13 U.S. Attractions That Are So Creepy, They’re Off-Limits to Tourists

Don't get too upset—it's not like you'd want to go inside these places anyway.

1 / 13
A view from the parking lot of the abandoned Randall Park Mall in Randall Park, Ohio. It was once the largest shopping center in the United States.
Sherman Cahal/Shutterstock

Randall Park Mall

When Randall Park Mall opened in 1976, it was the largest mall in the United States. Located just outside Cleveland, the shopping mecca had nearly 2.2-million square feet of retail space. But when it comes to malls, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and this one is no exception. It ceased operating as a mall in 2009, and demolition began in 2014, though there are sections of the former mall still standing. It’s not exactly haunted, but if you grew up hanging out in malls, seeing one in this state is downright unsettling, just like these creepy photos that will give you the chills. And yes, it’s off-limits to the public.

2 / 13
Six Flags New Orleans
Kristina Rogers/Shutterstock

Six Flags, New Orleans

The Jazzland Six Flags theme park in New Orleans had a short life. It opened in 2000 only to close forever after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since then, it has sat empty, with the once-exciting rides remaining still and lifeless. Jazzland isn’t “haunted” in the traditional sense, but is a very visible reminder of the devastation of the hurricane and all the lives that were lost in the city. For that reason, the mayor wants to tear it down and it is one of the 25 most chilling abandoned places around the world.

3 / 13
Abandoned Penitentiary in Callaway County, MO
Eifel Kreutz/Shutterstock

Renz Women’s Penitentiary

Located just outside Jefferson City, Missouri, the former Renz Women’s Penitentiary looms large. When it opened in 1926, it was a farm prison for men, and gradually became co-ed later down the line. When the “Great Flood of 1993” hit, Renz only housed women. The inmates were evacuated and the building has been left abandoned ever since the devastating floodwaters crested at 38.6 feet. Since then, nature has taken over the building, but some people have reported that it’s not completely empty: a self-proclaimed clairvoyant visited (with permission) and noted that there was some paranormal activity. Renz has since been named “the most haunted place in Jefferson City” by the Paranormal Research and Investigation Society of Missouri.

Still a skeptic? These spooky ouija board stories might make you a believer.

4 / 13
Gilman Colorado

Gilman, Colorado

The former mining town of Gilman, Colorado sits atop a 600-foot cliff above the Eagle River. Gilman was actually a pretty successful mine, founded in 1886 and mined until 1984. At that point, it was shut down because of toxic conditions and has sat empty ever since. Trespassing is forbidden, and local authorities are cracking down on it even more lately, so it’s best to take in the views from afar.

Don’t miss this haunting gallery of Saskatchewan’s ghost towns.

5 / 13
Abandoned music theater ballroom in Detroit Michigan. It has burned and it's once beautiful facade is crumbling away.

Grande Ballroom, Detroit

This gorgeous art deco building once saw some of the biggest acts in jazz and rock as they passed through Motor City. It also housed other business in the first-floor retail space, including a department store and pharmacy. Though once filled with music and people dancing, the ballroom has been empty since 1972 and left to rot like other parts of the neighbourhood.

Check out the surprising reasons Detroit still rocks.

6 / 13

Rockland Psychiatric Hospital

What’s even spookier than an abandoned psychiatric hospital? How about one that’s partially abandoned and partially still functioning as a hospital? That’s the case here in Rockland County, New York, where the past meets the present in a very eerie way. A popular spot for paranormal investigators, the creepiest part is easily the former children’s wing, where there are still toys, desks, and drawings on the wall. Though part of the hospital is still open, the abandoned sections are very much off-limits.

Check out these American haunted house mysteries no one can explain.

7 / 13
Tillamook Rock Light is a deactivated lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, located approximately 1.2 miles offshore from Tillamook Head.
Bob Pool/Shutterstock

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is located about a mile off of Oregon’s north shore and has long been closed to the public. Nicknamed “Terrible Tilly,” the lighthouse has seemingly been cursed since construction began on it in 1880, starting when the master mason was swept out to sea, never to be seen again. Another blow came in 1881, just before the lighthouse opened: the Lupatia wrecked in heavy fog, killing all 16 of the crew members. It’s a little over a 30-minute drive away from Manzanita Beach, one of the most haunted bodies of water in the world.

Don’t miss these true stories of the world’s most haunted forests.

8 / 13
Everett Historical/shutterstock

North Brother Island

It’s hard to imagine a part of New York City that’s completely abandoned and off-limits to visitors, but that’s the case with North Brother Island, just off the coast of the Bronx. It has definitely seen its fair share of tragedy with countless people dying on the small parcel of land. Not only did it house people with infectious diseases—including Typhoid Mary—but it was also where around 1,000 people were taken after a boat caught fire offshore in 1904. Unlike North Brother Island, you can safely visit these other abandoned places in New York City.

9 / 13
Sunset over abandoned house at Drawbridge, the last remaining ghost town in San Francisco Bay Area. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Fremont, Alameda County, California, USA.

Drawbridge, California

Not only is this former railroad depot in the San Francisco Bay a ghost town, but it’s also sinking into the water. Its remote location made it an ideal place for bootleggers during Prohibition and housed several brothels. It also served as a weekend getaway for those in the city—especially for families with children. The town’s population peaked in 1928, when there were 90 houses all on stilts, connected via boardwalks. As interesting as this sounds, everything that’s left is on private property, so it’s not legal to explore.

Don’t miss this gorgeous gallery of the abandoned structures of Nova Scotia.

10 / 13
Abandoned road of Centralia covered with chalk graffiti in a bright sunny spring day.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Not only is Centralia, Pennsylvania a ghost town—it’s also been on fire since 1962. Though there are no clear origins of the fire, one idea is that it started in a garbage dump over an open coal seam. Eventually, the fire drove people out of this former mining town. If that wasn’t creepy enough, there’s a disproportionate number of graveyards in the town.

Check out the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time.

11 / 13
Johnsonville Village
Carol Ann Mossa/shutterstock

Johnsonville, Connecticut

In the 1960s, a wealthy industrialist re-created a Victorian village in Johnsonville, Connecticut, bringing in period-appropriate structures from the New England area. He hoped it would take off as a tourist attraction, but it never did, and eventually became a ghost town. It sat dormant for a while before a church group purchased it in 2017. It’s still in a state of disrepair today, and is also private property, so as tempting as it may be to explore this dilapidated faux-Victorian hamlet, that would be illegal.

Take a peek at 12 abandoned churches that are eerily gorgeous.

12 / 13
Prattville, Alabama

Prattville Cotton Gin Mill

At one time, Prattville, Alabama was a bustling mill town. Now, the once-mighty cotton gin mill is abandoned and in a state of ruin. Though this cavernous, empty factory is creepy enough, the mill also comes with a ghost story: there are rumours that it’s haunted by the Lady in Black—a mother who, according to legend, flung herself off of the town’s dam after her young son was killed in a factory accident.

Want to give yourself goosebumps? Check out the best ghost stories of all time.

13 / 13
A view of white pool chairs resting in an abandoned and overgrown swimming pool at the decrypt Pines Resort in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Sherman Cahal/Shutterstock

The Pines

One of the many former Borscht Belt resorts in the Catskill Mountains, The Pines is one of the few that hasn’t been demolished. It has the same eerie features of other abandoned hotels: the disheveled rooms, the empty pool, and even a skating rink. It’s strange to think about all the people who vacationed there in the past—the once dream-like resort transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. But that doesn’t mean it’s open to the public (the “No Trespassing” signs are a good clue). Instead, stick with these 15 spookiest travel destinations around the world—if you dare.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest