Travel is meant to inspire and awe, and many attractions around the world are rewarding and so worth seeing. Then there are the others; the ones that leave you underwhelmed. To some, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is just an annoyingly busy sidewalk, and Stonehenge is nothing more than a bunch of stones arranged in a circle. So don’t always believe the hype when deciding what landmarks to visit. These major tourist attractions are as overrated as they are iconic.
Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Mass.
Yes, this is Plymouth Rock. For reals. (Midge Frazel/Flickr)
While the idea of Plymouth Rock captures the spirit of America as a colonial symbol of liberty, the rock itself is massively underwhelming. It’s literally just a rock. It’s not even fun showing pictures of Plymouth Rock to your friends, who basically say, “Seriously, it’s a rock.” We suspect that millions of visitors each year leave the attraction with WTF face.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
You traveled six hours to Halong Bay for this? (Matthias Rosenkranz/Flickr)
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, a three-hour drive from Hanoi, is touted as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, but it’s hardly worth the six-hour round-trip commute. Tourists hop aboard junkets and ferries to cruise the serene water and isles of Halong Bay, but it’s not the fairy-tale, romantic setting travelers might expect. There are literally hundreds of boats out at a time, which kills any tranquility, and the lakes are essentially sewers with all the floating trash and debris. Most visitors here also take an excursion to Surprise Cave, which features centuries-old stalactites, but the biggest surprise there is that it’s a horrific cattle call.
Mona Lisa, Paris
That little tiny painting behind the glass, that’s Mona Lisa. (smerikal/Flickr)
The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world, known to artists and aficionados alike. But in real life, it’s pretty “meh.” The painting is a mere 2’6” x 1’9” with a velvet security rope keeping tourists at least 15 feet away. If you still want to check it off your bucket list, wait in line — literally — as a crowd surrounds the painting at all times. We wholeheartedly agree with novelist Paulo Coelho, who famously said, “With all due respect, the Mona Lisa is overrated.”
Niagara Falls, Niagara, N.Y.
Niagara Falls in New York? Not so fascinating. (Alex Erde/Flickr)
Chockfull of tacky souvenir shops, crappy casinos, and thousands of ridiculous-looking, poncho-clad tourists, visiting the New York side of Niagara Falls is a bad idea. Sure, the falls are pretty (though best-viewed on the Canadian side), but packaged with other attractions that err on the side of tourist trap (Hard Rock Cafe, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Guinness World Records Museum), you’ll wish you went over in a barrel.
The Four Corners, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah
This is the most fun you have have at The Four Corners. (Ken Lund/Flickr)
You would think you’d be rewarded with something cool after having driven hours to get to The Four Corners in the southwest (the only place in the U.S. where the boundaries of four states touch, so you can stand in all four states at one time). But, alas, you get a bronze medallion monument in a parking lot. Expect a whole bunch of nothing, including no cell service. But maybe that doesn’t matter since there’s not much to post on Instagram (or remember) from there.
The Blarney Stone, Cork, Ireland
That looks comfortable. (Brian Rosner/Flickr)
The Blarney Stone may be the most ridiculous attraction on our list, though tourists from all over the world make a point to visit it. According to legend, kissing this stone gives one the gift of eloquence. Not happiness, wealth, or superpowers, but, uh… eloquence. In order for it to work, after ascending the Blarney Castle’s peak, visitors must awkwardly lean backward over a security ledge, hold on to an iron railing, be assisted by an employee, and pucker up for possible bacterial infections. Pass.
Music Row, Nashville
The picture of Music Row is more interesting than the experience. (Jen/Flickr)
Nashville certainly has major cred with a world-renowned music scene, a hit TV show based there, and a few luxury hotels (like Virgin Nashville) to open soon. But the famous Music Row, home to all the action in “Music City,” is pretty limited to honky-tonk and rock-themed bars with a handful of recording studios that you can see in fewer than two hours. At night, it’s packed with a gaggle of drunk tourists under the glow of neon signs. The best of cool Nashville — like Grimey’s, Pinewood Social, and Husk — is outside Music Row.
Empire State Building, New York
View through the bars. (Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr)
An iconic landmark, the Empire State Building has soared in NYC’s skyline since 1931. Sure, the views from the 86th floor observation deck are nice, but movies like Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember have romanticized the whole thing. The truth is, it’s not really worth the hefty entrance fee, the long lines, and the en masse tourists. Competitive views can be had at nearby Top of the Rock (which includes the Empire State Building in the vista) or one of several New York City hotel rooftop lounges.
Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell doesn’t even mention aliens on the welcome sign. But you’ll love the milk! (Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr)
The only sighting road-tripping thrill-seekers get when they arrive at Roswell, home to an alleged alien crash-landing in 1947 and Area 57, is the sky. No UFOs, no aliens. UFO junkies will be especially regretful they drove three hours from Albuquerque only to visit a UFO Museum that’s not even campy enough to be notable. Make the trek only if you like weird people, alien wine, hot sauce, and a couple hundred miles tacked on to your car’s odometer for no good reason.
Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England
Stonehenge rocks! Actually it doesn’t. (Natalia Romay/Flickr)
Stonehenge is a massive megalithic monument that dates back 5,000 years. Unanswered questions (like why was Stonehenge constructed in the first place?) add to the site’s mysticism. But many tourists have a question: Why is Stonehenge so boring? Visitors drive two hours from London to see a pile of rocks — rocks that aren’t exactly a pretty bunch. Skip the excursion to this anticlimactic attraction and check out the Roman Baths instead.
Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood
We don’t get the draw. (Christian Haugen/Flickr)
It’s one thing to love celebrities. But to go out of your way to visit a sidewalk (18 blocks on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street) because some famous names are printed on the ground and there are a few handprints at TCL Chinese Theatre — well, you need a hobby if you have that kind of time on your hands. Still, an estimated 10 million people a year go the the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see the nearly 2,500 brass and terrazzo stars. Let’s hope it was because they were already in the neighborhood.
Original Starbucks, Seattle
The pseudo-first Starbucks. (beautifullyplain0/Flickr)
When in Seattle, Starbucks groupies make a beeline to the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. But it’s actually not the original Starbucks, which doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just another Starbucks, except here, you wait in line for up to an hour for the same cup of coffee you can get at the Starbucks down the street.
The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark
He is not impressed. (Hans/Flickr)
It’s unfathomable to believe that The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen is one of the world’s most photographed statues and receives a million visitors a year. It’s a statue. Of a mermaid. And there are 14 replicas in cities across the world. It’s also known that this statue, sculpted by Edvard Eriksen in 1913, isn’t even the original (That one is rumored to be hidden in a secret location by the Eriksen heirs). And we’re not the only ones who aren’t crazy about the statue. The Little Mermaid has been decapitated twice and defaced several times since it was created.
Video: Watch the Grand Canyon Fill with Clouds