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Worst Tourist Traps in the US, Ranked

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Exploring tourist destinations can be an exciting adventure, offering the promise of new experiences and cherished memories. But, sometimes our expectations tend to fall short and the hype doesn’t live to the promise, leaving us rather disappointed. If this has happened to you before, let us to save you the trouble of finding the perfect tourist spot by letting you know which ones you can put in the ‘no’ column for your itinerary this year!

25. Times Square, New York City, New York

Times Square is considered an entertainment destination like no other, with a vibrant nightlife and a view of the city that is rather stunning and buzzing. Souvenirs from Times Square are treasured among visitors, especially if they plan the trip around new year celebrations. While many get swept up in the festivities, they are others that may find it a little too crowded and noisy due to the sheer number of visitors, street performers and advertisements playing on jumbo screens. Even worse perhaps is that many consider it a tourist trap because of the number of overpriced restaurants, shops and attraction that may not be worthwhile.

24. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Often touted as the most popular tourist attraction in the US, Grand Canyon Nation Park is famous for its breathtaking beauty and natural landscape that allows tourists to engage in a range of activities on their visit. But don’t buy into the hype just yet! No matter how well-planned you think your trip is, you are likely to suffer extreme temperatures and sudden weather changes that will make exploring this vast canyon infinitely more challenging. A great alternative to this rather exhausting experience would be to check out Antelope Canyon, where you can either enjoy some sun in the upper canyon which has an entrance at the ground level and requires no climbing or you can opt for a challenging hike in the lower canyon to explore the tranquil shapes in the rock.

23. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California

A 15-minute ferry ride just over a mile offshore from San Francisco and you reach Alcatraz Island, an abandoned federal prison. Alcatraz is now mostly a tourist site for recreation and is highly popular as far as tourist attractions go. But, hold your horses. While it sounds quite fun to explore abandoned spaces sequestered away on islands, there is only a limited ferry departures and a restricted number of visitors allowed per day. Securing tickets to tour this historic prison can be challenging. If you’re already looking for an alternative, try the San Francisco Bay Cruises which last 60 minutes, have both indoor and outdoor seating and, typically, a narration of all major landmarks is included as you sail by them.

22. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California

The Hollywood Boulevard celebrates over a century of the motion picture entertainment history and is a very tangible reminder of the greatest artists that shaped pop culture from cinema to music, television to radio. But this famous sidewalk doesn’t really live up to its hype. Well, at least that’s what the reviews say. Many visitors have shared that the famous street is buzzed with crowds but also marred by dirt, cracks, graffiti, and litter, in a rather unpleasant departure from its marketed image of glamor. Don’t be too disappointed though! You can always try visiting the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where several prominent people from the entertainment industry are interred and entry is free for all.

21. Statue of Liberty, New York City, New York

Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most lucrative attraction for tourists heading to New York. Standing on its own island, Liberty Island, the statue is an artistic and engineering feat like no other. If you are planning to visit this iconic landmark, then all you have to do is take a ferry. Simple enough? Visitors say not so much. Long queues for security checks and ferry rides to Liberty Island are not unusual and, much to the dismay of those planning a short trip or a layover, tend to eat up valuable sightseeing time. Fortunately, there are other places that you can check out. Take a ferry to Ellis Island instead, where you can explore the rich history of the island as well as New York at the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum and the American Family Immigration History Center.

20. Little Havana, Miami, Florida

Miami is undoubtedly famous for its night life, vibrant culture and, most recently, the F1 Grand Prix. Little Havana is one such vibrant Cuban corner of Miami that seems to have it all. Whether you’re looking for a glamorous VIP experience or a chill, underground spot, you can explore everything here. But navigation might not be easy and, no, we don’t mean the GPS. Tourists heading toward Little Havana might need to familiarize themselves with the local language. Since the neighborhood is predominantly Cuban-American, there is a language barrier for those who are unfamiliar with Spanish. But if you don’t have time for Spanish lessons before your trip, explore Coconut Grove or, simply, The Grove. Along the Biscayne Bay, Coconut Grove is an upscale neighborhood with relaxed sidewalk cafes and chic shops for tourists to enjoy.

19. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls is considered quite impressive in person, partly because of the amount of water flowing over. Due to their height, the tallest falls in the world tend to have little water flowing over them but Niagara Falls’ combination of height and volume makes it a sight to behold. But, that is if you can actually make it to a viewing point that lets you enjoy such a sight. Crowded viewpoints and obstructed sightlines can make it difficult for you to enjoy the iconic beauty of the falls or capture in your photographs. Alternatively, if you still want to enjoy the view without all the hassle, try checking out the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve which is only 14 minutes away from Niagara Falls and is free to walk through with parking costing about a $1.

18. South Side, Chicago, Illinois

South Side in Chicago is a place of many attractions with its broad array of cultural and social offerings such as professional sports teams, landmark buildings, museums and more. But don’t get swept up in all the promises just yet! Certain areas of the South Side may have higher crime rates. The situation is alarming enough to raise safety concerns for tourists who are planning to explore this part of the city. But, that is not to say that you don’t have alternatives. The North Side of Chicago offers way more activities for tourists, such as 360 Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, and has a vibrant nightlife. If you’re already planning to be in Chicago, try exploring this side of the city instead!

17. Amish Country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Amish Country is a great place to experience a truly rural lifestyle without modern conveniences like electricity and automobiles. Tourists typically enjoy buggy rides and explore the Amish Village that provides an intimate glimpse into the daily lives, history and beliefs of the Pennsylvania Amish. But the experience in reality seems to be a little different than its promise or at least that’s what visitors have shared. Many consider Amish Country to be a tourist trap that lacks the authenticity in experience and charges visitors for entry into gift shops. But if you’re set on experiencing that simple plain lifestyle, try exploring Hershey Park that offers a lot more engaging fun activities and rides.

16. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley is often considered one of the most beautiful places in California. The park is home to several species of plants and animals and is a designated wilderness area. It is also considered an epic hike for its otherworldly landscapes and historical landmarks. Death Valley is a great way to experience the harsh but beautiful Mojave Desert. Tourists can opt for day tours or night tours, depending on what they prefer better, and enjoy private wine tastings, sightseeing and more. Sold already? Hold your horses! Visitors consider Death Valley quite dangerous due to the large number of mines and mining areas, ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 sinkholes and crumbling support beams in tunnels to giant vertical shafts covered in sand and rusty wire. Majority of these accessible mines have huge warning signs warning tourists of the dangers of coming near them but there are clearly marked trails that lead up to them. So, if you want to experience the thrill without losing limbs, try checking out Joshua Tree National Park instead. It has more than 8000 known climbs and plenty of routes that are great for first-time and advanced hikers alike!

15. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore, over the years, has garnered great touristic interest as a symbol of hope and freedom for people of all cultures and backgrounds coming to America. You can opt for tours by bus along with food and music. The tour guide will walk you through the history and the bus will make sure you’re safe through the winding roads. But don’t book it just yet! Many visitors have claimed that, while an impressive sight, they found the monument smaller than anticipated. The rocks at the bottom of the monument have also been called “messy” by tourists, with many believing that it was always supposed to be a tourist trap. Yikes! But don’t lose heart just yet! If you’re anyways planning to be in the area, you can spend more time exploring Black Hills that is home to other national monuments such as the Black Elk Peak, Custer State Park and more.

14. Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida

The world of Disney characters, filled with magical experiences and rides for children and adults alike, is probably on everyone’s wishlist. Many tourists claim that, unlike typical vacations, Disney is an immersive vacation that has all the fun, food and characters that you love in one place. If you have ever wanted to see your favorites in live action, Disney is the place for you. But don’t go booking that trip just yet! While Disney World is a very exciting place and will bring out your inner child, there are a few things that make the trip less than ideal. Many visitors have claimed that the average wait time for each ride is two to three hours, with many rides breaking down mid-way. The experience, for many, is not worth the exorbitant price of the trip.

13. Everglades National Park, Florida

Everglades National Park is widely considered a biodiversity heaven for hikers and nature-lovers alike. From airboat tours to nature and wildlife tours, there seems to be something for everyone visiting. While all that is true, many visitors have been left super disappointed. Depending on the time of the year, you may miss out on experiencing the wildlife entirely. The size of the place is humongous, so, if you’re not careful, your fuel may run out — leaving you stranded since there are no gas stations nearby. There are also limited options of commute within the park, mostly by walk, bike or tram. If you’re already feeling disappointed, try checking out Big Cypress National Preserve instead. It is about five miles from Everglades National Park and offers tours that allow visitors to enjoy the tranquility of the nature but without the binoculars!

12. Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

Bourbon street — for tourists and residents alike — embodies the spirit of partying, neon lights, strip clubs and enormous drinks served in souvenir cups. Its nightlife and anything-goes culture has made it rather popular among young visitors. While all that sounds fun, the reality is probably not as fun. Many visitors claim that the locals avoid the street like the “plague” unless they are showing visitors around. The reason? The street is filled with filth, with many drunk tourists vomiting on the streets. During events like Mardi Gras, the street becomes more crowded and rowdy than usual which discourages many tourists from exploring this area. But that’s not to say that there’s nothing more to explore in the French Quarter. Quieter streets lead to the French Market with gourmet food and local crafts for tourists to explore. Tourists can also explore Jackson Square where street performers entertain in front of St. Louis Cathedral.

11. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park offers a wide range of activities for its visitors, from tours and sightseeing to outdoor activities. Tourists can enjoy the colorful pools and hot springs along with great hiking trails and rock climbing activities. But, for some, this is far from reality. Visitors to the park claimed that there were long queues on entrances, with some parts of the park still under construction. Traffic and parking are some of the issues that also ruin the experience for many. The park also closes off certain roads seasonally that leads to limited accessibility to certain areas. So, if you were looking to explore specific attractions, you are likely to be disappointed. But don’t dispose of your travel plans just yet! Three hours away from Yellowstone National Park is Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve that offers lava caves that are open for exploring to tourists!

10. Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

A major tourist attraction, the Las Vegas Strip is a stretch widely known for its resort hotels, bars and casinos. It is said that the best way to enjoy your trip through the Strip is to take a stroll and explore the dancing fountains of Bellagio. But what you don’t know about that walk is that it is no joke. For tourists who are used to walking flat city streets, walking down the Las Vegas Strip might come as a culture shock. Vegas has stairs every other block which is a lot of constant up and down, making it a rather difficult walk in general. Visitors claim that the escalators work intermittently so many tourists have a hard time navigating certain areas. So, packing comfortable shoes might not be enough! But don’t cross it off your list just yet! Stepping away from the Strip, you’ll find that there’s much more to enjoy in areas with thriving arts and culture scene like the Sin City, the Mob Museum and Madam Tussauds.

9. Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California

Packed with restaurants, family-friendly entertainment and quality hotels, tourists can enjoy a wide range of activities — from street performers and historic cable cars to art galleries and museums — on their visit to Fisherman’s Wharf. While there is obviously a lot to do, first-time visitors have found the area slightly unimpressive compared to the hype around it. Many visitors also claim that the smell is overwhelming with only some areas actually living up to the standards that are marketed. Don’t be too disappointed though! If your heart is still set on experiencing an authentic street tour, try exploring Chinatown instead. It is about two miles from Fisherman’s Wharf and offers many tourist attractions like the iconic Dragon’s Gate!

8. Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota

Large in size, the Mall of America offers its visitors an array of experiences, from flagship stores for both kids and adults to fun immersive activities. While many tourists enjoy the expansive options, there are others who have come away disappointed from MoA. The tours have left visitors unimpressive, with many claiming that this isn’t the only problem. The mall personnel is rude to the visitors. The mall also offers valet parking which is chargeable but visitors have to park their own cars and have to rush to get their vehicles out before the closing time. Further, even though the Mall offers options, there are only a few places good enough to try out, for dining in particular. But don’t be disappointed just yet! There’s plenty to explore nearby like the Como Zoo and Conservatory, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum and more!

7. National Mall, Washington D.C.

National Mall is ornate with gardens, fountains and iconic monuments stretching between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Tourists can opt for day or night tours, with guided tours available for smaller groups. The time to complete the tour is typically between two to three hours. A major tourist area, it definitely seems to have it all. But there are a few things that may make your experience less than ideal. Many visitors claim that limited parking spaces and high fees contribute to a lot of a frustration for tourists. In addition, since the best way to explore the impressive buildings, memorials and monuments on the two mile stretch is to walk, tourists have found that the area also gets very hot during the day. But there’s a lot more to explore around than this stretch, so cheer up! You can always check out the Tidal Basin reservoir known for its blossoming cherry trees and enjoy some shade after your walk in the hot sun!

6. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is widely considered a must-go for all nature lovers. From guided hiking excursions to private full day tours, the national park seems to have it all. But why is it that the reviews are so bad? Visitors to Yosemite claim that due to ongoing road construction, there was no parking to experience any big attractions. Many visitors also shared that the shuttle services were subpar. But if your heart is set on a nature-filled adventure, you can instead opt for a wine tasting near Mariposa in the beautiful surrounding of Sierra Foothills, California.

5. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

Many locals believe that Pike Place Market is the “soul of Seattle”, having been a historic icon for more than a century. Bustling with restaurants and live music, the place is always beaming with tourists. But for many, the enjoyable parts were too little. Tourists found the streets were dirty and most places tend to be closed on weekdays, making it more of a weekend destination. Visitors also believe that due to the over-commercialization of the area, the market has become overcrowded with souvenir shops and tourist-oriented attractions, losing some of its charm. If you’re already feeling disheartened, don’t worry! You can always try exploring Space Needle that’s about a mile away from the market and makes for a walk and a change of scenery all in one!

4. Central Park, New York City, New York

Considered both scenic and historically relevant, every meandering path of the park is punctuated by tranquil lakes, ponds, and open meadows. Spanning across an area of 840 acres, there is expansive space for everyone, from tourists to locals. While it has made its indelible mark as a New York landmark, visitors of the park have expressed concern around some of the things like limited restroom facilities. Despite its size, finding clean and accessible restroom facilities within the park can be a challenge, especially during peak tourist seasons. Locals also warn against going the park after dark, citing concerns around safety. But don’t be too disheartened! If you are already in the area, try exploring other places like the MET or the Fifth Avenue nearby.

3. The Original Starbucks, Seattle, Washington

Near Pike Place Market along the cobblestone street is the original Starbucks, a Mecca for all coffee lovers. While it holds great value as a landmark for what Starbucks has become, many visitors feel that the store itself does not stand out in any way from its innumerable peer outlets. From limited merchandise to pour-over-coffee of a special proprietary roast, the outlet has nothing that you could not find at just about any other Starbucks in town. But, even then, due to its nostalgic value to coffee connoisseurs, the place is pretty crowded. So much so that many tourists have pointed out that the line for a coffee typically snakes around the block during rush hours.

2. Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts

HOLD FOR STORY BY WILLIAM KOLE — In this Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 photo visitors stand in a pavilion while looking at Plymouth Rock, in Plymouth, Mass. Plymouth Rock is the traditional point of arrival of the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, in 1620. Plymouth is gearing up for a 400th birthday, and everyone’s invited, especially the native people whose ancestors wound up losing their land and their lives. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

To many tourists, Plymouth Rock was a monument to behold before and just a disenchanting boulder after. While it has remained a popular tourist destination, the historical landmark has been a let down to its young and adult visitors alike. Many tourists have claimed that the rock is actually much smaller in person than advertised, making the whole experience rather underwhelming.

1. Forks, Washington

While there is a lot to see in the city of Forks in Washington that may be of interest to tourists, there is perhaps none quite like the ‘Twilight Tour’. The cult success of the Twilight film series in 2010s drove the city of Forks to gain incredible popularity among fans of the books and film series alike. The tourism to Forks has tripled, with many visitors opting for tours of the exact locations in the books. The community in Forks has wholeheartedly embraced the Twilight fandom, displaying film memorabilia for tourists seeking an authentic experience in their tour. Sounds fun, right? Well, for many fans that was not the experience since many locations in the tour are chosen simply because it is believed that these places “could have been described in the book” which kind of makes the whole tour worthless. Instead, if your heart is set on exploring Forks, you may want to check out river rafting in the beautiful Olympic peninsula or visit the Forks Timber Museum.

Well, that was disappointing! But, as they say, while visiting tourist locations can be an enriching experience, it’s essential to approach each destination with realistic expectations! By being aware of potential pitfalls, you can better prepare for your journeys and focus on the positive aspects of exploration, making the most of your adventures in the diverse and captivating landscapes of the our country!

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