But how do you pick out the must-visits from the must-avoids? Read on to discover the US tourist attractions that we think are worth checking out and the ones you shouldn’t bother with. We dish out the dirt on destinations such as Times Square, the Atlantic City Boardwalk, museums, parks, and much more. And what’s more? We’ll review every single one of them!
Alcatraz Island – San Francisco
Alcatraz Island is a short ride from the piers of San Francisco. The roughly $40pp price tag may seem steep, but it’s got some awesome views of San Francisco Bay, as well as natural tide pools on the island. Oh, and of course, the main reason — it’s a former federal prison!
Some great films have been filmed on this iconic island (most notably, “The Rock”) and you can join some really interesting tours of the prison to get the full lowdown on its history.
It might be one of the most famous prisons in the world. Enough said. A must-visit.
The Corn Palace – Mitchell, South Dakota
The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, sees somewhere around half a million visitors every year. It's a museum for corn, it has a huge facility for concerts, sports, exhibits, and more, and it's covered in murals made from corn and other grains.
But – and there are plenty of other sites in this article where the following can be said – there isn't really much to do there. If you aren't into corn, or you aren't there for an event the Palace is hosting, there’s no point in going. You might get some nice photos and memories out of it. Some people have even said you can make your way through it in little more than ten minutes.
Unless you’re a corn fanatic, we think South Dakota has better attractions to offer – a must-avoid.
The Breakers – Newport, Rhode Island
Next stop, we’re in Newport, Rhode Island — and basically, people are out here paying to check out the historical mansions of the very wealthy. The main sight there is what’s known as The Breakers, which is the largest of the “summer cottages.” It’s got not one, two, or three… but seventy rooms!
Apparently, it used to belong to the Vanderbilt family, but nowadays it’s a national landmark. So the question is, how many of those 70 rooms can you get through before you are bored to death?
Let’s face it - houses don’t need that many rooms. This is definitely a must-avoid.
Santa Claus House – North Pole, Alaska
Did you know there is a real Santa Claus House at the real-life North Pole? It's been there since 1952 and has plenty to gawk at: a fifty-foot Santa Claus statue, real reindeer, photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a gift shop – but of course – with a huge selection to choose from.
They also have an online site, where you can get personal letters from Santa. If you are a year-round Christmas fan, making the trek to the North Pole is definitely worth visiting this gift shop, even if Santa usually shows up at your local mall.
If you love Christmas, you need to visit Santa’s home at least once in your life – a must-visit.
Beale Street – Memphis, Tennessee
One of the most significant pieces of American music history is still a very enjoyable experience for the entire family. Early blues players got their first starts on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, thanks to all the clubs and restaurants, but the place also has plenty of festivals and outdoor concerts.
It might seem a bit much, but Beale Street is still laden with history and essential sites, as well as a rich culinary scene (including its iconic Tennessee barbecue, which is most certainly worth it). Locals will also suggest the Memphis adventure at Overton Square or Cooper-Young.
Blues lovers need to check out Beale Street at some stage of their lives – a must-visit.
The Enchanted Highway – North Dakota
The Enchanted Highway, in North Dakota, is thirty-two miles of road lined with giant scrap metal structures. There are towering birds, immense grasshoppers, entire schools of fish, humans that stretch toward the sky, and even a giant metal eye. One question remains, though: Is this a legitimate tourist attraction?
If you're driving through North Dakota, your passengers might appreciate something new to look at – because Lord knows North Dakota isn't the most exciting state. One thing’s for sure though – your kids will get an absolute kick out of this charming attraction.
Charming structures to drive past – what’s not to love? A must-visit.
National Mustard Museum – Middleton, Wisconsin
Mustard lovers, rejoice! There is a place for you and you didn’t even know it. Sitting in Middleton, Wisconsin is a museum full of the condiment. Boasting over 5,000 mustards from over 70 countries, you’ll find all the mustard you could ever dream of!
The museum even hosts competitions throughout the year. This may be a tourist trap for some but if it’s free to walk in, you may only be wasting a little time. Then again, some people absolutely hate mustard. So yeah, this place isn’t for everyone, by any means.
Mustard isn’t for everyone, and so is this attraction. A must-avoid.
Moqui Cave – Utah
Truth be told, the Moqui Cave in Utah has a couple of branding issues. First off, this isn't technically a cave – a cave is a natural opening, while this is an underground network created by erosion. That might seem like splitting hairs, but the geological community is very particular about these things.
This attraction is touted as an ancient landmark. However, while the “cave” may be old, it's a pretty recent attraction. You can get a souvenir at the gift shop, and we’d say it’s worth coming if you're interested in snapping a pic for your Instagram.
Not a cave in the traditional sense of the word, but still a cool site – a must-visit.
Times Square – New York City
To a lot of people, New York equals Times Square. It's right in the middle of Manhattan and is lined with all kinds of stores and restaurants, features outrageous characters and people dressed in costumes, and huge advertisements that glow twenty-four hours a day.
Truth be told, there are so. Many. People. It's overwhelming, and not just because of the other tourists – you'll have no peace thanks to entrepreneurs, flyer-handers, and even buskers. Even though the stores and restaurants have jacked up prices, there is just something about the Times Square energy that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
There is no place quite like Times Square in the world – it’s a must-visit.
A Christmas Story House – Idaho
The house featured in the famous holiday movie "A Christmas Story" has plenty of good memories attached – from a leg lamp to tongues frozen to metal poles. However, it all makes it into a tourist attraction that seems like overkill. It's your regular old restored Victorian style in Ohio, but other than that, there's little to see.
