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The 19 Worst Tourist Traps in America To Stay Away From

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As you explore America, you’ll find a mix of sights competing for your attention, from relaxed, natural scenes to impressive city landmarks. Of these attractions, some don’t live up to the hype. These so-called “tourist traps” might dazzle with big promises but often disappoint with their high prices, commercial ploys, crowded spaces, and mundane sights.

These tourist traps are usually easy to spot. They have high entry fees, endless souvenir stands, and attractions that leave people feeling unimpressed. 

With an eye on your time and money, we’ve carefully compiled this list of overhyped places to give you a clear idea of what might not be worth your visit.

1. Times Square, New York

Times New Square in New York City MSN
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Times Square sparkles as a hub of urban excitement in New York City. It is in the heart of Manhattan, with many high-priced stores lining the Square.

The area is always crowded, making it hard to walk around. The commercialization overshadows any authentic New York culture, making it more of a glorified shopping mall.

2. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

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The Hollywood Walk of Fame commemorates stars in the entertainment industry. The iconic spot stretches along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Tourists can take a stroll and snap photos of their favorite celebrities’ stars.

The area is crowded and full of vendors selling souvenirs. It often disappoints visitors with its grimy sidewalks and less-than-glamorous surroundings.

3. The Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

Las Vegas
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The Las Vegas Strip dazzles visitors with neon lights and big casinos, such as Bellagio, MGM Grand, and The Venetian. This globally famous boulevard cuts through the heart of Las Vegas.

The allure of the Las Vegas Strip lies in its promise of luxury and endless entertainment, which draws guests worldwide. However, this often comes at a high cost, leaving many visitors with empty wallets. Plus, crowds and commercialism strip away any sense of the Nevada desert’s natural beauty.

4. Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

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Fisherman’s Wharf entices visitors with its seafood restaurants and waterfront views. It occupies a historic stretch along San Francisco’s northern waterfront.

Attractions and restaurants at the Wharf, such as Alioto’s, Scoma’s, and the Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, set their prices high. The area mostly draws crowds of tourists rather than locals and is filled with souvenir shops offering generic merchandise. Tourist-focused businesses overshadow the area’s true maritime culture.

5. Niagara Falls, New York

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Niagara Falls is a majestic natural wonder that draws visitors worldwide. It is located on the border between the United States and Canada, near Buffalo, New York.

Entry to the park is free, but the attractions around it and tours come with steep fees. The commercialization of falls detracts from their natural beauty. Crowded viewpoints and overpriced amenities diminish the experience of the majestic falls.

6. South of the Border, South Carolina

South of the Border in South Carolina MSN
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South of the Border presents a flashy representation of Mexican culture. The roadside attraction sits along Interstate 95 near Dillon, South Carolina. The area has many souvenir shops, rides, and restaurants that demand visitors to spend a lot of money to have a complete experience. 

It plays on outdated stereotypes about Mexican culture, which might not accurately reflect the true diversity and richness of Mexico’s heritage. The charm quickly fades, which reveals it to be more of a gimmicky stop than a destination.

7. Wall Drug, South Dakota

Wall Drug in South Dakota MSN
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Wall Drug is an expansive shopping and entertainment complex. Located in the tiny town of Wall, South Dakota, it lures travelers driving to Mount Rushmore. The variety of products and attractions inside aim directly at tourists’ wallets.

It promises an Old West experience but delivers a commercialized version far from reality. Many signs along the highway build hype that the actual attraction seldom lives up to.

8. Four Corners Monument, Southwestern US

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Four Corners Monument marks the point where four states meet. It is the only quadripoint of its kind in the United States, involving Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Visitors pay a small fee to stand in four states simultaneously, a unique but brief thrill. The isolated location means a long drive for a quick photo opportunity.

9. International Drive, Orlando, Florida

International Drive in Orlando Florida MSN
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International Drive is a bustling boulevard that stretches through the heart of Orlando’s entertainment district. It is home to attractions like Universal Orlando Resort and Madame Tussauds. 

It also offers dining, shopping, and entertainment options, including ICON Park and The Wheel. However, the area traps tourists in spending too much time with its overpriced options and crowded venues. 

10. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo
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The Alamo serves as a historic Spanish mission and the site of a famous battle. It stands proudly in the center of San Antonio, Texas. 

Admission is free, but nearby attractions and parking significantly increase the cost of the visit. Despite its history, some visitors may find The Alamo smaller than they expect, especially in contrast to the modern cityscape that surrounds it.

11. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston

Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston MSN
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Faneuil Hall Marketplace, located in historic buildings in downtown Boston, now functions as a shopping center. Originally built in 1742, Faneuil Hall hosted significant events, like protests against British taxation. The surrounding Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market, developed in the early 19th century, aimed to boost Boston’s trade.

Today, the Marketplace is better known for its expensive food and souvenirs than its historic value. Tourists outnumber locals, which gives it a commercial mall vibe rather than a unique historical site. 

12. Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts MSN
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Plymouth Rock marks the spot where the Mayflower’s Pilgrims first landed in Massachusetts in 1620. It is located in Plymouth, 40 miles south of Boston. Although entry is free, the excitement surrounding a small, weathered stone may lead to disappointment.

The rock offers little visual attraction besides the date engraved on it. There is no historical proof to connect the site to the Mayflower’s landing, which makes historians question its authenticity.

13. Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota

Mall of America in Minnesota MSN
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The Mall of America is one of the largest malls in the United States, located in Bloomington, Minnesota. Most items carry inflated price tags, and the amusement park rides are expensive. 

The mall’s large size often leads to congested walkways and extended wait times. Its commercial atmosphere overlooks any unique cultural experiences.

14. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
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Waikiki Beach is an iconic stretch of sand along the coast of Honolulu. It features sandy shores and blue waters. Although access to the beach is free, the nearby hotels, bars, and activities are costly.

The beach, often crowded, doesn’t live up to the envisioned tranquil paradise. The heavy commercial activity overshadows its natural beauty, often disappointing visitors.

15. Empire State Building, New York City

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The Empire State Building, an Art Deco marvel, dominates the New York City skyline from its Manhattan location. Access to the observatory for stunning city views requires a ticket, currently $44 per person. 

Long lines and an often busy viewing platform mar the overall experience. Another downside is that you can’t see the iconic Empire State Building while standing on it.

16. Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles

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The Hollywood Sign stands as an American cultural icon. It perches on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. Viewing the sign from afar is free, but expect a tiring hike for a closer look.

Fenced off and monitored by security, the sign disappoints those hoping for a personal photo opportunity. The exaggerated hype tends to leave visitors underwhelmed.

17. Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee

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The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, symbolizes country music. Shows often have high ticket prices and additional facility fees. 

Performances might not meet expectations unless you’re an avid country music fan. The attraction is largely directed at tourists, rarely delivering an authentic local experience.

18. French Quarter, New Orleans

The French Quarter
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The French Quarter, New Orleans’ oldest section, is a vibrant neighborhood in the city’s heart. It’s filled with expensive souvenir shops and restaurants.

Excessive crowds and over-commercialization dampen its historical charm. This tourist magnet leans heavily towards nightlife, leaving daytime visitors with fewer enticing attractions.

19. Little Italy, New York City

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Little Italy serves up a slice of Italian culture in New York City. It is nestled between Soho and Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. Despite no entrance fee, expect overpriced Italian cuisine. 

The name promises an immersive cultural experience, but urbanization has significantly shrunk its authentic Italian allure. Modern storefronts and commercialization overshadow the community’s historic roots.

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South Beach, Miami
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