Maybe you’re touring the US as a citizen out to see your homeland. Or maybe you’re coming from afar to see what America has to offer. Either way, you probably want to make the most of your travels.

While some tourist spots across the country have become legendary landmarks that everyone should see, others are just disappointing tourist traps. Some are blatant attempts to make money, others are plain weird, but either way, they should be avoided at all costs.

Save your time, money, and sanity by skipping these 50 tourist traps.

Amy Daire contributed to a previous version of this piece.

ALABAMA: Ave Maria Grotto

Foto: Ave Maria Grotto, in Cullman, Alabama.sourceFlickr/Daniel Thornton

This miniature city was built out of cement and trash by brother Joseph (formerly Michael Zoettl), a hunchbacked Benedictine monk. The little village is often referred to as “Little Jerusalem,” and features 125 tiny religious statues, grottos, and holy locations.

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It’s essentially a wacky, four acre holy shrine – you might be better off going to Legoland.

ALASKA: The North Pole

Foto: The North Pole in Alaska.sourceFlickr/Neverbutterfly

Did you really come this far, to one of the most beautiful, untouched, wild and untamed states, to see a fake little Christmas village?

On top of that, the North Pole is freezing in the winter, and actually really hot in the summer, and swarming with mosquitos.

ARIZONA: The Four Corners

Foto: The Four Corners are in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.sourceFlickr/Tinyfroglet

Of course it sounds cool to technically be in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, all at the same time, but you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere, far away from anywhere you’d ever want to be, in a sweltering desert, and all you’ll have to show for it is a cheesy photo. EVEN BETTER, it’s really just a brass, CD-like disk that’s allegedly 1,800 feet from the actual intersection of those four states.

ARKANSAS: Crater of Diamonds State Park

Foto: Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas.sourceFlickr/Kathy

While the idea of digging for diamonds sounds cool – the park is apparently the only source of natural diamonds in the US that’s open to the public – the reality is a 37 ½-acre plowed field of dirt. It’s been open since 1906, so the chances of finding a diamond seem pretty slim to us.

CALIFORNIA: Hollywood Walk of Fame

Foto: Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California.sourceAndrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

The Hollywood walk of fame has become one of the biggest hotspots for tourists visiting California. Sadly, the stars that celebrities are so proud of are on a dirty, crowded sidewalk, surrounded by tacky street performers, and far from anything else worth a visit.

COLORADO: Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum

Foto: Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum in Golden, Colorado.sourceFlickr/Bradley Gordon

Sure, it’s the grave of one of the world’s most famous cowboys – and outstanding hunter and accomplished showman – but a grave is a grave is a grave.

Plus, the Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum opened in 1921, and hasn’t changed much since.

CONNECTICUT: Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Store

Foto: Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Store in Middletown, ConnecticutsourceTripAdvisor/Jennifer P

People from all over the country stop at this quirky roadside pop culture reliquary, which is most famous for being home to a (terrifying) Jack-in-the-Box that’s said to be the world’s largest. A sort of cabinet of curiosities where most curiosities are for sale, the shop is a little like a hyped-up flea market.

DELAWARE: Rehoboth Beach boardwalk

Foto: Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, Rehoboth, DelawaresourceFlickr/Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue

Not technically overrated, but certainly overcrowded, Rehoboth Beach’s boardwalk makes this list for being jam-packed with tourists, and chock-full of tchotke’s aimed at them. Apparently, finding a parking spot is about as rare as spotting a unicorn, and many complain about inflated prices, and call the boardwalk “average,” or even “extremely average.”


Foto: Disney’s Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.sourceGustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Of the four Disney parks in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Epcot is easily the most underwhelming. Unless you’re a college student looking to “drink around the world” (for hundreds of dollars nonetheless), this theme park offers nothing.

The experiences at each country in the park focus only on the most basic stereotypes of each culture, and the few rides this park has are disappointing to most children.

GEORGIA: World of Coca-Cola

Foto: The World of Coca-Cola’s “vault” in Atlanta, Georgia.sourceAP Images/David Goldman

This huge tourist attraction in the middle of Atlanta brings in millions of visitors every year. Guests can see how the soda is bottled, take their picture with the famous polar bear, and taste several of the company’s other drinks.

The tickets aren’t too costly, with adult prices at $17 and children’s at $13, but battling the overwhelming crowds and long lines just to walk through what is essentially a huge advertisement, is downright silly.

HAWAII: Waikiki Beach

Foto: Waikiki Beach, Oahu, HawaiisourceShutterstock / tomas del amo

Waikiki was basically designed with tourists in mind, and is a strip of luxury hotels, expensive stores, and chain restaurants flanked by an overcrowded beach. It looks like most of the rest of America, and is not representative of the stunning, tropical island paradise Hawaii really is.

