Incredible Tourist Attractions You Can No Longer Visit
Even when you’re trying to “travel like a local,” there are some ultra-touristy sites you just have to visit while you’re in town — like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., for example, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Now imagine what it would be like if those iconic sites disappeared.
Around the world, that’s exactly what's happened to scores of once-popular tourist destinations. From museums and palaces to rock formation and waterfalls, sites both man-made and natural have been lost forever due to time, weather, fire or human intervention. Today, these fantastic attractions that once drew thousands are just the stuff of memories and photos.
Read on for more details about 25 incredible tourist attractions that no longer exist (or are now just a pile of rubble).
The Sutro Baths - California
Located on the western edge of San Francisco, the Sutro Baths indoor swimming-pool complex was once touted as the world's largest. The tourist attraction, developed by self-made millionaire Adolph Sutro, included seven pools that filled with seawater during high tide, an ocean pool aquarium, a massive public bathhouse, slides and diving boards.
Yet spectacular as it was, the complex, which opened in 1894, struggled to make a profit because of its extraordinary operating costs, and was eventually sold to developers in 1964. Two years later, a fire destroyed the property.
You can still visit the ruins of the Sutro Baths today at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, at the foot of the Pacific Ocean.
The Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana - New Zealand
The Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana were renowned around the world during the 19th century — some even considered them the eighth wonder of the world. These beautiful terraces were believed to be the largest silica sinter formations on Earth.
Unfortunately, the terraces were buried by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera, a natural disaster that entombed several villages and killed more than 100 people.
Fortunately, in 2017, researchers said they believed they had found the locations of the terraces and that it’s possible they could be excavated and restored. We can only hope.
The Azure Window - Malta
An often-photographed limestone arch once jutted out from the coast of Malta’s Gozo Island. The Azure Window, as it was called, was even featured in the first season of HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones,” in the background of the scene where Daenerys Targaryen weds Khal Drogo.
Though experts knew the formation would someday succumb to natural forces, they expected it to last for decades. However, the iconic arch didn’t make it that long, collapsing during an intense storm in March 2017.
Buddhas of Bamiyan - Afghanistan
A pair of colossal Buddhist statues — one 181 feet tall and the other 125 feet tall — once towered over the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan. The statues, hand-carved into the sandstone cliffs in the sixth century, attracted visitors for more than 1,500 years, before members of the Taliban destroyed the World Heritage Site with explosives in 2001.
You can still visit the remains of the site today.
Original Penn Station - New York
Opened in 1910, the original Penn Station in New York City featured Beaux-Arts architectural features, pink granite, a grand staircase, vaulted glass windows and massive columns. But, by the 1950s and ‘60s, air travel and the new highway system for automobiles had become popular, decreasing the demand for train travel.
The station was demolished in 1963 and replaced by a new underground train station and the sports and entertainment venue Madison Square Garden. We can only imagine what it must’ve been like to pass through its elegant halls.
Original Porcelain Tower of Nanjing - China
One of the Seven Medieval Wonders of the World, the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing was constructed in 1412 during the Ming Dynasty. The stunning tower, built with glazed white porcelain bricks, was reportedly destroyed during the 19th century by rebels during the Taiping Rebellion.
During an excavation project in 2008, scientists discovered a number of historic relics at the site — and people took notice. One of the richest men in China was so inspired by the tower’s story that he decided to fund the construction of a replica. Today, you can visit a modern reconstruction of the tower, built along the Yangtze River at what’s known as the Porcelain Tower Heritage Park.
The new version is gorgeous, but alas, it’s just not the same as seeing the original tower in all its historic glory.
Vidámpark - Hungary
For more than 60 years, this Budapest amusement park with a long history delighted guests with its mix of old-school attractions, including a coaster, carousel, haunted house and bumper cars. Beloved by many, it simply wasn't beloved by enough, ultimately going under for the most common of reasons: financial hardship.
Today, its abandoned ruins are an interesting sight in and of themselves.
Duckbill Rock Formation - Oregon
The story of Oregon’s iconic Duckbill rock formation is a sad one. This 7-foot-tall sandstone formation was beloved by tourists visiting Cape Kiwanda, since as its name suggested, it really did look just like a duckbill.
