As the most densely populated state in the country, New Jersey has seen its fair share of development. However, despite parking lots and shopping malls seemingly everywhere you turn, the Garden State also has a few sites that have been forgotten and left to rot by the wayside.
There may only be a slight breeze of autumn sifting through the air at the minute, but at these abandoned spots throughout Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex and Union counties, there's always a spooky Halloween vibe creeping around.
If you're a fan of all that's off the beaten path, check out these abandoned sites for a scare that's much more authentic than a haunted hayride or a teen with painted-on zombie makeup.
Union Hotel, Flemington
For almost 250 years after its 1772 construction, the Union Hotel was the place to be — it served as a tavern and later, as the meeting ground for wealthy stagecoach passengers and socialites.
The ''Trial of the Century'' of Bruno Hauptmann took place in 1935 at the neighboring Hunterdon County Courthouse in 1935, and Hauptmann would be found guilty of abducting and murdering Charles Lindbergh Jr. The legacy of the Union Hotel became even larger as media covering the trial largely became hotel guests.
As the years went on, new Union Hotel owners neglected to create private bathrooms for the upstairs guest rooms, and as a result, the last guests checked out in the 1950s. It then became solely a restaurant that enjoyed popularity, even as rumors of ghosts roaming the upper floors were rampant.
However, since the restaurant went under foreclosure in 2008, the fate of the hotel has been in limbo and a topic of local debate. Local developer Jack Cust proposed an ambitious plan to redevelop downtown Flemington with a new hotel on the site as the centerpiece, but it hasn't been without criticism.
The plan, which also called for 200 apartments and a branch campus of Georgian Court University, received borough approval, but the project has been tied up in a Superior Court fight from a local group, Friends of Historic Flemington, who object to the size of the project. Until a conclusion is reached, the Union Hotel will remain vacant.
Go: 76 Main St, Flemington
Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital, Glen Gardner
When Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital opened in 1907, on Sanatorium Road, a street name that still stands today, it was the only state-owned and operated tuberculosis sanatorium in New Jersey.
Although in its early days it was planned that only “incipients” or “curables" would be treated, it soon housed those of all levels of severity, leading the hospital to treat more than 10,000 people between 1907 and 1929. However, by the 1970s, Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital shut its doors for good without any plan for the building's future.
Only a few years later in 1977, the Senator Garret W. Hagedorn Gero-Psychiatric Hospital was built next to the decrepit site and became a state nursing home and, later, a 288-bed psychiatric hospital for seniors. However, in 2012, the ''new'' Hagedorn also shut its doors and joined its neighbor in disrepair.
READ:5 most haunted places in Central Jersey
Today, visitors can follow Sanatorium Road up past the entrances to the right where they'll reach a state-operated facility for veterans and be able to see glimpses of both buildings. As these are state-operated lands, you will be charged with trespassing if you drive through any barricades or signs posted at the aforementioned entrances to the right.
Go: 200 Sanatorium Rd., Glen Gardner for viewing
El Dorado Gardens, Springfield
These days, the only evidence you will find of El Dorado Gardens along the Rahway River off Milltown Road is a few crumbling walls, posts, concrete basins and bridges, but in its heyday when it was erected in 1925, it was a bustling water park with gardens and hot springs which were surrounded with carved stone and concrete to resemble Roman baths.
The park was so popular that Springfield was supposedly named after its hot springs, which contained water that was bottled and sold in other places due to its rumored "healing" properties. People would come from all over the country to bathe in and drink the water, which was diverted throughout the gardens through dams and artificial watercourses.
READ:Deserted Village of Feltville isn't so deserted — or haunted
Today, though, that's hard to believe — the abandoned El Dorado Gardens is now situated among overgrown walkways, stagnant, mucky water and collapsing concrete as it is run over with trees, grass, branches and garbage.
Go: Milltown Rd. along the Rahway River, Springfield
During the 1700s, a hamlet known as Centerville within Readington Township came to be, focused around a tavern that marked the halfway point on the long Swift Sure Stagecoach Line route from New York to Philadelphia.
As time went on, the hamlet grew to have a school, store, post office, church and blacksmith, until railroads and newer roads were built. The community buildings became various residences, but today, the vacant tavern still stands along Campbell's Brook (now Pleasant Run) and Old York Road. The location is now marked by a sign noting its significance.
Go: Pleasant Run and Old York Road, Readington
Jenna Intersimone has been covering food, drink and fun in the Garden State for the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. Born and raised throughout every corner of NJ, she’s a tried-and-true Jersey girl. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her @JIntersimone.