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Attention Nature Lovers: These Are America’s Favorite City Parks, Ranked

ghost cities america

There’s no doubt about it: New York City’s Central Park is impressive. An 840-acre slab of green space, right in the heart of Manhattan. But while Central Park may be the most famous of urban parks, that doesn’t mean it’s the only one worth visiting.

From San Francisco to Boston, some of the United States’ most metropolitan areas are also home to some of the country’s most breathtaking bits of nature. Excluding the all-too-obvious Central Park, these are America’s favorite city parks.

31. Dolores Park, San Francisco, California

Located in the Mission District’s sunny microclimate, just two blocks from the iconic Mission Dolores, this San Francisco park is a long-standing favorite amongst Bay Area locals. In recent years, foot traffic has bloomed with roughly 7,000 to 10,000 people flocking to Dolores Park on a sunny weekend day.

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Of Dolores Park, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that “as the wide variety of park visitors indicates — from Latino families to young hipsters to [gay folks from the Castro neighborhood] — it sits at the intersection of a number of San Francisco demographic groups. And it always has.” With stunning views of the city, off-leash dog areas, playgrounds, tennis courts and plenty of green space to unroll a beach blanket on, Dolores Park is an all-occasion hangout spot.

30. Mill Ends Park, Portland, Oregon

Okay, so this park doesn’t involve any hiking — nor can you sunbathe or fire up a grill. Instead, Mill Ends Park in Portland, Oregon, is one of those bucket list-type attractions. And why’s that? Well, at two feet across — with a total area of 452 square inches — this little circle of a spot is the smallest park in the world.

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Given its unique distinction in 1971 by the Guinness Book of Records , Mill Ends Park was initially meant to be the site of a new light pole. When construction came to a standstill, Oregon Journal columnist Dick Fagan planted flowers in the hole and dubbed it Mill Ends. Now, tourists flock to the median strip near the Willamette for a chance to spot this record-setting park.

29. Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

Located in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., this park dates back to 1890. In fact, Rock Creek Park was just the third national park established by the United States government, following in the footsteps of Yellowstone and Mackinac National Park. In autumn, the valley puts on a stunning foliage show — all within miles of the National Mall.

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In total, Rock Creek Park encompasses roughly 2,000 acres, and all that acreage is filled with equestrian and hiking trails, sports venues, an amphitheater, an outdoor concert venue, a golf course, a planetarium, a picnic area and more. Cultural and historic landmarks are also scattered throughout the park, with the most notable being the water-powered grist mill, Pierce Mill.

28. World’s End, Hingham, Massachusetts

Okay, so admittedly some people might consider this one a bit of a stretch. Technically, the ominously named World’s End isn’t located in Boston proper. Instead, it lies just across Boston Harbor in Hingham, Massachusetts. That means this park offers some of the best views of the Boston skyline and Emerald Necklace.

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In 1889, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was asked to design a residential subdivision on the peninsula. As such, the park includes carriage paths — though no homes were ever erected. Composed of drumlins — elongated hills formed by the movement of glacial ice — World’s End offers sweeping grasslands and nearly five miles of tree-lined trails.

27. Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

Occupying 30 acres of Savannah, Georgia’s, historic district, Forsyth Park is perhaps best known for its fountain in the park’s north end. Added in 1858, the fountain is similar to the one located in Paris’ Place de la Concorde — probably because Parisian urban planning was all the rage at the time of the park’s construction.

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Featured in films like Cape Fear (1962) and The Longest Yard (1974), the fountain’s water is dyed green each St. Patrick’s Day in honor of the city’s Irish heritage. In addition to the iconic fountain, Forsyth Park contains numerous walking paths, play areas for kids, various courts and fields and the Fragrant Garden for blind visitors.

26. LeBauer City Park, Greensboro, North Carolina

Although Greensboro’s LeBauer City Park is a mere four acres, it cost a whopping $10 million — a gift from the will of the late Carolyn LeBauer, for whom the park is named. The park’s project coordinator remarked that the new space, located near the city’s cultural center, history museum and public library, would serve as “an anchor for the cultural campus.”

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Perhaps the most stunning — and recognizable — feature of the park is the Janet Echelman sculpture titled Where We Met . Hailed as the largest outdoor art installation in the Southeast, the grant-funded sculpture looks like a net of colors, measuring 200 by 130 feet, and is suspended over the park’s main lawn. Although the sculpture is made of various stronger-than-steel polyethylene compounds, it was inspired by the city’s vibrant textile industry.

25. Scioto Audubon Metro Park, The Metro Parks, Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio’s, Metro Parks are made up of 19 sprawling urban parks in and around the city. In total, the Parks encompass a staggering 27,500 acres of both land and water and touch over seven counties in Central Ohio. Chock full of trails, educational facilities and land for resource management and recreational activities, the parks system is diverse.

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Although all of the parks have a unique vibe, the most metropolitan of them all is the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, which is located near Downtown Columbus in the Brewery District. As a major stopover for bird migration, the park features wetlands, in addition to a climbing wall, trails and an old water tower that melds the natural and manmade.

24. Container Park, Las Vegas, Nevada

Located in Downtown Las Vegas — the old Vegas — this park is part of the city’s ongoing effort to revitalize some off-the-Strip locales. Built using around 30 shipping containers and 41 modular cubes, the park is filled with kid-friendly play areas and 39 boutique shops, restaurants, cafes and bars.

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Although it spans just 19,000 square feet, which doesn’t feel like a whole lot in the ever-expansive desert, Downtown Container Park certainly makes an impression. That impression is, in part, thanks to the reclaimed shipping containers — and thanks in part to the 55-foot-tall steel praying mantis sculpture at the entrance.

23. The Lawn on D, Boston, Massachusetts

Located on the city’s thriving waterfront, Boston’s Lawn on D bills itself as “an unforgettable venue that’s full of life.” In a sense, the Lawn has rebranded itself — more of a gathering place than your typical park. The outdoor venue boasts a pavilion, tons of green space and quite a few innovative features.

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In addition to solar-powered phone chargers and food trucks, the Lawn on D provides visitors with lounge chairs, interactive art exhibitions, bocce, table tennis and free Wi-Fi. Perhaps the most recognizable (and Instagrammable) element of this South Boston staple, however, is the light-up swings, pictured here. Ever-popular, the installation, called Swing Time , is a set of swings “outfitted with solar-powered LED lights that change color when swung at varying speeds and heights.”

22. Maggie Daley Park, Chicago, Illinois

This 20-acre park is located near the shores of Lake Michigan in northeastern Grant Park and connects to Chicago’s Millennium Park via a pedestrian footbridge. Named after the city’s former first lady, the park was built where the Daley Bicentennial Plaza once stood.

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In remaking the park — a process that took two years and $60 million — the city created an ice skating ribbon, climbing walls, children’s play area (complete with water features) and a garden that honors cancer survivors. One of the most stunning features of the park? The Enchanted Forest. The interconnected network of footpaths is flanked by upside-down trees and archways and features a mirror maze.

21. White River State Park, Indianapolis, Indiana

Covering 250 acres of Indianapolis, White River State Park is also in one of the city’s seven cultural districts. The park boasts the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Indianapolis Zoo, beautiful gardens, sports and entertainment venues and even an IMAX Theater.

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The area on which the park now stands was revitalized in the 1980s, when the good people of Indianapolis realized the Indiana Central Canal, which was never properly finished, was just sitting there, partly dug. Soon enough, the area was restored, becoming the multi-faceted park it is today. Originally, folks behind the project wanted to add something special to the park to complement the city’s skyline. Although plans for what was dubbed the Indiana Tower were drawn up, it was never built.

20. Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Featuring public art and historic homes, Fairmount Park is split into two sections — the oh-so-creatively named East Park and West Park. The Schuylkill River bisects the two sections, which together compose an area totaling a whopping 2,052 acres. As Philadelphia’s first park, Fairmount is also rich in history.

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Originally, the park was divided into three sections: South Park, known for its gardens; Old Park, which encompassed several estates; and West Park, the area that contained the Philadelphia Zoo and played host to the Centennial Exposition — also known as the 1876 World’s Fair. That means it was on the grounds of Fairmount Park that such iconic items as Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, the Remington typewriter and Heinz Ketchup first debuted.

19. Queen Kapi’olani Regional Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

Known as the largest and second-oldest park in Hawaii, Queen Kapi’olani Regional Park is located in Honolulu near Kuhio Beach Park. Named after the Queen consort of King David Kalākaua, the park contains everything from soccer fields to archery ranges and hosts international rugby and lacrosse tournaments annually.

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The Honolulu Cricket Club, also nestled in the park, is noted by Guinness World Records as being the oldest sporting club in the Pacific, dating back to 1893. Beyond its natural beauty and incredible vistas, the 300-acre park lures locals and tourists alike thanks to attractions such as the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Shell, an outdoor concert venue.

18. Falls Park on the Reedy, Greenville, South Carolina

In downtown Greenville’s historic West End district, outdoor enthusiasts will find themselves mesmerized by Falls Park on the Reedy, so named for its location on the Reedy River. Known as the birthplace of Greenville, the park was officially founded in 1967 when a local garden club reclaimed 26 acres of green space that’d previously been used by textile mills.

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Featuring public gardens, the wall from an 18th-century grist mill, public art and even a restaurant, Falls Park offers visitors a unique mix of history and nature. Of course, the park’s namesake is also its most striking feature: The falls are made even more impressive thanks to the Liberty Bridge, a 355-foot-long suspension bridge that curves around said falls.

17. City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans’ 1,300-acre public park is reportedly the 20th-most-visited urban public park in the country. To put its size in perspective, City Park is roughly 50% larger than Central Park. Other stats? Well, the park is the 48th oldest in the United States, dating back to 1854 — although some of its residents are even older.

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Known for housing the world’s oldest collection of mature oak trees, City Park’s oldest oaks are over 600 years old. That’s a lot of rings. Unfortunately, hurricanes have posed a huge threat to the green space: In 1949, one of the two “dueling oaks,” which derived their name from the fact that men would literally duel each other beneath the trees back in the 19th century, was decimated by a storm.

16. Theodore Wirth Regional Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Shared by the city of Minneapolis and the suburb Golden Valley, Theodore Wirth Regional Park is the city’s largest green space. The park was named after the former superintendent of Minneapolis parks, who served in his position for 30 years. Although Minnesota is the land of a thousand lakes, Theodore Wirth Regional Park contains just one lake, Wirth Lake, and one pond.

