The Most Overrated Tourist Destinations in the US (and Where to Go Instead)
With the most overrated travel destinations outside of the US rounded up, it’s time to head to the domestic market. We all want to avoid tourist traps , and thankfully, avoiding “tourist” experiences isn’t just a destination, it’s also a matter of planning. Whether you’re the type of traveler who plans every detail , a little research can go a long way to making sure you’re not wasting your hard-earned vacation time.
However, it can be hard to resist famous “wish list” destinations, even if those attractions end up being overrated. From the sea to the shining sea, plenty of iconic destinations don’t live up to their hype due to long lines, suffocating crowds, and a general feeling of no-ah when you see the sights in person. Here are a few popular US travel destinations that are overrated and a few travel ideas worth your consideration.
The most overrated tourist spots in the US
It goes without saying how much of this list comes down to personal preference. This is my understanding of which tourist attractions are really worth your time and money and which are not.
The Statue of Liberty
As much as I love Lady Liberty, you really don’t need to see her up close. I think the best way to get to know her is to take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which also has stunning views of lower Manhattan, Governors Island and Brooklyn Heights.
I can’t stress this enough: this rock is just a rock. Jokes aside. There is no historical evidence to support that this rock is anything more than what it is, which is a rock. (Rock!)
While I’m fascinated by the culture surrounding Disneyland and losing the wait in lines , I don’t enjoy visiting this Disneyland. If you don’t know you’ve already been indoctrinated as an adult Disney, don’t expect to “get it” upon arrival. For me (and many others), the Disney theme park is a wildly expensive way to spend a long day in a hot crowd. Overrated!
New York is full of tourist traps, but Times Square could be in a better position. Might be worth a stroll if you’ve never been, but after one look at shapeless, underpaid Elmo, you’ll be ready to leave. And by all means, don’t get stuck at an overpriced restaurant in Times Square when the city has much better food at much lower prices just a few blocks away in any direction.
Although I have never been myself, I have heard countless stories of visitors who felt underwhelmed by the sight of these presidents’ heads carved in stone. If you really need to see it, most travel blogs will advise you to complement your visit with much more scenic stops nearby, such as Badlands National Park, Custer Wildlife Loop, or Sylvan Lake.
Niagara Falls (New York side)
For Niagara, Canadian falls views are the best views of falls. As a bonus, as Lifehacker Senior Health Editor Beth Skwarecki pointed out to me, “On the Canadian side, a few blocks away, there is a whole little tourist village full of haunted houses and wax museums. I don’t know if it all survived, but it was pretty fun and creepy.” Sold.
This infamous South Carolina beach is called “dirty myrtle” for a reason. For a much less crowded, polluted, and overly touristy spot, try the nearby Litchfield Beach.
Mike’s Confectionery and Modern Confectionery in Boston
In the north side of Boston, Italian restaurants and bakeries line the streets as far as the eye can see. Two bakeries in particular – Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry – are at the center of a longstanding debate over which one offers the best of the best cannoli. The truth is that they are both really good and both boast very long lines. If you’d rather just grab your cannoli and leave, nearby bakeries have plenty of high-quality cannoli – or you can skip the debate altogether and opt for the donut tour instead .
Santa Monica Pier
It’s crowded, run down, overpriced and the food is subpar compared to the less touristy places in the area. Unfortunately, the price of this tourist trap is that the water around the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most polluted in the state.
Anyone from New Orleans will assure you that Bourbon Street is not worth your time. In a city with such a rich cultural and historical heritage, you’ll find that Bourbon Street is like a frat party that gets very nasty, very quickly.
Where to go in the USA instead
There is no shortage of much underrated holiday destinations in the country. Here are just a few places to add to your US wishlist. Whether you’re looking for adventure, solitude, or whatever escape you’re looking for, you can find it in one of the locations below.
- Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Hidden among the giant boulders at the summit is one of the most underrated hideouts you will ever visit.
- Bozeman, Mont. A laid-back open hotspot in the Big Sky Country.
- Bear Lake, Idaho . It is often referred to as the Caribbean Sea of the Rockies because of the vibrant turquoise color of the water.
- Asheville, North Carolina . Come and visit this city in the Blue Ridge Mountains in recent years as Asheville has become more and more of a popular travel destination for underrated Southern cities.
- Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. This charming Amish neighborhood is the Mushroom Capital of the World. No, not because of the drugs.
- Anacortes, Washington. If you’re looking for a smaller, cooler version of Portland, Oregon, then check out any of the coastal cities in Washington state. Anacortes in particular is the ideal starting point for the ferry to San Juan. islands.
- Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is not only a college town, but also a beautiful country of wine and horses.
- West Palm Beach, Florida. If you’re looking for a Miami experience without the waste that Miami brings, try West Palm Beach instead.
- Portland, Maine. Maybe Portland isn’t even underrated – however, it’s probably not the first “Portland” you imagine. The city itself is trendy and you can also take a little dip at a lighthouse or two.
- Huntsville, Alabama. In particular: The American Space and Rocket Center is one of the best space museums in the world.
- Sedona, Arizona. It doesn’t generate as much hype as the Phoenix, making it perfect for your next underrated vacation spot. In Sedona , known for its red rocks, sunrises and sunsets are among the most “incredible” in the country. – but less traveled trails like the Sugarloaf Loop Trail .
As I said before : a good travel experience depends more on the traveler than on the destination. Spend some time on the internet to find the best hours and seasons to plan your visit, and try to collect location-specific tips from all the travel blogs available for free on the internet. Make sure you manage expectations and understand what you’re getting yourself into wherever you go.