When I first started urban exploring, I did not know how to find abandoned places to explore. All I managed to come across were small and boring single-floor abandoned houses.
I wanted some true adventure and had the desire to explore some crazy abandoned buildings like the ones urbex YouTubers were exploring in their videos. To truly enjoy this hobby, I knew that I needed to figure out how to find abandoned places.
I started digging through urbex forums and asking other explorers I could get in contact with to share some tips with me. Fortunately, one guy I asked ended up sharing some of his secrets that helped me find some really cool places.
That was a decade ago.
The methods he shared with me worked 10 years ago and they still work today. But in those ten long years since I’ve been exploring, I have also discovered a few other methods that work equally well.
If you’re new to urban exploring and can’t figure out how to find abandoned places to explore, I wrote this guide for you. I’m sharing these methods with everyone so that people getting into urbex don’t have to struggle as I did.
The methods are easy to follow and quite effective if you use them correctly. Keep reading to learn the best ways to find places to explore.
How To Find Abandoned Places To Explore
How To Find Abandoned Places On Google Maps
The first thing aspiring urban explorers do when looking for places to explore is do a quick search on Google. It’s what I did when I was getting started. I’m sure you’ve also tried it.
Sadly for me at the time my searches on Google were not fruitful. I couldn’t find a single interesting abandoned location and it took me a while to figure out why. It was because I wasn’t searching for what I wanted the correct way.
Google is a complex search engine with many features that not a lot of people know about. One of them is called ‘Search Operators’. This feature is simple to use and extremely effective in helping you find what you’re searching for.
Several popular urban explorers like ExploringWithJosh, TheProperPeople, and Dan Bell, all use this method to find and scout out locations they’re going to explore for their Youtube videos.
It is the first method I learned for finding abandoned places and it still works today in 2022. Below I show you how to do it.
First: Google Search Operators and How To Use Them
Google Search and Google Maps are an urban explorer’s best friends. I and many urban explorers have been using them for years to find countless abandoned buildings to explore.
But these tools don’t simply list off places that you can explore. You have to do some detective work yourself and you’re going to have to use search operators.
Google search operators are simple commands that you type alongside your search queries to restrict your search and filter out the useless results that won’t help you.
What these operators do is tell Google to only show search results related to the specific keywords you typed in. Below is an example of a search you could do on Google using an operator.
- “Abandoned warehouse” + “Phoenix”
- “Urban exploring” + “Malibu”
- “Vacant factory” + “Atlanta”
- “Dead mall” + “Houston”
- “Derelict building” + “Boston”
- “Abandoned mansion” + “Portland”
- “Abandoned hospital” + “Baltimore”
You get the idea. Replace the name of the city in quotations with the name of the city you’re wanting to find abandoned places. Be sure to leave quotation marks and the addition symbol in there!
Start Searching Away On Google
By using quotation marks around the name of the city we are in, we tell Google to only show search results that contain the words ‘Abandoned Places’ and whatever city you searched for in the “City” command. With these operators, we narrow our searches and have a better chance of finding what we’re looking for.
The above queries are just a few examples of combining keywords to narrow your search results. I’m sure you can think of many more. Just follow the same strategy.
As you’re searching away, you’re gonna want to comb through the pages that come up in your searches and look for a name, or an address of potential abandoned places and gather as much info as you can.
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 to try and find its address, be sure to include your city name in the query.
For example, with this method, I found a pair of abandoned mansions called Elanor Mansions. On Google, I typed “Elanor Mansions” + “Dallas”.
This tells Google to only show search results that mention both “Elanor Mansions” and “Dallas” on the same page. Once you have a building name or an address, you’ll want to head on over to Google Maps and verify your find.
Second: How to Use Google Maps to Find Abandoned Places
When you’ve found a potential target or two, you’ll want to now use Google Maps to get an up-to-date view of the place before you head out to visit.
Type in the address or name of the place you’ve found onto the Google Maps search bar, and see what comes up. If you can change your viewpoint to ‘street view’ to get a better look at the place.
To do this, drag the little yellow human figure on the bottom right of your screen onto the map and drop him on a street highlighted in blue. Ideally closest to your target.
Once you’re in streetview, move around the place. You’re doing this to figure out if the place you’re looking at is actually abandoned.
From there on, it’s up to you to decide if the location you’ve found is worth making the drive for.
Continue doing this method of searching on Google using operators, and then verifying on Google Maps as many times as you like.
