The 20th century happened, unfortunately. Due to rampant mistreatment of the physically and mentally ill, many hospitals were forced to close after allegations of abuse. Other businesses were left in disarray. With such sinister histories, few have been restored, and instead they remain forgotten. Explore DC’s creepiest abandoned spots with our guide.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Forest Haven Asylum
The mental hospital operated from 1921 to 1991, when it was ordered closed due to reports of mass neglect and sexual abuse. Think horror story 20th century treatment of the mentally disabled: electroshock therapy, force feeding, too many pharmaceuticals, and more. Then there were the bodies – hundreds piled into a mass grave, all dying from vague ‘complications.’ Presently, the premises are guarded 24/7 by federal police, but why? What are they hiding? The sprawling 200-acre compound offers endless nooks and crannies to explore, but you have to sneak past security. Judging from all the pictures available of the run-down facilities, it isn’t that hard to access. (Hint: on foot, through the woods).
The Virginia Renaissance Fair
After the short-lived renaissance festival closed, its attractions were shipped elsewhere, but the structures remained in place on unmaintained land – leaving them to be reclaimed by the earth. The eerie festival grounds are seemingly frozen in time: a rotting pirate ship grows tangled by vines, while tree branches force themselves through windows of former shops. Weeds overtake paths, and some buildings have collapsed under the weight of vegetation. The absence of knights, horses, and jokers is sorely felt. It’s really ill-advised to go here, as the abandoned property is rented by a hunter’s club that fires at anything that moves, as other humans aren’t anticipated. Maybe just check out this cool drone footage instead.
Richmond Juvenile Detention Center
The abandoned detention center once housed Richmond’s most dangerous inmates under the age of 18. Many of these young offenders committed brutal acts, including murder, rape, and violent robberies. Inside the former deteriorated gym, the floor is nothing more than piles of rubble, and graffiti coats the wall that reads ‘This is what dreams are made of’ – is the tagging is a recent addition by vandals? Or perhaps it was done by an inmate, making it all the more unsettling and caustic. Further into the facility, tiny 10-square-foot cells hold the relics of childhood: a deflated soccer ball, a Nintendo, a bible. What makes a child a monster?
Glenn Dale Hospital and Sanatorium
This compound has a particularly grim history – once a hospital for those suffering from tuberculous, a lonely death of quarantine awaited the patients. Afterwards, the facilities were converted into a mental asylum. Yet, the abandoned facilities seem less…sinister than one would imagine. Vitamin D was considered an effective way to treat tuberculosis, and the building permits endless natural light with vast windows and open atriums. Vibrant ivy vines have reclaimed much of the interior, and the compound seems more like an experiment in the beauty of urban decay. Disclaimer: really, really don’t go to this one. Hazards include asbestos, structural issues (seriously, a roof might fall on your head), and protective squatters that may get violent.
Deep in the forests of Rock Creek Park, there resides a peculiar gathering of old granite stones. Moss and lichen have claimed them for their own, but the 10-foot tall piles of rocks couldn’t have gotten like this on their own accord. These are likely the stones that once belonged to the U.S. Capitol Building – disassembled during 1958 renovations, and then abandoned where most people would never find them. Some likely come from the original Capitol Building, dating back to the 1700’s, before the Burning of Washington. There’s no sign or plaque marking the importance of these stones, and they’re not on any path or map. A piece of U.S. history, resigned to live in the thickets of brush. But the real mystery is a pattern of 14-feet deep holes inexplicably surrounding the stones, for which there’s no explanation.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.