Everyone can vacation in a huge metropolis. But what about going to a ghost town? A place where either Mother Nature, the economy, or a combination of the two has dwindled the population to nothing. Here are some amazing abandoned cities around the world you can actually visit for a vacation that’s out of the norm, and entirely awesome.
1. Plymouth, Montserrat
Folks going to the Lesser Antilles may fly right over Plymouth, Montserrat, and with good reason. This capital city was vacated in 1995 because of a looming volcanic eruption. Two years later Soufrière Hills volcano blew its top, covering Plymouth in 40 feet of ash. Visits to the area are possible, but it depends on safety since the volcano is still active. If the alerts are too high, you can still take a boat tour.
2. Kolmanskop, Namibia
Back in 1908, Kolmanskop was a happening town. That’s when the first diamond was found in the area. And not long after there was a casino, movie theater, school, ice factory and other modern goodies. But the city started to see its population shrink as the diamond supply was depleted. Now most of buildings have sand tall enough to cover your knees. Tours are available, but you do need a permit to enter the area.
3. Bodie, California
The Gold Rush giveth, and the Gold Rush taketh away. During the late 1800s, Bodie was hopping with a reported 65 saloons at the height of the money grab. But it drew its last breath when the post office finally closed in 1942. The state of California turned the old ghost town into a historic park in the early 1960s. It’s a perfect excursion for people looking to take some time away from nearby Yosemite National Park.
4. Pripyat, Ukraine
Welcome to arguably the worst nuclear power disaster ever. Reactor No. 4’s core at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant exploded in late April of 1986. And Pripyat’s nearly 50,000 residents were forced to leave from the nuclear fallout in the days immediately following the explosion. Nature’s since taken back the city, but it’s still contaminated. The radiation has fallen enough for us to take guided tours through the apartments, amusement park and more.
5. Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island was the place for coal in Japan. At the height of production there were 5,000 coal miners living on this island east of mainland Japan. But when petrol became the country’s choice for fuel, the island was abandoned in the mid-1970s. You can find tours of portions of the island, but for those that want the virtual experience with creepy music can get it on this site.
6. North Brother Island, New York
An abandoned island near New York City? You betcha. This 20-acre island in the East River was built up because of its isolation. Riverside Hospital was built here in the late 1800s to quarantine people with smallpox. It was even the home of Typhoid Mary during her final years. By the 60s it was abandoned, leaving the trees to take over the buildings. So can you visit it right now? Nope. The city has restricted access to the island until 2016, at the earliest.
Read more: Insider’s guide to visitng New York
7. Kennecott, Alaska
You’re going to have to really want it to visit this abandoned city. Kennecott produced $200 million worth of copper ore during from 1911 to 1938. When the copper ran out, so did the residents. You can find out why as you drive down the 60-mile dirt road to see this Alaskan ghost town in the middle of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve – the biggest national park in the United States. We suggest visiting the town with a guide from the National Park Service to get views like the one in the photo above.
Read more: 9 cool things to do in Alaska
8. Glenrio, New Mexico/Texas
When Route 66 was up and running, Glenrio was one of the more popular stops to get gas on the New Mexico/Texas border. But things went downhill fast with the completion of Interstate 40, which literally passed by Glenrio. The town is mostly intact and it’s on the US National Register of Historic Places. Perfect spot to get a picture of during your next road trip.
9. Oradour-su-Glane, France
This town in Western France has one hell of a history. The original Oradour-sur-Glane – along with 642 residents including women & children – was razed by a German Waffen-SS company on June 10, 1944. Only 20 survivors were left, coming back to the town to bury the day after a few days. A new village of the same name was built not too far away, but the original site now serves as a museum and permanent memorial.
10. Texola, Oklahoma
This small town on the plains couldn’t figure out where it existed. Texola’s located near both Route 66 and the 100th meridian, which forms the border between Oklahoma and Texas. Surveyors couldn’t decide which state Texola belonged to. Couple that with the Dust Bowl and the construction of I-40, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The 2010 census says there are 36 people that still live in town, but you’re more apt to see tumbleweeds roll by than a human resident.
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