It’s the best way to find abandoned places that I will share in this article.
No More Excuses, Go Out And Start Exploring
As I mentioned at the start of this article, finding places to explore when you’re starting out can be a little frustrating. Hopefully, not anymore.
Using the method that I’ve shown you above, you should now know how to find abandoned places to explore no matter where in the world you are.
Part of the fun of urban exploration is the hunt for the location itself. Though after a while if you’re not successful you could get discouraged and lose interest.
With this method, you will surely find your first, or next, abandoned place to explore. But keep in mind this method isn’t the only one that works.
Another little-known technique I use to find abandoned places involves a website called Flickr.
How To Find Abandoned Buildings Using Flickr
This method is pretty easy and simple to follow. We’re gonna be using a social website called Flickr. If you’ve never heard of Flickr, it is a site used by amateur photographers to share their photos with the world. What makes this site unique is a neat little feature that allows photographers to ‘Geo-Tag’ their photos.
Geotagging is used by photographers to share the ‘geographical location’ of where an image was taken. This comes in the form of showing the latitude and longitude of an image, or in Flickr’s case, you can see the exact address on a map.
This makes Flickr an absolute treasure trove for urban explorers. I’ve you’ve never used Flickr before, don’t worry. I’m going to show you step-by-step how to find abandoned places to explore. Simply follow the process I’ve laid out below.
How I Use Flickr To Find Abandoned Places
First off, make your way over to Flickr. Once you’re there, you’ll want to search for “Urbex” or “Urban Exploration” as I did in the image below.
After that, in the upper left corner of the menu, you’re gonna click “Groups”. There you will see hundreds and hundreds of groups related to urbex, or whatever query you searched for. Click on any group you like, just keep in mind that some groups are location specific.
For example, some of them are focused on places like South America, Europe, or Asia. If you’re not looking for abandoned buildings in those countries, don’t click on those groups. Find one that you like and that has lots of photos and members.
This gives you a greater chance of finding geo-tagged photos that were taken near where you live. When you’ve found a group, on the top-mid menu bar click on ‘Map’. This shows you a map with pinpoints of the specific locations of every single photo in that particular group that is geo-tagged.
Now all you have to do is zoom into the map to wherever you are looking for abandoned buildings. When the map is zoomed in on the area you want to look at, click on the green ‘Refresh’ icon button at the bottom middle of the page. This will refresh the map and show you photos that were taken in the specific location you’re looking at.
Now all you have to do is click on the pink point on the map and it will show you a photo that was taken in that area.
Once you find a photo you like, all you have to do is zoom in all the way on the pin-point. There you’ll see exactly where the photo you’re looking at was taken. If you want more details, click on the photo itself and it will open up on a new page.
There you can see more information about it. Such as when the photo was taken, by who, and any comments about it. There’s also a chance that the person who uploaded the photo may be from the same area as you.
So click on their profile page and check out their other photos. They might have some more photos from different locations in your area that are also geotagged. This profile browsing method has helped me find so many abandoned buildings to explore.
Search Away On Flickr, It Really Works
If for some reason when you’re searching on the map you don’t see any pin-points, that just means that no photos in the particular group you’re searching on have geo-tagged images. But that’s fine, remember that you’re searching in one group.
There are hundreds more you can go through. Go back to the ‘Groups’ page and find a different group and repeat the same process. You can also search through other groups by simply using a different keyword.
Instead of searching for ‘Urban exploring’, try ‘Abandoned buildings’ or ‘urban decay’. Look through as many groups as you can find and you’re bound to come across some photos that have geotagging enabled.
I’ve been using this method for years and have found the craziest abandoned places I didn’t even know existed. My coolest find was an abandoned school that was fully reclaimed by nature.
I’m confident the Flickr method works. But if this photography-sharing website doesn’t yield you any results, then simply use another one. Like ShotHotSpot for example.
Browse ShotHotSpot – Popular Photography Location Website
Photographers everywhere love sharing their work online for the world to see. Photo-sharing websites have popped up over the years to cater to these people. One such site is ShotHotSpot.
This website is primarily used to help photographers find cool places to photograph. What’s great about this site is a feature that lets you filter locations by their occupational status. One of those filters includes the ability to show places that are abandoned.
I’ve used this site over the years and have found countless abandoned places to explore. The site is updated all the time by photographers so new places are popping up all the time.
The site is easy to use, simply search a location and then filter by ‘Abandoned’ in the right side menu bar on the map. Click on any pin-points on the map that appear and see what info you can find on the locations that pop up.
