Image: Grossinger's Country Club
Walter Arnold
Grossinger's Resort in Liberty, N.Y., once entertained 150,000 guests per year and had its own airstrip and post office. Now, as you push open the creaking doors to its indoor pool, the stench of rotting wood and mildew is overwhelming.
updated 10/29/2010 4:06:35 PM ET 2010-10-29T20:06:35

What happens when all the guests disappear, when the swimming pools dry up, when planes get grounded for good? What ghosts remain when rust creeps in and vines choke out the mirth of vacations past? Around the globe sit the ruins of abandoned hotels, amusement parks, train tunnels, museums, and resorts. In the spirit of Halloween, we're taking you to these tourism graveyards, reclaimed by nature and perhaps even haunted. Be forewarned that some of these spots may expose travelers to the dangers of trespassing, rot, and the potential for unexpected companions of the human and paranormal variety. Enter at your own risk.

Atlantic Avenue Railway Tunnel, Brooklyn, New York
"The tunnel, dark as the grave, cold, damp and silent. How beautiful look heaven and earth again when you emerge from such gloom!" That's how Walt Whitman once described America's oldest subway tunnel. The 1844 construction and subsequent operation of this half-mile tunnel under Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue were plagued by bloodshed: A workman shot his foreman at point-blank range, another laborer was buried alive under a collapsed wall, and a train beheaded a passenger who fell onto the tracks. After being sealed up in 1861, legend has it the dank passageways sheltered river pirates, smugglers, and, later, bootleggers distilling whiskey pumped to a speakeasy above. Nineteen-year-old Bob Diamond rediscovered the tunnel in 1981 by crawling 70 feet underground through a dirt-choked section less than two feet high. Diamond joined forces with the city to excavate the entrance and open the tunnel to the public. Now, each month he leads brave groups down a ladder under a manhole cover in the middle of a busy Brooklyn street. Below ground, they creep through the shadowy tunnel, shining flashlights on the debris of its cursed past.

Atlantic Avenue Railway Tunnel
Atlantic Avenue at Court Street
Brooklyn, New York

St. Augustine Airplane Graveyard, St. Augustine, Fla.
When planes reach the end of their airborne life, they often end up in junk heaps like this plane graveyard in St. Augustine, Florida. More than 15 years ago, owner Charlie White purchased and dissected nine planes from the 1960s and '70s, selling off their valuable parts to aeronautics companies. The decaying carcasses are all that's left, their skeletal remains invaded by ferns and fungus. Warning: The graveyard is private property. Anyone who enters does so at their own risk. Those concerned with staying on the right side of the law should consider Tucson, Arizona's Pima Air & Space Museum, which offers bus tours of the nearby 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Also known as the Boneyard, these 2,600 desert acres hold more than 4,000 retired military planes and helicopters. The atmosphere is decidedly more sanitized, but there's still an eerie energy as you explore the cast-off cockpits.

St. Augustine Airplane Graveyard
4568 Avenue A
St. Augustine, Florida

Pima Air & Space Museum
6000 E. Valencia Road
Tucson, Arizona

Asama Volcano Museum, Asama, Japan
Exploring abandoned buildings has become a cult hobby in Japan, where crumbling bowling alleys, love hotels, theme parks, and museums bear witness to the country's rural flight and cyclical boom-and-bust periods. The pastime, known as haikyo, carries with it the same code of conduct as hiking: "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." That may explain why sites like this abandoned volcano museum remain preserved in such a suspended state. Here, stuffed deer, jars of snakes and squid, and butterfly displays sit unmolested. Out of a topographical map of the area grows a cotton-ball cloud of volcanic ash. Music tinkles eerily from the observation deck (reportedly played by seismologists working in the area), and rusting lookout binoculars gaze at the still-active Mount Asama. Recent eruptions blew in the windows of the top floor of the UFO-like building, and threat of volcanic annihilation lurks menacingly in the distance.

