11 Creepy Abandoned Places in NYC

From abandoned hospitals and asylums to old nuclear forts and oceanside dumping grounds, here are NYC's eeriest and most atmospheric abandoned attractions.

Looking to do some urban exploration? Look no further than these eerie, dilapidated gems, located in our very own NYC.

As the weather warms, you may find yourself longing for some adventures. And what's more thrilling, nostalgic, and atmospheric than a journey through an abandoned building in the midst of being worn down to the soil from which it came?

In that spirit, here are 11 gorgeous abandoned places in or near New York City.

1. Fort Totten

You'll find this park—complete with an abandoned Civil War fortress—right on the waterfront in the Bay Terrace neighborhood of Queens. Packed with history and offering an array of natural and manmade wonders, the park is ideal for exploration all year round. In the summer, you can take a tour through the fortress with Urban Park Rangers and cool off with a dip in the pool. A visit will also give you the chance to see the park's many other relics, including a repurposed Neo-Gothic castle and an abandoned laboratory, movie theatre, and hospital.



2. World's Fair Grounds

Located in Flushing Meadows in Queens are two towering and unusual structures. Originally built for the two World's Fairs, they were intended to symbolize the future—but the future came and went in a blurry, violent instant, and for half a century, the relics of the fair have existed in stages of decay, at the mercy of time and the elements.

The two most prominent structures are the New York State Pavilion and the Unisphere, which were the focal points of the World's Fair Grounds. A visit will also allow you to see columns and statues from the event's heyday, along with the remnants of the skate rink that opened and closed in the late 20th century.



3. Renwick Smallpox Hospital

If you're looking for an excuse to visit Roosevelt Island, the Renwick Smallpox Hospital is a perfect choice for fans of urban exploration or haunted houses. Today's Roosevelt Island is a lovely place for biking and picnicking on summer days, but actually it used to be a home for criminals, the mentally ill, and other people who had been shut out of NYC society. It still bears the memories of those days.

Out of all its ruins, the crown jewel is its smallpox hospital, which is now in a state of mossy shambles. Though you can't go into the hospital (or so they say...), you can walk around the grounds and observe its gloomy, Gothic majesty from afar.



4. The Rockaway Beach Branch Rail Line

The LIRR railway line to the Rockaways was replaced by subways in the 60s, and it's been languishing in decay ever since. Now, this three-mile stretch of abandoned railways is the perfect adventure for hikers.

For a winding trek through the past, start at Rego Park and make your way to Ozone Park. If you're looking for ruins specifically, you might want to head over sometime soon as residents are looking turn the railway into an attraction similar to the High Line. (If you make it, just be careful not to slip through the portal to a parallel universe that probably exists somewhere on this railway—unless that's what you're aiming for).

trn.trains.com Joseph M. Calisi


5. Glass Bottle Beach and Dead Horse Bay

For 80 years, NYC sent its trash to this place in Jamaica Bay, which served as a landfill for the entire city. Today, you can walk along the beach at Dead Horse Bay and discover broken glass from a century ago as well as many other relics of bygone times. Some will be more macabre than others, for Dead Horse Bay was also a place where horses would be dismembered and converted to glues, oils, and other things, so you might find some horse bones scattered among other fragments of yesterday's trash.



6. Old City Hall Subway Station

If you take the 6 train past the Brooklyn Bridge, you can catch a glimpse of this abandoned station, which was actually NYC's first ever subway station. The only way to actually enter the station is via a tour provided by the New York Transit Museum (which is worth a visit in itself).


7. New York Farm Colony and Seaview Hospital

If you ever find yourself in Staten Island, there's no shortage of abandoned places to visit. The Seaview Hospital may be its crown jewel, but you'll need to take some serious urban exploration risks to access many of its most beautiful ruins. This sprawling abandoned village is largely closed off to the public, and it's also currently under construction, but if you've got a car you might be able to catch a glimpse of some of the many remaining derelict hospitals and mansions.

One of the most accessible parts of Seaview is called the New York Farm Colony, a place that—like so many ruins—had intriguing utopian beginnings. Designed as a housing community for the poor and socially outcast, it opened in 1898 and was supposed to be a sustainable community where inhabitants could farm and grow their own food. As social programs born in the '50s made it easier for people to rejoin society, the colony became unsustainable and was closed in 1975. Since it closed, the colony has been the location of several child murders, Satanic rituals, and paranormal sightings—so visit if you dare.



8. Floyd Bennett Field

Floyd Bennett Field in Jamaica was New York's first airport. Today, the historical site is mostly abandoned, and you can wander through and see scattered airplane parts. Old abandoned hangars and warehouses offer glimpses of trash and junk, and the nearby Marine Park—a Forever Wild preserve—provides plenty of birdwatching opportunities and natural wonders.



9. Fort Tilden

Located in the Rockaways, Fort Tilden used to be a fort that held nuclear weapons during the second world war, but now it's quietly being worn away by wind from the nearby ocean. Buildings are covered in graffiti and some have been repurposed by local artists, but the highlight is probably Battery Harris East, which is now crowned by a viewing pattern that allows for 360 views of the Atlantic Ocean and the city. The ruins also offer impressive birdwatching and host a thriving marine life ecosystem, proving that nature has the capacity to reclaim symbols of manmade destruction.


