Venturing off the beaten path while traveling is one of the best ways to ensure a bonafide adventure. However, all tourist attractions are not created equal. Some promise much more than they deliver, while others are significantly crowded with tourists.
Seattle has so much to offer, from the Pike Place Market to the Museum of Pop Culture. So trust us; you don't need to spend even one minute of your time in front of a wall of chewed-up gum.
The Market Theater Gum Wall is exactly what it sounds like; a huge wall where tourists have added to an endless pile with their own chewed-up gunk. Some of the gum is wadded up the wall, while other pieces drip and stretch off it in a most unappetizing fashion. Simply put, it's a highly overrated experience that you can definitely pass up on your next trip to the Emerald City.
Any self-respecting New Yorker will tell you to avoid Times Square, as will anyone who has traveled to the area, for that matter. The shops are overpriced, the trinkets found there gimmicky and mass-produced, and it is constantly crowded with other travelers.
It just doesn't represent the best of what the city has to offer. You may be forced to travel through it to get to Broadway. But avoid lingering, as Times Square is a human-built black hole that will take up precious time you could be spending in other areas of the city, such as the East Village or Little Italy.
Yes, the Liberty Bell represents an important piece of American history. Situated in the City of Brotherly Love, it is a symbol of America's founding. It's also (cue Admiral Ackbar) a trap because it's a total snooze fest.
The bell doesn't ring. The crack is THE defining characteristic of the bell. Honestly, there is little else to do other than briefly glance at it and move on. The President's House, Independence Hall, or the National Constitution Center are much more interesting inclusions on a Philadelphia itinerary. There is just too much to see and do in Philly to spend time gazing at a broken bell, no matter how historical it is.
New Orleans is a vibrant city with unique communities, such as the Garden District or Algiers, and spending time on Bourbon Street is an overrated experience. It's smelly, overcrowded, and full of shops peddling overpriced, trashy souvenirs that don't even represent the true culture of New Orleans. Unless you're content to spend the day in the midst of party-goers that don't mind throwing up on your feet at a moment's notice, it's best to steer clear.
Even if you make a stop here while walking around the French Quarter, don't dedicate much of your visit to it. Check out Canal Street on one of the streetcars or cruise down the Mississippi River on the Creole Queen.
The reason that the London Eye is overrated is that it's one expensive Ferris wheel. At a cost of nearly $50 per ride, the idea of standing in a long line to await a turn simply to glimpse views of the city is kind of hard to fathom. You don't even get to enjoy being in the capsule with your party alone - there are 20 of you, which means being mashed up against other strangers as you attempt to enjoy the experience.
There are too many other vantage points around the city that also offer unparalleled views of London without the pricey ticket and long lines.
The Hollywood Sign is popular among tourists visiting the Los Angeles area, with many trekking through Griffith Park or traversing the Brush Canyon Trail to see the oversized letters. If you can even get an unencumbered photo at this point. This Hollywood hype beast is so contrived that it isn't even worth the inclusion on an L.A. itinerary.
Other options are less kitschy and show off the best of L.A., from the Griffith Observatory to The Getty, to include the Hollywood Sign is an inclusion.
The falls themselves are beautiful, from either side of the border. However, what makes the American side a danger zone is everything around them. There are so many old casinos falling down on themselves and tourist shops full of tacky tchotchkes that it ruins the experience.
If you really want to see Niagara Falls, view them from the Canadian side. Or, visit one of the many other natural waterfalls that have breathtaking views without the tacky kitsch.
The Mall of America seems like it should be the mall to end all malls, but it's simply a larger version of the typical American shopping center. The stores are essentially the same as those in other malls, and while there are some indoor attractions, it's just not worth a standalone trip to the area.
Die-hard Elvis fans might appreciate a stopover here, but even so, they might find themselves disappointed. The mansion is overly gaudy in its decoration - even for The King - and the tours are often disorganized and crowded. The price of admission is high given the age of the attraction and the extent to which upkeep has been mitigated for the structure.
Bláa Lónið is pretty, but it falls within the realm of an Icelandic tourist trap partly because the water flows from the nearby power plant and in part because it is so overcrowded. It isn't even a natural spring; rather, it's an artificial pond created by accident. The Blue Lagoon is also expensive and isn't conveniently located nearby other local attractions.
In terms of an Icelandic itinerary, there are too many other natural hot springs situated around the country to spend time trying to battle the crowds at this one.