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Its original 66 acres grew to a whopping 759 acres — and, now, it even contains two golf courses. As part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, the park also links the Chain of Lakes area with one of the state’s larger parkways. On the grounds, sharp-eyed visitors can spot a plaque that marks the 45-degrees latitude line, which demarcates the halfway point between the North Pole and the equator.

15. Zilker Park, Austin, Texas

Situated at the juncture of the Colorado River and Barton Creek, Zilker Park is made up of roughly 350 acres of green space that were donated to the city of Austin by a wealthy benefactor in 1917. The park’s size makes it a fitting venue for large-scale events like the ever-popular Austin City Limits Music Festival.

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As more and more tech companies set up hubs in the city, Zilker is quickly becoming city-dwellers’ go-to escape. Filled with hiking and biking trails, Zilker Park also features sports fields, picnic areas, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum and the Austin Nature & Science Center. Looking to soak your feet after a long trek? Barton Springs pool offers public swimming — and a lovely look at Austin’s growing skyline.

14. Lands End, San Francisco, California

After the Gold Rush in California, entrepreneurs designed the Cliff House — a resort for the wealthy — on the very edge of San Francisco. Every Sunday, a horse-drawn stagecoach carried visitors from downtown San Francisco to the Pacific’s shores at Lands End. Eventually, millionaire Adolph Sutro built a steam train to transport guests and constructed an enormous bathhouse on the beach.

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These days, a version of the Cliff House still stands, but the Sutro Baths are ruins of a bygone era. Situated right at the mouth of the Golden Gate, Lands End is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and offers views of San Francisco’s most iconic bridge. The old rail beds have been turned into hiking trails, allowing visitors to explore the rugged coastline, public art installations and more.

13. Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s Lincoln Park takes up an impressive 1,200 acres, bordered by Lake Michigan as well as quite a few of the city’s neighborhoods — Edgewater, Uptown, Gold Coast, Lakeview, Streeterville and, of course, Lincoln Park. The park’s Lakefront Trail offers up a scenic 18-mile-long stretch that’s perfect for joggers, strollers and cyclists alike.

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During the summer months, the park’s beaches are a popular destination. And, during the winter, folks only pop up on the sandy shores to snap a cool picture or two of the city’s skyline. For those who’d rather not lounge on the lake, Lincoln Park also offers a nature boardwalk, conservatory, history museum and zoo.

12. Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California

Located in Los Angeles, Griffith Park is an impressive 4,310 acres, which means it’s one of the largest urban parks in North America and the second-largest urban park in the state after San Diego’s Mission Trails Preserve. Although it’s more rugged than Central Park, Griffith Park is almost as iconic, especially when it comes to filming locales.

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One of the most iconic movie moments filmed at the park? In The Terminator , Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives in 1984 and emerges from the Griffith Observatory. (Nice night for a walk, eh?) We could go on about the park’s movie connections, but there’s so much more to it than that. With equestrian trails, hiking paths, a zoo, an art museum and a train enthusiasts’ club with connections to Walt Disney, Griffith Park is certainly one of the more unique places on our list.

11. Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri

Although it opened in 1876, Forest Park hosted two of its most significant events in its history in 1904 — the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the Summer Olympics. At 1,326 acres, locals have dubbed the park the “Heart of St. Louis” and, as such, it features quite a few big-name attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Science Center.

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About two decades ago, the park began a restoration project that ended up totaling $100 million. This pricey facelift improved Forest Park’s landscaping and habitats, such as meadows, a variety of ponds, wetlands, prairie land and freshwater streams, all of which provide a wonderful home for migratory birds and animals. One of its most iconic features? The Jewel Box, an Art Deco-style greenhouse.

10. The Gathering Place, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Gathering Place stretches over 100 of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s, precious acres. Thanks to the George Kaiser Family Foundation and 80 other private contributors, the largest private donation — a whopping $465 million — to a public park in America’s history was made to this unique green space. According to Thrillist, the chairs at The Gathering Place cost a whopping $5,500 apiece.

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The vision? “A Park For All.” That means the organizers of The Gathering Place were keen on putting diversity and equality first, meaning the park and its many features value accessibility. From playgrounds and lawns to wetlands and a skate park, this park is clearly the Place to be. In fact, National Geographic listed it as one of the world’s 12 most mind-bending playgrounds, while Time magazine dubbed it one of The World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2019.

9. Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park covers 1,200 acres of open spaces, gardens, paths, museums, restaurants and theaters. Dating back to 1835, the site of the present-day park is one of the oldest areas in the country to be dedicated solely to public recreational use. But that’s not where its rich history stops.

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In 1915–16, the park hosted the Panama–California Exposition and, two decades later, it housed another world’s fair — the California Pacific International Exposition. As is the case in cities the world over, these fairs were the cause of several of Balboa Park’s most recognizable landmarks, including the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue, and the Botanical Building (pictured), which houses the park’s beautiful gardens.

8. South Mountain Park, Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix’s South Mountain Park wins the title of largest municipal park in the country — and it nabs a spot on the list as one of the largest urban parks in the world. Encompassing a truly astounding 16,283 acres, the mountainous park is chock full of desert vegetation and the native chuckwalla, a large lizard that loves arid climates.

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The park was established in 1924 thanks to President Calvin Coolidge, who sold the city the park’s then-13,000 acres for a mere $17,000. Although a bit of suburban sprawl flanks the park land, visitors are still utterly transported to a place that feels anything but metropolitan. With over 58 miles of trails, a 1,000-foot-tall lookout point and a landmark known only as Mystery Castle, South Mountain Park is definitely worth a visit.

7. Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York

As we’ve previously noted, Central Park is great and all, but, if you find yourself on the other side of the river, we highly recommend Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Situated near quite a few popular neighborhoods, including Park Slope, Flatbush and Prospect Heights, the park encompasses an impressive 526 acres, making it the borough’s second-largest public park behind Marine Park.

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Laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also helped design Manhattan’s Central Park, Prospect Park opened in 1867. The nearby Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are all located just outside the park’s grounds, but this green space still has a lot to offer, from a zoo and outdoor concert venues to a Quaker cemetery. In fact, the park boasts the borough’s largest remaining forest and its only lake.

6. Forest Park, Portland, Oregon

If you still have time to kill after checking out Portland’s oh-so-tiny Mill Ends Park, we highly recommend Forest Park, which stretches an impressive eight miles across the city’s hillsides. Unsurprisingly, this scenic stretch offers quite the view of the Willamette River and makes the park one of the country’s largest urban forest reserves.

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Covering 5,100 acres, the park is mainly composed of second-growth forest and features over 70 miles of trails. Thanks to civic leaders back in 1860s who wanted to preserve the woods near the city, the Olmsted brothers — sons of the prestigious Frederick Law Olmsted — were brought in to develop a plan for Forest Park. Thanks to these early conservation efforts, more than 122 bird species and over 60 mammal species enjoy the park alongside human visitors.

5. Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

While South Dakota is certainly known for national parks and your typical natural sprawl, folks don’t always associate city life with the state. However, Sioux Falls proves that the area is more than just The Mount Rushmore State. As the name suggests, the park is centered around a beautiful splay of falls on the Big Sioux River.

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Best of all? There’s no admission fee to see the 123-acre park’s namesake. The falls themselves cascade 100 feet over the state’s famous black rock formations. And if that isn’t enough for you, other highlights include tons of outdoor sculptures, an observation tower and even the remains of the old Queen Bee Mill, which was built in the late 1800s.

4. Gas Works Park, Seattle, Washington

With just 19 acres under its belt, Seattle’s Gas Works Park may not be as large a green space as some of the other public parks on our list, but it has a lot of personality. And by that we mean it would play really well on your Flickr account. Home to the Seattle Gas Light Company’s old coal gasification plant, the park brings urban decay right to the shores of Lake Union.

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The plant operated for a good 50 years before shuttering in 1956 and, by 1962, the city scooped up the land with plans to give it a second life as a public green space. Richard Haag, the landscape architect behind Gas Works, won an award for design excellence, highlighting the way in which cities have the ability to meld the old and new — the manmade and the natural.

3. Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan

Located in the Detroit River, this 982-acre island park is owned by the city of Detroit — though it’s situated quite close to our Canadian neighbors. After Grosse Ile and Fighting Island, Belle Isle is the third-largest island in the river — and it’s the largest city-owned island park in the United States. Both a cool and very specific feat.

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A quick drive across the MacArthur Bridge will land visitors on the isle, which is home to an aquarium, a conservatory, a golf course, a nature center and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. If you choose to swim along its half-mile stretch of beach, you’ll most likely spot the island’s Coast Guard station and Detroit’s Yacht Club. But our favorite landmark on the island is the William Livingstone Memorial Light, the only marble lighthouse in the United States (pictured).

2. High Line, Manhattan, New York

Built on a disused section of the New York Central Railroad line known as the West Side Line, the High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated park that runs from the Meatpacking District (a few blocks below 14th Street) through Chelsea and to the West Side Yard on 34th Street. In the old days, freight trains got into so many collisions with traffic on 10th and 11th Avenues that the area was nicknamed “Death Avenue.”

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Now, the High Line, which opened in 2009, is considered a remarkable feat of contemporary landscape architecture. Filled with plant and animal life, it’s becoming its own ecosystem — and, certainly, anything but another Death Avenue. This park in the sky welcomes over five million visitors each year, and it nabs such a high spot on our list for inspiring countless other cities in the United States to reclaim abandoned infrastructure in order to create public spaces.

1. The Presidio, San Francisco, California

In 1776, Spain gained a foothold in California and set up a military base — or presidio — right on the San Francisco Bay. Later on, the United States used the area as an army base, building barracks, hospitals and weapons stores. In 1989, Congress voted to end the Presidio’s status as an active military installation, and by 1994 the National Park Service took over the land.

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Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Presidio is one of the world’s largest national parks situated in an urban setting. In addition to offering camping sites, extensive trails, public art and unbeatable views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the park is also home to many businesses, from nonprofit organizations and private residences to restaurants and museums. With an eye toward ecological restoration and reclaiming abandoned infrastructure, the Presidio proves just how amazing it is to have a national park folded into one of the country’s most iconic cities.


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Bodie, CA

16 eerie ghost towns in America you can actually visit

You might actually see a spirit at these long-forgotten, abandoned ghost towns in America

America is home to hundreds of ghost towns and abandoned settlements. While they’re dotted across the county, they are ubiquitous in regions like California, Nevada and Colorado that experienced the boom and then bust of industries like mining.

