Wander logo

UrbEx Locations That Are Legal To Visit

by Ossiana Tepfenhart 4 years ago in list / travel advice

It is, in fact, possible to visit a location that is abandoned without getting arrested for trespassing. Here are some of the most UrbEx-friendly destinations you can visit.

UrbEx - it's the kind of activity that one expects to see rebels, outlaws, and super edgy young people doing. For those not "in the know," UrbEx is short for "urban exploration," and it's a form of tourism that focuses on visiting abandoned buildings, scoping out subways, and basically just going into places where you're not supposed to be.

For the most part, UrbEx is frowned upon by the law. But, that definitely doesn't stop curious explorers from going in, taking photographs, and adventuring into the unknown. People who go despite the potential risks know that it's dangerous - but the strangely derelict beauty of the area often has a pull that's hard to resist.

Most of the time, UrbEx may end up causing you to get arrested for trespassing. However, there are some venues that welcome explorers with open arms - once in a while. If you want to try UrbEx, but can't handle an arrest record, don't worry. These venues will give you the experience, minus the cops.

Michigan Central Station - Detroit, MI

Detroit is an UrbEx Mecca of sorts, thanks to all of the Gilded Age buildings that have been left to rot due to urban blight. Though you could probably get into many of the abandoned buildings without having cops cuff you, there are certain legal UrbEx locations that definitely outshine the illegal ones here.

This imposing building was once one of Detroit's most bustling travel points - and it's currently getting a bit of a facelift. Even so, the updates are far from complete, and occasionally, tours do happen that allow people to peek inside of this once-beloved train station.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone - Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, a former USSR city, had its entire fate switch from a bustling town filled with nuclear reactor operators to a ghost town within a matter of days once Chernobyl's reactors exploded. After a matter of days of pure turmoil, the town of Pripyat was evacuated - never to be resettled again.

This area is pure abandonia and post-apocalyptic life at its realest. Because of the fact that it is such a unique part of the world, Ukraine has recently agreed to allow tourist groups to enter the Exclusion Zone. They will give you a Geiger counter to help you determine how "hot" the area you're in is.

Just be forewarned - there are some people who go there without the law's consent for looting purposes. So, do be careful, even if you are there with a tour group.

The Old City Hall Station - New York, NY

Most New Yorkers have heard about the abandoned portions of the subway that are no longer accessible - or they may have seen them in passing if they ride the right train line. The most famous of the abandoned stops underneath NYC would be the Old City Hall station.

The Old City Hall stop was, at one point, the most elegant gem of a subway stop in the United States. Gorgeous arching architecture, beautiful lighting, and even stained glass accents marked it as one of the finest feats of subway engineering in town...until it closed down in 1945.

People used to go down there and subway surf just to get dropped off near the station. The Transit Authority got hip to the jive, though, and decided to allow guided tours through the New York Transit Museum.

If you love New York City's old school abandoned charm, you need to check this place out.

The Paris Catacombs - Paris, France

The Paris Catacombs are as much a part of French culture as the Louvre and fine wine - albeit, they're now more associated with urban exploration culture than anything else. As most people know, these catacombs were first made to help dispose of the bodies of people who died during the Black Plague.

Over six million people were buried here - but no one knows for sure how many people's bodies are here. Moreover,because of how old and expansive the Catacombs are, no one even knows their full layout. So, this means that many daring Urban Explorers have gone underground, just to see how deep they really go.

There have been many UrbExers who have gone underground in this ossuary maze only to get lost and die inside. Many portions are also dangerous due to a lack of fresh air or potentially lethal mold. This is why there are government guidelines on how deep you can legally go in.

That being said, there are large swaths of the Paris Catacombs that are legal to enter. Also, there are plenty of guided tours for those who are interested in checking it out. So, you can give this a shot - as long as you don't go too far in.

Abandoned Ellis Island South - New York City, NY

Most people have gone on the pristine, squeaky clean tours of Ellis Island. The "tourist" section of the island has been well maintained and cared for - and that's not exactly what UrbExers tend to want to see. But, this isn't that Ellis Island.

What many tourists don't know is that there's an entire portion of Ellis Island that was left to fall into disrepair - the South section of the Island. This was the portion of Ellis Island that housed the sick or the criminals who were denied entry.

This area has a darker, less hope-filled history than the other section of Ellis Island, and it's a lot shaggier in appearance. Believe it or not, tours are done once in a while here. So, if you love cool tours and are okay with wearing closed toe shoes while you trek the buildings, join up on one of these 100 percent legal trips.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium - Waverly Hills, KY

This tuberculosis clinic and psychiatric ward once housed thousands of people - many of whom never left alive. Between the overcrowded conditions, the potentially lethal "treatments," and the many tragedies that happened onsite, Waverly Hills ended up becoming one of the worst hospitals to be sent to...and its foul reputation caused it to shutter its doors.

With its terrible history and its gloomy architecture, it's easy to see why so many people believe this venue to be haunted. The appeal of the ghost stories definitely got some people interested in the venue - and demand grew so high that it eventually became a place that began to host tours .

This is an UrbEx location that also offers overnight tours, if you're brave enough.

The Fukushima Exclusion Zone - Fukushima, Japan

Want to see a more modern version of Chernobyl? Well, you can see what happened in Fukushima's surrounding areas. Many parts of the Exclusion Zone have been deemed "safe to visit" by local officials, with certain parts of the zone even having been used for art gallery openings by urban art groups.

That being said, not all parts of the Zone are legal to enter. If you aren't sure where to go, check with local officials before you make the trek.

listtravel advice

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

Receive stories by Ossiana Tepfenhart in your feed
Ossiana Tepfenhart
Read next: Cabin Life in Dallas

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2021 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.