Tourist Attractions That Are Now Off-Limits to Visitors
| LAST UPDATE 02/16/2022
International travel is amazing, but it pains us that some historic landmarks worldwide are now off-limits to the public. Here are some of the tourist sites around the globe that we can no longer visit.
Statue of Liberty Torch
Those who have planned a trip to the City That Never Sleeps have probably thought of visiting the legendary Statue of Liberty. But what about Lady Liberty’s torch? Well, once upon a time visitors could go there, too.
For the first thirty years, members of the public were able to mount the torch and crown of the Liberty statue, and it was a popular place to look out across the Manhattan cityscape. Though the crown is still accessible today, access to the torch was restricted from 1916 onward as it was considered too hazardous.
The “Underwater Amazon”
When a tourist site is given the nickname “Underwater Amazon,” we know it’s going to be amazing. And that’s just one of the words that could be used to describe this coral reel in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. The reef has a lot of biodiversity, making it a hugely popular diving site. At least, it used to be.
Sadly, back in 2017, an accident occurred wherein a touring cruise ship ran aground in Raja Ampat and crashed into the reef, destroying huge areas of the precious site. Unsurprisingly, the entire reef was blocked off, with no public access allowed. It’s believed that restoring the reef could take as long as 100 years.
The Azure Window
The Azure Window in Malta was a sight of striking natural beauty that attracted tourists and influencers from all over the world to have their photos taken on the stunning rock-formed arch overlooking the ocean. The site was brought to the attention of countless millions when it appeared on HBO's Game of Thrones.
But, of course, even the most beautiful things fade away over time. And in the case of the Azure Window, it happened on a single, tragic night back in 2017. After a particularly violent storm, the naturally-formed arch - which had been eroding for centuries up until that point - finally gave in and collapsed into the ocean below.
In the 1990s, tons of off-shore visitors flew into Hawaii to take advantage of the incredible tropical weather and sandy beaches. One of the top popular of these beaches was Kaimu Beach in Kalapana. And that’s because Kaimu wasn’t like any other beach - its shores were lined with jet-black sand!
Tragically, it is now impossible to stroll along those midnight shores, as Kaimu was destroyed in a volcanic eruption when the volcano Kilauea exploded not far from it. The beach was set on fire by the eruption, and eventually buried fifty feet beneath ground level when it was inundated with lava.
Vance Creek Bridge
Vance Creek Bridge is known as the second tallest railway bridge in the United States, originally constructed to serve local logging companies in Mason County, Washington. Over the years it garnered a dangerous reputation for locals and travelers looking for an exciting exhibition and photo opportunity.
But, of course, local councils and the owners of the bridge soon realized that they had a potential hazard on their hands, and made the decision to close off the entrance to Vance Creek Bridge for good. The site has been inaccessible since 2014, so local thrill-seekers have had to find their fun elsewhere.
New York Hippodrome
Once one of the largest theatres in the US, the New York Hippodrome was built in 1905 with a capacity of 5,000. During its heyday it was one of the city’s popular and iconic theatres, holding a swathe of fantastic entertainment like concerts, musicals, circus performances, and even magic shows!
It might be hard to believe, but the building which once put on shows by the likes of people such as Harry Houdini and Sophie Tucker is today used as a commercial office space. Though you can technically still go inside, the entire interior has been refurbished and now looks completely different.
A serene and gorgeous beach in Morocco, Legzira beach was beloved for the three intense, reddish-orange arches that arced over the shores of the beach. During the evenings it was known for its serene and peaceful atmosphere, where locals and visitors would come to watch the tide roll in.
But, of course, all good things must come to an end (apparently). In 2016, two of the three archways crashed onto the shore below, unable to hold their own weight after centuries. The third arch is still intact and can be seen if one travels to Legzira Beach, but we can’t promise it will be there for long.
