Part of the fun of Urban Exploration is the hunt for the location itself. If you’re just now starting with urbex, you might be getting a little bit frustrated that you can’t find places near you to explore.
Every urban explorer, myself included, know this feeling all too well. All urban explorers go through this in the beginning, trust me you’re not alone. Don’t let it discourage you from actually taking part in this awesome hobby.
When I first started exploring, the only places I could find were run-down houses in shady neighborhoods. You know the ones with missing doors, caved in roofs, and broken boarded-up windows.
I eventually got tired of these places and had the desire to venture into more spacious locations with more than just a handful of rooms to explore. But the problem was that I had no idea how to find these bigger places. Places similar to those that I saw urbex Youtubers exploring.
I desperately wanted to explore cool locations like an abandoned hospital, a mansion, school, old factory, high-rise building, or anything that wasn’t a single-story house. I watched tens of videos and read article after article trying to figure out how other explorers were finding these cool places to explore. It turns out it’s a lot easier to find these places than I imagined.
Some explorers find abandoned buildings by word of mouth, others do it by driving around their city and seeing what they can find.
But what most explorers do nowadays is use Google Maps to find cool abandoned buildings near them to explore. How exactly they do it, is what I’m going to teach you in this article.
I hope you find this useful!.
How To Use Google Maps To Find Places Near You To Explore
Google Maps is an urban explorer’s best friend. I and many urban explorers have been using it for years now to find countless abandoned buildings. Several popular urbex Youtubers like ExploringWithJosh, TheProperPeople, and Dan Bell, use Google Maps to regularly scout out locations they’re going to visit for their videos.
Google Maps on its own won’t list off buildings as abandoned. I hope it was that easy, it would save us explorers a TON of time! What you have to do is use Google Search in combination with Google Maps to find places to explore.
Before you head on over to Google Maps, you’ll first want to do some quick searches on Google Search. What will you be searching for? Type in the following queries into Google:
- Abandoned places near me
- Abandoned places in “YourCityName”
- Places to explore in “YourCityName”
- “Urbex + “YourCityName”
You might think it’s pointless to search for “Abandoned places near me”, but it’s not. Unless you’re using a VPN, Google knows your location and will show you search results based on your local area.
You might not know it but there could be countless local news websites or blogs that discuss or mention abandoned buildings in your city. It’s worth going through these pages of Google and see what you can find.
Although Google knows where you’re searching from, it still might not show you search results related to your query. What you can do, not many people know this trick, is filter your searches on Google by using operators.
What this does is it tells Google to ONLY show you search results related to a specific keyword you typed in. This is why if you look at the queries above that I asked you to search for, you’ll see some of them have quotations around them.
Specifically the “YourCityName”. You’ll want to remove the YourCityName part and type in the name of the actual city you’re in. Be sure to leave the quotations in there. Say for example you’re in Houston, you’ll type Abandoned places in “Houston” or Abandoned places in “Los Angeles”.
By restricting our searches on Google to ONLY show search results with our specific keywords using operators, we essentially get rid of having to sift through thousands of pages on Google that have no value to us, and only go through the ones that mention “Abandoned buildings” and “YourCityName”, or whatever other keywords you used.
So start searching away on Google. Remember to use quotations (“”) around your city name to specify to Google you only want to see search results related to your city. What you can also do is search for your city name in combination with other keywords that will help you narrow your search even more. Here are some examples you can use:
- “Abandoned houses” + “Urbex”
- “Urbex” + “YourCityName” + “Abandoned”
- “YourCityName” + “Abandoned”
- “YourCityName” + “Urban Exploration”
- “Abandoned House” + “YourCityName”
- “Derelict Building” + “YourCityName”
- “Empty Houses” + “YourCityName”
- “Vacant Factory” + “YourCityName”
- “Unoccupied Hospital” + “YourCityName”
By adding the (+) sign in between your keywords in quotations, you’re telling Google to display search results that show both of those keywords in a single website. These are just a few examples of combining keywords to narrow your search results. I’m sure you can think of many more. Do as many searches as you like.
Get clever with it too. Come up with search queries that you think would help you narrow your search. For example, searching for (“Burned building” + “YourCityName”) would yield search results that mention a burned down building in your city.
This burned building could be abandoned. Thus would make a cool place to explore. Think of several different keywords to use to search for potentially abandoned buildings.
While you’re searching through Google for pages that mention the keywords you’ve searched for, write down any names of a location or an address of a building that you think might be abandoned. Gather as much information as you can on any potential abandoned location you’ve come across.
If you have the name of a building that you think is abandoned, open a new tab on Google and search for the building’s name, be sure to include your city name in the query.
For example, is you found a place called Elanor Mansion. On Google, you’ll type Elanor Mansion “San Francisco”. This tells Google to only show search results that mention “Elanor Mansion” and “San Francisco”.
If you don’t have a building name but you’ve found an address instead, now you’ll want to head on over to Google Maps and type in the address.
When you first arrive on Google Maps, you’ll see a 2D overhead view of your location. What you first want to do is go to the bottom left of the page, and click on the “Satellite View” button. This shows you a more accurate map, instead of the default view.
Now in the search bar, type in the address you’ve found into Google Maps and press enter. Google will search for the address you’ve given it and you’ll be able to see if it’s an abandoned building or not.
What’s also great is that you can use “Street View” and have a clearer view of the location you’re searching for. To access Street View, simply drag and drop the little yellow human in the bottom right-hand corner of the page inside the map.
You’ll be taken into Street View where you can see a view of the location as if you were standing outside it yourself.
Do this for as many locations you can find and I guarantee that you’ll have an almost endless variety of abandoned buildings to explore.
No More Excuses, Go Out And Explore.
Finding places near you to explore can be a challenge. It takes time and dedication to find places we so much want to explore. Generally speaking, almost all cities in the world have abandoned buildings.
Companies always go bust and have to shut down, people stop going to churches which prompts them to close, factories burn down in accidents, all these places have one thing in common.
They all leave an empty building behind when they leave. Buildings left to decay and die. Buildings for us urban explorers to go in and do our thing.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you’re new to urbex and can’t find places near you to explore, you’re probably getting frustrated because of it.
That frustration is what’s stopping you from being an urban explorer. Well now that I’ve taught you how I, and many other urban explorers, find abandoned buildings to explore, you can now lose that frustration and go out there and have some fun exploring.
No more excuses!
P.S. If for any reason this method didn’t work for you, I wrote a new article where I show 7 other methods I use to find abandoned buildings to explore. Check it out!