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Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 10 worst tourist traps in America, according to disappointed travelers

They came, they saw and they complained because these sites are pretty lame.

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil

There’s so much build-up surrounding a vacation. Where will you go, what meals are you most excited to eat and which magnificent sites will you see? Even if you’re not the attractions type, there’s no way to avoid specific tourist sites, no matter how off-the-beaten-path your trip might be, and you may not want to. Did you really go to Paris if you didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower? Not in our book. Though for every worthwhile Mona Lisa, there’s a Corn Palace you will absolutely want to skip. The people of Reddit have some strong opinions about tourist traps, specifically the ones you should absolutely avoid the next time you find yourself sightseeing in America. These are the spots you’ll want to leave off the itinerary, according to Reddit users.

1. South of the Border | Hamer, SC

This over-the-top rest area in South Carolina sits just below the North Carolina border (hence the name) and marled the halfway point between Florida and New York back when people drove between these two cities. It’s still fun for kids who marvel at the massive sombrero and can sneak in a ride at the amusement park, but most adults grumble at the thought of stopping here for a photo underneath the giant Mexican hat or a souvenir.

2. The original Starbucks | Seattle, WA

The first Starbucks store along the cobblestone street near Pike Place Market is a mecca for coffee lovers patient enough to wait in line for basically the same coffee they could have at any other Starbucks. In fairness, this one carries limited merchandise available for purchase and serves pour-over coffee of a special proprietary roast. But, there’s still the issue of the line, which can snake around the block during peak hours.

3. Plymouth Rock | Plymouth, Massachusetts

One of the more disappointing monuments on this list, Plymouth Rock is nothing more than a disenchanting boulder, says one Reddit user. The supposed site of the disembarkation of the Mayflower is a popular tourist attraction and is also frequented by nearby students on field trips. Apparently, feeling totally let down by this historical landmark is a rite of passage for most elementary school kids in New England.

4. Southernmost Point | Key West, FL

The southernmost point in the continental U.S. is an unimpressive concrete buoy overlooking the ocean. It’s a necessary photo opp if you’re in Key West, but not worth seeking out if you’re in the Upper Keys. You’ll also see “90 miles to Cuba” written on it; the southernmost point is closer to Cuba than to mainland Florida.

Southernmost point Key West
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Corn Palace | Mitchell, SD

The world’s only corn palace gets a new look with every crop season, decked out in corn and grains from the area and themed murals. The agricultural landmark showcasing the region’s bounty is also one of the finest basketball auditoriums in the country.

6. Navy Pier | Chicago, IL

Perhaps this is worth visiting after you’ve seen and done absolutely everything there is to see and do in Chicago. There’s nothing of note, says one Reddit user, citing similar places like Fisherman’s Wharf at least have sea lions and other wildlife to redeem them.

7. The Alamo | San Antonio, TX

Complaints about The Alamo compare to most bad reviews of places you’ve already seen on TV: it’s much smaller than expected. The historic Spanish mission is where the 1836 battle between Texas revolutionary forces and the Mexican army occurred. A significant site that some Reddit users still consider a tourist trap.

8. Mount Rushmore | South Dakota, SD

People visit the South Dakota site for its massive sculpture depicting U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The roughly 60-foot-high granite faces are a sight to behold…but also something you can Google. You might want to think this one through.

9. Times Square | NY, NY

This one was up for debate as some defended the overrun region of New York City for its incredible theater and twinkling lights—quite a spectacle to behold at night. Sure, the souvenir shops are crap and the street performers can be shady, but there’s definite magic to the Great White Way.

Times Square
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Bourbon Street | New Orleans, LA

The debacharous strip is not for everyone, and several Reddit users consider it filthy and overrated. Still, if you’re looking for an epic party scene year-round—and on a grand scale come Mardi Gras—and massive frozen cocktails, there’s no better place than Bourbon Street.

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