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Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

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1,688 posts
91 reviews
Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Here's an interesting slide show about tourist traps in the US.


N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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109 reviews
1. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Interesting IlliniTrav. When I was on Road Trips as a child before interstates, I ALWAYS wanted to stop at South of the Border, but alas, Dad would never pull over. I definitely always stop at Wall Drug just because. Not sure I agree with the writer's assessment of Disney. It is not in the same category as Wall Drug or South of the Border.


Level Contributor
1,136 posts
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2. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

My goodness. I have to say I concur 100%. How often does that happen? It’s all but embarrassing.

For the record, a little disclosure: having passed South of the Border countless times, even living not much more than an hour away, I’ve never stopped so the concurrence is a shared bias; ditto riding a carriage in romantic Central Park. Save it for the movies.

Back in the day, I loved Disneyland; somehow the skyrocketing costs make a perfect antidote for magic. How much more does it cost to visit the actual Mattehorn? Double ditto the Grand Canyon Skywalk, for less you can get meals and a bunk at the Phantom Ranch and really see the Grand Canyon.

I can’t imagine skipping a visit to Café du Monde, Wall Drug, or the 86th Floor of the Empire State Building – at least once - when near those places. Amazingly what they say about Niagara Falls – words right out of my mouth: if we’re heading that way, let’s cross at Niagara for a meal at that revolving tower – I wouldn’t miss it, what a nifty view – but never would make it a destination.

I’ve never been to Graceland either, wouldn’t reject going there. Elvis, alas, gets bumped in my blues-loving soul by Beale Street and Clarksdale. But I’d go, and happily pay.

So it is with Alcatraz, albeit a San Franciscan-in-exile, maybe because I’m a San Franciscan-in-exile, I just never get around to reserving one of those celebrated night tours – or more realistically, when I find myself a San Franciscan temporarily not in exile, come Alcatraz night tour time, I’m probably enjoying the view from some bar like most other San Franciscans.

Apple Valley...
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760 posts
52 reviews
3. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

I was surprised by the Disneyland advice and Niagara Falls. I did Niagara as a destination itself several years ago and I traveled (flew) halfway across the country and do not regret it at all. It was a beautiful destination with many attractions that are worthwhile. I stayed away from the kitschy ones and thoroughly enjoyed my time in the area on both the Canadian and American sides.

Wednesbury, UK
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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13,764 posts
4. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?


Yes, an interesting view. I've a mixed opinion myself, from the 100% agree on the Skywalk, to Disneyland being a must do once, or once every ten years in our case. The others that I've been to are worth a stop or visit once, if your in the area and maybe a revisit for one or two.

One time we are back in SF, the Alcatraz night tour will be on the list too rather than just a daytime revisit.

Edited: 01 September 2013, 19:05
Level Contributor
10,853 posts
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5. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Niagara Falls is one of the great waterfalls of the world, and perhaps the most easily visited for North Americans and Europeans visiting the U.S. Admittedly, the area is highly commercialized, but attractions such as the Journey Behind the Falls, Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, the Whirlpool Aero Car, the Whirlpool Jet Boats, Goat Island, and the white water walkways also are great fun and the things of memory.

Most NF visitors don't even drive the short distance to see the amazing Welland Canal.

Niagara Falls is one of the most fun camping destinations that we've experienced (Bissell's Hideaway north of NF, Ont.).

Perhaps the casinos, shopping, water parks, etc., comprise a tourist trap, and certainly the falls' spectacular natural beauty is diminished by the commercial development (and by the diversion of at least 50 percent of its natural water flow), but it is still one of the great natural wonders of the world and IMO, a great place to visit.

Disneyland and especially Disney World are magical places to go with kids of the right age. Enjoying the parks vicariously with them is more fun than the rides and other attractions themselves IMO. I don't see how anybody could view Disney World, Disneyland, or any of the other major theme or amusement parks as tourist traps. Persons visiting these parks typically know exactly what they are about, unlike with what I would label as a tourist trap.

Personally, I would never stop to see the Corn Palace or Wall Drug Store, but I've already seen them once. Maybe that's the test of a possible tourist trap -- a place you wouldn't even consider visiting again if nearby.

NF and Disneyland or Disney World wouldn't meet that test for me.

NF actually remains a personal magnet and only very reluctantly would I miss detouring there if relatively close, and living less than four hours away, I expect I'll visit it every 5-10 years in any event, even if just for 3-4 hours at Table Rock or to take the Maid of the Mist for perhaps one last time. Ditto for the Empire State Building.

Edited: 01 September 2013, 22:00
Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Atlantic City
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6. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Great link, enjoyed reading it......Thanx for posting! BTW ~ I disagree with the South of the Border advise, every traveler should stop there at least once! for a magnet or two ?..... The Billboards alone are worth the trip! Such as..... Pedro's weather report - Chili Today, Hot Tomale!

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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7. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Interesting list. I've been to all but New Orleans and Graceland. I would do those two, or will when it's convenient, just to say I did and e able to give a objective opinion.

I stop at Wall Drug when I'm there because there isn't much else nearby. The Corn Palace is a much better investment of time IMO. I always advise skipping the sky walk because unlike the advertising says, it is NOT the Grand Canyon, and it is not what they say it is. I don't need to do anything in NYC ever again. South of the Border is a glorified truck stop and cheesy. I can say that because I've been there. Niagara Falls is cool, but I liked seeing the Welland Canal just as much. Disney is amazing, but I wonder how young families can afford it anymore. Alcatraz is a unique opportunity and I agree about being there at night. But then I really don't care much for city lights anywhere any more.

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4,494 posts
879 reviews
8. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Interesting list - thanks for sharing. I had never heard of South of the Border before and do not plan on adding it to my bucket list (as it sounds lame). Wall Drug is not great but stopping there breaks up the boredom while driving all the way through South Dakota.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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9. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Disneyland is in a class by itself and IMO does not even belong on this list! Yes, it's expensive but there is only one Disneyland and everybody with a sense of humor ought to go once ;-)

>> for less you can get meals and a bunk at the Phantom Ranch <<

Isn't the overnight ride something like $500 per person? Or one has to be *physically able* to hike down into the canyon then up, up, up back out again, something the vast majority of people can't do.

But I would take either south or north rim over the Skywalk any day...

What is one person's "tourist trap" is another's "interesting attraction" LOL!

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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10. Re: Tourist Trap or Vacation Spot?

Yeah, that comment about Phantom Ranch was misleading, but the point is that the park entry fee at GCNP is $25 per car, up to 5 passengers, and it's good for a week. The real point should be that the skywalk is about 150 miles away from the Grand Canyon that folks have seen in photos and books. It's like someone who wants to see Niaara Falls going to Lake Erie. Same water. Different place and a whole different view.