The United States is chock-full of noteworthy, tourist-friendly sites and monuments. Most of them are worth checking out. Others… not so much. Here’s our list of America’s most overrated tourist destinations, as well as worthwhile alternatives you should visit instead.
Four Corners Monument
Unless you’re really, really into geographical demarcations, this site will probably be a little underwhelming. Four Corners marks the exact spot where the borders of four states ― New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Utah ― form a cross-like quadripoint. And that’s about it. Plus, the site is fairly remote; the nearest major cities, Flagstaff and Albuquerque, are still more than 3.5 hours away.Instead… The U.S. Southwest boasts some of the most picturesque landscapes in the entire country. If you’re willing to drive a considerable distance, why not forgo Four Corners and instead check our Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park, New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historic Park, or the Monument Valley National Tribal Park that lies on the Arizona-Utah border.
Don’t get us wrong, the Gateway Arch is an iconic landmark that has symbolized the city of St. Louis since it was completed in 1947. Unfortunately, marvelling at its awe-inspiring architecture and actually taking a ride to the top of the Arch are two very different things. After crawling into a claustrophobically small compartment, passengers will be treated to a breathtaking view of the service stairway located inside the Arch for most of the ascent. Upon arriving at the top, the view is nice, but also quite limited. The pictures you take of the Arch itself from a distance will be much more impressive.Instead… Check out the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Whether or not Bud’s for you, the brewery (which opened more than 160 years ago) offers free tours to all guests that include all of the main taprooms, the Clydesdale stables, and a refreshing visit to the tasting room.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Forget about Tinseltown’s legendary glitz and glamour for a moment. The reality is that Hollywood is a rough-hewn neighborhood; in a recent ranking of Los Angeles’ 272 established neighborhoods, Hollywood placed 30th in terms of violent crime (324 incidents of homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery were reported there between April and September 2013). But if you insist on visiting Hollywood, the Walk of Fame is a major disappointment unless your one true aim in life is to visit a star-shaped plaque with a certain celebrity’s name etched on it.Instead… Film buffs should check out Madame Tussauds Hollywood, with more than 100 hyper-realistic wax likenesses of everyone from Samuel L. Jackson to Howard Hughes.
South of the Border
There aren’t many U.S. tourist hotspots that are also appallingly racist, but this site located outside Dillon, S.C., is a notable exception. Although the ‘amusement park’ is named for its geographical proximity to the North Carolina border, the attractions ― which include a sombrero-themed restaurant and a collection of rides dubbed ‘Pedroland’ ― revolve around the common theme of Latino stereotyping. If these features haven’t sold you on South of the Border’s offensiveness, then the local billboards used to advertise the park will. Past slogans include ‘Back up amigo ― you missed it’, ‘Sommtheeng Deeferent’, and (printed upside down) ‘Too moch Tequila’.Instead… Lovely seaside communities like Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, and Oak Island are within a reasonable drive from Dillon. All of them have Mexican restaurants, thereby negating the one appealing aspect of a visit to South of the Border.
This major intersection in Midtown Manhattan has come to represent the hub of commerce, entertainment, and tourism that is New York City. This could be a good thing, but most Times Square visitors must square off against massive crowds, stave off aggressive street vendors, and withstand a massive sensory overload ― all for the chance to take a few pretty pictures. There are dozens of less chaotic places in the Big Apple that enable you to snap better photos. So unless you have your heart set on meeting Al Roker or adding a few entries to your bootleg DVD collection, Times Square is hardly an essential stop during your visit to NYC.Instead… Do anything else. Hit up a Broadway show, go for a walk in Central Park, visit MOMA or the Guggenheim, take a trip to the top of the Empire State Building. These are just some of the other tourist spots that are more fun than Times Square.
By Brad Nehring