We all need a good vacation once in a while to get some rest and recharge the batteries, but if you choose the wrong destination you can end up needing a vacation to get over your vacation. Sometimes it’s good to follow the wisdom of the crowd, but when it comes to vacation spots, some of the most popular ones are some of the most overrated and disappointing. Below we list some of the places that you might consider leaving off your vacation wish list.
20. 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, the street “performers” are mainly con artists and the local restaurants are nearly all clip joints. Best avoided.
19. The French Quarter
New Orleans’ French quarter has a romantic image, and 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 lots more to offer than a bunch of drunks gathering around Bourbon Street.
18. 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 close up. You’ll have to give up half a day to get the ferry over to Liberty Island and queue up for hours to get a brief glimpse of a fairly underwhelming view from inside. Admire her from afar through a telescope on a viewing deck, and then you can spend more time on the many more exciting attractions of NYC.
17. 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. When you eventually get to the top, you’ll have to fight for elbowroom at one of the eight windows to see anything. If you really want to see a tribute to our first president, make the short trip out to Mount Vernon, Washington’s home and a real labor of love from the man himself. 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 vista in a leisurely, uncrowded fashion with a glass of something sensible.
16. 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.
15. 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 the privilege), the view isn’t really very good due to the barred windows and thronging crowds. There are plenty of other buildings in New York that have viewing decks, and they have the advantage that you can see the Empire State Building from them – the Rockefeller center, to name one…
14. Mount Rushmore
It’s a long trip from virtually anywhere to go and see Mount Rushmore, and you know so well what it looks like that you’ll probably be bored in very a short time. It’s also (everyone says this) 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.
13. 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 to have your picture taken, 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.
12. 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 off 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 tours rush groups through far too quickly. Really, if you want to tick it off your list, you may as well just drive past and look out the window.
11. Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is a mystical, mythical symbol of the freedom of the USA, and thousands of tourists go out of their way every year to go and visit it in Pennsylvania. However, take away the associations and what you’re left with is a fairly unimpressive beat-up old bell that doesn’t even ring anymore.
10. Quincy Market
At one time the Quincy market, which dates from 1824 and is named after one of Boston’s mayors, 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.
9. Disneyland Park
You can say this for Disneyland Park, it has plenty of Disney characters for you to look at. You’ll need something to look at while you wait in never-ending queues and 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.
8. Underground Atlanta
Underground Atlanta’s USP is, well, that it’s underground. Unfortunately, this creates a problem in itself, as it makes law enforcement difficult and the 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, as you should.
7. The Space Needle
If you want to waste your vacation time in Seattle, the Space Needle is the perfect way to do it. 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. It’s an overpriced tourist trap, and like Lady Liberty (above) best observed from afar and the time saved spent on the more interesting attractions of the location.
6. 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: firstly, the Monument is so far from anywhere else of interest that you’d be mad to make a special journey to see it, and secondly the Monument doesn’t actually mark the point at which the states touch – that’s over a third of a mile away.
5. 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 you come to expect from LA. Basically, it’s a sidewalk.
4. Las Vegas Strip
We will admit that the Las Vegas strip can be quite fun for a little while, enjoying the sights of this 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.
3. Navy Pier
If you like shopping malls that are just like the ones you have at 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.
2. Everglades National Park
Second only to Yellowstone in terms of national park sizes: that’s, unfortunately, one of the most interesting things about the Everglades. It’s basically an enormous swamp that looks pretty much the same wherever you go. The occasional alligator poking his head above 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.
1. 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 at home. If you want to drive all the way to Minnesota for that, go for it, but basically you can get the same experience by driving to your local retail outlet.