15 American Tourist Traps That Are a Waste of Money

Steve Cummings

In a land filled with captivating tales and remarkable adventures, there exists a hidden underbelly of tourist traps lurking beneath the surface of American wanderlust. Yes, you heard it right. 

People like you may think they will experience something new or have a good time watching that tourist attraction. But in reality, that was no less than a tourist trap that caused you big bucks loss. But which are those traps? Hold on.

In this blog post, we're about to expose the 15 biggest tourist traps lurking out in America, ready to pounce on unsuspecting travelers like a stealthy ninja. 

From overpriced gimmicks to attractions that feel like you've been hit hard by a ton of solid bricks, we're here to save you from wasting your hard-earned cash.

So why wait? Let's get straight to the point.

1. The Gaudy T-Shirt Emporium of Disappointment

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Imagine strolling down the vibrant streets, enticed by neon signs promising unique souvenirs that will forever remind you of your amazing trip. 

Eagerly, you step into a shop, only to be greeted by a wall of generic t-shirts with flashy designs that could be mistaken for a pack of Skittles exploded. It's a carnival of cotton gone wrong.

So, instead of wasting your precious vacation funds on these overpriced and unimaginative shirts, explore the world of local boutiques and hidden gems. 

Seek out boutique stores run by local artisans, where you'll discover handcrafted jewelry, one-of-a-kind artwork, and unique souvenirs that will bring a smile to your face every time you see them.

2. The Museum of Oddly Dull Artifacts

Los Angeles Art Museums

Have you ever heard of an adventure into the depths of boredom? Step right up to witness a collection of artifacts so devoid of excitement that even watching paint dry seems like a thrilling activity in comparison. 

Dusty relics languish behind glass, lacking the spark and intrigue you'd hope to find in a museum. So nonetheless, it would be a real mess if you want to waste nothing but hard-earned bucks on such a trip to a museum.

Visit museums that showcase captivating history or contemporary art that pushes the boundaries of creativity. 

3. The Infamous Times Square Elbow Shuffle

Times Square
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Prepare yourself for the ultimate test of agility and patience as you venture into the heart of Times Square. 

The dazzling lights, towering billboards, and buzzing energy draw crowds like moths to a flame. However, amidst the chaos, you'll spend more time dodging selfie sticks and jostling through the crowds of people than actually enjoying the iconic sights.

Escape the madness and explore the lesser-known neighborhoods that hold the city's true soul. 

Take a detour into the vibrant streets of Brooklyn, explore the cultural enclaves of Harlem, or uncover hidden gems in the charming neighborhoods of Queens.

4. The Mega-Sized Fast Food Fiasco

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Ah, the lure of the big burger and jumbo-sized soda. These fast-food joints beckon to the hungry traveler, promising a filling meal that will satisfy your cravings.

But beware, these overhyped establishments often leave your taste buds longing for more flavor and significantly lighter wallet.

Instead, seek out local food trucks that offer mouthwatering dishes crafted with love and creativity. 

5. The Haunted House of Overpriced Thrills

Haunted House
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Haunted houses in America will drain your wallet faster than a vampire sucks blood, and that's no joke.

The promise of adrenaline-pumping scares often comes with an exorbitant price tag, leaving you feeling like a victim of financial trickery. 

Some of them are really worth the cost, but some of them are no less than a waste of money.

6. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California: 

HOLLYWOOD CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: The world famous landmark Hollywood Sign on September 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an iconic landmark where you can find the stars of your favorite celebrities embedded in the sidewalk. 

While it can be exciting to stroll along the boulevard, take caution as it's often crowded with tourists and bustling with street performers vying for attention. 

Additionally, numerous souvenir shops and street vendors selling overpriced memorabilia can be overwhelming.

7. Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota: 

Mall of America
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The Mall of America is one of the largest yet most expensive shopping complexes in the United States, boasting over 500 stores, numerous attractions, and even an indoor amusement park. 

While shopaholics may find paradise in its vast selection, it can be a tourist trap due to its overwhelming size and commercial atmosphere. 

Navigating the mall can be difficult, and the sheer number of visitors can lead to crowded walkways and long lines. Additionally, prices within the mall may be higher than in other shopping areas. 

While it's worth a visit for its unique concept, consider exploring local boutiques and neighborhoods for a more authentic shopping experience.

