The biggest tourist traps in America

Who doesn’t love a good vacation? Whether it’s a good book on a relaxing beach, or getting to experience an incredible site from history, or spending time in nature, there are plenty of options to choose from. And you don’t even need to leave the country to see them. There are great places to see all across America, and some perhaps not so great.

Vacations are usually limited in time, and in order to maximize yours, you’ll want avoid places that aren’t worth your while.When planning a trip it’s always important to do your research and figure out where to go and what you’ll do there. But keep in mind, not every place the guidebook tells you about is a gem worth seeing.

There are plenty of touristy places that are fun and definitely worth going to to check off your bucket list. But some tourist traps might seem appealing from the pictures, but once you get there you realize you would have been better off skipping it. But how are you supposed to know which places are worth it if even the guidebooks keep some of them listed? Well, we’re here to help you out! Keep reading to learn more about some of the biggest tourist traps in America.

The North Pole, Alaska

Alaska is known for having some of the most gorgeous natural scenery you could ever hope to see. So then if you’re in Alaska why even bother with this North Pole? We get it, who doesn’t love Christmas and Santa Claus? But honestly all you’re getting with this place is a lot of cheesy and fake Christmas stuff in a location with difficult weather. If some Christmas spirit is what you’re after, you can take the kids to any mall for a picture with Santa. And for yourself, you are better off finding a cozy living room, with a great tree and warm fire, to cuddle up in while watching your favorite Christmas movie.

The Four Corners

At one point or another everyone has had that fantasy of being able to be in more than one place at the same time. That’s exactly what so many tourists find appealing about The Four Corners in the Southwest. There’s a spot where the four states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado all meet, and if you configure your body just right you can tell all your friends that you were in four states at the same time. However, to get there you basically have to travel to the middle of nowhere, far from anything else. Not only that, but all that’s really there is a metal disk on the ground. It makes you wonder if that photo opp is really worth it.

Roswell, New Mexico

People love stories about beings from another world, which is what makes Roswell, New Mexico such a popular location for tourists. Supposedly, in 1947 a mysterious flying object appeared in the town of Roswell, and some believe that it was at this time that aliens visited Earth. It’s quite a story, but the real place today doesn’t quite live up to the legend. Instead, it’s filled with fake plastic aliens and cheesy toys, and nearly everything possible in the shape of a flying saucer.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

If you’re a tourist in California for the first time, chances are that you’re going to head out to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tourists love to check out the stars on the sidewalk and find their favorite celebrities star for a picture. But the truth is that there’s not really much else to do besides find a star and take a picture with it. You’ll likely find yourself on a crowded sidewalk surrounded by street performers dressed up as superheroes looking to make a buck.


When planning your trip to Walt Disney World in Florida you’ll find that there’s plenty to do for the whole family. But of the four parks you can visit, Epcot is the one that you might be ok skipping. The idea of it sounds great, a chance to experience places all over the world in one small space. A part from some expensive restaurants, and a few lackluster rides, it really only shows a few stereotypes for the various cultures it’s attempting to represent.

Waikiki, Hawaii

Who amongst us doesn’t have that fantasy of flying to Hawaii for a relaxing vacation in paradise? Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii has long been a popular place for tourists to plan their Hawaiian vacation. Unfortunately, Waikiki has essentially become a place that’s very touristy, with expensive hotel and restaurant chains, plus an overcrowded beach. If you’re already travelling to Hawaii you might want to consider exploring some other beaches and islands where you can get a real feel for the beauty and culture of the area.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

New Orleans has a reputation for being the place to go to hear some good music, eat good food, and drink copious amounts of alcohol, all in the name of having a good time. And if you’re in New Orleans, chances are you plan to make your way down to Bourbon Street. However, you might be better off finding other, less crowded, places to find a drink instead. The bars on Bourbon Street largely cater to drunk college students, and there are far better places nearby that you can find.

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Boston

Boston, Massachusetts is a city filled with historical sites to see and places to go. On the list that you’ll find by the famous Freedom Trail is Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, which has been used as a marketplace of some kind or another since the 1740s. Sounds like a cool place to eat, right? Maybe at one point it was, but today it’s basically one large mall food court with uncomfortable seats. For a good New England meal you’re better off finding a nice restaurant nearby.

Mall of America

If you’re someone who loves shopping, chances are you’ve dreamed of making your way to the infamous Mall of America. It’s the biggest mall in America, and has over 500 store, plus a theme park, aquarium, and miniature golf course, all in one place. But the truth is you can find most of the stores pretty much at any other mall, and there are plenty of other theme parks and mini golf courses out there that won’t be as crowded and overwhelming. The mall just isn’t worth making a special trip for.

