15 Tourist Traps in the U.S. You Should Avoid


You’ve tirelessly researched, saved up, and planned the ultimate American trip. But what if those iconic landmarks turn out to be a letdown? Fear not, brave traveler! This list features 15 tourist traps that might be best left off your itinerary to dodge the crowds and frustration so that you can focus on truly epic experiences.

Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California

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Tourists flock to this iconic stretch of sidewalk in hopes of rubbing shoulders with their favorite celebrities, only to find themselves dodging crowds and navigating through a sea of tacky souvenir shops. The reality is far from the glitz and glamour often shown on screen, with most stars long gone and the area usually littered with debris. Save yourself the disappointment! 

Times Square, New York City, New York


It’s hard to ignore the allure of Times Square. However, beneath the dazzling lights lies a chaotic mess of overpriced chain restaurants, aggressive street performers, and tourists vying for the perfect selfie. The constant noise and flashing advertisements can quickly become overwhelming and leave you longing for a quieter slice of the “Big Apple.”

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California

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Once a bustling hub of maritime activity, Fisherman’s Wharf has devolved into a tourist trap overrun with kitschy attractions and subpar seafood restaurants. You will be bombarded with overpriced souvenirs and gimmicky street performers as the smell of stale fish hangs heavy in the air. Skip the chaos and explore the city’s more authentic neighborhoods for an authentic taste of San Francisco.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

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It may be synonymous with Mardi Gras revelry, but the reality is far less enchanting. Rowdy crowds, tacky neon signs, and the unmistakable stench of stale beer and vomit mar this notorious party strip. Unless you’re a fan of overpriced drinks and deafening live music, you’re better off exploring the city’s vibrant jazz clubs and historic neighborhoods.

Niagara Falls, New York

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Despite Niagara Falls’ stunning beauty, the surrounding area has overcrowded casinos, chain restaurants, and cheesy tourist attractions. All you’ll experience is high-pressure sales tactics and exorbitant ticket prices, turning what should be a serene natural wonder into a crowded and commercialized spectacle. 

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

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The iconic faces carved into the side of Mount Rushmore are undeniably impressive. The surrounding area, however, has been transformed into a tourist trap rife with overpriced concessions and tasteless gift shops. As a traveler, expect to be herded like cattle through crowded viewing areas, with little opportunity to truly appreciate the magnitude of the monument.

The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas


History buffs, this one might disappoint. The Alamo itself is small, and the surrounding area is a tourist trap fiesta. If you are looking for a profound historical experience, you will be disappointed by the lack of context and commercialization surrounding the site. 

Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada


In the middle of the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip lies a seedy underbelly of overpriced hotels, gaudy casinos, and sleazy nightclubs. Tourers are met with aggressive street vendors and scantily clad performers, and the incessant noise and flashing lights quickly become overwhelming. 

Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota


The “Mall of America” sounds exciting, right? Wrong. It’s a giant, generic mall with chain stores you can find anywhere in the US. Get ready for sensory overload from the never-ending crowds and the maze of a mall you’ll be in. With little in the way of unique stores or local charm, the Mall of America offers nothing more than a generic shopping experience.

Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California


There’s a certain thrill in spotting your favorite celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But be prepared for a dose of reality. The walk is a chaotic stretch of crowded sidewalks, with impersonators hawking photos and faded stars overshadowed by relentless souvenir shops. It’s a microcosm of Hollywood itself: all glitter, little gold.

South Beach, Miami, Florida


South Beach isn’t bad, per se. The Art Deco architecture is stunning, the people-watching is phenomenal, and the ocean is always inviting. Even though that sounds amazing, a scene from a reality TV show is close to what you’ll face. South Beach is a melting pot of sculpted bodies, designer sunglasses, and an unwavering commitment to looking effortlessly flawless. Remember to pack your swimsuit (and maybe a portable fan) because looking good takes serious effort (and sweat) under the Miami sun.

Hollywood Sign Hike, Los Angeles, California

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Snapping a pic with the Hollywood sign in the background is a classic tourist move. The hike itself? It’s not exactly what fitness influencers call a “killer workout.” The Brush Canyon Trail, the most popular route, is more of a leisurely stroll featuring some inclines. While you’ll definitely break a sweat (especially under that California sun), finding a parking spot and avoiding selfie sticks in your face will be the real challenge. 

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii


Don’t get us wrong, Waikiki Beach is beautiful. The golden sand, turquoise water, and Diamond Head looming in the distance are a postcard come to life. This slice of paradise comes at a hefty price. You will have to pay a premium for everything from beach chairs to umbrella rentals. Elbowing your way through a sea of tourists for a sliver of sand might not be your idea of island serenity. 

Empire State Building, New York City, New York

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King Kong climbed the Empire State Building for a reason—the views are undeniably iconic. For the average tourist, though, the experience can feel more like clinging to a life raft in a crowded swimming pool. There will be long lines, sky-high ticket prices, and observation decks so packed you might need a map to navigate your way to the window. 

Disney World, Orlando, Florida


Disney World may be the “happiest place on earth” for some, but the reality is a far cry from the magical experience promised in brochures and commercials. Besides the long lines and exorbitant ticket prices, you must also navigate swarms of tired and cranky children. The park might be overhyped, offering little more than a generic theme park experience.

Written by Devin J