Visiting ghost towns in America is a chance to step back in time, taking in life as it once was. Picture tumbleweeds rolling down Main Street, once-bustling stores now sitting in eerie silence, and faded signs that hint at lives lived long ago. You can wander through old homes, buildings and streets to get a snapshot of the past, taking in stories of pioneers, prospectors, and dreamers. Like the name suggests, you may even spot a ghost along the way.

If you're interested in a glimpse into the past, we've rounded up the most fascinating ghost towns in the US to discover America’s hidden history. If spooky travel is your thing, don’t forget to visit the scariest real-life haunted houses , take yourself on a ghost tour or pay your respects at the most hauntingly beautiful graveyards .

An email you’ll actually love

Ghost towns in America

Centralia, PA

1.  Centralia, PA

An underground mine fire gone seriously wrong led to this modern ghost town northwest of Philadelphia. In 1962, a fire accidentally spread to the town's old, underground mines, creating sinkholes that spewed smoke and toxic fumes across the community. In 1983, most of the town was evacuated, and in 1992, its real estate was claimed under eminent domain and condemned by the state (delivering the final blow, the ZIP code was officially recalled in 2002). Even though Centralia's fire is still burning today—and expected to burn for another 250 years—four residents still live in the doomed town as of 2020 (sounds like they’re playing with fire, if you ask us). Only five homes remain standing in this town. 

Custer, ID

2.  Custer, ID

The population of this gold mining town, located deep inside Idaho's Challis National Forest, peaked in 1896. Home to a massive stamp mill, it had eight saloons and a tiny Chinatown complete with laundry services, a shoe store, and a joss house (a Chinese place of worship). But just 15 years after its boom, Custer's mills shut down and its residents had no choice but to leave their remote mountain home; by 1911, just two families remained. However, most of the town still stands, and in 1981 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Its buildings are open seasonally for visitors and the original school now serves as a museum.

Bodie, CA

3.  Bodie, CA

This Gold Rush-era town near Yosemite has stood eerily untouched for almost 100 years. Although it already showed signs of decline with dwindling numbers at the start of the 20th century, a series of fires forced the remaining residents to flee the town, leaving it almost exactly as it was in the early 1900s. Dinner tables are still set, shops are still stocked with supplies, and the schoolhouse still has lessons on the chalkboard. Be warned: bad luck is said to befall anyone who steals anything from the site while visiting. 

Kennecott, AK

4.  Kennecott, AK

This preserved-in-time copper mining town is located at the end of a 60-mile-long dirt road in the middle of Alaska's Wrangell–St. Elias National Park (the largest national park in the USA). In its heyday, from around 1910 to 1940, Kennecott processed nearly $200,000,000 worth of copper. By 1938, however, the mine was empty and the Kennecott Copper Corporation abruptly abandoned the operation, leaving everything behind. Today, with St. Elias Alpine Guides, you can take a two-hour guided tour (the only official way to get into the town with its 14-story mill). Make sure also to visit the Root and Kennecott glaciers, too.

Rhyolite, NV

5.  Rhyolite, NV

This ghost town near Death Valley National Park was once a bustling ore mining community. In 1904, gold was found within its quartz (rhyolite is a silica-rich volcanic rock that contains quartz, hence the town name), and the game was on with 2,000 claims in a 30-mile area. Soon, Rhyolite boasted a hospital, an opera house, and a stock exchange. In 1906, Charles M. Schwab spent several million on its Montgomery Shoshone mine. Unfortunately, following the 1907 financial panic, businesses were shuttered and residents began to move out. In 1916, light and power were turned off, and the town went ghost. Today, Rhyolite is perhaps best recognized as the set for ScarJo's 2005 sci-fi thriller The Island .

Cahawba, AL

6.  Cahawba, AL

Cahawba was the state's first capital from 1820 to 1825, situated at the junction of two rivers. After the war, the legislature was moved to Selma and the town lost business and population—and periodic flooding wreaked havoc. Today, it's visitable as Old Cahawba Archeological Park, which honors the history of the Native American presence there and the years when many freedmen and women lived there. You can see abandoned streets, cemeteries and building ruins—just make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the ghostly 'orb' that's been known to appear in the garden maze at the home of C.C. Pegues.

Glenrio, NM/TX

7.  Glenrio, NM/TX

Straddling the border between New Mexico and Texas, Glenrio was an action-packed stop on Route 66 for decades. From the 1940s until the 1960s, the tiny town's gas stations, diners, bars and motels were packed with road-trippers passing through the Southwest. But when I-40 was built in the 1970s, drivers no longer stopped in Glenrio, and the town fell into disrepair. Not all is lost, however: the Glenrio Historic District includes 17 abandoned buildings.

St Elmo, CO

8.  St Elmo, CO

Like many ghost towns in the US, St. Elmo (originally called Forrest City) was once a thriving gold and silver mining community. When the gold and silver ran out and disease stalked the town, the population dwindled. The nail in the coffin ended the train service to Chalk Creek Canyon in the '20s. Surprisingly, a general store and Ghost Town Guest House are still operating, which means visitors can spend the night in this ghost town even if the scene is a little  unlively .

Nelson, NV

9.  Nelson, NV

Early Spanish settlers found silver in Nelson (then Eldorado) in the 1700s. It took another hundred years for other prospectors—many of them Civil War deserters—to find gold, creating the largest booms Nevada had ever seen. All hell broke loose when they did: disputes over the Techatticup Mine, the town's most notorious site, frequently led to murder. Nelson's mines remained active through the 1940s. An infamous 1974 flash flood destroyed the town of Nelson's Landing, five miles away. Nelson's buildings remain today—the ghost town is now a popular location for photo, film, and music video shoots.

Bannack, MT

10.  Bannack, MT

Paranormal enthusiasts may already know about this desolate former mining town in Montana—it’s featured in the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures . The Gold Rush-era city was known in its time for being a little rough (holdups, robberies, and murders were well documented on the route to nearby Virginia City) and the sheriff of Bannack was a rumored outlaw. The town was abandoned by the 1950s, but more than 50 of its original 1800s structures still stand and can be explored now that it's a state park.

Santa Claus, AZ

11.  Santa Claus, AZ

Sure, the middle of the Mojave Desert isn’t the first place you’d look for jolly old Saint Nick—and yet that didn’t stop this now-abandoned town in Arizona from dedicating itself to all things Christmas. Realtor Nina Talbot founded the town in 1937 to attract buyers to the desert, and while Santa Claus was popular with tourists for a bit, all the Christmas spirit wasn't enough to convince enough folks to move in. The decline of Route 66 sounded a death knell for the playing of Jingle Bells. You can still see rundown red-and-white buildings and forlorn tinsel for yourself (it’s not maintained, but you’re free to visit).

Thurmond, WV

12.  Thurmond, WV

In the early 1900s, the railroad kept this West Virginia town humming as a thriving depot for coal. Thurmond had it all as a major stop on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway—hotels, banks, a post office, and more. Sadly, the Great Depression, followed by the invention of the diesel train in the 1950s, ended Thurmond's prosperity. Today, the National Park Service has restored the depot, and the town is on the National Register of Historic Places; you can take a self-guided tour of the now quiet town. Reach it by driving seven miles down a narrow, winding road.

Calico, CA

13.  Calico, CA

Calico once thrived with its busy silver mines, beginning auspiciously in 1881. But in the mid-1890s silver lost its value and the inhabitants skedaddled. Walter Knott purchased some of Calico’s buildings to disassemble and move them to Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park near Disneyland. He returned to buy and restore Calico itself, which he later deeded back to the county; it’s now a county regional park that’s an accurate-looking ghost town if not wholly literal. There were once 500 mines here and now you can tour the Maggie Mine and 30 structures—shops, saloons, schoolhouse—and stay in a tent, bunkhouse or cabin overnight. In late October, watch for the “Ghost Haunt” weekend events.

Goldfield, NV

14.  Goldfield, NV

This was your authentic Gold Rush mining camp, established in 1902, which was once the largest city in Nevada. The mines went bust and a flash flood spelled the town’s decline ten years before a fire put things to a conclusive end. Yet, about 250 people still live here among the remnants of the town with saloons, slanting homes, deserted hotel and shacks. It’s worth a visit to poke around this “living ghost town;” we especially recommend the said-to-be-haunted Mozart Tavern, where locals treat visitors with special kindness. Paranormal ghost tours take place here regularly, and the Goldfield Days in August temporarily fill the town back up to its boomtown population.

Goldfield, AZ

15.  Goldfield, AZ

There’s more than one Goldfield Ghost Town in the U.S., and this one in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains may provide less of that quiet contemplation of ruin and abandon than a ghost town usually provides; things are hopping here and the latest addition is a zipline. But there are tours of a legitimate century-old mine, a narrow gauge railroad, a walking ghost tour at night, seasonal historic gunfights over the contents of a Wells Fargo box, the typical gold-panning, and the not -typical chance to talk with a ‘floozy’ at Lu Lu’s Bordello. Bring the kids?

Castle Dome, AZ

16.  Castle Dome, AZ

This place is enormous, with 80 buildings and 300 mines (not all are safe to enter). It represents a salvaging of the once-booming mid-1800s settlement (only seven buildings are original), with reconstructions harking to the gold and silver mining claims enacted here. The tales here are impressive, with an 1863 mine owner attacked by 180 Apaches and left in an arroyo to be half-eaten by coyotes, and the wild chain of events that followed, including an opium overdose, a stagecoach robbery and a fellow being shot trying to stop a lynching. There’s much more: an $800 million fluorescent minerals wall and a doomsday cult that wintered here, but we’ll just say it’s worth the visit.

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11 Abandoned Ghost Towns in the U.S. You Can Still Visit

Get a taste of the past at these cool ghost towns in the U.S.

Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of Be a Travel Writer , an online course for the next generation of travel journalists. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure , Time , Los Angeles Times , Glamour , and many more. You'll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.

ghost cities america

John Elk/Getty Images

The rapid expansion west helped U.S. towns blossom all over the United States. Be it for their fertile land or stellar trading, tiny townships once boomed across the nation — until one day, they didn’t. Abandoned because of illness, collapsing industry, or merely because their once lively citizens moved on, these communities became known as “ghost towns.”  Perfectly (or near perfectly) preserved relics of our past can be found around the nation. As The New York Times reported , some 3,800 ghost towns exist in America, mostly abandoned between the 19th and 20th centuries for greener pastures and big city dreams. However, just because no one lives there doesn’t mean you can’t visit.

