13 New England Tourist Traps to Steer Clear Of, And 3 You Must Visit

Gabrielle Reeder

Mystic Pizza

We’ve all seen depictions of landmarks like Harvard Square or learned the historical relevance behind the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts. Each tourist trap lures in naive visitors, promising to deliver a life-changing experience, when in reality, tourist traps overcharge and underserve. On the rare occasion, though, tourist traps are worth it. We’re discussing 13 New England tourist traps to skip and three to check out during your next excursion to the Northeast.

1. Salem Witch Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Salem Witch Museum
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The history behind the Salem Witch trials fascinates any person deep into supernatural lore. However, the Salem Witch Museum flounders. Visitors claim the museum romanticizes the deaths of innocent people for a quick cash grab, and the reviews suggest the small museum spreads false information. With mannequins, boring presentations, and an overstuffed parking lot, this is a tourist trap you should watch out for during a New England vacation.

2. Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts
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A rock with an emboldened 1620 entrances visitors from all over. Just kidding. Most people who visit the rock claim disappointment when witnessing the underwhelming size of the boulder. Sitting inside Pilgrim State Memorial Park, this mighty, not massive rock represents the arrival of those on the Mayflower in 1620. Although no historical evidence suggests the rock indicated the arrival of pilgrims, 121 years later, the rock became a significant stone.

3. Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, MA
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The grasshopper-topped Faneuil Hall marketplace is a collection of food vendors, street art performers, and stores open to the public, attracting swarms of tourists. Bostonians suggest skipping Faneuil Hall in favor of tastier, higher-quality local food. They suggest the market vendors at Faneuil Hall serve overpriced touristy dining options and souvenirs that locals avoid.

4. Union Oyster House, Boston, Massachusetts

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This renowned oyster house opened in the 1800s and is one of America’s oldest, longest-running restaurants. Due to that reputation, the oyster house captivates tons of visitors each year. Yet, locals state that local restaurants serve better-tasting seafood for half the price. According to locals, Union Oyster House is equivalent to eating at a bakery next to the Eiffel Tower and paying $10 for a croissant instead of stopping at a popular local spot for a $1 croissant.

5. Boston Tea Party Museum, Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Tea Party Museum
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The Boston Tea Party Museum claims to spotlight the accurate telling of the story behind the colossal event of the Boston Tea Party. Reviews profess the opposite. Most people say the museum is not a museum at all but an overpriced, rehashed, child-proofed version of the tea party. Allegedly, staff rushed guests through the viewing, hindering the enjoyment, and a movie concludes the underwhelming trip.

6. Harvard Square, Boston, Massachusetts

Harvard University, Massachusetts
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Harvard Square grants wishes of people searching for a walk around a bunch of businesses near Harvard. A few restaurants, a scattering of banks, and a bookstore make up the famous landmark. Nothing stands out about the block.

7. New England Aquarium, Boston, Massachusetts

New England Aquarium
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What makes a good aquarium? A variety of species, room to stare at marine life, multiple tanks, and tanks with life inside. Complaints about the New England Aquarium say the overcrowded cash grab provides minimal room for the amount of people let in at any given time. Plus, the staff doesn’t enforce the reserved time frames for tickets, turning the once pleasant display of marine life into a gladiator battle with a lofty game fee.

8. Cheers, Boston, Massachusetts

Cheers, Boston
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Fans of the television sitcom Cheers fly to Boston, peeking inside the inspiration for the sitcom at 84 Beacon Street. The outside of the Cheers Bar (and shots of the interior mixed with Hollywood sets) basked in its televised glory. Previous customers reported long wait times due to the location, overpriced, and subpar food. 

9. Holy Land, Waterbury, Connecticut

Holy Land, Waterbury, Connecticut
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This Connecticut theme park draws inspiration from religious passages. Holy Land USA falls into the theme park category but contains no rides. Instead, this religious-based area showcases a chapel, stations of the cross, and a representation of Jerusalem. Guests confessed the eeriness of the space, opting to visit other holy landmarks.

10. Conway Scenic Railroad, Conway, New Hampshire

Conway Scenic Railroad
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Though the Conway Scenic Railroad seems, as the name suggests, scenic, the overpriced tickets ward away visitors. Those who submit to the costly ticket grumble about the limited view of the railroad, one containing parking lots and grass, believing tourists see more in a rental car than on the expensive train. 

11. Mystic Pizza, Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic Pizza
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The pizza place that inspired the 1988 film Mystic Pizza, invites countless visitors over the years. Similar to the Cheers Bar, Mystic Pizza appeals to those obsessed with the film, although the actual establishment falls flat in terms of quality. 

12. Red’s Eats, Wiscasset, Maine

Cooked crabs on black plate served with white wine, black slate background, top view.
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According to their website, Red’s Eats serves up Maine’s #1 lobster roll. An overarching claim like that guarantees tourists to back up a line and wait for hours to try the awarded lobster. That’s part of why they chose to visit Maine, right? Mainers roll their eyes at people standing in line for this exorbitant lobster roll stuffed into a lousy hot dog bun. 

13. Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, Rhode Island

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Misquamicut State Beach asks cars for an entrance fee to what should be a free outing. On the beach strip, an aquarium, seaport museum, helicopter rides, and restaurants beg for more cash from visitors, which indicates a tourist trap. Misquamicut State Beach is a popular Rhode Island hotspot, making the beaches super congested and unenjoyable–and with an influx of people comes an influx of trash.

Where To Visit Instead

Acadia National Park
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There may be some tourist traps when visiting New England, but here are some of the spots you should see instead.

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park
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Questing for an outstanding exhibit of the Earth’s natural beauty? Head to Acadia National Park in Maine. Lush terrain sprawls over 47,000 acres of the habitat, causing any visitor to gape at the world’s endless charm. Fourteen ponds ripple beneath the scraggly rocks of the shore. Hikers are mesmerized by roaming moose, bears, and birds. And they keep an eye out for whales swimming through the water below.

2. White Mountains, New Hampshire

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire, USA
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Exercise caution in the White Mountains because they are characterized by rough and craggy terrain. The dazzling mountains are open year round, and entertain with hiking in the spring and summer months, foliage gazing in the fall, and unparalleled skiing and snowboarding come wintertime. Wintersport enthusiasts can pick between 12 ski resorts during those frigid winter days.

3. Newport Mansions, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island
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Something about the gargantuan land plots of mansions interests me greatly. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason I enjoy driving past these mammoth houses. Nonetheless, since Newport sells Mansion tours, I’m not alone in my experience. Indulge in a self-guided or tour-guided walkthrough of the mighty houses settled along Narragansett Bay.

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St. Simon's Island
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