The Jeffrey Pine
We know a tree is special when it attracts thousands of visitors due to its appearance alone. And that’s exactly the case with the Jeffrey Pine, which can be found on Sentinel Dome in Yellowstone National Park. The unusual pine is known for its warped, twisted branches and strange growth patterns.
For decades people stopped by to get a picture with Jeffrey Pine, up until 2003. That was the year that the tree fully collapsed, unable to hold up the thick branches that had twisted meters to the side. Sadly, all that’s left of the pine are a few traces of pale bark that has been left behind on the Sentinel Dome Trail.
Wedding Cake Rock
At the Royal National Park in Australia, newlyweds across the country flocked to the aptly-named Wedding Cake Rock to celebrate their nuptials. This landmark is known for its stark white sandstone, which is what makes the rock look so similar to a wedding cake!
But it was also known for its gorgeous views, which unfortunately can no longer be seen. This was due to a considerable increase in visitors back in 2015, when travelers began to learn about the iconic rock through Instagram and other social media sites. It was closed to the public that same year due to safety concerns.
The Original Penn Station
Yes, Penn Station does still exist, and it is visited by tons of tourists to this day. But it wasn’t the first Penn Station - the original railroad station was built in 1910, and took up more than two blocks of central Manhattan. It was such a breathtaking and expansive building that hundreds of people came just to visit.
After just over fifty years, the iconic railroad station was fully closed. This was due to a decrease in traffic, which urged the city council to deem the enormous facility a "waste of space" in 1963. Today, the new Penn Station sits beneath the site of the original, which has since been replaced by Madison Square Garden.
The name ‘AstroWorld’ has been all over the news recently, so we won’t blame anyone who immediately thinks of Travis Scott and related controversies at the AstroWorld concert. But, the AstroWorld we’re talking about was a Six Flags theme park that could be visited in Houston, Texas, and was a well-loved institution.
The park was officially closed down in 2006, after almost 40 years of operation. But if we take a step back to the now-infamous AstroWorld concert, we’ll find it is actually a tribute to the beloved theme park - rapper Scott was born and raised in Houston and even named an album after the park.
Lascaux Cave Paintings
Imagine wandering into a local cave during a walk, only to stumble across some ancient cave paintings! Well, that’s exactly what happened to two teenage boys in Southwestern France, when they entered a cave to retrieve one of their dogs back in 1940. The Lascaux Cave Paintings were over 17,000 years old.
Naturally, the caves drew in thousands of visitors from across the world. But, it couldn’t last. After just 23 years as a tourist site, the caves were closed to the public. It was discovered that the hordes of visitors were introducing levels of humidity into the cave that were destroying the paintings inside.
Disney’s River Country
As if going to Disney World wasn’t enough fun, developers at Disney decided to build another extension to the “happiest place on earth”. This was Disney’s River Country, a themed water park built at the Walt Disney’s World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
By 2001, Disney had plans to reconstruct the water park, and the site was closed to the public to accommodate the rebuild. But the “temporary” closure stretched on and on, and the redesign of the park never occurred. By 2005, River Country was officially shut down, though the sight still exists today.
Thailand’s White Sand Beaches
For years, one of the most popular natural tourist attractions in Thailand was its gorgeous White Sand Beaches. These could be found in Maya Bay and accessed through Phi Phi Leh islands. Countless people were desperate to sunbathe and frolic on the snow-white beaches and in the azure blue waters.
In 2018, the Thai government had no choice but to shut down access to Maya Bay. Years of mass tourism had caused significant damage to the stunning beaches and reefs. The beach was closed and since then plenty of time and resources have been put into restoring the beach to its former glory.
The Berlin Wall
During and after the Cold War, Germany was split in half by the Berlin Wall. As a result, millions of western tourists visited the city to see the political symbol between 1960 and 1970, not only to look at the manmade structure but in the hopes of glancing over the top and into East Berlin.
