10 Worst American Tourist Traps You Should Avoid
Every traveler has been a victim of the dreaded tourist trap. These places leave you feeling empty, hoodwinked and filled with regret. And yet, it's almost impossible to avoid them.
Thankfully, we now have sites in which people can leave reviews — aka warnings so that other travelers don't make the same mistakes. Based on Tripadvisor reviews, these are the 10 worst tourist traps you should avoid when traveling in the U.S.
10. Hollywood Walk of Fame
Location: Los Angeles, California
We like the idea behind the Hollywood Walk of Fame: to commemorate artists who have truly left a mark on the world. But the tourist experience of this street is absolutely underwhelming. There just isn't much to be said about seeing a star with a name on the floor. Sure, you could tell yourself that you're standing in the exact same spot as someone famous, but how much does that really matter?
If you're in L.A. and want to take an obligatory picture on this street, go ahead. But if you're short on time, there are much better things to do with your time.
*Ranking is based on Casago’s 2023 “The Biggest Tourist Traps Worldwide” report.
9. Cannery Row
Location: Monterey, California
Once home to multiple sardine canning factories, Cannery Row has now been gentrified into a bougie district filled with shops and restaurants. We won't deny that its views of Monterey Harbor and its historic buildings are charming. The issue is that the district has become too popular for its own good and now offers just OK experiences for exorbitant prices (as well as a lot of cheesy, touristy trinkets).
Come here if you have nothing better to do in Monterey.
8. San Antonio River Walk
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Like Cannery Row, the San Antonio River Walk is undeniably pretty. But the only thing to do here is to sit down at an expensive restaurant and pay absurd prices for views of the San Antonio River. First-timers are encouraged to at least walk along the river.
But for those returning to cool San Antonio, this is a place to skip in lieu of much more incredible attractions, like the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
7. Hyman's Seafood
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Hyman's Seafood has definitely earned its legendary place in Charleston's food scene. The establishment has been around since 1890, first as a dry goods store, then as a seafood restaurant. Now on its fifth generation, the iconic eatery has been graced with guests like Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Streisand.
So, why do so many people feel disappointed? The prices aren't the problem. In fact, we think they're pretty good for a restaurant this famous. But people say the food isn't out-of-this-world. At least not enough to justify the absurdly long lines. Still want to try it? Make sure to have a reservation.
6. Big Texan Steak Ranch
Location: Amarillo, Texas
Part restaurant, part hotel, part random gift shop, the Big Texan Steak Ranch encompasses the spirit of Texas. Its main claim to fame is its 72-ounce steak dinner, which consists of steak, a bread roll, baked potato, salad and a shrimp cocktail. Anyone who is able to finish it in less than one hour gets the meal for free. The challenge calls to people, especially in a state where bigger always equals better.
But if you don't like the idea of getting sick for the sake of a food contest, there is nothing especially interesting for you here.
5. Navy Pier
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Chicago's Navy Pier is basically a scenic mall with indoor dining and shopping as well as outdoor offerings. During the summer, small water attractions bring in families looking for a refreshing activity.
Let's be honest: It's really not the worst attraction; in fact, if you visit, you'll probably enjoy your time here. The issue is that Chicago has so many amazing things to do that it seems like a waste of time to come to a mall. You can find that anywhere — but you can't find the Art Institute of Chicago or the Skydeck.
4. Cafe du Monde
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is one of the culinary epicenters of the U.S. So, if a place becomes legendary within the city, you know it has to offer something extraordinary. And Cafe du Monde certainly does: Its beignets are heavenly.
But, sadly, the cafe's quality has been its doom. If you want to enjoy what it offers, you'll likely have to stand in line for an hour and a half or longer. Really, no restaurant in the world justifies that wait time.
3. Times Square
Location: New York, New York
Have you even been to New York if you haven't been to Times Square? Yes and no. There are so many more interesting places in the city that actually give you a glimpse of its beautiful, chaotic energy. At the same time, the square is the epitome of capitalistic hedonism, and that certainly describes the city.
Our advice is to go here once the first time you visit New York. Then, try to stay away from it as much as possible.
2. Dole Plantation
Location: Wahiawa, Hawaii
Why on Earth would someone spend their time in Hawaii touring the Dole Plantation? Maybe if you were in a state where there is nothing but corn fields and Walmarts, but visiting an attraction like this while on Oahu seems like a crime.
Sure, pineapples have been important to the state's modern-day history. But that doesn't justify wasting your time here when you could've been at the beach or hiking in Waimea Valley. To be fair, we blame any tourist who makes this decision, not the plantation.
1. Fisherman's Wharf
Location: San Francisco, California
One of San Francisco's most famous districts, Fisherman's Wharf is a historic area that attracts people with its promise of fresh seafood and gorgeous harbor views. Like other places on this list, the Wharf is a cool attraction turned sour because of its popularity. Food prices are absurd, and scenic spots have lines of people waiting to take the same picture. You'll hardly ever see locals here for this very reason.
Is it more touristy than Times Square? Tripadvisor reviewers seem to think so, but we'd disagree.