IDAHO: Craters of the Moon

Foto: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho.sourceFlickr/David Wilson

While the name evokes a surreal, alien-like landscape, the reality does not quite live up to it.

While it is quite pretty, it’s only interesting for about 10 minutes. After all, how much time can you spend ogling volcanic rocks?

ILLINOIS: Chicago’s Magnificent Mile

Foto: You could find this kind of street almost anywhere.sourceTupungato/Shutterstock

We’re not sure what’s so magnificent about a street that has a few shops and restaurants, but hey.

INDIANA: NCAA Hall of Champions

Foto: NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, IndianasourceShutterstock

With surprisingly little memorabilia on display and in dire need of a renovation, you’ll be in and out of this museum, which pays homage to student athletes, in 30 minutes or less. If you want to learn about Hoosier basketball, you’re better off heading 50 miles east to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle.

IOWA: Captain James T. Kirk’s future birthplace

Foto: Captain James T. Kirk’s future birthplace in Riverside, IowasourceAFP / Getty

Trekkies the world over make the trek to this tiny town in Iowa, to a private yard behind a small house, to look at a gravestone-like plaque commemorating the “Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, Karch 22, 2228.”

Now obviously that’s not true, since “Star Trek” is fiction, but to add insult to injury, it was really just the doing of an intrepid Trekkie mayor who, upon reading “Making of Star Trek,” saw that Kirk would be born in an unnamed small town in Iowa. He figured, ‘Why not Riverside?’ and plopped the plaque in the middle of town, declared it Kirk’s future birthplace, and the rest, as they say, is history (or the future).

KANSAS: The World’s Largest Ball of Twine

Foto: The World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas.sourceFlickr/Ethan Prater

It’s a ball of twine.

KENTUCKY: Ark Encounter

Foto: Ark Encounter, Williamstown, Kentucky.sourceThe Washington Post/Getty

Last year, this life-size arc and biblical theme park opened in Williamstown, Kentucky. The grounds feature a zip line, because what would a biblical theme park be without one?

The fact that this attraction is an ode to one of the most famous biblical stories ever isn’t the trap, though. It’s their outrageous prices that should make you think twice: tickets are $40 per adult and $28 per child, and zip lining costs at least $50 on top of that.

LOUISIANA: Bourbon Street

Foto: Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.sourceLauren Browning Business Insider

New Orleans is a beautiful, historic town filled with culture, and Bourbon Street just doesn’t do it justice. It’s essentially like Cancun during Spring Break – neon signs advertising cheap, tacky bars line a street that’s full of drunk people throwing plastic beads at your head – when they aren’t throwing up.

You’re better off going to a jazz bar or something that will let you drink and experience a little local culture.

MAINE: The Desert of Maine

Foto: The Desert of Maine is only 20 minutes from Portland.sourceFlickr/daveynin

Despite its appearance, this block of land is not actually desert. The empty plot is a glacial silt surrounded by thousands of Maine’s pine trees. People can gawk at the natural phenomenon that created a desert in the middle of New England, but with plaster camels and plastic sand-related souvenirs, it’s hard to imagine what draws in 30,000 tourists every year.

MARYLAND: Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Foto: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Baltimore, Maryland.sourceFlickr/daveynin

There are several Ripley’s Believe It or Not! “museums” all over the country. However, in a historical city like Baltimore where there is actual art and history to see, it’s baffling why anyone would spend time in a place full of replicas and gimmicks.

MASSACHUSETTS: Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

Foto: The crowded Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.sourceFlickr/6SN7

Sure, it’s been open since 1742, but these days it’s a glorified food court teeming with tourists that sells mediocre food and tacky souvenirs. Do like a local and avoid it.

MICHIGAN: Mystery Spot

Foto: Mystery Spot in Saint Ignace, Michigan.sourceFlickr/John Fink

There’s a maze, mini golf, and a zip line, but their main attraction is several crooked shacks built into hillsides that trick kids into thinking everything is gravity defying. It’s a cheap roadside tourist trap with gaudy billboards along the highway to prove it.

MINNESOTA: Mall of America

Foto: Sensory overload.sourceJeffrey J Coleman / Shutterstock

This mall is the largest shopping center in America, with 520 stores and so many square feet that the Yankee Stadium could fit inside of it nine times. But there’s much more to do than just shop – there’s an indoor theme park, a miniature golf course, and and aquarium – but all that adds up to is sensory overload.

The fact that it is crowded with hundreds of tourists each and every day (42 million visitors each year) makes it all the worse.

MISSISSIPPI: Birthplace of Elvis

Foto: The birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi.sourceBill Bachmann/Getty

It’s a two room shack. The King may have been born there, but it’s no palace.

MISSOURI: Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum

Foto: Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum in Weldon Spring, MissourisourceTripAdvisor/Love2Explr

This giant pile of rocks is essentially a mound of nuclear waste.