Asama Volcano Museum
Asama, Japan

Lincoln Park, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Opened in 1894, Lincoln Park's skating rink, carousel, and game arcades entertained summer merrymakers for most of a century. But the park also had a dark side. The Comet roller-coaster, its most beloved attraction, was plagued by tragedy. In the mid-1960s, a man died after trying to stand up while his coaster car descended a hill. Just a few years later, passengers were tossed from the Comet when the last car detached, rolled backward, and derailed. Another man died in 1986 trying to climb between cars. And finally in 1987, faulty brakes made the last car derail again, hanging precariously off the track with the passengers inside. This was the Comet's last ride, and the damaged car remained in that position until vandals bore it away, the final chapter in a decade of financial decline for the park. A series of fires destroyed nearly all that remained on the property, but the Comet still lingers; battered and half collapsed under the weight of heavy snowfalls, it's now a fractured mess of splintered wood, rusted chains, and twisted track.

Lincoln Park
Route 6
North Dartmouth, Massachusetts

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Aquatic Paradis, Sitges, Spain
The only water that remains in Aquatic Paradis rests still and fetid, at the bottom of long-abandoned primary-colored children's slides. Today's guests are more likely to be skateboarders hanging out or graffitists tagging every decaying inch of collapsed concrete, cracked fiberglass, and splintered wood. Opened in the early 1990s just south of Barcelona, the park lasted two short seasons before financial troubles led to its closure. Now, day-trippers trespass to bathe in the eerie calm of this wasteland, where palms and ferns advance, choking the tubes and slides (enter at your own risk). And though the pools are all but empty, the air feels full with the spirit of a swimmer who is said to have met an untimely end in the waters of Paradis.

Aquatic Paradis
Sitges, Spain

Grossinger's Resort, Liberty, New York
As you drive past the close-clipped greens of Grossinger's Country Club, you'd never guess that on the same grounds are the decaying remains of what was once one of the country's most famous resorts. In its heyday, the 1,200-acre Grossinger's Resort entertained 150,000 guests per year and had its own airstrip and post office. As a ski resort, it was the first in the world to use artificial snow, and its summer boom times inspired the film "Dirty Dancing." Now, as you push open the creaking doors to its indoor pool, the stench of rotting wood and mildew is overwhelming. Orange and white deck chairs sit vacant on a spreading carpet of moss and ferns. In the gutted bar, a row of green stools that once held the likes of Lucille Ball and Elizabeth Taylor sits vacant. In many of the guest rooms, telephones still rest on hooks, Champagne glasses collect dust, and wisps of lace curtains droop on rotting rods. The endless procession of human ephemera — '80s beer cans, desiccated newspapers, abandoned ice skates — is an unsettling portrait of life frozen in time.

[Note: While there are no fences or locks to prevent trespassing, this is private property, and the structures may be unsound. Enter at your own risk.]

Grossinger's Resort
Liberty, New York

Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino, Kampot, Cambodia
Dense fog and creeping vines seem fitting companions for the ghosts that are said to roam this abandoned Cambodian resort. French colonialists built the town in the 1920s as a hilltop retreat from the oppressive heat of the lowlands. But from the beginning, darkness clung to the project: Labor conditions were brutal, and the area behind the grand casino came to be known as the Gamblers' Killing Fields, where those who lost it all purportedly ended it all on the conveniently located cliff. In the 1970s, and again in the 1980s and '90s, the Khmer Rouge fortified itself in the casino, waging brutal battles with Vietnamese troops holed up in the community's church; the bullet scars still remain. Today, the town sits isolated in the middle of national parkland. Wild monkeys and elephants roam the surrounding jungle, and a ruddy moss clinging to the casino facade seems to symbolize the building's bloody past. Day trips can be arranged from the nearby town of Kampot, but be prepared to leave before dark. Even the park rangers refuse to brave the spirits that wander at night.

Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino
Kampot, Cambodia

Photos: Haunted destinations

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  1. Bran Castle

    Bran Castle, Dracula's castle, in fog, Transylvania. (Gavin Quirke / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The Myrtles Plantation

    Now a bed and breakfast, this antebellum estate northwest of Baton Rouge has been called "America's Most Haunted Home." Reported phenomena include an oil portrait whose features become animated, a "bloody handprint" on the adjacent wall, and doors that open and close by themselves. (Courtesy of The Myrtles Plantation) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pfister Hotel

    Built in 1893, the Pfister is the most regal address in Milwaukee, Wis., having hosted every U.S. president since William McKinley and scores of celebrities. But rumors abound that late at night, the spirit of hotel founder Charles Pfister, who died in 1927, arrives to check in. Some guests report hearing strange noises and having paranormal experiences. (Morry Gash / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Alcatraz