Then, in 2016, the rock formation toppled on its own — or so the authorities thought. A drone operator later came forward with a video showing a group of people intentionally knocking the formation down, apparently because one of their friends had broken a leg on it.
"They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard, and that they did the world or Oregon a favor," said David Kalas, who caught the act on video.
The New York Hippodrome
When it opened in 1905, the Hippodrome in New York City was reportedly the largest theater in the world, with a massive stage (there was room for 1,000 performers or a full circus!) and the capacity to seat 5,200 guests.
But running a theater of that size was also expensive, so, unfortunately, the extravagant venue didn’t last long. The building was demolished in 1939 and is now the site of a comparatively unexciting large office building.
Disney's River Country and Discovery Island - Florida
For years after its 1976 debut, River Country was a bustling Disney water park, its slides and pools welcoming families in droves. But in 2001, the park was unceremoniously shut down, left to rot and decay.
Though it’s not totally clear why Disney shut down River Country, it seems other newer Disney water parks simply proved more popular, including Typhoon Lagoon, which opened in 1989, and Blizzard Beach, which opened in 1995.
Another Disney property, Discovery Island, suffered a similar fate when it closed in 1999. Visitors to the once-thriving island could observe exotic birds and animals, but it became less and less popular following the opening of Animal Kingdom.
Honey Run Covered Bridge - California
Locals were devastated when the Camp Fire of 2018 destroyed the Honey Run Covered Bridge, a beloved local landmark in Northern California that stood for 132 years. The bridge was one of the few remaining covered bridges in the country and served as a popular local spot for engagements, weddings and afternoon outings along Butte Creek.
Volunteers are currently organizing efforts to rebuild the historic bridge, so you may be able to see it again yet.
The Crystal Palace - England
Built ahead of the Great Exhibition in 1851, London’s Crystal Palace was a breathtaking exhibition hall made primarily of glass and iron. After the exhibition, the palace was deconstructed and rebuilt elsewhere in London, where it stood until 1936 — when, one fateful night in late November, a fire broke out.
The disaster left all but two water towers standing; one was demolished right away, while another stood until 1941, when it was destroyed to reportedly make the area less conspicuous to German bombers during World War II.
Paleis voor Volksvlijt - Netherlands
The Paleis voor Volksvlijt was a stunning exhibition hall modeled after London’s famed Crystal Palace, with cast-iron gates, mosaic floors and an impressive organ distinguishing it as one of the most sophisticated sights in Amsterdam. Opened in 1864, the building hosted numerous arts and entertainment events and was also the home of a restaurant and two shopping districts.
But on a tragic evening in 1929, the building caught fire and was destroyed. Today, the headquarters of the Nederlandsche Bank stands on the site of the once-beloved venue.
National Museum of Brazil
Built more than 200 years ago, the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro attracted visitors from all over the world with its impressive collection of 20 million historic artifacts and specimens.
Lamentably, a devastating 2018 fire destroyed more than half of those artifacts, including entire collections devoted to entomology and Brazil’s indigenous peoples. Crews were able to save some items — most notably, an 11,500-year-old skull of the oldest human ever found in the Americas — and today work is underway to reconstruct the building.
In September 2019, it was announced that officials hope to partially reopen the museum by 2022.
The Wall Arch - Utah
The Wall Arch was once a popular photo-op along the Devils Garden Trail in Arches National Park. Spanning 71 feet across and 33 feet high, the Wall Arch was the 12th-largest of more than 2,000 documented arches in the park. Made of sandstone, it had been eroded and shaped by years of wind and rain.
Unfortunately, in 2008, it fell, never to be photographed again. Thankfully, the collapse occurred in the middle of the night and no one was injured.
Guairá Falls - Paraguay
The Guairá Falls were a series of enormous waterfalls that once flowed down the Paraná River between Paraguay and Brazil. These immense falls, which had a drop of 375 feet, could reportedly be heard from more than 20 miles away, and regularly drew tourists and sightseers from around the world.
Unfortunately, you can’t visit the falls today because of the construction of the hydroelectric Itaipu Dam, which flooded the river in 1982.