Here are 11 ghost towns in the U.S. you can still experience today.

Silver City, Bodfish California 

htrnr/Getty Images

Saving Silver City , located in California’s Kern River Valley, was a major labor of love. According to Sierra Nevada Geotourism , the 20-plus buildings that remain preserved to this day are thanks to the efforts of Dave and Arvilla Mills, who painstakingly worked to move the structures to a safe location as they were slated for demolition in the 1960s. Through their hard work, visitors today can see the buildings used in the mining camps around the area, as well as settler housing and even an old jail. The town now operates as a museum and is open seven days a week. 

St. Elmo, Colorado

Steve Heap/Getty Images

Founded in 1880, St. Elmo was once a thriving gold and silver mining community. Some 2,000 people eventually moved here looking for their little piece of prosperity, but by the early 20th century, the mines ran dry. So, the townspeople “rode the last train out of town and never came back,” according to its website. You can see their almost perfectly preserved homes and storefronts by visiting the community during the summer months. 

Terlingua, Texas

Loop Images/Getty Images

Terlingua is yet another mining town, only this one became one of the greats. By the 1930s, the community was the largest producer of quicksilver in the nation, according to Visit Big Bend . However, by the 1940s, the company leading the mining went broke, filed for bankruptcy, and many residents moved on. However, this place has had somewhat of a renaissance, with newcomers moving in, making the one-time abandoned spot a little more lively and more inviting to visitors, like you. 

Rhyolite, Nevada

Education Images/Getty Images

Rhyolite, you guessed it, is yet another mining town that was eventually left abandoned. Here, miners came for the plentiful quartz. Some 30 camps were set up within a short span, the National Park Service noted on its website, and the town even became home to its own stock exchange for a while. However, when the mining went belly up, so did the town. But you can still come to see the old bank and town’s former jail and dream about what life was like for this thriving community at the turn of the 20th century. 

Custer, Idaho  

RobertCrum/Getty Images

Custer is one of the older ghost towns on this list. Founded in 1879, the community became a must-visit destination for gold speculators and eventually was the home of the Lucky Boy and Black mines, which employed many of the townspeople. The community, Visit Idaho explained , reached its peak in 1896 with 600 residents. However, by 1910, the town was left abandoned. Thankfully, many of its buildings were left intact, and in 1966, the Challis National Forest took ownership, and the community even landed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, visitors can come to explore the mining town during the summer months with free guided tours. 

Kennicott, Alaska

David González Rebollo/Getty Images

Head further north, all the way to Alaska, to see another pristine example of what life was like in early 20th century America (though this one wasn’t technically in America, as Alaska didn’t become an official U.S. state until 1959). Kennicott was a one-time thriving copper mining community, attracting many miners and their families. However, the region was mined out by the 1930s and became a ghost town in 1938. However, the National Park Service once again stepped in to preserve the town and even put together this handy map for a self-guided tour . 

Calico, California

Peter Unger/Getty Images

California was a hotbed of activity for miners in the 1800s, due to the presence of gold and other minerals. Several made their way to Calico , a town in Bernardino County, for their shot at finding silver. They did — at least for a while, until the mid-1890s, when silver lost its value and those looking for their fortunes left as quickly as they came. But the town has stood the test of time thanks to Walter Knott, who purchased the place and its buildings in the 1950s and restored those that lost their luster. You can visit every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

South Pass City, Wyoming

South Pass City began as another gold mining town in the mid-1800s, but after an initial boom, the gold ran dry. Rather than abandon the town on first pass, however, many who came for the gold stayed for the fertile land, setting up farms and homesteads. That too went by the wayside, but the community center still stands as a testament to the preservation efforts by the state, which designated it a historic site in 1968, alongside a dedicated group of volunteers who maintain it to this day. Come for a tour throughout the summer season. 

Independence, Colorado

Faina Gurevich/Getty Images

Prospectors struck gold in Independence, Colorado , sometime in the late 1800s, causing others to quickly follow suit. According to the Aspen Historical Society, the Farwell Mining Company acquired most of the leading mines by 1881 and employed hundreds of people thereafter. The town peaked with about 1,500 residents, and local businesses flourished — that is, until workers moved out in search of other riches, leaving the town abandoned. However, in 1975, the Aspen Historical Society took on the work of restoring the town for all the world to see. You can visit during the summer months via a self-guided tour. 

Nevada City, Montana

Teresa Otto/Getty Images

Nevada City could have just been another mining ghost town that languished in the annals of history. However, this one-time gold mining community was restored by the Bovey family, who worked on the project between 1945 and 1978. Today, many of the town’s original wooden structures remain. There are even a few intact music boxes and player pianos to check out inside. Admission is $10 for adults, and guests can visit over the summer months. 

Goldfield, Arizona

We bet you don’t have to guess what people were after in Goldfield, Arizona , in the mid-1800s. Prospectors made their way here to work in the Mammoth Gold Mine and quickly turned it into the kind of town that would later inspire Wild West movies. While here, visitors can still see its multiple saloons, general store, boarding house, and more. You can even watch a recreation of an old gun fight, thanks to the Goldfield Gunfighters. The town is open every day to visitors. 

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Ghost towns: once thriving communities that have dwindled over the decades. Some vanished entirely or were absorbed into newer settlements, but many of these towns still stand, at least in part, allowing us glimpses of what these now-abandoned places once were.

Where are America’s ghost towns, and how do they look today? Scroll down to find out.

We’ve researched over 3,800 ghost towns to show their spread across the country and within each state.

Photo of Peter Ling

Professor of American Studies

Photo of Berlin

Nearest city

Hawthorne, NV

Nearby ghost towns

Ione, NV Broken Hills, NV

Map showing the location of Berlin

McCarthy, AK

Map showing the location of Kennicott

Key West, FL

Map showing the location of Fort Jefferson

Missoula, MT

Coloma, MT Bearmouth, MT Pioneer, MT

Map showing the location of Garnet

Bridgeport, CA

Aurora, NV Dogtown, CA Masonic, CA

Map showing the location of Bodie

Buena Vista, CO

Tincup, CO Turret, CO

Map showing the location of St. Elmo

Picacho, CA Jaeger City, CA Tumco, CA

Map showing the location of Castle Dome

St. George, UT

Adventure, UT Duncan's Retreat, UT Grafton, UT

Map showing the location of Harrisburg

Lion City, MT Pioneer, MT Trapper City, MT

Map showing the location of Bannack

Lordsburg, NM

Shakespeare, NM

Map showing the location of Steins

55 ghost towns Talladega County contains the most, with 6. There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Hoover.

A photo of a ghost town in Alabama

Arcola, Hale County

32 ghost towns Nome contains the most, with 7. There are 4 ghost towns within 50 miles of Anchorage.

A photo of a ghost town in Alaska

Kennicott, Valdez-Cordova

131 ghost towns Yavapai County contains the most, with 24. There are 24 ghost towns within 25 miles of Prescott Valley.

A photo of a ghost town in Arizona

Fairbank, Cochise County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

20 ghost towns Marion County contains the most, with 3. There are 15 ghost towns within 50 miles of Fort Smith.

A photo of a ghost town in Arkansas

Rush, Marion County

346 ghost towns Kern County contains the most, with 113. There are 71 ghost towns within 25 miles of Bakersfield.

A photo of a ghost town in California

Bodie, Mono County

99 ghost towns El Paso County contains the most, with 14. There are 14 ghost towns within 25 miles of Colorado Springs.

A photo of a ghost town in Colorado

St. Elmo, Chaffee County


4 ghost towns

6 ghost towns Sussex County contains the most, with 5. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Wilmington.

257 ghost towns Polk County contains the most, with 17. There are 20 ghost towns within 25 miles of Saint Petersburg.

A photo of a ghost town in Florida

Fort Jefferson, Monroe County

16 ghost towns There are 9 ghost towns within 50 miles of Augusta.

A photo of a ghost town in Georgia

Auraria, Lumpkin County Hellohowareyoudoing / CC BY-SA 3.0

21 ghost towns Honolulu County contains the most, with 6. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Honolulu.

A photo of a ghost town in Hawaii

Kapoho, East Puna Bob Linsdell / CC BY-SA 3.0

26 ghost towns Lemhi County contains the most, with 4. There are 7 ghost towns within 50 miles of Boise City.

A photo of a ghost town in Idaho

Rocky Bar, Elmore County J.Day Photography / CC BY-SA 3.0

82 ghost towns Macoupin County contains the most, with 12. There are 11 ghost towns within 25 miles of Waukegan.

A photo of a ghost town in Illinois

Benjaminville, McLean County A McMurray / CC BY-SA 3.0

42 ghost towns Warren County contains the most, with 11. There are 12 ghost towns within 25 miles of West Lafayette.

A photo of a ghost town in Indiana

Corwin, Tippecanoe County

26 ghost towns Buchanan County and Clayton County each contain 3. There are 22 ghost towns within 50 miles of Dubuque.

A photo of a ghost town in Iowa

Donnan, Fayette County Firsfron / CC BY-SA 3.0

308 ghost towns Shawnee County contains the most, with 10. There are 20 ghost towns within 25 miles of Lawrence.

A photo of a ghost town in Kansas

Dunlap, Morris County Patrick Emerson / CC BY-ND 2.0

13 ghost towns There are 9 ghost towns within 50 miles of Covington.

A photo of a ghost town in Kentucky

Creelsboro, Russell County

17 ghost towns Pointe Coupee Parish contains the most, with 9. There are 13 ghost towns within 50 miles of Baton Rouge.

A photo of a ghost town in Louisiana

La Balize, Plaquemines Parish

5 ghost towns Somerset County contains the most, with 3.

A photo of a ghost town in Maine

Perkins Township (Swan Island), Lincoln County Timothy Krause / CC BY 2.0

15 ghost towns Garrett County contains the most, with 9. There are 10 ghost towns within 50 miles of Gaithersburg.

A photo of a ghost town in Maryland

Daniels, Baltimore County Timothy Krause / CC BY 2.0


11 ghost towns Worcester contains the most, with 3. There are 5 ghost towns within 25 miles of Holyoke.

A photo of a ghost town in Massachusetts

Whitewash Village, Barnstable County Zachary Cava / CC BY 2.0

128 ghost towns Grand Traverse County contains the most, with 12. There are 16 ghost towns within 50 miles of Novi.

A photo of a ghost town in Michigan

Harrietta, Wexford County Roman Kahler / CC BY-SA 4.0

55 ghost towns Winona County contains the most, with 5. There are 14 ghost towns within 50 miles of Rochester.