When I got interested in urbex photography this website helped me find so many cool abandoned places to both photograph and explore.
This is yet another quick and easy way to find places to explore. Another method I use is looking for personal blogs from urban explorers in my area.
Search For Blogs From Explorers In Your Area
Urban explorers all over the world love sharing their photos, videos, and talking about their experiences with other explorers about the places they’ve been to. One way they might do this is by creating a public blog.
These blogs eventually get picked up by search engines like Google or Bing and show up in the search results making them easy to find. Oftentimes the blogger will include the name or address of the places they’re showing photos/videos of on their blog.
This helps other explorers, like yourself, find the place and get a chance to visit it before its demolished. Some bloggers like to create public location databases of abandoned places and share them with their readers.
Below are 3 examples of urbex blogs that include location information on the places they explore.
Centered mostly around Ontario, Canada, the man behind Freaktography is a professional photographer and urban explorer. He documents abandoned buildings through his amazing photography skills.
What’s great about his blog is that in some posts he shares the names of the locations he’s exploring. Not in all of them, but a good portion do have the name of the place somewhere on the page.
If the name isn’t disclosed, you can still gather clues from his blog post as to the possible whereabouts of the building. He’s been exploring for many years and has photographed and written about hundreds of abandoned places.
Though his blog might not be too useful if you’re not urban exploring in Canada, you can see that urbex blogs are useful for finding places to explore.
Another blog that discloses location info on places they explore is DetroitUrbex. The blog is focused on abandoned places in Detroit, Michigan.
Detroit is famous among urban explorers as the city experienced mass population loss unlike any other city in America. So many blogs from explorers in Detroit have popped up over the years but not many publish the location information of abandoned places.
Detroit Urbex does. The blog has a whole directory listing on abandoned buildings around the city. From schools, churches, parks, hospitals, and even entire neighborhoods.
This is another example of how I use blogs from people who urbex near me to find abandoned buildings to explore.
One more example of an urbex blog sharing abandoned locations is called Urbex.nl. The mastermind behind the blog is named Andre Joossee, he’s a freelance photographer and urban explorer from Europe.
Not only does he share his knowledge about urbex but he also has a location database that helps his European readers find the places in his photos. Non-European visitors of course won’t get too much value from his site but this is just another example of an urbex blog being useful for finding abandoned places to explore.
Blogs In 2022, Really?
Blogs are not as popular today as they once were some years ago but people still do use them. Find blogs from urban explorers in your area and it will surely aid you in uncovering new abandoned places to explore you otherwise might have never come across.
To find these blogs use a service like Feedspot or any other blog directory. You can also use search operators in Google as I showed you in this article.
If you reach a dead end with urbex blogs, try the following method I use for quickly finding abandoned places using Youtube.
How To Find Abandoned Places On Youtube
Many people fail to realize that Youtube is not only a video-sharing platform but also a search engine. On Youtube, just like on Google, you can employ the use of operators by using quotation marks around the keywords you search for.
Remember that search operators are simply a way to restrict your search results so that only the keywords you search for appear in the results. This gets rid of all the junk results that are not useful to you.
This method is quick and easy to do and I explain how it works below. The two most useful operators on Youtube are quotation marks and the AND command.
The quotation marks tell Youtube to only show you results that contain the keyword you typed in. The “AND” operator tells Youtube to only show you results that contain both keywords you used, in a single title.
Some examples are as follows:
- “Los Angeles” AND “Abandoned”
- “Houston” AND “Urbex”
- “Chicago” AND “Urban Exploration”
- “New York” AND “Abandoned Asylum”
- “Seattle” AND “Urban Exploring”
You get the idea, right? Type in the name of the city you’re in inside quotations and then follow it up with a different keyword as I did. Get creative with it.
Think of other words that could yield you the results you’re looking for. For example instead of “abandoned” you could use “vacant”. This method works. I learned it from an urbex Youtuber some years back.
Another way how to find abandoned buildings to explore is by befriending other urban explorers online. I do this mainly through urbex forums.
Join Urbex Forums – Some Have Location Databases
You may have not known this but there are forums online that are solely dedicated to urban exploration. On these forums, urban explorers from all over the world share their knowledge and experiences related to urban exploration.
Some people like to include the locations of the places they’ve explored. Some, not all. It’s frowned upon to share the specific location of an abandoned building.