Though it also became a creative icon due to the complex graffiti that adorned it and the street musicians who set up shop beside it, the Berlin Wall was finally knocked down in 1989. Today it is not nearly as popular as a site, and many opt instead to see pieces of the wall at German museums.
At 13 million gallons per second, Guaira Falls was at one point the strongest waterfall in the world. It sits at the border between Brazil and Paraguay and was so loud that many claimed it could be heard for up to 20 miles away. With these two unique features, it’s no wonder thousands traveled to see the natural feature.
But in a sad yet unsurprising turn of events, a reservoir called Itaipu Dam was built before the falls, diverting all of the water. In a short amount of time, Guaira Falls was sucked dry, completely deprived of any of the water that had flooded over it for centuries.
Love Lock Bridge
While some of us never visited the Love Lock bridge, plenty of us have probably seen photos of it online. Over the years, 1000s of couples who travel to visit the Eiffel Tower have stopped at the Pont des Arts Bridge to buy a lock and key and secure it onto the bridge, which ended up with a whopping 700,000 locks (approximately).
And while those locks of love were a charming symbol, they weren’t very… practical. The Pont des Arts Bridge was thought to be a public hazard due to being weighed down by 45 tons worth of locks and keys, and after years of protests by locals, the locks were finally removed.
Looking at this shot of the Yosemite Firefalls, one might speculate it’s photoshopped. The Firefall takes the concept of a waterfall and turns it on its head, with what looks like a solid stream of orange fire falling down a glacier point in Yosemite National Park.
The Firefall was a result of hot embers being pushed down the falls and occurred during the summer where it was one of the most hotly anticipated events at the National park. And it was for this reason that the event officially ended in 1968, as park officials were concerned about the overwhelming number of visitors.
The Sutro Baths
Back in 1896, the mayor of San Francisco Adolph Sutro made the generous decision to open public baths to give the urban public access to swimming pools. The Sutro Baths were built, attracting thousands of families due to the variety of fresh and saltwater pools.
But it was the amount of variety that would bring the Sutro Baths to a close in 1964, as the sheer amount of slides and pools were too expensive for the city to maintain. Just two years later, the remaining building caught on fire, bringing a permanent end to the defunct site.
Pioneer Cabin Tree
Prior to 2017, people driving in the Calaveras Big Tree State Park in California had the opportunity to do something very unique - drive straight through the center of a tree! This was known as the Pioneer Cabin Tree or Tunnel Tree, an enormous sequoia with a hole cut through it.
But tragically, the looming sequoia was taken down by a rainstorm in 2017, after an incredible thousand-year stretch living in the park. We can’t help but hope that the park’s next attraction is a little less harmful to its tree inhabitants. Fingers crossed!
Portions of the Great Wall of China
Some of us were told the same tidbit in school - that if we looked at the earth from space, we would still be able to see the 500-mile long Great Wall of China. Traversing the distance between Shanhaiguan in Hebei province to Jiayuguan in Gansu, the wall is one of the most visited tourist sites in the world.
But with almost 10 million visitors a year, the influx of people began to take its toll, causing a collapse in some areas. Today, travelers who wish to explore the historic wall can only gain access to 2/3rd of the Great Wall. It is believed that for as long as people are allowed to walk the wall, it will continue to disintegrate.
At one time in history, Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia was believed to be the highest glacier in the world. And it’s no surprise that it was one of the most favored mountain peaks for winter sports. Year upon year, hobbyists, professionals, and people who simply wanted to see the sites would travel to the glacier.
But expeditions to Chacaltaya became few and far between, as the Bolivian glacier slowly began to melt away after 18,000 years standing strong. Over the course of 28 years, from 1980 to 2008, the glacier simply disappeared into the ocean. Today the site is used as a research observatory.
Chacaltaya wasn’t the only stunning ski spot to fall victim to the perils of a changing climate. Let us introduce you to Mount Humboldt in the Northern Andes, which was once a hugely popular spot. Today, it can still be accessed by tourists, but if you’re looking to whip out your ski poles or board, you’re out of luck.