A photo of a ghost town in Minnesota

Forestville, Fillmore County Tony Webster / CC BY-SA 2.0


27 ghost towns There are 4 ghost towns within 50 miles of Biloxi.

A photo of a ghost town in Mississippi

Rodney, Jefferson County Michael McCarthy / CC BY-ND 2.0

21 ghost towns St. Charles County contains the most, with 4. There are 10 ghost towns within 25 miles of Kansas City.

A photo of a ghost town in Missouri

Phenix, Greene County Diedrichb / CC BY-SA 4.0

106 ghost towns Carbon County contains the most, with 9. There are 19 ghost towns within 50 miles of Bozeman.

A photo of a ghost town in Montana

Bannack, Beaverhead County

31 ghost towns Pawnee County contains the most, with 13. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Lincoln.

A photo of a ghost town in Nebraska

Dobytown, Kearney County

106 ghost towns Nye County contains the most, with 15. There are 13 ghost towns within 50 miles of Henderson.

A photo of a ghost town in Nevada

Ione, Nye County

New Hampshire

8 ghost towns Grafton County contains the most, with 4. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Nashua.

A photo of a ghost town in New Hampshire

Monson, Hillsborough County John Phelan / CC BY-SA 4.0

11 ghost towns Burlington County contains the most, with 3. There are 3 ghost towns within 25 miles of Newark.

A photo of a ghost town in New Jersey

Batso Village, Burlington County mullica / CC BY 2.0

39 ghost towns Sandoval County and Grant County each contain 5. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Albuquerque.

A photo of a ghost town in New Mexico

Lake Valley, Sierra County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

14 ghost towns Cattaraugus County contains the most, with 5. There are 7 ghost towns within 50 miles of Troy.

A photo of a ghost town in New York

Tahawus, Essex County

North Carolina

16 ghost towns Carteret County contains the most, with 3. There are 5 ghost towns within 50 miles of Asheville.

A photo of a ghost town in North Carolina

Brunswick Town, Brunswick County Rob Friesel / CC BY-SA 2.0

North Dakota

23 ghost towns Ward County, Grant County and Williams County each contain 3. There are 5 ghost towns within 50 miles of Bismarck.

A photo of a ghost town in North Dakota

Petrel, Adams County Andrew Filer / CC BY-SA 2.0

26 ghost towns Clermont County contains the most, with 4. There are 10 ghost towns within 50 miles of Lancaster.

A photo of a ghost town in Ohio

Moonville, Vinton County ChristopherM / CC BY 2.0

236 ghost towns Pushmataha County contains the most, with 13. There are 11 ghost towns within 25 miles of Norman.

68 ghost towns Baker County contains the most, with 9. There are 13 ghost towns within 50 miles of Keizer.

A photo of a ghost town in Oregon

Shaniko, Wasco County


105 ghost towns Indiana County contains the most, with 36. There are 71 ghost towns within 50 miles of Pittsburgh.

A photo of a ghost town in Pennsylvania

Frick's Lock, Chester County

Rhode Island

1 ghost town

A photo of a ghost town in Rhode Island

Hanton City, Providence PristineLibertine / CC BY-SA 3.0

South Carolina

11 ghost towns Barnwell County contains the most, with 5. There are 3 ghost towns within 50 miles of Greenville.

A photo of a ghost town in South Carolina

Dunbarton, Barnwell County

South Dakota

238 ghost towns Lawrence County contains the most, with 93. There are 51 ghost towns within 25 miles of Rapid City.

A photo of a ghost town in South Dakota

Burdock, Fall River County Runner1928 / CC BY-SA 3.0

12 ghost towns There are 10 ghost towns within 50 miles of Knoxville.

A photo of a ghost town in Tennessee

Loyston, Union County

511 ghost towns Wilson County contains the most, with 31. There are 25 ghost towns within 25 miles of New Braunfels.

A photo of a ghost town in Texas

Heckville, Lubbock County Leaflet / CC BY-SA 3.0

136 ghost towns Carbon County contains the most, with 18. There are 13 ghost towns within 25 miles of Lehi.

A photo of a ghost town in Utah

Harrisburg, Washington County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

5 ghost towns

A photo of a ghost town in Vermont

Somerset, Windham County Andy Arthur / CC BY 2.0

19 ghost towns York County, Henrico County and Prince William County each contain 3. There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Richmond.

A photo of a ghost town in Virginia

Jamestown, James City County Sarah Stierch / CC BY-SA 2.0

116 ghost towns King County contains the most, with 16. There are 14 ghost towns within 25 miles of Auburn.

A photo of a ghost town in Washington

Lester, King County BryonDavis / CC BY-SA 2.0

West Virginia

21 ghost towns Fayette County contains the most, with 9. There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Charleston.

A photo of a ghost town in West Virginia

Thurmond, Thurmond Mike / CC BY-ND 2.0

155 ghost towns Adams County and Milwaukee County each contain 10. There are 20 ghost towns within 25 miles of Racine.

A photo of a ghost town in Wisconsin

Muskego Settlement, Racine County McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0

33 ghost towns Fremont County contains the most, with 6. There are 5 ghost towns within 50 miles of Cheyenne.

A photo of a ghost town in Wyoming

Miner's Delight, Fremont County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

18 of the Spookiest Ghost Towns in America

Old mines, abandoned buildings, and ghostly orbs: These are a few of the most haunted locales in the country.

Headshot of Ellen Sturm Niz

Calico, California

ghost towns in america california

Although you probably won't find any silver in this one-time mining hot spot, you can experience a goldmine of activities in this ghost town turned tourist attraction. At Calico Ghost Town —now a California historical landmark—you can explore Maggie Mine, the only formerly used mine in the area that's safe for guests to see. You can also take a ride on Calico Odessa Railroad to see all of the sights. If you're really feeling daring, you can even participate in one of the spooky ghost tours!

Rhyolite, Nevada

Rhyolite Ghost Town near Death Valley

On the eastern edge of Death Valley sits Rhyolite , a former mining hub. At its peak in 1907, this town boasted a hospital, an opera house, and a stock exchange. The area seemed so promising that even Charles M. Schwab invested and bought one of the mines . Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the thousands of people to scatter: A financial crises, natural disasters, and the loss of funding caused nearly every resident to leave the Nevada spot by 1920.


Goldfield, Arizona

ghost towns in america arizona

Aptly named, Goldfield was swarming with miners hopeful for gold in the late 1800s, but was dried up by 1898. The area was inhabited and renamed Youngsberg in 1921, but was abandoned once again in 1926. In 1988, the defunct city took the route of a few other ghost towns and became a tourist attraction with a handful of activities including a zipline, a reptile exhibit, and horseback rides. There's also a museum, a saloon, and other different merchants.

St. Elmo, Colorado

ghost towns america st elmo

Formerly named Forest City, St. Elmo was once a bustling mining center with a population of 2,000 at its peak. By 1930, though, only seven people reportedly resided there, including the family who ran the general store and the hotel—one who is rumored to haunt the place to this day. Now privately owned and maintained, visitors can still swing by the small city, which is said to have some of the most paranormal activity in the state.

Terlingua, Texas

ghost towns america terlingua

Though most of its residents fled after the market for mercury crashed, Terlingua actually remains fairly bustling. Visitors can snack on chili at the "internationally acclaimed" restaurant , grab a drink at the saloon, explore the ruins, and wander the halls of the old jail during their time at the historic hotspot.

Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana

House, Property, Building, Home, Log cabin, Roof, Rural area, Siding, Cottage, Architecture,

Interested in experiencing the mortal fear of trying to stay alive in the gun-slinging Old West? The former residence of Calamity Jane, Virginia City has resisted change since 1863, with hundreds of historic buildings still standing. One mile down the road on Alder Gulch is Nevada City, another town that boomed and busted thanks to the Gold Rush. Ride a train between the two cities where you can witness early settlers struggle to survive and actual historic events through living history shows (the hanging of Red Yeager, anyone?). The reality of life in a Gold Rush town is likely to leave you shaking in your (cowboy) boots.

Bodie, California

Room, Furniture, Property, Interior design, Table, House, Floor, Building, Chair, Antique,

Abandoned by the discouraged gold rushers who followed William Bodie to the town to try—but not succeed—to find more of the precious metal he had discovered in 1859, this well-known ghost town in California has been left eerily untouched for more than 150 years. Shacks still stand with tables set, waiting for their long-gone residents to return, while shops and restaurants are still stocked up with some supplies, prepared to service customers who will never arrive. If that isn't spooky, what is?

Cahawba, Alabama

House, Property, Building, Home, Cottage, Architecture, Real estate, Rural area, Farmhouse, Estate,

Southwest of Selma lies "Alabama's most famous ghost town." As the state's first permanent capital from 1820 to 1825, a bustling center for the trading and transport of cotton before the Civil War, and a village for freed slaves after the war, this town at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers made several comebacks after floods and yellow fever epidemics. Unfortunately, its residents all drifted away for good by 1900. Now known as Old Cahawba Archaeological Park , the town and its abandoned streets, cemeteries and ruins have been the setting for many ghost stories, including one about a ghostly orb appearing in a now-vanished garden maze at the home of C. C. Pegues.

Kennecott, Alaska

Mountain, Mountainous landforms, Sky, House, Hill station, Hill, Mountain range, Building, Architecture, Painting,

Considered the best remaining example of early 20th-century copper mining, this mill town is at the end of a 60-mile dirt road in the middle of Alaska's massive Wrangell–St. Elias National Park. From 1911 to 1938, Kennecott employed as many as 300 people in the mill town and 300 in the mines, processing nearly $200 million worth of copper. As a company town, it included a hospital, general store, school, skating rink, tennis court, recreation hall, and dairy. By 1938, however, the copper ore was tapped out, and the Kennecott Copper Corporation abruptly abandoned the town, leaving behind their equipment, their buildings, and their personal belongings.The National Park Service and tour operators offer guided access to the 14-story concentration mill and several other historic buildings, telling tales of lucky fortunes, tenacious frontiersmen, and tragic endings in the remote wilderness.

Bannack, Montana

House, Highland, Home, Rural area, Building, Hill, Architecture, Landscape, Mountain, Tree,

This desolate former mining town in Montana is so riddled with paranormal activity it was featured in an episode of the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures . Founded in 1862 when John White discovered gold on Grasshopper Creek, Bannack was a typical gold rush town in the Wild West. After gold was discovered in nearby Virginia City, many prospectors moved there and the road between the two towns became the scene of more holdups, robberies and murders than almost any other stagecoach route—with the leader of the outlaw gang later discovered to be Bannack's very own sheriff. The mining town lasted longer than most, with its population finally petering out between 1930 and 1950, at which point the state of Montana made the well-preserved town a state park . Today, over sixty structures are still standing, most of which can be explored.