To be precise, it’s 1.5 million cubic yards of hazardous waste entombed to create a small mountain that marks the spot that was home to the country’s largest explosives factory turned uranium ore processing plant until 1966. After being left abandoned for over two decades, the US Department of Energy decided to cover it with rocks. Now, it features a museum and covered up TNT, asbestos, mercury, radium and radioactive uranium. Enjoy!

MONTANA: 50000 Silver $ Bar

Foto: 50000 Silver $ Bar in Haugan, Montana.sourceValerie Everett/Shutterstock

This Montana bar is home to over 50,000 silver dollars, and thus one of the largest coin collections in America. There’s also a motel, tons of RV parking, a casino, and Montana’s largest gift shop.

NEBRASKA: Carhenge

Foto: Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.sourceFlickr/Spencer Hall

This quirky roadside site is one of the highest-rated attractions in the state, though it’s little more than 39 cars stacked to resemble England’s famous Stonehenge.

Sadly, this isn’t the only ode to Stonehenge you’ll see on this list.

NEVADA: The Venetian gondolas

Foto: A gondola in Las Vegas’ The Venetian hotel.sourceMegan Rose Dickey/Business Insider

While the entire city of Las Vegas could arguably be considered a tourist trap, the one place you should really steer clear of while you’re there is The Venetian’s gondola rides.

It might sound romantic, but once you see the gamblers and shoppers strolling by as you float through what is essentially a shopping mall in a chlorine blue pool water for less than 15 minutes, you might think differently. Even worse, a private gondola for two will set you back $116.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Clark’s Trading Post

Foto: Clark’s trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire.sourceFlickr/rickpilot_2000

Locals who have been going here for years seem to love it (and the fact that it hasn’t changed at all). However, tourists who don’t feel the nostalgia will likely feel differently.

Their lackluster attractions include bumper boats, Segways, and a steam train, but their money maker is the trained bear shows, which many consider ethically questionable.

NEW JERSEY: Atlantic City Boardwalk

Foto: Part of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.sourceFlickr/surfergirl30

Like a second-rate Vegas, Atlantic City’s good ole days are long gone. All that’s left are gaudy casinos, tacky souvenirs, and overpriced taffy.


Foto: Roswell, New Mexico.sourceShutterstock

The town of Roswell prides itself in being the alleged site of an alien crash landing in 1947, and has created an entire tourist industry around it.

The town is now a giant gimmick, where everything that could possibly be shaped like an alien or UFO, is. It’s full of creepy alien toys, and all of them pretty low budget.

NEW YORK: Times Square

Foto: Times Square NYC, New York.sourceGetty Images

Locals avoid this spot at all costs, and so should you. Not only is it overcrowded, it’s also full of expensive souvenirs and tacky chain restaurants that you can find anywhere else in the country.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Blowing Rock

Foto: The Blowing Rock in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.sourceCvandyke/Shutterstock

The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful, to say the least. People rave about the sights you can see from your car or on trails throughout the many parks. However, The Blowing Rock, which gets a lot of praise for its stunning views and interesting rock formation, is a miss.

It costs $10 dollars per person to visit, which might not break the bank, but why pay anything at all for a view you could see for free?

NORTH DAKOTA: The Enchanted Highway

Foto: A few metal pheasants on the side of the road.sourceFlickr/J24L

This collection of scrap metal sculptures stretches across 32 miles on a southern North Dakota highway. You’ll see giant grasshoppers, families of fish, towering humans, and an all-seeing eye made of geese (yup). If you happen to be driving down the road, it might ease some road trip boredom, but it’s certainly nothing to drive out of the way for.

OHIO: “A Christmas Story” House

Foto: The “A Christmas Story” house in Cleveland.sourceJuli Scalzi/Shutterstock

There are hundreds of ways you can celebrate the holidays. Waiting in a line and paying money to see the filming location of “A Christmas Story” should not be one of them. While the movie may be great, the basic house it was filmed in and the museum dedicated to it aren’t anything to stop your car for.

OKLAHOMA: J. M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum

A majority of the ~50,000 artifacts in the museum are firearms from a private collection that dates back to the 14th century. The West might have been wild, but this glorified gun museum is wilder.

OREGON: Undersea Gardens

Foto: Undersea Gardens in Newport, Oregon.sourceRichard Cummins/Getty

This underwater room holds tourists for about half an hour as they watch divers interact with the natural wildlife. The realistic view (murky water and five fish, if you’re lucky) is hardly worth paying for, especially when there are sea lions right above the surface that you don’t even need to pay to see.

PENNSYLVANIA: The Liberty Bell

Foto: The Liberty Bell is on display in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.sourceShutterstock

This American history classic is the definition of underwhelming. After learning about it year after year in school, you’d think it’d be a large, spectacular bell. In reality, it’s small and broken (obviously), not to mention surrounded by tourists.