Jay Gormanwaterfrontalliance.org

10. The Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital

Millions of immigrants passed through Ellis Island, but about ten percent of them were sent to this towering hospital complex to be treated for an illness. Many would die here or be sent home, making this a place of tragedy on an island of hope. Now abandoned, the remains of the hospital's psychiatric ward, operating wards, pediatric facilities and general hospital boast peeling dirt, decaying floors, and encroaching vines. Save Ellis Island offers 90-minute tours through this remarkable ruin, or a ferry ride over to Ellis Island will allow you to see the outskirts for yourself.


11. North Brother Island

North Brother Island, located on the East River between the Bronx and Riker's Island, used to be home to a psychiatric hospital, meaning it's certified haunted (according to every horror movie ever), among other mansions that have since been left to the ghosts. This post-apocalyptic place is totally ruined, and it's an eerie image of what the world might look like once everything collapses because of climate change or a nuclear war.



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It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.

Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).

Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!


So You Want to Try Workaway

Want to travel cheap, meet locals and kindred spirits, live off the land, and possibly change your life? It might be time to try Workaway.

Sitting in a house on a hill in Tuscany, Italy, watching the sun set and listening to the sound of music coming from the house in which I was staying almost rent-free, I wondered how I had gotten this lucky.

Actually, it was really all thanks to one website—Workaway.info.

Workaway Workaway

Workaway is a site that sets travelers up with hosts, who provide visitors with room and board in exchange for roughly five hours of work each weekday. The arrangement varies from host to host—some offer money, others require it—but typically, the Workaway experience is a rare bird: a largely anti-capitalist exchange.

I did four Workaways the summer I traveled in Europe, and then one at a monastery near my home in New York the summer after. Each experience, though they lasted around two weeks each, was among the most enriching times of my life—and I'd argue I learned almost as much through those experiences as I did in four years of college.

There's something extremely special about the Workaway experience, though it's certainly not for everyone.

Workaway Isn't for Everyone: What to Know Before You Go

I loved all the Workaways I went on, but the best advice I can give to anyone considering going is: Enter with an open mind. If you're someone who doesn't do well with the unexpected, if you're not willing to be flexible, if you're a picky eater or easily freaked out, then it's likely that you won't have a good experience at a Workaway.

There are exceptions to all of this. At the Workaway I stayed at in Italy, one of the travelers was suffering from stomach bloating, and the host helped cure her with a diet of miso. (I'm not saying you should go Workawaying if you're ill—this traveler's mother also came to oversee everything—but still, you never know what you'll find).

Workaway WoIsango.com

You should also probably be willing and able to actually work at your Workaway. These aren't vacations, and some hosts will be stricter and less forgiving than others regarding your work ethic. If you're someone who has no experience with difficult farm work, for example, it might not be a good idea to do a Workaway on a farm.

How to Choose a Host

The Workaway website boasts a truly overwhelming number of hosts. You can narrow your search down by location, but you can also search key terms that can help guide you in the right direction. You might search "music," for example—that's how I found the Italy location. You'll find hosts in busy cities and in the most remote mountains of India; you'll find opportunities to tutor and explore. You'll find shadiness, too, so trust your instincts.

Take time to actually read the host's entire bio before reaching out. Read all the comments, too, and if you're nervous or a first-timer, only reach out to hosts who have exclusively glowing reviews. I had the best experiences with hosts that had left extremely detailed bios—that showed me they were likely going to be dedicated hosts.

I also chose hosts whose bios gave me a good feeling, something like a spark of electricity or recognition. This instinctual method might not work for everyone, but it certainly led me in the right direction in all of my Workaway experiences. My Workaways gave me some of the best memories and deepest relationships of my life, and that was partly thanks to the fact that I chose places that were good fits for me.

For example, I chose to stay alone with a wizened academic in France. Something about his bio and descriptions resonated with me enough to trust him. (I also read some of his many thousand-page-long treatises on peace and compassion and decided that if someone could write this and be a psychopath, this wasn't a world I wanted to live in anyway). It was the right decision—and the two weeks I spent there were some of the most enlightening of my entire life.

When you reach out to a host, particularly if it's someone you really want to stay with, it's a good idea to frame your initial contact email as a cover letter of sorts—make sure you explain who you are and personalize your letter to fit each host.

Ixcanaan A Workaway painting experienceWorkaway

Travel Safely

Especially if you're traveling alone, it's always a good idea to choose a host whose page has tons of good reviews. Aside from that, a quick Google search and a scan of any social media pages related to your potential host can't hurt.

Ultimately, Workawaying requires a certain amount of trust and faith on both the host and the traveler's parts—you're either trusting someone to stay in your home or trusting a stranger to host and feed you.

But that trust, in my experience, also results in rapid and deep connections unlike anything I've experienced in the "real world." When you go and share a home with someone, you're also sharing yourself with them, and in that exchange there are the seeds of a powerful bond.

Participate Fully

Wherever you go, you'll want to open your mind and participate fully. Adjust yourself to your host's lifestyle, not the other way around, and take time to get to know your host and the others around you.

You might find that you become someone you never knew you were. As a lifelong introvert, I somehow managed to develop close relationships with many of the people I was staying with.

This might be because most people who are at Workaways are seeking something for one reason or another. In my experience, you find lots of people who are at junctures in their lives, seeking connection and meaning. With the right Workaway, you might just find it.

Workaway The Broke Backpacker - WorkawayThe Broke Backpacker