South Pass City, Wyoming

Sky, Property, Natural landscape, Cloud, House, Wilderness, Rural area, Landscape, Mountain, Village,

Another well-preserved mining town in the American West, South Pass City was founded in 1867 when the large Carissa gold deposit was discovered near the Sweetwater River. Located about 10 miles north of the Oregon Trail on the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains, throngs of prospectors soon descended on the area despite the severe conditions, hoping to also strike it rich. Within a year, the population had swelled to about 2,000 people, mostly men, and saloons, brothels, and the boisterous and dangerous life of a frontier town were in full swing. Despite throwing themselves into the back-breaking work, the prospectors didn't find more large gold deposits, so by the mid 1870s, only 100 people remained. Homes, stores, hotels and saloons fell into disrepair, with the last of the pioneer families moving away in 1949. Today, a handful of residents have returned to live in South Pass City, and the South Pass City State Historic Site features more than 30 preserved historic structures dating from the city's heyday.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Road, Water, Watercourse, Thoroughfare, Infrastructure, Grass, Road surface, Geological phenomenon, Asphalt, Landscape,

With smoke and noxious gases escaping from every nook and cranny, this Pennsylvania town has been smoldering since 1962—and its underground fire is expected to burn for 250 more years. A landfill burn gone awry sparked the fire in an abandoned coal mine, which quickly spread into the veins of the coal deposits that had once been the key to Centralia 's prosperity. When the initial damage was done, the catastrophe had scorched 140 acres of the town and the surrounding area. Residents evacuated, homes were leveled, and the highway was closed down as the massive fire caused gaping sinkholes spewing fumes. Of the nearly 2,000 Centralia residents who were there when the mines caught fire, only six still remain, determined to make the few streets and buildings in this doomed town their home until they die.

Thurmond, West Virginia

Transport, Track, Train station, Railway, Sky, Iron, Mode of transport, Architecture, Building, House,

Thurmond 's empty downtown belies the fact that five people still actually live in this West Virginia town, now a ghost of the thriving community it used to be. Once a big stop on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, the invention of the diesel locomotive in the 1950s rendered its coal-run railroad obsolete. The train depot is now a museum, Amtrak station, and visitors' center for travelers who come to the region to raft on the New River Gorge National River, and the quaint Thurmond Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. Surprisingly untouched by modern development, Thurmond is a throwback to an American town of the past, an unsettling reminder of how prosperity can be fleeting.

Glenrio, Texas/New Mexico

Motor vehicle, Automotive exterior, Vehicle, Car, House, Sky, Tree, Windshield, Home, Auto part,

During the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, travelers packed Route 66, sending tens of thousands of people through Glenrio , a tiny town on the border of Texas and New Mexico that offered motorists a road stop with gas stations, diners, bars, western-themed motels, and even a dance hall. When I-40 was built in the 1970s, however, drivers now bypassed the former overnight desert oasis. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Glenrio Historic District includes the old Route 66 roadbed and 17 abandoned buildings, like the Little Juarez Diner, the State Line bar, and the State Line Motel, its now-broken signs announcing to nonexistent motorists that it's the "last in Texas"—or the "first" depending on your direction of travel through the American West.

Bulowville, Florida

Ruins, Ancient history, Archaeological site, Historic site, Wall, Tree, History, Column, Building, Architecture,

Cleared of its natural forest in 1821 by Charles Bulow to establish a 2,200-acre plantation to grow sugar cane, cotton, indigo, and rice, this East Florida land soon also housed the area's largest sugar mill, built by Bulow's son, John. Its title didn't last long, however, as the Seminole Indians set fire to the plantation and mill in 1836 during the Second Seminole War. Built of hardy local coquina rock, the mill's massive ruins now rise eerily among the large oak trees that have reclaimed the land in the 150-acre Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park , while the crumbling foundations of the plantation house and slave cabins show the volatility of Florida frontier life.

Essex County Jail Annex, North Caldwell, New Jersey

Cage, Animal shelter, Building,

A prison is always haunting, but an abandoned one exudes an even creepier feeling, especially the austere Victorian-style Essex County Jail Annex in New Jersey. First built in 1873 and expanded over the years to include an auditorium, hospital, and cafeteria, much of the facility was closed down in the 1970s and it was abandoned for good in the late 1990s. Left to decay and vandalism by thrill-seekers, inmates' files filled with mugshots and rap sheets soon covered the floor of the auditorium, while shotgun ports and tear gas modules on the ceilings of the mess hall remain to remind trespassers of their potential harrowing fate should they be judged criminals.

Grossinger's Catskill Resort, Liberty, New York

Urban area, Building, Architecture, City, Daylighting, Window, Glass, Metal, Art,

In its heyday, the Grossinger's Catskill Resort was the sort of seasonal retreat featured in Dirty Dancing , where well-to-do families in the 1950s spent their summers lounging by its two massive swimming pools, playing golf or tennis, and enjoying the lush 1,200-acre surroundings just two hours north of New York City. In the winters, it offered theatre and skiing, the first place in the world to use artificial snow on its slopes. Of the cabins, cottages, hotel, landing strip, post office and more that served the resort's hundreds of thousands of guests until it closed in the mid 1980s, a few exquisite places still remain undemolished or horribly vandalized. One is the stately natatorium, gorgeously overgrown with moss and ferns, with sunlight streaming through its windows and skylights onto the graffitied pool and abandoned lounge chairs. The other is the hotel's lobby and ballroom where the twin staircases, massive fireplaces and a checkerboard ceiling suggest its former glory. If you listen hard enough, you might still hear the tinkling of cocktail glasses or the clicks of heels dancing the foxtrot.

Rolling Acres Mall, Akron, Ohio

Snow, Winter, Urban area, Architecture, Freezing, Building, Room, House, City, Ice,

Built in 1975 and expanded several times, the Rolling Acres Mall once housed more than 140 stores, a movie theater and a food court. In 2008, the mall was closed and only two large retailers continued to operate, with all stores finally closing in 2013. Having changed owners several times and currently in the process of foreclosure, the once-bustling mall will likely be demolished. Until then, the 1,300,000-square-foot space remains an eerily empty relic of modern civilization, with its cracked glass ceilings letting in snow during winter storms as if the structure stands alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Headshot of Ellen Sturm Niz

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The 10 most haunted cities in America


Most Haunted Cities in America

You’ve heard of some houses that are purported to be haunted but did you know that some cities are more prone to visitors from the past? There are two main reasons why some cities may be more haunted than others, said Andrew Nichols, the executive director of the American Institute for Parapsychology. First, if it’s an old city with a tremendous amount of history – a lot of southern cities fit this category – it may have a lot of, ahem, spirit. “Locations and objects have memories, just like people have memories,” Nichols explained. The other is geology. “Areas that have unusual magnetic field properties are particularly conducive to ghosts and hauntings,” Nichols said. An unusual magnetic field can be caused by everything from high-voltage power lines to the presence of seismic fault zones, flowing underground water and large concentrations of iron ore – like the red sandstone in parts of Arizona such as Sedona. Are you ready for a spine-tingling journey through streets, alleys and cemeteries where the undead roam? Click through for Rent.com’s  list of The Top 10 Most Haunted Cities in America, some of the hot spots – or, rather, cold spots – and who it is that might still be hanging around. By Cindy Perman Posted 12 Oct 2010

10. Portland, Ore.

There are several fault lines under Portland, Ore., which is also situated on the Columbia River – two criterion that make it a perfect haunting ground. Plus, there’s a lot of history there – some of it, a tortured history. The Shanghai Tunnels, which run beneath the buildings and streets of Portland, were used in the 1800s to kidnap people and ship them off to Asia as slaves and prostitutes. A saloon owner may get you properly drunk, the lore goes, and then send you down a secret hatch -- never to be seen again. Some say those spirits still roam the tunnels and during tours, visitors have reported hearing whistling, smelling fragrances – or even being touched. One of the city’s most famous haunts is the White Eagle Café, a former brothel, hotel and boarding house . Its employees have reported smelling smoke when there is no fire, being overwhelmed by the smell of cheap perfume, and even flying objects.

9. San Francisco

San Francisco, like Portland, has fault lines and water working in its ghostly favor. The Cameron House in Chinatown, once a hiding place for immigrants to escape the brutality of the police, was burned down with people inside – and some say they remain trapped there, even turning up in photographs now and again. A police officer is said to roam Golden Gate Park and a former head mistress is thought to be presiding over her old girls school, now the Queen Anne Hotel. And at Alcatraz, the damp, punishing island prison where some of the most notorious prisoners were sent, some say there are inmates serving not just life – but eternity. Visitors have reported hearing voices – and the sounds of cell doors closing.

Chicago, where gangsters and Confederate soldiers once roamed, sits on several fault lines as well as Lake Michigan, which makes it a perfect corridor for the paranormal. Gangsters used to like to dump the bodies here and some say you can still hear screams from the Clark Street Bridge. The Clark Street Bar, near the site of the former warehouse where Al Capone’s notorious Valentine’s Day Massacre took place, is also said to be haunted. There are over 6,000 Confederate soldiers buried at Oak Woods Cemetery during the Civil War, and strange figures have been reported there. If you’re traveling on Archer Avenue, beware the famous “vanishing hitchhiker.” Since the 1930s, men driving northeast on the road have reported picking up a female hitchhiker, often described as blond, blue-eyed and wearing a white party dress, but when she asks to be let out at Resurrection Cemetery, she steps out of the car – and vanishes.

7. Charleston, S.C.

Charleston is one of those good ‘ol Southern cities, where there’s so much history – from the Civil War to pirates and voodoo -- the ghosts never want to leave. Plus, two rivers run through it, providing liquid fuel for a ghostly fire. At the Boone Hall Plantation, the ghost of a Civil War soldier has been spotted, and it looks like he’s trying to remove a bullet from a fallen comrade. At the Brick House and the Thirteenth Step, legend has it that the ghosts of scorned lovers linger. The downtown area, known as The Battery, was an artillery installation during the Civil War. Guests at the Battery Carriage House Inn may find their room already taken – some male guests have reported waking to see a man standing by their bed, while some female guests have reported a male ghost, ahem, in their bed. The Dock Street Theatre is also said to have two eerie visitors from the past – the ghost of actor Junius Brutus Booth, the father of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and the ghost of a prostitute the locals call “Nettie.” In all, there are more than 20 places thought to be haunted, and sure to send a tingle up your spine.

