoenix You Should Absolutely Visit

You could use a little space.

Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ

Phoenix is pretty great. There’s the burgeoning culinary scene, the diverse culture, the arts, of course, the sports, the great outdoors, and don’t forget about the more than 300 days of annual sunshine. We could really go on, and on, about how great this place is, but all of that greatness can blind you to all the excellence just outside it. The suburbs across The Valley are not to be missed. To encourage you to actually explore them, here’s what the best of ‘em have to offer.

Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism

Tempe

Notably, Tempe is recognized as home to one of the largest universities in the country, Arizona State. But this Phoenix suburb is so much more than a college town, although it does add to its undeniable magic. Downtown Tempe plays hosts to epic arts festivals, dragon boat races, marathons and triathlons, and dozens of other events that all take place a short-distance from Tempe Town Lake, a two-mile long perennial reservoir and urban park that attracts cylicts, rowers, and active types. Break a sweat with a hike to the top of A Mountain and take in a panoramic sunset view. Or, just belly-up to the bar at one of Tempe’s innumerable craft breweries. Both are solid choices. And both can get you acquainted with this laidback Phoenix suburb.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

Scottsdale

Nearly half of Scottsdale’s land area is dedicated to open spaces and untamed desert. Outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, road cycling, horseback riding, and kayaking reign supreme here, and the city certainly leans toward an active, wellness-centered lifestyle. And while there’s no shortage of desert to explore, Scottsdale also claims some of the best spas in the world, award-winning restaurants, world-class golf courses, it’s the center stage for major events like luxury car auctions and sporting events, and it’s even got a bustling arts scene. This Phoenix suburb checks all of the boxes, really.

Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

Gilbert

Not too long ago Gilbert was a sort of sleepy, far-away farm town. That’s certainly not the case anymore. Gilbert has grown exponentially, but its agricultural roots are still readily present in its personality and charm. Downtown Gilbert is home to dozens of restaurants and bars, most of which have a local, farm-to-table approach, naturally. And then there’s Agritopia, a friendly neighborhood with its very own shared garden and community spaces that include Epicenter and BARNONE, where you can order a wood-fired pizza, a can of experimental natural wine, and camp out under a canopy of trees in the open-air. It’s practically a utopia.

Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography

Cave Creek

A gateway to Horseshoe and Bartlett Lakes, Cave Creek’s position on the outskirts of Tonto National Forest makes it a primo spot for outdoor activities like biking and hiking and adventure by way of air balloon or horseback. Modern cowboys and gals can mosey over to The Buffalo Chip Saloon where bull riding and swing dancing are just part of a typical day. Additionally, Cave Creek has its own botanical garden, raptor rescue, and a gallery packed with person-sized crystals. And it’s all yours to discover.

Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr

Mesa

Point your GPS east and you’ll arrive in Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city. Whether you’re after outdoor adventure, looking to explore the arts and culture scene, or searching for locally made ciders and craft beer, Mesa has it all. There’s a hip, growing downtown area lined with storefronts, restaurants, theaters, and tasting rooms. And if you’re game for a little outdoor recreation, Mesa is your jumping-off point to scenic Sonoran Desert trails including Usery Mountain Regional Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, and San Tan Regional Park. Mesa is also just a short distance from The Salt River where you can cruise by wild horses and native wildlife via paddle board and Saguaro Lake is just up the road.

Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills

At the center of this Phoenix suburb is an expansive urban park and monumental water fountain that tops out at 560-feet. The fountain in Fountain Hills is larger than the Washington Monument, and it’s three times as high as Old Faithful. Pack a picnic and spread out in the park for an afternoon where you can traverse the walkable paths, cycle around the waterway, or play a competitive bout of frisbee golf. If you swing more towards traditional golf, there’s a shortlist of premier golf courses to tee-off at. And like many of the Phoenix suburbs here, Fountain Hills is surrounded by wide-open desert and scenic vistas just waiting to be explored.

Camelback Ranch - Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale

Glendale

Arizona sports teams including the Coyotes and Cardinals have home turf advantage in Glendale. Over the years Glendale has hosted three Super Bowl bouts and will host another in 2023. But Glendale’s not just a sports mecca for fans of professional football and hockey. This Phoenix suburb is homebase to Camelback Ranch, a modern ballpark with all the amenities where the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers take the field each season as part of Cactus League Spring Training. Take your time in Glendale into extra innings and visit Historic Old Town Glendale. Here you’ll encounter eclectic antique and vintage stores, restaurants, candy shops, and coffee houses.

Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery

Chandler 

Museums, urban parks, art galleries, and growing neighborhoods like Uptown Chandler and Downtown Chandler give this Phoenix suburb lots of appeal. Rows of palm trees line the Downtown area where you can start your day with a locally roasted coffee and organic breakfast bowl. Downtown Chandler regularly hosts community-focused events and it’s a popular hangout for craft beer drinkers. SanTan Brewery, Pedal Haus, and The Perch, with 40 beers on tap and tropical birds at every turn, all call this Phoenix suburb home.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, and content creator. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.

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