The advent of cheap commercial flights changed the world. Not only did they open up whole new exotic destinations for a week's getaway like the Canary Islands for the Spanish, southern Spain for the English, and the Caribbean for Americans, but they also effectively 'did in' old destinations. After commercial flights became a popular way to get to new and further out places, these the old places had to reinvent themselves or die.

Before the advent of cheap flights the traditional getaways were much closer to home - one had to be able to take a train there or drive there and get back on time. For the English, there were "exotic" beach resorts on the chilly Irish Sea island of the Isle of Man between England and Ireland. For the New Yorkers, there was the Catskills.


The Abandoned Catskills

Today the Catskills are full of abandoned old hotel complexes. Many of them were casinos and hotels for wealthy New Yorkers who would drive up or take the train to get a break from the Big Apple. Today many of these are crumbling and many more are being torn down.

In its heyday, the Catskills boasted as many as 500 resorts that catered to around 150,000 guests annually. It was mainly a popular vacation location for Jewish families from New York City. It was popular from 1920 to the 1960s, but even by the late 1950s, things had started to go into terminal decline, and by the 1970s, most had shuttered and gone.

  • Number Of Resorts: 500 In Its Heyday

As fewer people moved to the Catskills, more train lines were canceled, which decreased their connectivity with New York, which also lead to more people not going there. Some big casino hotels managed to cling on into the 1980s - like the Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel which finally closed in 1986.

Related: Creepy Catskills: Tour An Abandoned Old Game Farm

The Catskill Game Farm

Other creepy tails of the Catskill's past include the abandoned Catskill Game Farm which finally closed in 2006.

  • Opened: 1933
  • Closed: 2006
  • Animals: Once Had Over 2,000 Animals
  • Species: Had 150 Species

A new chapter in the site's history began in 2012 when the property was purchased and redeveloped. The former giraffe barn was redeveloped into a hotel and opened to guests in 2019.

The Isle of Man - Irish Sea

Like today, many English wanted to go on a beach vacation somewhere exotic. But before flights, it was out of the question to visit the sunny beaches of Spain or the charming blue Greek Islands.

But one place they could visit was the quaint island of the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The Isle is unusual in that is a British Crown Dependency - one step from being a fully independent country. It is not actually a part of the United Kingdom.

  • Status: British Crown Dependency (One Step From Being A fully Independent Country)
  • Local: The Irish Sea
  • Reached: By A Ferry From England (Today There Are Also Flights)

Coming here the British could reach it in a simple ferry ride and feel like they were somewhere completely exotic (it actually feels a lot like England). If one looks at pictures of the past of the stunning waterfront capital of Douglas, one will see countless hundreds and thousands of British sunbathing on it's rather chilly beach.

But those days are gone, and for the Isle's economy to survive it was forced to adapt. Today it boasts the famous TT Races (when people from all around the world flock to the island to see motorbike racing) and it is a tax haven with offshore banking. It is big into insurance and online gambling. No one is going there to sunbathe on the beach!

Related: Why You Should Visit This Quaint Isle Between Ireland And The U.K. That Everyone Forgets About

Salton City - Salton Sea

Over in California, perhaps the biggest boom-bust holiday destination story was that of Salton City. It is true that is was severe environmental issues that lead to the once up-and-coming gleaming new resort Salton City to be left inhabited by ghosts.

  • Planned City: 40,000 Residents with 12,000 Residential Lots
  • Actual Population: 978 in 2000 (5,611 in 2020)
  • See: The Infrastructure for 40,000 People Who Never Came

Visiting it today is a trip into the apocalypse and a place that could not reinvent itself. The Salton Sea was once a place found for swimmers and boaters but today is toxic, shrinking, a major health concern, almost all the fish have died, and the birds have moved away.