6. St. Augustine, Fla.

St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, has a “long history and reputation for being haunted,” Nichols explained. Not just because of its history, but also because of its geography: There is a lot of limestone, which is porous, letting water – and the spirits – pass through. One of its most famous haunts is the Castillo de San Marcos, a star-shaped fort, where the spirits of soldiers – and a love triangle past – may still roam. A colonel’s wife was apparently having an affair with his chief officer and when the colonel found out – the lovers were never seen again. Years later, they found bones in a dungeon. And, to this day, some people still see the ghost of the woman, Delores, and smell her rose-scented perfume – the very perfume that may have given her love away. It is also said that if you put your ear to one of the walls – you can still hear the sounds of battle – and blood-curdling screams. The St. Augustine lighthouse is a world-famous haunt, where a former caretaker is said to roam its spiraled stairs, along with two children who may have died there.

5. San Antonio, Texas

After St. Augustine, San Antonio is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and ghost stories have been floating around for hundreds of years. The Alamo, the site of the famous battle between Mexican and Texan troops that claimed the life of Davy Crockett, has seen many deaths and some still claim to see apparitions patrolling the roof and hear prisoners moaning. Many buildings along the river walk are said to be haunted, including the Alamo Street Restaurant and theater. Former actress Margaret Gething is said to watch performances from the balcony in a long flowing dress. A young boy named Eddie is said to bang around the kitchen and enjoys playing pranks. A section of railroad tracks just south of San Antonio, near the San Juan Mission, is said to be haunted by the ghosts of children who were killed more than 50 years ago when their bus stalled on the tracks. It is said that any car that stops near the tracks, will be pushed by unseen hands across the tracks – to avoid a similar fate.

4. New Orleans, La.

New Orleans has voodoo and slavery in its roots, and limestone in its geography, creating a perfect elixir for the spirit world. “Various wars, slavery, torture and murder have taken place there,” Nichols said,” so there is just about any type of ghostly legend imaginable.” Antoine’s Restaurant is one of the French-Creole restaurants that put New Orleans on the culinary map, and proprietor Antoine Alciatore, who opened it in 1868, is said to still preside over its various dining rooms, wearing a tuxedo. Marie Laveau, “The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans,” is thought to be the city’s most famous ghost. She is buried in the St. Louis Cemetery on the edge of the French Quarter, and if you need to ask her for a favor, legend has it that all you have to do is knock on her crypt three times. Some people leave her money, alcohol, flowers or other items to win her favor.

3. Salem, Mass.

Famous for its vicious witch trials in the 1600s, Salem is thought to be haunted by the spirits of 19 “witches,” who were put to death for their alleged crimes. Some say their spirits linger at Gallows Hills, the site of their executions, while others roam elsewhere. The spirit of Bridget Bishop is said to haunt the Lyceum Bar and Grill, where she used to own an apple orchard. And the spirit of Farmer Giles Corey, also accused of witchcraft, is said to haunt the Howard Street Cemetery – a sighting is considered an omen of something bad to come. Today, the town has become a kitschy tapestry of witch tales and tours but visitors say they get an eerie feeling when they visit some of its historic sites like “The House of 7 Gables,” the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale exposing the witch trials his grandfather presided over as hypocrisy and injustice.

2. Gettysburg, Pa.

Gettysburg is the site of one of the most massive Civil War battles that resulted in 51,000 deaths, and all 40 miles of its battlefield are thought to have paranormal activity. Ghosts are said to turn up in photos taken in the town from time to time, including the ghost of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. “So much emotional energy was expended at Gettysburg, you have to think that some of it must remain,” Mark Nesbitt, an author and historian, said in a television documentary. Civil War buffs have reported ghost sightings and the sounds of phantom cannon fire there during re-enactments. Imagine how confusing that must be for the ghosts – their spirit energy is trapped there, and now they find the war is still raging on nearly 150 years later! One of the most eerie tales from Gettysburg comes from two school administrators at the offices of Gettysburg College, which was once the site of a field hospital. It was nearly midnight when they were leaving. They pressed “1” on the elevator, but it took them to the basement. When the doors opened, they saw the field hospital – with amputations in progress. One of the orderlies looked up at them, chilling them to the bone. There are many ghost tours, which are great for learning the local lore, but Nichols suggests that, as a general rule of thumb for ghost hunting, spending the night in an inn thought to be haunted is a good way to increase your chances of an encounter. Gettysburg has many of these, including the Quality Inn at General Lee’s headquarters and the Cashtown Inn & Restaurant.

1. Savannah, Ga.

Savannah is one of the cities the American Institute of Parapsychology gets the most reports about. It has that perfect combination of a deep history – and a lot of underground water, that make it a perfect place to stick around. The Mercer House was the home of Jim Williams, a voodoo-practicing antiques dealer and the main character in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The home is said to be haunted by the man he allegedly killed in a heated argument, though he was acquitted in three separate trials. In nearby Bonaventure Cemetery, the spooky, Spanish moss-draped cemetery where the famous bird girl statue is from the cover of the book, visitors report hearing laughter and conversations and a pack of ghost dogs that haunt its grounds. Several ghost sightings were reported at Fort Pulaski, a Civil War fort, during the filming of the movie “Glory.” The Pirate’s House restaurant, thought to be one of the inspirations for “Treasure Island,” is said to be haunted by a gruff sailor and a pirate named “Captain Flint.” And Anna Powers, a scorned lover is said to be a permanent resident in room 204 of the 17Hundred90 Hotel. Visit them… if you dare!


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Modern ghost towns where no-one lives

Abandoned towns frozen in time.

ghost cities america

Born from big ambitions, these modern-day towns are now eerily lifeless landmarks, built to accommodate booming populations before misfortune or misjudgment rendered them obsolete. From hundreds of abandoned châteaux to UFO-shaped holiday homes that failed to find buyers, discover the deserted settlements that fell by the wayside and remain entirely unoccupied to this day. Click or scroll on...

State Guest Mansions, Shenyang, China

ghost cities america

In 2010, Chinese property giant Greenland Group began building State Guest Mansions, an upmarket neighbourhood of 260 lavish homes complete with luxury amenities, designed for China's millionaires. But just two years later, the elaborate plans were shelved and these European-style châteaus were left to rot. “These [homes] would have sold for millions – but the rich haven’t even bought one of them,” a local farmer told AFP . “They weren’t built for ordinary people.”

ghost cities america

As we can see from these photos taken in March 2023, the project now lies in ruins. From the enormous chandeliers to the marble floors and fluted columns, it's evident that an enormous amount of work went into creating the now eerie abandoned villas. At the time, China's economy and real estate sector was growing, but with President Xi Jinping's rise to power in 2012, everything changed. An effort was made to put an end to government corruption and consequently, people became less inclined to show off their wealth. 

ghost cities america

As a result, funding for developments like this one was cut off, plans were abandoned and half-finished developments were deserted. Thanks to a government clampdown on excessive borrowing in 2020, demand for lavish homes has dried up even further, leaving numerous ghost towns – known as "rotten-tail" homes in Chinese – littering the landscape. According to AFP , one report suggests that almost 4% of housing projects in China have been abandoned half-built as of June 2022.

ghost cities america

However, the developer's loss has been the locals' gain and the slightly spooky neighbourhood has been given a new lease of life – albeit very different from the one intended. Farmers have moved into the ghost town and they plow the wide dirt roads, sowing crops that they irrigate with water from the man-made lake. They've built pens between the villas to house their cattle and poultry, and the garages that were meant to house supercars now shelter hay bales and farm equipment. While there's little hope that the project will ever be completed, the locals are free to carry on using what might just be one of the world's most extraordinary makeshift farms!

McMansion Ghost Town, Missouri, USA

ghost cities america

What was meant to be a lavish, multibillion-dollar development soon turned into a nightmare for the people that chose to buy homes at the proposed Indian Ridge Resort Community. Now known as the McMansion Ghost Town, this eerie place proves that money can't, in fact, buy you everything... Plans for the ultra-exclusive community in Branson West, Missouri, were announced in 2006 and the project was set to cost $1.6 billion (£1.3bn) to complete. Keen investors were promised that the state-of-the-art Ozarks compound would come equipped with everything a millionaire could need, from a shopping mall to a luxury hotel, as well as dozens of contemporary, castle-like houses.

ghost cities america

Yet, sadly for those that invested in the project, the community would never come to fruition. The financial crisis hit, bank loans were defaulted on and construction work came to a swift halt. Only 13 homes were started and 15 years later, the 900-acre development is still not finished. Left to languish, the abandoned mansions are far from luxurious. The couple behind YouTube channel  Our 80s Life  even ventured to the site to shoot a fascinating video of what the eerie community looks like today.

ghost cities america

Up close, you can see the ambition behind the development. The  unique ghost town  features grand, incomplete mansions that have lost the fight with Mother Nature. Weeds and trees have taken over the homes' interiors and many of the windows are smashed or missing. Shrouded in controversy, the abandoned estate was at the centre of one of the largest real estate fraud investigations in American history back in 2017. At least three of the community's developers were imprisoned for bank fraud and money laundering, KY3 reported . Those found guilty have also been forced to pay back the $14 million (£11m) that they borrowed under false pretences.

ghost cities america

Despite being funded by ill-gotten gains , there were glimmers of hope for this abandoned town. Exclusive property developers  Brookwood Group  purchased the expansive estate and in 2018 they unveiled their plans. The company's proposed community was to be called The Ridge at Table Rock Lake, offering luxury homes as well as a hotel, hospitality, entertainment and healthcare facilities, right on the doorstep of the Ozarks. However, their plans appear to have evaporated. In October 2022, theme park Silver Dollar City confirmed that they had purchased the site and that the townhouses would be torn down to make way for a new development.