Rotbav Fortified Church - Romania
Throughout Europe, churches served an important secondary role during times of war. These so-called fortified churches, with their thick walls and other defensive measures, helped protect local residents.
One such church was Rotbav, believed to have been built during the 13th century. Church leaders have noted that it’s difficult to maintain many of the aging churches in Transylvania — there are 160 fortified churches managed by the Evangelical Church, for example. This may help explain why Rotbav, believed to be one of the oldest fortified churches in Transylvania, collapsed in 2016.
Chacaltaya Glacier - Bolivia
When scientists began measuring the Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia in the 1990s, they wanted to document the rapid melting of the 18,000-year-old ice formation. They guessed that the glacier would survive until 2015, but it deteriorated much faster than expected and had disappeared almost entirely by 2009.
Unfortunately, the glacier was also the site of a ski resort by the same name, which is now mostly abandoned.
The Old Man of the Mountain - New Hampshire
The Old Man of the Mountain used to peer out over adventurers exploring the White Mountains. This rock formation, which appeared to have thick eyebrows and a jagged chin, stood 40 feet tall and was easily the most recognizable symbol of New Hampshire, appearing regularly in tourist booklets and even on the state’s license plates and state quarter.
So locals were understandably saddened when the formation fell in 2003, likely because of freezing temperatures, rain and high winds.
Cave of Altamira - Spain
The Cave of Altamira, located in the Cantabria region of northern Spain, was once a popular tourist destination for people who wanted to see examples of Paleolithic art, some dating back 22,000 years.
But over time, the presence of so many people in the cave began to cause deterioration of these precious artifacts. Most troublingly, an algae-like mold began to form on the paintings.
As a result, the site was closed to the public in 1972 and then again in 2002. Today, just a handful of people are allowed to visit the cave each week, and they’re required to follow strict rules related to their clothing and the lighting inside the cave. The visits take place every Friday morning and last just 37 minutes.
Original Wembley Stadium - England
Out with the old, in with the new. The original Wembley Stadium, which opened in 1923 as a London hub for important events and sports games, was demolished to make way for the new Wembley Stadium, which debuted in 2007 with 90,000 seats.
The new version of Wembley is bigger and more technically impressive, but locals miss the historic and stately original. Fans of the old stadium were particularly upset when work began to demolish the stadium’s twin towers, which had been an iconic sight as fans walked up to the venue on their way to events.
Stardust Casino - Nevada
Las Vegas’ Stardust Hotel-Casino had many claims to fame — it was a popular spot for Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, as well as the inspiration for the book and film “Casino.” It was also where visitors could catch a show by famed illusionists Siegfried and Roy.
The hotel, built in 1958 and expanded in 1989, was an icon of The Strip before it became overwhelmed by mega-resorts like Caesars Palace and The Bellagio. Ultimately, it couldn’t survive in the new hyper-competitive landscape, and was demolished in 2007 to make way for a new casino and resort complex. (Its implosion included a fireworks display.)
The property changed hands and is now the site of a proposed 59-story hotel resort, set to open in late 2020.
The Mukurob - Namibia
The Mukurob rock formation, also called the Finger of God, stood tall on the horizon of the Namibian desert for years. This tower was one of Namibia’s most popular tourist attractions — before, that is, it fell in 1988 after a devastating rainstorm.
Some have also speculated that a nearby earthquake contributed to the formation’s collapse, though that remains a mystery.
El Dedo de Dios - Spain
Incredibly, like the Mukurob, this natural monument also has a name that translates to “Finger of God” — and also collapsed.
The 100-foot rock column that pointed straight up from the Atlantic Ocean off of Gran Canaria in Spain was top-heavy and supported only by a narrow base. It eventually fell during a 2005 tropical storm, causing the finger itself to crumble into the sea.
Love Locks Bridge - France
For years, romantic partners had been declaring their love for one another by attaching a lock to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris (some took the symbolism even further by throwing the lock’s key into the Seine River below).
But all those locks — some 700,000 in total — started to get heavy, weighing an estimated 93 tons, or the equivalent of 20 elephants. The city tried various tactics to stop the popular practice, but ultimately had to take more drastic action.