Birthplace of Elvis

Before Elvis Presley moved to Memphis when he was 13, he lived in Tupelo, Mississippi. Today, you can see his former home, as well as museum and his old church that have been moved to the ground. Generally a must stop for any Elvis or music fan, you might want to consider skipping the actual house. First of all, the house is not free. It also is just a two room shack that doesn’t even include the original furniture. Save your money and check out some other important Elvis sites instead.

The Venetian gondola rides, Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a city that’s essentially known for its tourist traps, but that doesn’t deter people from heading down there for a good time. Still it’s worth worth saving your money on attractions like the gondola rides at The Venetian. The idea of a gondola ride down Venice’s canals sounds romantic and fun, but the imitation of it in Vegas leaves something to be desired. Besides being expensive, the ride only lasts about 15 minutes passing noisy shoppers and gamblers. You’re better off enjoying the fountains at the Bellagio instead.

Atlantic City Boardwalk

Atlantic City, New Jersey is very similar to Las Vegas where people venture to hit up some casinos and enjoy themselves. While the boardwalk might have been a nice place to go in its heyday, today it’s not quite up to par. The casinos could be considered tawdry, the souvenirs tacky, and the beach overcrowded. You’re better off finding a nice location along the Jersey shore to relax at, or researching some of the more better quality casinos in the area.

Times Square, NY

New York City is considered one of the top places in the world to visit. Broadway shows, incredible museums and culture, plus numerous historical sites to see, there’s no shortage of things to do. Yet, all tourists still flock to Times Square. It’s a place locals try to avoid at all costs, given it’s intense crowds, street performers, and chain stores and restaurants. Of all the ways you could spend your time in New York, this should probably be at the bottom of your list.

The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia

Every child in America learns about The Liberty Bell at some point in their history textbooks. So, it makes sense why most people consider it a must see item on their to do list when they visit Philadelphia. However, seeing the bell itself in person might be a bit underwhelming. After waiting a long time in line all you’ll see is the bell surrounded by some metal poles and rope. It makes for a great photo opp, but you might be left wondering if the picture was worth the wait in line.

St. Louis Gateway Arch

No picture of St. Louis is complete without an image of the Gateway Arch. Aesthetically speaking, and from an architectural perspective, it’s definitely a beautiful structure to look at. So why wouldn’t you want to go inside? Well unfortunately, the view from the inside isn’t quite as impressive as the view from the outside. The stairway up is small and claustrophobic, and the view from the top isn’t much to write home about. Definitely take your pictures from the outside and save yourself the trouble.

Seattle Space Needle

The Space Needle in Seattle, Washington has become an iconic part of the city’s skyline, and it’s a popular place for tourists to go and get a view from the top. Some might think it’s a must do in Seattle, but many would warn you that the experience isn’t quite worth it. After paying for a ticket and waiting in line, you take an elevator ride for less than a minute to the top where you snap a few photos and head back down.

Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts

Another item on the list of things that every child in America learns about. Plymouth is where the pilgrims landed in the New World, and supposedly it was on a large specific rock. But travelling to Plymouth to see the rock might not be considered an ideal trip. You’re essentially just looking at a rock in cage, and after damage from tourists in the past not all of it is even the original rock anymore. If you want to explore American history, there are lot of other places to go.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

If you’re in South Dakota why wouldn’t you want a picture of the famous Mount Rushmore? We can’t blame you, as it’s definitely something to see. But you might want to reconsider going all the way up to the actual mountain. There are plenty of places you could go where you can get a perfectly good view from a distance. Going to the actual mountain is out of the way, and it may disappoint you when you see how small the presidents’ face are once you’re up close.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is probably one of the best known buildings in New York, used in numerous movies and shows. But it’s one of those buildings that’s honestly better in your picture, then taking a picture from it. You’ll spend money to take an elevator ride and get a subpar view of the city, without the iconic building in it. If you want to pay for a good city view you’re better off taking the elevator to the top of Rockefeller Center and getting your photo opp there.

The Alamo, Texas

The Battle of the Alamo holds major historical significance in American history. Perhaps that is why the current tourist site of the battle feels a bit lackluster. Given the importance of the battle one would expect a little more beyond the small stone building in the middle of downtown San Antonio, where you can see fast food joints across the street. It takes a matter of minutes to go through, and doesn’t quite give off the feel that you expect a major battle site would.