But most of the time you can bypass this by simply asking people through private messages if they can share any location info. Some forums also have public and private directories of abandoned places that their members can sift through.
Below I’ll list 2 of the most popular forums I’ve joined that have helped me partake in urban exploration near me.
Uer is short for Urban Exploration Resource, it is one of the most popular urbex forums on the internet. It’s also the oldest as you can probably tell by the ancient design of the website.
But don’t let the outdated look fool you though. Uer is chock-full of amazing information regarding everything urban exploration. The forum holds a wealth of knowledge about everything you ever wanted to know about urbex.
One feature that’s quite neat and makes it stand out from other forums is the ‘Location Database’. The database is a collection of abandoned places filled by Uer members from around the world. It shows locations from many countries including the United States, Canada, Europe, South Korea, and even the land of the ‘roos, Australia.
The listing includes the name of the abandoned building, photos, address, hazards you should be aware of, and even the latest status of the building. Browse around the database and see what you can find.
If your search is futile, then don’t forget that you’re on a forum. Start a profile and make some friends. Find people from your area and ask if they’d be willing to share some abandoned places they know of.
Be active in the forum before you start sending DM’s, otherwise, people will think you’re a bit sketchy and ignore you. Be friendly, ask questions, and help others.
This will help you be in good standing with community members who might allow you access to the private Uer location database. Oh yeah, it exists. *shhh*
Similar to Uer, 28DaysLater is also a popular urbex forum. The only difference is that it is primarily focused on urbex in the United Kingdom and nearby countries.
It has been around for as long as Uer and contains a treasure trove of information about urbex and abandoned places in Europe. This forum also features a free-to-access location directory.
You can find it under the ‘UE Site Reports and Discussion” section. On there you’ll find documentation on abandoned asylums, hospitals, residential buildings, military sites, mines, quarries, drains, and so much more.
The members on the site are also quite friendly, so if you don’t find any abandoned places to visit, start an account and join the discussion. You’ll surely come across explorers from your area who might be willing to share abandoned locations with you.
Join Forums And Start Making Friends
These are only 2 of the most popular urbex forums on the internet.
There are so many more out there you can join today to start meeting other urban explorers who are friendly and eager to help new explorers experience urbex to its fullest.
If you’re not a social person but still looking for abandoned places to explore, then my next method is as easy as it gets.
Hop In Your Car And Drive Around Your City
Sometimes when I want to find an abandoned building, the easiest way I do that is by getting in my car and driving around looking for it. In this case, I can’t really tell you where to look as I don’t know the place where you live.
My advice is for you to take the roads you normally wouldn’t take. Drive on backroads or small side streets in your city that you’ve never been to before.
Low-income neighborhoods tend to have so many abandoned houses, businesses, and buildings so maybe start there. These overlooked places can be filled with so many abandoned buildings you may not even realize it.
Search for your city on Google Maps and decide what area you’re going to drive around. Chose places you’ve not been to before. Also, it’s a good idea to go with a friend.
This way you can safely keep your eyes on the road while driving. Plus an extra set of eyeballs is always useful. No matter where in the world you live this method works and will help you discover hidden places you may have not found another way.
The final method you will learn for how to find abandoned places involves the use of apps you probably didn’t even know existed.
Use Urban Exploration Apps
If you’ve ever wondered, is there an app to find abandoned places? The answer is yes, there are many.
As urban exploration continues to grow in popularity, tools that help urban explorers are also gaining attention.
Developers and urban explorers themselves see a demand for these apps and create these tools to help people solve a problem.
So many urban exploration apps have popped up over the years and some of them include lists of abandoned locations from around the world that you can search through.
Some of these apps get thousands of downloads while others die off as quickly as they were created.
Most of the popular urban exploration apps are free to download. I wrote an article where I feature the most useful urbex apps you can utilize right now.
Go check it out once you’re done reading this article. Some of the apps are quite useful, plus I did mention they’re free, right?
There you have it, the many methods I have learned in 10 years on how to find abandoned places to explore. No other urban exploration website has this kind of information posted for free to its readers. At least none that I know of.
I rarely see other urban explorers share this kind of information, that’s why I decided to write this incredibly long and detailed post on how to find abandoned places to explore.
I hope you found this article useful and that it helped you discover your first, or next, abandoned building to explore. If I could ask for a small favor from you in return, can you please share this article on social media or with anyone that is new to urban exploration that might find it useful?
Also if you know of any other methods I can use to find abandoned places, let me know in the comments!