Skrunda-1 Soviet town, Raņķi Parish, Latvia

ghost cities america

93 miles west of Riga lies the sleepy Latvian town of Skrunda. Made up of farms, fields and quaint hamlets, the region also harbours a rather spooky secret. Known as Skrunda-1, this former Soviet metropolis stands derelict in the middle of the countryside. In its prime, the clandestine city housed more than 5,000 people but now serves as an eerie reminder of Latvia's turbulent history.

ghost cities america

The Communist-era city was constructed in the 1960s and featured 10 Brutalist apartment blocks, a supermarket, gymnasium, school and even a nightclub. The site also boasted a network of underground bunkers and several radar stations, which were strategically important to the Soviet Union. Covering western Europe, the stations detected objects in space and tracked possible incoming ballistic missiles that could have devastated the country.

ghost cities america

The town is thought to be one of 40 secret settlements that the Soviets built during the height of their power. Once a thriving military and civilian community, Skrunda-1 soon fell into disrepair when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. The last remaining residents are said to have moved out of the town in 1999 and it has remained untouched ever since, with many of the buildings still containing photographs, clothing, furnishings, newspapers and children's toys.

ghost cities america

In 2015, the Latvian government paid a private company roughly $14,000 (£11k) to purchase the town. The intention of the redevelopment plan was to use half the town for military purposes, while the other half would consist of housing to be rented out to locals. However, it doesn't appear that any updates have been made in the years since the purchase, so the future of Skrunda-1 remains a mystery.

Sanatorio de Abona, Tenerife, Spain

ghost cities america

The Spanish island of Tenerife is loved for its rugged volcanic landscape, black-and-white sand beaches and spectacular azure waters, but the picturesque holiday resort also harbours a rather unique addition that very few people know about...

ghost cities america

Sanatorio de Abona can be found nestled on a scenic cliff face on the island's southeast coast. The sanatorium was designed in 1943 by the Spanish architect José Enrique Marrero Regalado after an outbreak of leprosy looked set to take over the country. 

ghost cities america

At the time, many believed that isolating in a hot, dry climate was the best way to cure people of the progressive bacterial infection, so Tenerife was the perfect place to create purpose-built colonies where the sick could quarantine together. Named Sanatorio de Abona, the small town was set to be made up of forty buildings, including a church, a crematorium, a hospital and various types of accommodation.

ghost cities america

Yet by 1945 a new antibiotic proved effective against the symptoms of leprosy, rendering the sanatorium obsolete before it was even finished. Construction work was halted, leaving many of the buildings partially finished and wasting the $77,630 that had already been spent on the project. That's around $1.3 million (£1m) in today's money. Standing unoccupied for almost 80 years, Tenerife's abandoned leper colony is now an off-the-beaten-track tourist attraction, although it's surely just a matter of time before the place is redeveloped. 

Craco, Matera, Italy

ghost cities america

Situated in the southern Italian province of Matera, in one of the world's most beautiful countries , Craco must be among the unluckiest villages in the world. After decades of bearing the brunt of Mother Nature, the town was finally abandoned in 1980.

ghost cities america

The hilltop village has been occupied since the 10th century BC and, at its height in 1881, the population exceeded 2,000 residents. However, 1963 signalled the start of a downward spiral, as a landslide forced inhabitants to relocate to a neighbouring valley. The situation worsened in 1972 when floods struck, and a subsequent earthquake in 1980 proved the final nail in the coffin of this beautiful town.

ghost cities america

Thanks to its dramatic landscape, the town has also been used as a backdrop for some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, including The Passion of Christ and Quantum of Solace . Decades later, Craco's mystical charm still endures – inside the San Nicola church, vaulted columns hint at the former grandeur of this historic settlement.

Thames Town, Shanghai, China

ghost cities america

From its red telephone boxes and black cabs to the winding cobbled streets and Victorian terraces, this copycat ghost town is a pastiche of all things British. The only difference is, this London lookalike is 18 miles from downtown Shanghai.

ghost cities america

Dubbed the real-life The Truman Show , this odd development was completed in 2006 to the eye-watering tune of $728 million (£572m). The project began as part of an initiative to lure half a million people away from overcrowded Shanghai and into smaller satellite suburbs, which were designed to resemble European cities.

ghost cities america

Glenrio, New Mexico and Texas, USA

ghost cities america

With the dawn of the national highway system in the 1930s, Glenrio became a popular stopping point for road trippers driving the iconic Route 66. Despite the population barely rising above 30, the small town was thriving and even played host to film crews when John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was shot there in 1940.

ghost cities america

All that remains now of the once-booming spot are 17 time-warp buildings untouched for decades and the old Route 66 roadbed. An evocative location harking back to America's mid-century heyday, the remarkable ghost town was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. 

Ciudad Jardín Soto Real, Buniel, Spain

ghost cities america

Back in 2008, the global financial crisis caused chaos around the world but some countries were affected more than others. Spain's housing market all but collapsed, leaving many developers bankrupt and significant housing projects across the country incomplete. Some 12 years later and one of the country's largest developments, Ciudad Jardín Soto Real, still sits unfinished. 

ghost cities america

The town was captured by photographer Markel Redondo in 2018 and highlights the colossal damage that the financial crisis caused almost overnight. Located in the municipality of Buniel, just 312 of the estate's proposed 1,400 homes were ever built and stand in various stages of completion. The development was abandoned in the summer of 2008, when the construction company behind the project, Martinsa-Fadesa, entered into voluntary liquidation.

ghost cities america

The site sits behind a high-security fence but over the years thieves have stripped the development of its valuables, from copper wiring to bricks and even the manhole covers on the estate's roads. Yet due to its semi-remote location, many have forgotten that Ciudad Jardín Soto Real even exists. 

ghost cities america

Sadly, Ciudad Jardín Soto Real is just one of many similar development projects across Spain that have been left to decay. By capturing the estate in its current state, Redondo hopes to encourage the Spanish government to put the properties to good use. In 2018 he told WIRED: "We could do a lot of things with these abandoned projects. People are being kicked out of their houses in every major city because they can't afford them. We have a lot of people who need homes." Currently, empty residential plots are available to build on for just €3,000 ($3.3k/£2.6k), a real bargain for someone who doesn't mind living in a ghost town!

Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA

ghost cities america

As a mass exodus swept the toxic town , most of the homes were demolished, although as late as 2017 there were still four people living in Centralia, clinging to their old homes. Single properties like this are a stark reminder of the town's former life. Still alight today, it's said that there's enough coal underground to fuel the blaze for a further 250 years.

Sanzhi Pod City, New Taipei, Taiwan

ghost cities america

Designed as a seaside holiday resort for US military officers and middle-class Taiwanese, the Sanzhi Pod City is giving us all sorts of heebie-jeebies. The eerie development was never completed, having been left to wrack and ruin in 1980. 

ghost cities america

Designed in a retro style that was popular at the time, the price of these unique homes was so high that almost none of the pods sold. Now losing the fight with Mother Nature , they were abandoned on the overgrown coastline, reduced to graffitied ruins frequented by curious tourists. 

ghost cities america

Wittenoom, Pilbara, Australia

ghost cities america

This next abandoned outpost has been described as one of the most dangerous and contaminated places on the planet. Once located in the dry, dusty climes of Pilbara, the unassuming small town of Wittenoom belied a toxic surprise hiding underground ...

ghost cities america

It was labelled one of the most significant industrial disasters in Western Australia, and while the government tried to dissuade visitors from venturing into the contaminated area, Wittenoom was a popular destination in recent years for those seeking so-called dark tourism. In May 2023, the demolition of Wittenoom's remaining buildings began, closing the chapter on the town's dark past. 

Tyneham, Dorset, UK

ghost cities america

As the Second World War raged on, the War Office requisitioned the town to use as a tank firing range prior to D-Day. Residents were promised that they could return to their homes once the war was over. As they left, a note was pinned on the door of Tyneham Church that read: '"Thank you for treating the village kindly."

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With its eerie abandoned spaces , the strange beauty of Tyneham's ruins has fascinated passing walkers for decades. We can only imagine the gorgeous sea views that former residents once enjoyed from this dilapidated farmhouse. Although the church and school have been restored , in late 2019, parts of the village were closed to the public after the Ministry of Defence found seven of the buildings to be unsafe. Now, its fate hangs in the balance...

Pripyat, Ukraine

ghost cities america

Ukraine has endured violence and destruction since it was invaded by Russia in February 2022. But on 26 April, 1986 the country was rocked by another disaster – this time, when the number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded during blackout tests. Pripyat, only a few kilometres from the disaster and home to over 49,000 people, was evacuated within 36 hours.

ghost cities america

Declared radioactive and unhabitable for at least 24,000 years, nature has taken back the city. Pictured here before the war, towering trees compete with derelict apartment blocks, breaking up the concrete of the once-bustling pathways and roads. Despite being one of the world's most inhospitable cities , the landscape has proved fertile ground for Mother Nature to take hold. 

ghost cities america

A reminder of the city's carefree heyday, Pripyat Amusement Park's yellow Ferris wheel now stands in stark contrast with its overgrown surroundings. In the heart of the Exclusion Zone, it's unlikely that life here will ever return to normal, however, that hasn't kept curious tourists out, with tens of thousands visiting the tragic region prior to the war. Since Russia's invasion, fighting and instability have threatened Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which was taken by Russian forces in October 2022. Fighting in the area is a cause of international concern due to the possibility of yet another nuclear disaster for the beautiful country.

New Idria, California, USA

ghost cities america

Nestled in an arid canyon in San Benito County, California, the town of New Idria is a relatively recent relic of days gone by. A collection of rickety steel buildings is all that remains of the former mining settlement, which was abandoned in the 1970s.

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Now reduced to a desolate ghost town , over one hundred structures still remain on the deserted site. Over the years, fears of mercury contamination have plagued the ghost town and in 2011, the Environment Protection Agency added New Idria to its Superfund List of polluted locations.

ghost cities america

Burj Al Babas, Bolu Province, Turkey

ghost cities america

Nestled in a rural mountainous spot, halfway between Istanbul and Ankara, this modern abandoned ghost town is a surreal sight to behold. Hundreds of mini châteaux, in various stages of completion, stand in a deathly silent valley after funding for the project dried up.

ghost cities america

Once complete, the complex was intended to accommodate 732 villas, a shopping centre, cinema, restaurants and fitness facilities. Worth between $400,000 (£314k) and $500,000 (£393k), the identical three-storey castle-like homes, which look like something from the pages of Cinderella , feature turrets and elaborate circular balconies.

ghost cities america

The abandoned construction site can still be seen just beyond the boundary of the $200 million (£157m) estate. Having managed to write off half of their debt, the Sarot Group's deputy chairman declared in 2019 that he was hopeful the project would finally be completed in 2021, according to the Hurriyet Daily News . However, it appears the pandemic put that dream on hold and it doesn't look like the fairytale development will have a happy ending anytime soon...

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08 August 2023

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