There are places all over the world that guidebooks and travelers gush about that leave you wondering why you even bothered. Some places are over-crowded tourist traps, others are overly expensive for the experience, and some are just a complete waste of time. Here are my Top-10 Most Overrated Places.
10. Pike Place Market
I think every first-time visitor to Seattle ends up at Pike Place Market and it isn’t exactly a bad place, but other than the Chukar Cherries it’s not particularly memorable. With a bunch of great museums in the city and nearby outdoor adventure awaiting all around the area (three national parks, Puget Sound’s islands, etc, and even Victoria, Canada a ferry ride away), I wouldn’t make a point of visiting Pike Place except as a quick stop for cherries.
9. Denver 16th Street Mall
Every time I see the Denver-area list of tourist attractions this downtown open-air mall is listed. I cannot understand why. There are some restaurants and stores, but nothing you won’t find elsewhere. At night it is plagued by frequent crime. Parking downtown is also fairly expensive and unless you have a far different, more worthwhile reason to visit downtown Denver, don’t head to the 16th Street Mall.
8. Four Corners Monument
My kids still want to go to see this spot and eventually we’ll go just to cross it off the list. But in the Four-Corners area it is by far the least interesting and least worthwhile tourist attraction. It’s not even on the correct spot. If you go there consider it an act of charity for the local Navajo Indians who charge admission to see a fake geographic location.
7. Southern-Most Point Buoy in Key West
Speaking of wrong spots. In Key West there is a famous buoy that marks the “Southern-most point in the continental USA”. Actually though, the spot isn’t even the southern-most point in Key West. That’s in near-by Zachary Taylor State Park or a spit of land just east of it. There is always a long photo line waiting for a picture at the buoy (we skipped it because we knew better).
Honestly, since it’s on an island it isn’t even in the continental US anymore than Hawaii is, which is obviously further south. And then if we are counting the US territories it doesn’t come close by a couple thousand miles.
Somewhere in the Everglades is an unmarked spot of the actual southernmost point in the truly continental USA.
6. White House Tour
How in the world is the historic home of the US President listed as an overrated attractions? Well, with all the hoops that you have to go through to even get into the house starting with requesting a pass from a congressman, then the insane security line, followed by about 15 minutes of quickly walking through a few rooms, it feels like a complete waste of time and effort. Do this once in your life and then spend time at all the more worthwhile places in DC.
5. Times Square
This is one that I actually haven’t been to because New York City has never risen to the top of my travel list. I’m sure I offended fans of NYC but the truth is it doesn’t seem to have much unique character, doesn’t have all the interesting historic sites of other cities (other than Liberty Island, etc) and just seems to be an expensive, big metropolis of honking horns and pushy people. Maybe I’m wrong.
Times Square though is pretty obviously just a crowded space of flashing lights and weirdos. So I have no problem listing it here.
4. Venice Beach
I could list any number of dirty, crowded beaches here but this one is kind of the epitome of the why-bother beaches. California has dozens of beautiful, clean beaches that aren’t crowded and full of weirdos. I don’t quite understand the whole people-watching thing but I guess if looking at down-and-out people is your thing, here you go.
3. Disney Parks
Maybe I’ve become a grouchy, budget-conscious old dad. But this is a classic case of cost vs benefit. Disney has some of the biggest and most impressive amusement parks in the world, but they have become so greedy it is hard to even want to go. One-day tickets to the parks are well over $150 a person, but forget spending just that. Add in the cost of parking, food, the silly genie pass, souvenirs and blast a hole through your wallet in no time. When you leave the park having spent 3/4 of your time waiting in line for a total of four rides, you’ll wonder why you bothered.
Some people have no issue spending tens of thousands (literally) to go on a resort vacation at Disney and will pay the many thousands of dollars more to go to Disney over other places. I’m not in that group. Kids love it and parents tend to feel obligated to go take their kids at some point.
I actually used to live close to Disneyland in Anaheim and we would end up going quite frequently when it was less expensive and more enjoyable. Back when Disney was less political and more of a happy place. But with the current state of Disney it’s just not the same.
Speaking of blasting a hole in your wallet. Most Coloradans know there are plenty of better and more enjoyable ski resorts than Aspen (and it’s posh friends Vail, Telluride, and Breckenridge). The cost of list tickets at these places are all over $200 for one day. And the meal waiting for you at the bottom of the hill after a day of skiing? Caviar. Yes, the scenery in the area is great, but great skiing is all over Colorado without the cost and exuberance.
Make no mistake, ski outings are usually pretty pricey. Even the less hoity toity resorts have lift tickets that run in the hundreds. Always rent your equipment elsewhere, or buy it if you go frequently. That will save you time and money. Go later in the season in Colorado, just after spring break for the best rates (the best snows happen in March, not December). Ski-in, ski-out is usually worth it, though. I hate to recommend anywhere because then it will be harder for our family to get reservations at the places we like to go.
1. Hollywood Walk of Fame and Mann’s Chinese Theater
There are plenty of places in the LA-area that are overrated (I could even say the entire city of Los Angeles is overrated), but this “attraction” is the epitome of a waste of time, money and effort. Hollywood has long been just a dirty, crowded city with expensive parking and odd-ball people hanging out on every street corner. It will likely take up most of a day just to drive into the congested heart of the city to see the stars on the sidewalk, and that’s all they are. Parking is expensive, but you’ll want a secure spot too. Crime isn’t exactly not a problem.
I once saw a movie premiere of a movie at the Chinese Theater. But once inside it’s just another theater and the same movies you’ll see everywhere else. At the end of the day you’ll have a hard time saying you had fun visiting Hollywood.