In 2015, workers began removing the locks and later replaced the railings with glass panels.
Maya Beach - Thailand
Believed to be the most famous beach in Thailand, Maya Beach closed in June 2018 to give the region’s coral a chance to rebound. The beach, made popular by the 2000 film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will be closed until at least June 2021 as nature recovers and local officials make updates to visitor facilities.
The beach saw roughly 5,000 visitors each day before the closure; officials hope to limit that number to 1,200 people once the beach reopens.
Spreepark - Germany
During the communist era in East Germany, the VEB Kulturpark Plänterwald amusement park thrived, hosting some 1.7 million people each year. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the park got a new owner and a new name: Spreepark.
As it turns out, owner Norbert Witte was up to no good, smuggling cocaine into Germany in amusement park ride equipment. In 2002, the park closed and slowly fell into disrepair. A 2014 fire accelerated the rate of deterioration and many attractions have since been removed.
Amphitheater in Palmyra - Syria
An ancient Roman amphitheater in Palmyra, Syria, stood for centuries without interference. But in 2017, Islamic State militants (also known as ISIS or ISIL) destroyed much of the historic structure, likely using explosives to demolish the historic site.
As part of an initiative to destroy artifacts that did not align with their interpretation of Islam, they also severely damaged the city’s Tetrapylon, a majestic 16-column Roman structure.
Six Flags New Orleans - Louisiana
There’s no doubt that Hurricane Katrina was devastating to New Orleans. But the storm was the final nail in the coffin for Six Flags New Orleans, an already unprofitable theme park. The 140-acre park, which opened in 2000 as Jazzland before being acquired by Six Flags in 2003, was declared a total loss after the storm and was abandoned.
Though numerous organizations have made plans to redevelop the site, it stands decaying still today.
Central Park Casino - New York
Despite what the name suggests, the Central Park Casino wasn’t a gambling institution at all. Instead, it was a sophisticated restaurant that served pricey fare like lobster, steak, lamb and fish to wealthy New Yorkers.
Unfortunately, the building, constructed in 1864, became a pawn in New York City politics and was demolished in 1936. The site has since served as the home of a playground and an outdoor concert venue.
Euston Arch - England
Thousands of passengers passed by the Euston Arch on their way to and from the train in London before it was demolished. The sturdy, 70-foot arch was constructed in 1838 at the entrance to the city’s old railway station. Though it was a prime example of Victorian architecture, the arch was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for a much larger rail station.
Old Metropolitan Opera House - New York
Known as the “Old Met,” the Metropolitan Opera House hosted top performers from around the world and thousands of opera-goers in New York City before its eventual demise. Though the seating area itself was luxurious and spacious, the backstage area in this 1883 structure left something to be desired.
A new opera house in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts eventually replaced the Old Met, which was demolished in 1967 after it failed to receive a historic landmark designation.
Hotel Astor - New York
Hotel Astor was a sophisticated spot in Times Square, complete with lavishly decorated ballrooms, banquet halls and restaurants. The hotel, which was so well-known that it appeared in songs and movies, operated from 1904 to 1967, when it was demolished to make way for a new 54-story skyscraper.
The Great Wheel - England
Though many visitors to London are familiar with the London Eye observation wheel, they may not know about its predecessor. Built in 1895 and inspired by the Ferris wheel at the Chicago Exhibition two years earlier, the Great Wheel was constructed for the Earl’s Court Empire of India Exhibition.
The wheel, which had 40 individual cars that could each hold roughly 30 people, took 20 minutes to make a full revolution. It was demolished in 1907.
Original Yankee Stadium - New York
Built in 1923, the original Yankee Stadium served as the home ballpark for the Yankees for 85 years — from 1923 to 1973, and then again from 1976 to 2008. The New York Giants also played at the stadium from 1956 to 1973.
But when the Yankees built a new, multi-billion-dollar stadium across the street, the old stadium was out of a job. It eventually became Heritage Field, a public ballpark.
Chippewa Lake Park - Ohio
For 100 years, tourists and locals alike flocked to Chippewa Lake Park, a 95-acre amusement park complete with rides, a water-ski team, and cabins and cottages on the lake. But despite its cheery disposition, the park shut down in 1978 because of increased competition from nearby parks.