8. The Disappointing Wax Museum

wax museum
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A wax museum, where the wax replicas can be more nightmare-inducing than awe-inspiring. 

These eerily lifelike figures promise a glimpse of your favorite celebrities or historical figures, but instead, they often leave you questioning your life choices.

9. The Sky-High Observation Deck Disappointment

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Don't fall for the trap of shelling out big bucks for a bird's-eye view less impressive than a pigeon's perch. 

Yes, those observation decks perched atop towering buildings may offer panoramic vistas, but the hefty price tag often doesn't justify the underwhelming experience.

Instead, get through some alternative vantage points offering equally breathtaking views without breaking the bank. 

So what can you do instead? Discover rooftop bars or restaurants that provide a stunning backdrop while you indulge in delicious food and refreshing drinks. 

10. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii: 

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Waikiki Beach is undoubtedly one of the most famous beaches in the world, attracting tourists from around the globe with its glorious golden sand and clear waters. However, this popularity may make you pay through your nose. 

The beachfront is often crowded, and finding a relaxing spot can be challenging.

Furthermore, the area has high-end resorts, luxury shops, and tourist-oriented activities, resulting in higher prices for accommodations, dining, and entertainment. 

While Waikiki offers a vibrant atmosphere and stunning views, consider exploring other less crowded beaches on the Hawaiian Islands for a more serene and authentic beach experience.

11. Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario, Canada: 

Niagara Falls
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It's no secret that Niagara Falls is one of the world's most visited yet popular tourist attractions.

Unfortunately, due to the influx of visitors, the area around Niagara Falls has become increasingly commercialized and crowded. 

Souvenir stores, casinos, and other tourist trappings abound in the region around the falls. You can count on crowds, high pricing, and a never-ending stream of customers. 

12. Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California: 

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Fisherman's Wharf is a bustling waterfront neighborhood in San Francisco, drawing tourists with its picturesque views, fresh seafood, and popular attractions. 

Undoubtedly, it offers an opportunity to savor delicious clam chowder and Dungeness crab, be prepared for large crowds, and have a commercialized experience. And why do we call it a tourist trap?

You'll find crowd-filled shops, street performers, and restaurants with inflated prices catering to the tourist trade.

But, if you're willing to explore beyond the Wharf, you'll discover charming neighborhoods like North Beach and the historic Ferry Building, where you can get a more authentic taste of the city.

13. Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana: 

The French Quarter
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Bourbon Street is synonymous with the vibrant culture and lively spirit of New Orleans. Known for its wild Mardi Gras celebrations, live jazz music, and a wide array of bars and clubs, it's a destination that attracts locals and tourists alike. 

But again, it's essential to note that Bourbon Street can be overwhelming and may not completely represent the city's rich heritage. 

The street is often crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons, and it's known for its rowdy atmosphere and excessive drinking, so better not to visit it during day hours.

14. South of the Border, Dillon, South Carolina: 

South of the Border
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South of the Border is a quirky tourist attraction between South Carolina and North Carolina. 

Advertised with catchy billboards for hundreds of miles, it lures travelers with promises of kitschy entertainment, souvenir shops, and Mexican-inspired flair. Despite this, many people found it to fall short of their high expectations.

The attraction can feel outdated and lacking in substance, with overpriced trinkets and an atmosphere that some may consider tacky. 

But we must acknowledge that while it's certainly a unique pit stop, temper your anticipation and view it as a nostalgic relic rather than a must-see destination.

15. Las Vegas, Nevada, The Strip: 

Las vegas
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Strip in Las Vegas is a strip of entertainment venues, hotels, and casinos featured in countless films and TV series. 

Despite being a center of excitement and ostentatious luxury, it's a well-known tourist trap. 

During high-traffic times, the Strip can feel like a sea of people, making it difficult to move about. 

Food, drink, and lodging are also more expensive than in other parts of the city. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the nonstop bombardment of dazzling advertisements, street performers, and club marketers. 

Some Top Tourist Traps in America

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So finally, you now know 15 of the top tourist traps in America that can make you pickpocketed. It's time to plan your next trip by avoiding those pitfalls and strategizing it in the best way possible. 

Remember, genuine and authentic experiences await those who venture off the beaten path, so go forth and uncover the magnificent attractions that will leave you with priceless memories. 

Happy travels, and may your wallets stay full as you navigate the treacherous terrain of American tourism!

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