Mount Humboldt can be found in Venezuela, and being only 8 degrees north from the equator it, was extremely susceptible to the shift in temperatures our world is experiencing. Though some traces of ice and snow can still be seen at their peak, science tells us that they will have disappeared in a few years.
Disney’s Discovery Island
River County wasn’t the only Disney expansion that didn’t quite work out. Discovery Island was once a patch of an island in Orlando Florida that held a menagerie of animals that Disney fans could visit. It was a magical place, particularly for young children, but it didn’t last for long.
In 1999, the island’s animals were shipped off to Animal Kingdom, and Discovery Island was left utterly deserted. To this day, no one is quite sure why the site was abandoned, and the remains of the tourist attraction now lie off of the Gulf Coast. It can no longer be reached, who knows - perhaps one day the animals will return?
Back in the 1970s, tourists in South Carolina frequented a popular American-Christian theme park, named Heritage USA. At its peak, the site - along with its extensive waterpark - was raking in roughly 6 million visitors per year! But as you’ve probably guessed, no one is visiting it anymore.
In an unusual turn of events, the owner of the park found himself in a pretty sticky situation. Heritage USA founder Jim Bakker was caught up in fraud charges. If that wasn’t enough, Hurricane Hugo tore through the park that same year, forcing the closure of the park for good.
Duckbill Rock Formation
Some people love cloud-watching: pointing out floating blobs that look like shapes and animals. So we can imagine how much hype the Duckbill Rock Formations in Oregon’s Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area stirred up. After all, who doesn’t want to see a rock shaped like a smiling duck?
This came to an end back in 2016, when the charming rock was disfigured by a passing group. They later defended themselves, claiming their friend had broken a leg because of the duck and it needed to be removed as a safety measure. Whether that was true or not, the Duckbill Rock Formation is just a normal rock formation now.
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft
For those of us who remember 70s/80s kid shows like Land of the Lost and The Banana Splits, this next attraction might pull at our heartstrings. Show creators Sid and Marty Kroff saw so much rating success with their creations that they opted to build on their franchises with an amusement park.
The park was called The World of Sid and Marty Kroff, and though it seemed like a good idea at the start, it didn’t quite work out as they had hoped. The visitor numbers were disastrously low from day one, and after only 6 months, the site was shut down and the brothers returned to television.
Tree of Ténéré
If being lonely wasn’t enough, imagine being hit by a driver too? That’s exactly what happened to the Tree of Ténéré, a solitary tree that once stood alone in the Sahara Desert, with no other insight. Originally it had been accompanied by an entire forest, but over time there was not enough water to sustain them.
And though this hardy tree was the last of its kind in the barren desert, it didn’t stop an inebriated driver from crashing into it one night. Today, the remains of it can be found at the Niger National Museum. Now, only a metal pole has been left behind to mark where the tree once was.
Old Man of the Mountain
In the past, when driving through Hampshire, many residents of the road would be watched by a singular face jutting out of the White Mountains. This naturally-formed structure looked so much like a face made of stone that it became known as the Old Man of the Mountain, The Profile, or the Great Stone Face.
The landmark structure was so adored by visitors and locals that when a crack began forming in the profile during the 1920s, state officials did everything they could to hold it together. Sadly, the Old Man of the Mountain collapsed entirely in 2003, and the White Mountains have never been the same since.
In the heart of Namibia there once stood a 450-ton sandstone rock that countless people would travel to see. It wasn’t just any rock - it was an enormous slab of sandstone connected to much smaller rock beneath it, that was formed over the course of 50,000 years and dubbed the “finger of God”.
On the fateful night of December 7, 1988, the Mukurob came crashing down, with few indications of a cause. A few theories popped up over time, including a rainstorm from days earlier, and an earthquake in far-off Armenia. Whatever it was, we can only assume that some deity wanted their finger back.