    The former maximum security facility on an island in San Francisco Bay was once home to Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. It is no longer used as a prison, but visitors and tour guides have claimed to hear screams, slamming cell doors, and footsteps. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Amityville house

    The house at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York, gained infamy in a best-selling book and several movies. Former owners reported creaking noises, voices, the music of a full marching band in the middle of the night, foul odors, and a black, shapeless apparition. (Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Edinburgh Castle

    This ancient stronghold overlooking Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. It is reputed to have many ghosts, including a drummer who only appears when the castle is about to be attacked, and a piper who disappeared in the tunnels underneath it. (Jonathan Smith  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Paris Catacombs

    In the 1800s, Paris’s cemeteries were coming dangerously close to being filled, so some bodies were moved to tunnels that had been dug beneath the city by workers quarrying for building materials. Bones and skulls are stacked up throughout the Catacombs, and visitors have reported strange voices. (Fred De Noyelle / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Hotel Chelsea

    A familiar haunt for artists and bohemians in the Chelsea district of New York City since it was built in 1883, the Hotel Chelsea still puts up guests today ... if they don’t mind sharing accommodations with the reputed ghosts of former residents Dylan Thomas, Eugene O’Neill, and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Eastern State Penitentiary

    Located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, this prison was designed to encourage solitude, supposedly helping prisoners open themselves up to God. But it is said that many went mad instead ... which may explain the eerie noises that have been reported since it closed. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Hotel del Coronado

    In 1892, a young woman checked into this luxury hotel on California’s San Diego Bay to meet her husband. He never arrived, and a few days later, she was found dead on the hotel steps. Since then, guests and staff have noticed the pale figure of a young lady in a black lace dress.... (Nathan Hughes) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Inverary Castle

    It is said that the ghost of a harpist who was hanged in 1644 for peeping at the lady of the house can be seen wandering this castle in western Scotland, and can be heard playing every day in its library. The castle is home to the 13th Duke of Argyll today, but sometimes opens its doors to brave visitors. (Graeme Cornwallis / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. New Orleans

    The Big Easy’s French Quarter is well-known to tourists for its hot jazz and spicy food. But New Orleans is also the historic center of voodoo traditions that African-Americans brought to Louisiana during the days of the slave trade. Although those customs were suppressed by slave owners, they linger on today. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Petzow Castle

    This 18th-century castle near Potsdam in eastern Germany is a hotel and restaurant today ... but its corridors harbor a dark history involving murderous barons. (Sven Kaestner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Forks, Washington

    Michael Gurling, right, of the Forks, Wash., Chamber of Commerce, talks about the bonfire location on a beach in LaPush, Wash., that is portrayed in Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful vampire-themed "Twilight" books and movies. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Point Hicks Lighthouse

    In 1947, the keeper of this historic lighthouse on the eastern coast of Australia mysteriously disappeared. Afterward, many visitors have claimed to hear his hobnail boots at night, and it’s said his ghost continues to keep the tower’s brass doorknobs polished to this day. (Oliver Strewe  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Salem, Massachusetts

    The location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, dramatized in Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” is today a mix of important historical sites, New Age boutiques, and witch-kitsch attractions. The Salem Witch Museum claims to be the most visited one in town. (Ed Young / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Sleepy Hollow

    This picturesque village 30 miles north of New York City was immortalized in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving’s classic tale of schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and the fearsome Headless Horseman. Irving implied that the apparition Ichabod saw was a fake, but a number of visitors also have claimed to see the Horseman, supposedly a Hessian trooper whose head was carried off by a cannonball during the Revolutionary War. (Susan Rosenthal / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Stanley Hotel

    This neoclassical hotel in Estes Park, Colo., was the real-life inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” It is named for Freelan O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, whose ghost has been reported visiting its billiard room and bar. Guests also complain about children playing in the hallways at night ... even when no children are checked in. (Rob Lee) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Tower of London

    The ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, just two of hundreds of victims executed on Tower Hill over the Tower of London's bloody 900-year history, are among many that have been seen in what is called England's most haunted building. Legend has it that in 1816, a guard died of fright after seeing an apparition of a bear approaching him. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The White House

    America's most famous residence is the setting for a number of ghost stories, some of which have even made it onto the official White House Web site. The spirit of Abigail Adams supposedly continues to do laundry in the East Room, while the ghost of Dolley Madison has been reported looking down upon the Rose Garden. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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