RHODE ISLAND: Mysterious Viking Tower

Foto: Newport’s Mysterious Viking Tower.sourcetravelview/Getty

If you have an affinity for mysterious landmarks, then you might enjoy the tiny tower that sits in the middle of Newport.

Unfortunately for most, these mysterious remains aren’t that exciting. No one really knows who built it, but legend says that it was the Vikings, which would make it one of the oldest buildings in America. Most beg to differ. Either way, the speculating gets old quick.

SOUTH CAROLINA: South of the Border

Foto: South of the Border’s welcome sign.sourceKathy Drasky/Flickr

South of the Border is nothing more than a large gift shop and adjoining restaurant. The “attraction” sits right below the border that separates North and South Carolina, and is intentionally tacky.


Foto: A giant dinosaur outside of Wall Drug.sourceTony Webster/Flickr

This blatant tourist trap makes over $10 million a year, but how they do it is a mystery. The drugstore turned makeshift mall became famous for offering free ice water back in 1931, and doesn’t charge for attractions such as their snake pit and giant road side sculptures (see the dino, above). They do reel in tourists and road trippers with over 300 billboards throughout the state, though.

TENNESSEE: Graceland

Foto: Elvis’ grave at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.sourcephotosounds/Shutterstock

Elvis was a true prodigy, but touring his house for a minimum of $30 is a strange way to honor him. While the grounds are beautiful, there are far better ways to spend your time in Tennessee.

TEXAS: The Big Texan Restaurant in Amarillo

Foto: The Big Texan Restaurant in Amarillo.sourceShutterstock/ T photography

The Big Texan restaurant is crawling with so much Texas décor you may go into sensory overload. With dead animals all over the walls, a souvenir shop with every kind of tacky Wild West memorabilia you can think of, and, of course, a Texas-sized 72 ounce steak eating challenge, this place is one big Texas cliché.

The food is also extremely mediocre, and many customers have complained on Yelp that the steak is tough and dry. For a real, authentic Texas experience, head to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo where you can shop for genuine Texas souvenirs, watch bull riding, and chow down on delicious fair food.

UTAH: Moqui Cave

Foto: The Moqui Cave just outside of Kanab, Utah.sourceShutterstock

The sandstone erosion “cave” is touted as an ancient landmark and natural history museum, but it’s not even a cave that was built or used by Native Americans.

Even if you don’t mind the ruse, people who have been claim that it’s just a glorified gift shop.

VERMONT: Rock of Ages

Foto: The Rock of Ages granite quarry in Barre, Vermont.sourceFlickr/David Wilson

You can tour this giant granite quarry for a small price, but looking down into a hole that isn’t the Grand Canyon is hardly worth it. The tour is provided by a company that mostly makes tombstones, which puts a damper on everything, and their gift shop sells overpriced granite gifts and jewelry.

VIRGINIA: Foamhenge

Foto: Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, Virginia.sourceFlickr/Katherine Bowman

Like Stonehenge, but styrofoam. No further explanation necessary.


Foto: Gum Wall in Seattle.sourceMatt Ragen/Shutterstock

This brick wall attraction near Seattle’s Pike Place Market was covered in 15 years worth of gum until 2015, when it was removed to preserve the brick. The tradition of sticking used, germy chewing gum on the wall picked back up shortly after, and it is now almost back to its original, grimy glory.

WEST VIRGINIA: The Congressional Bunker

Foto: The bunker was originally at the Greenbrier Resort is in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.sourceAlex Wong/Getty Images

For $34 a person, you can see where all the beloved (and not so beloved) politicians in America would have lived post-apocalypse. The bunkers, which were hidden in a hotel at first, opened for tours in 1995 after someone spilled the beans about the secret hiding place.

The idea is pretty cool, but there’s no real need to spend 90 whole minutes and over $30 for a tour of wooden bunk beds, canned food, and white cinder block walls.

WISCONSIN: Mars Cheese Castle

Foto: Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.sourceFlickr/bradhoc

Wisconsin is known for its amazing cheese, and really, anything involving cheese can do no wrong. However, Mars Cheese Castle, which beckons tourists driving down I-94, is a pretty obvious trap. The gaudy building should be warning enough, but if it isn’t, the inflated prices on the hundreds of cheeses, sausages, condiments, and crackers they sell might be.

Despite it being an obvious tourist trap, tourists and locals alike don’t seem to mind at all.

WYOMING: Frontier Prison

Foto: Frontier Prison in Rawlins, Wyoming.sourceShutterstock

This old prison is basically a museum of torture the whole family can enjoy. It’s no Alcatraz, but tour guides do let you sit in old gas chambers and see the “Punishment Pole,” both of which will likely cause nightmares.