The Most Overrated Vacation Spots In America
1 The French Quarter
New Orleans’ French quarter has a romantic image. Maybe once it lived up to that, but now it’s basically just full of drunks trying to make it feel like Mardi Gras, even when it isn’t.
New Orleans has a lot more to offer than a bunch of drunks gathering around Bourbon Street. Explore the rest of the city if you visit NoLa, it will be for the best.
2 The Statue of Liberty
We are not knocking Lady Liberty, a symbol of our nation that is second to none, but really she’s best viewed from one of the many excellent vantage points around New York City rather than up close.
You’ll have to give up half a day to get to Liberty Island and queue up for hours to get a brief glimpse of a fairly underwhelming view from inside. Instead, admire her from afar through a telescope on a viewing deck, and then you can spend more time on the many more exciting attractions in the city.
3 Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls themselves are one of the wonders of the natural world, a stunning sight that is worth any amount of travel to see.
Unfortunately, as with so many other places, mankind has done its best to ruin the beauty of nature by surrounding it with tacky hotels and attractions. If you must go, our tip is to cross the border to Canada, where the views are more beautiful.
4 Everglades National Park
Second only to Yellowstone in terms of national park sizes. That’s it: that’s probably the most interesting thing about the Everglades. It’s basically an enormous swamp that looks pretty much the same wherever you go.
The occasional alligator poking its head above the water is about as exciting as it’s going to get, unless excitement for you includes being bitten to death by more mosquitoes than you have ever seen in your life.
5 Mount Rushmore
It’s a long trip from virtually anywhere to go and see Mount Rushmore, and you probably already know so well what it looks like that you’ll be bored in very a short time. It’s also (or so everyone says) much smaller than you imagined. Some people might even question whether it actually adds anything to the incredible natural grandeur of the Black Hills.
If you find yourself in the neighborhood and can’t do without seeing it, drive along the Iron Mountain Road that runs from Mount Rushmore to Custer State Park; the road is more interesting than the monument, and you can take it off your bucket list without going too far out of your way.
6 Hollywood Sign
It can take up to four hours to get through the traffic to reach the Hollywood sign, and once you park up you’ll have to begin a pretty dull hike under the blazing Californian sun. You can’t even get up close for a selfie, as visitors are prohibited from getting within half a mile of the sign.
If you really want a selfie looking bored, frustrated and sunburned in front of the sign, go for it. Otherwise look at it from a distance – that’s what it’s designed for.
7 The Alamo
The Alamo is a very important site in the history of the USA, but unfortunately that doesn’t make the building itself all that interesting. To start with, you can’t really get any feel of the historical context because it’s stuck in the middle of modern developments in downtown San Antonio.
Even if you can shut that out, there isn’t much to see, and the compulsory tour rushes groups through far too quickly. Really, if you want to tick it off your list, you may as well just drive past it.
8 Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is a mythical symbol of freedom in the USA, and thousands of tourists go out of their way every year to see it in Pennsylvania.
However, take away what it represents and you’re left with a fairly unimpressive beat-up old bell that doesn’t even ring anymore.
9 Times Square
Any sane person will want to get out of Times Square after five minutes to escape the shuffling aimless crowds of tourists.
Apart from the electronic signs, there’s nothing really to see; street “performers” are mainly con artists, and the local restaurants are nearly all clip joints. Best avoided.
10 Navy Pier
If you like shopping malls that are just like the ones you have back home with the additional benefit of paying twice as much for your food because you’re in a tourist attraction, Navy Pier could be just the thing for you.
For anyone else, there are way more exciting things to do in Chicago, with its many wonderful parks and museums.
11 Quincy Market
At one time the Quincy market, which dates from 1824, was a truly important building in the USA, being one of the largest markets in the nation; that’s why it has Boston Landmark and National Historic Landmark status.
Sadly the current occupants don’t give this fabulous building the respect it deserves, and it is now basically just an overpriced tacky tourist trap.
12 Disneyland Park
Sure, you’ll have plenty of Disney characters to look at. On the other hand, you will also have to wait in never-ending queues if you travel to Disneyland Park. Maybe you’ll take this opportunity to reflect on the second mortgage you’re going to have to take out to pay for your tickets…
Tourist review sites are full of complaints about the lines for the rides, and there seems to be a general consensus that if Disney is your thing, you’ll be much better off going to Walt Disney World in Florida instead.
13 Underground Atlanta
Underground Atlanta’s special thing is… that it’s underground. Unfortunately, this creates a problem in itself, as it makes law enforcement difficult. Subsequent problems mean it’s hard for legitimate businesses to make a living in the location.
Parts of the site are being renovated, and supposedly it will be “transformed”, but locals don’t have much faith in the promised changes and they steer clear of the underground, as you should.
14 The Space Needle
If you want to waste your vacation time in Seattle, the Space Needle is the perfect way to do it. It’s an overpriced tourist trap, and like Lady Liberty (above), it is best observed from afar. Spend your time on more interesting attractions nearby.
You queue for hours, take the elevator to the top, and when you get there you’ll see a view of the city that you could have had from anywhere nearby.
15 Four Corners Monument
The great attraction [sic] of the Four Corners Monument is that it’s the only place in the USA where you can stand in four states simultaneously by placing yourself on the point where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all meet.
Just two problems with this: first, the Monument is so far from anything else that you’d be crazy to make a special journey to see it, and second, the Monument doesn’t actually mark the point at which the states touch – that’s over a third of a mile away.
16 Hollywood Walk of Fame
When you see a star getting their recognition on the Walk of Fame, it looks pretty thrilling and glamorous.
Unfortunately, unless there is a ceremony taking place there’s nothing that special about this section of Hollywood Boulevard; it’s essentially a low-end shopping street with busy traffic and all the delights of smog that one can expect in LA. It’s basically just a sidewalk.
17 The Mall of America
The USA’s largest shopping mall attracts the USA’s largest crowd of shoppers. Apart from that, it’s just a shopping mall, bigger and more crowded and tackier than the one you have back home.
If you want to drive all the way to Minnesota for that, go for it, but you can get the same experience by driving to your local retail outlet.
18 Las Vegas Strip
We will admit that the Las Vegas strip can be quite fun for a little while: it’s like a theme park pretending to be a city. However, the novelty quickly wears off and you will soon run into a bunch of frat kids down for the weekend or a drunken bachelor party, and you’ll wish you were somewhere else.
Las Vegas basically exists to gouge money out of its visitors, and even if you avoid the casinos, the food and drink prices will leave your pockets distinctly light. If you like vulgarity, kitsch, continuous noise, and more vulgarity, this is for you, otherwise, drive on by.
19 Empire State Building
Once you get up to the viewing deck on the Empire State Building, having spent an hour or more in the ticket line, security line, and elevator line (and paid $20 plus tax for this privilege), the view isn’t really very good due to the barred windows and crowds.
There are plenty of other buildings in New York that have viewing decks, and from them you can see the Empire State Building. Try the Rockefeller center instead.
20 Washington Monument
It might be heresy to some, but actually, if you look at it dispassionately, the Washington Monument just isn’t that great. You’ll have to queue, and queue, and queue some more to see it. When you eventually get to the top, you’ll have to fight for elbowroom at one of the eight windows to see nothing.
If you really want to see a tribute to our first president, make the short trip out to Mount Vernon, Washington’s home. If you want a great view out over the Mall and the Monument, head for the rooftop terrace at the W Washington DC Hotel, where you can enjoy the view peacefully.