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Trip List by sravenk

10 North American Attractions not to Waste your Time and/or Money On

27 Mar 2006  Frequent traveler of North America, frequent waster of time and money
3.0 of 5 stars based on 36 votes

Ever gone out of your way or dropped a lot of money to see a tourist attraction that left you asking, "That's it?" Here is a list of ten North American attractions that you may be better to avoid.

  • 1. Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California, USA
    Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California

    If it is overpriced t-shirts, postcards and coffee mugs you are after, I suppose you may like the wharf’s many identical gift shops and crowded streets. You can find most of these souvenirs elsewhere in San Francisco for more reasonable prices, along with more satisfying and affordable lunch choices, and without having to beat your way through teeming crowds, either. If it is the seal-watching that draws you, then you will more likely find a good spot to view them out by Cliff House near Golden Gate Park. Simply put, the wharf is overcrowded, overpriced and overrated.

  • 2. Observation Deck and Sky Pod, CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario

    Surely, this structure is an architectural wonder to behold. My advice is to admire it from the outside. The lines are busy though bearable, but the price of admission to any observation deck is outlandish. Views from the Outdoor Observation Deck and further up from the Sky Pod can be exquisite, if you manage to visit on a clear day. However, given that Toronto experiences long periods of grey, cloudy days over the fall and winter months and a good deal of smog over the spring and summer, those clear views are rare. If you really would like to join the crowds standing on the five foot wide glass floor over the 1100 foot drop, by all means, go ahead. But be prepared to spend a good chunk of money to do so.

  • 3. Journey to the Top, Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Gateway Arch, Saint Louis, Missouri

    Like the CN Tower, this historical monument and wonder of architectural genius is much better appreciated from the outside. While the price of admission is not quite as steep as the CN Tower, the ride itself is disappointing. The small, cylindrical train cars that you have to cram yourself into to reach the top are claustrophobic and uncomfortable, the crowds vying for a peek out the small windows at the top overwhelming. The view itself again depends on the clearness of the day, and you only have a moment before the next group of visitors will be pushing through for their turn to have a look. If you really want to experience the enormity of this structure, stand beneath it from outside and look up.

  • 4. Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota, USA
    Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota

    Once you get past the vastness of the structure and the wonder of seeing a rollercoaster in the middle of a shopping center, you realize that this is just a mall. Sure, it is big. There are a lot of stores here, many with more than one outlet in the same mall. There is an amusement park that will cost you a good deal more than your regular amusement park. The mall draws huge crowds and fairly begs you to get lost in its sprawling land area. So if you just need to get to a mall for some shopping on your trip, go ahead and face the crowds if you must. But I am guessing the locals know someplace a little less disorienting where you might even get a better deal.

  • 5. Sears Tower, Chicago, Illinois, USA
    Willis Tower - Skydeck Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    Admittedly there is a certain draw to visiting the top of North America’s tallest building. The popularity of the attraction is evidenced by the massive queues you will have to endure to ride the speedy elevator to the observation level. After waiting and waiting you can battle the crowds vying to have a peek at some of Chicago’s most spectacular views. But for the price, you could instead head over to the John Hancock building and enjoy a drink in the comfortable booths of the Signature Lounge, which is a mere ten stories lower, to view the gorgeous Chicago landscape from there.

  • 6. Lake Louise Ski Area, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
    The Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff National Park

    One of the most popular skiing destinations in Canada, Lake Louise has suffered the effects of tourism. The area is absolutely beautiful and the runs are plentiful, but need better grooming at times. The price, however, is sky high. For hiking and exploring, the area is exquisite. For skiing, however, I would recommend trying one of a number of exciting skiing destinations in the Canadian Rockies that offer the same level of quality for more affordable prices.

  • 7. Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia

    While the excitement of swinging for dear life above a drop of 230 feet to a forest floor might be enticing to more adventurous travelers, the price of admission to risk your life in this way is rather steep. The park itself has a number of interesting attractions such as a Native carving center and a history center, as well as a new adventure along the Douglas fir treetops. However if it is the bridge you are looking to cross, then you may instead want to try the less populated Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, which sways 166 feet above the forest floor and costs you absolutely nothing.

  • 8. Observatory tour, Statue of Liberty, New York, New York
    Statue of Liberty, New York City, New York

    This symbol of American history and pride is certainly a monument to admire, but the tour to the pedestal with its glass ceiling offers little in the way of viewing the inner structure of this magnificent sculpture. The crowds flocking to take these tours make the lines extremely long and uncomfortable, and the information that your guide will give you about the construction of the statue can be found on the monument’s official website. Save yourself some time, skip the observation tour and observe the immense Lady Liberty from the park outside.

  • 9. Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
    Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario

    This self guided trek through the tunnels behind Niagara Falls sounds a lot more exciting than it is. Once you have made it through the tremendous queue and begun to sweat profusely in your disposable rain poncho you will hike a few steps down a tunnel to where it emerges in a seven-foot-square hole from which you can see exactly what you might expect to see: water, and lots of it. The observation deck beside the falls offers a scenic way to get really wet, but the jostling crowds make the experience less than ideal. The Maid of the Mist boat ride provides a more exciting experience of the falls than the Journey Behind.

  • 10. Avenida Revolución, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
    Avenida Revolucion, Tijuana

    Filled with tourists looking for a fun party, cheap alcohol or brand name knockoffs, this avenue has become one of the most overrated tourist spots in North America. The vendors tend to charge more here than elsewhere in Tijuana, hoping to make more money from less experienced tourists. If it is a taste of Mexico you want, this avenue is probably the last place you should be, considering its main business is catering to tourists from the US and abroad. If it is a party you are after, nearby Plaza Fiesta has a number of excellent nightclubs that are a little less seedy than those on Revolución.