Today, it remains an eerie reminder of the past in northern Ohio.
Mapes Hotel - Nevada
Though just 52 years old, the Mapes Hotel in Reno was a historically significant building in the world of slot machines and poker games. This 12-story structure, built in 1947 and demolished in 2001, was the first high-rise hotel and casino and helped usher in the modern era of gambling in Nevada, according to state officials.
The casino fell on hard times in the early 1980s and stood shuttered for nearly 20 years before it was finally imploded.
Original Tappan Zee Bridge - New Jersey
The original Tappan Zee Bridge carried traffic across the Hudson River in New York for more than 60 years. Traffic regularly got backed up on the well-worn bridge, which often carried more vehicles than it was designed to hold (some 140,000 vehicles a day).
Construction on a replacement bridge began in 2013, with all traffic being shifted over in 2017. The old bridge was demolished in two phases in 2019.
Pontiac Silverdome - Michigan
Starting in October 1975, tens of thousands of fans flocked to Pontiac Stadium on game day to watch the Detroit Lions play. This sports hotspot served as the home of the Lions until 2001, when the team moved into the newly built Ford Field. Pontiac Stadium got some use after that, but closed permanently in 2013. It was imploded in 2017.
Today, the site of the old stadium is being eyed by Amazon for the site of a distribution center that will employ 1,500 people.
Washington Coliseum - Washington, DC
Visit the Washington Coliseum today and you’ll find bikes, skis, apparel and other outdoor gear instead of basketball hoops and concession stands. In its heyday, the structure was the home of the Washington Capitols, hosted the first U.S. Beatles concert and was the site of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration ball.
After the construction of the Capital Centre in 1973, however, the coliseum changed hands several times (it was used as a trash transfer station and a parking lot) before becoming an REI flagship location in 2016.
Castaways Hotel and Casino - Nevada
Once a popular bowling alley that hosted nationally televised Professional Bowling Association tournaments, the Showboat (which later became Castaways Hotel and Casino) stood proud on the Las Vegas Strip for more than 50 years. The building was imploded in 2006 to make way for an unknown development, though it never materialized.
Candlestick Park - California
Candlestick Park served as the home ballpark for the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, both teams moved along to newer stadiums, which rendered this once cutting-edge stadium obsolete. Former Beatles band member Paul McCartney was the stadium’s last performance in 2014, with demolition beginning not long after. So far, plans to redevelop the site have fallen through.
When it was constructed in 1926, the Michigan Theatre in Detroit was an ornate theater that hosted daily concerts, stage shows and movies — big-name celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller and Doris Day all performed here. Over time, however, the once-popular theater became less and less profitable. Today, it’s an Italian Renaissance-style parking structure.
Boardwalk Hotel and Casino - Nevada
With its Coney Island theme, the Boardwalk Hotel and Casino was a popular Las Vegas Strip hangout for tourists and local gamblers alike.
Alas, the iconic casino, which opened in 1968, was imploded in 2006 to make room for the new MGM-Mirage CityCenter complex (which has since been rebranded as “Aria”).
Netherlands Dance Theatre
Built by well-known Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas in 1987, the Netherlands Dance Theater was razed in late 2015 and early 2016 to make way for a larger performing arts building. Though residents and visitors attended hundreds of dance performances here, there was reportedly very little outcry or protest when demolition began.
Tiger Stadium - Michigan
The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The yells of stadium vendors. Unfortunately, you can’t hear most of these sounds anymore at Tiger Stadium, which opened in 1912 as Navin Field and served as the home of the Detroit Tigers until 1999. But after the team moved to Comerica Park in 2000, Tiger Stadium sat largely unused for many years. Demolition began in 2008 and the site has since been redeveloped into apartments, townhouses and a public ballpark.
Martin Tower - Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, metal production reigned supreme for more than 130 years, serving as the primary industry in this Rust Belt region. That’s why Martin Tower’s demolition in 2019 was so significant — the building, built in 1972, had served as the headquarters of Bethlehem Steel, one of the largest steel producers in the United States before it closed in 1995. The tower stood vacant from 2007 until its implosion.