There are plenty of other tourist attractions to pick from, even in a relatively low-key place like Ohio, ones you won't even have to wait in line or pay for to see what is essentially just a house. There are a lot of those. They're everywhere. If you look out your window, you'll probably see, like, a hundred of them.
For a house called “A Christmas Story House,” it doesn’t look that Christmasy, from the outside at least – a must-avoid.
Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum – Texas
When you were reading the title of this one, we know you were curious to see these loo lids. When in Texas, you can expect some weird and wonderful things — so when you’re in San Antonio next, you may want to pay this place a visit.
Retired plumber Barney Smith has seen some toilets in his day and has collected quite a few toilet seats which he later repurposed and turned into works of art! But who is going to travel all the way to Texas just to see a house full of lids?
Let’s be honest, one toilet seat is enough – the one in your home. A must-avoid.
Largest Chest of Drawers – North Carolina
If you are visiting North Carolina, you may have heard about High Point’s largest chest of drawers. An interesting thing to be made giant-size, and from its proportions, it should probably be in Texas, right? Well, it turns out it's not there.
Anyway, it’s 32 feet high and not a bad photo op, particularly if you want a cool pic for social media! North Carolina is full of weird, peculiar tourist attractions to check out, but this is right up there with the very weirdest of them all.
It's always worth checking out a record-breaking attraction. This must-visit is a fine example.
50,000 Silver Dollar Bar – Montana
What does the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Montana have to draw visitors and tourists? Fifty thousand silver dollars on the walls. It's not only a bar but a huge gift shop as well – mostly gift shop, even. It also has one of the largest coin collections in the United States.
It's also an inn that boasts plenty of RV parking, there are corrals for horses, and it even has a casino. It's not all that exciting unless you're stopping by for a meal, and you may end up adding your own money to the wall.
To be honest, we much prefer just seeing $50,000 in our bank account – a must-avoid.
Salt and Pepper Museum – Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Some people collect coins, others collect cars, jewelry, baseball cards even — but this archaeologist from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, fell in love with salt and pepper shakers. In twenty-five years, the collector has amassed over 20,000 sets of the shakers in weird and wonderful shapes.
These include little shoes, chess pieces, cake stands, cars… Gosh, you name it and it’s probably there! A quirky, fun little tourist attraction — if you want to shake things up, check this place out. If you want some good luck, come here and shake some of them over your shoulder. Otherwise, stay clear.
Buying some new shakers for your home is enough. Don’t go here. It’s a must-avoid.
The Big Texan – Amarillo, Texas
The Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo, Texas is sure to grab your attention. It's covered in Texan fineries, like flags, steers, bright colors, and advertisements. Taxidermy covers the walls, and the Wild West is alive and well both in the restaurant and the gift shop.
Truth be told, the prices are high, the crowds are dense, and the food is OK. Their famous steaks have been described as “tough and dry.” With all of that said, there is something quintessentially Texan about this place and if you’re going to step foot in any attraction in this state, then you can go far worse than this one.
It doesn’t get more Texan than this one. A definite must-visit.
Wall Drug Store – South Dakota
What was Wall Drug's famous first draw to get people in the doors? Ice water. Back in 1931. If you're anywhere near this South Dakota attraction, you're going to see all kinds of marketing signs begging you to visit. So what is it? It's a mall.
Yep, it's a mall. It started out as a single drugstore but now boasts plenty of different places to shop. It takes in ten million dollars a year, just thanks to sales – there are a couple of other attractions such as the snake pit (yep) and giant roadside sculptures (must be a Dakota thing based on another entry in this article) that are free for all.
This tourist attraction is just a plain old mall – a must-avoid.
The Paper House – Massachusetts
In the 1920s, there was a man with a mission. That mission, you ask? To build a house entirely of newspaper. Located in Massachusetts, Mr. Stenman, a mechanical engineer, built his summer home from paper! We’re actually kind of curious about how this works — and, well, how it fares in the rain.
He even went through the trouble of building a paper piano! For some people, reading the news is a huge part of home life. But a home made out of the news? Now that’s crazy. We think this is a worthwhile paper trail to follow and might be worth a visit. But it’s not a must.
A bit of a gimmick in all honesty. A must-avoid if you don’t have the time.
Fenway Park – Boston
If you’re on the East Coast, and you’ve got Boston on the list, we recommend you visit the famed ballpark. This baseball stadium is one of the most iconic sports venues in the world. It’s had its doors open since 1912, and the “Green Monster” will definitely make you feel like you’re in the USA.
Especially when fans start singing “Sweet Caroline” before the end of the eighth. Even if you’re not a baseball lover, just go for a couple of innings! And who knows, maybe you’ll end up on the kiss cam with your partner.
Whether you love baseball or not, Fenway Park is a beautiful stadium to experience. A must-visit.
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market – Boston
To people who live in the area, it’s a place to avoid, but this market is a staple of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, and a really popular tourist attraction, nonetheless. Functioning well as a tourist hub, it's the perfect place to grab food or shop at one of the many surrounding stores.
By now it's little more than fast food and overpriced knick-knacks, with chain stores that many malls boast. Although it can get terribly overcrowded and has lines that go from annoying to frustrating pretty quickly, we think it’s worth the patience as the fish is absolutely to die for.
This really just depends on if you like fish or not – but it’s an amazing market – so a must-visit.
NCAA Hall of Champions - Indiana
You'd have to be a pretty big fan of college sports to get anything out of Indiana's NCAA Hall of Champions. While the building itself looks interesting enough, plenty of extra needs to be added to make it a spot worth visiting. There's little in the way of memorabilia, events, guest appearances, or much of anything.
The NCAA makes bank, which makes this boring attraction even more surprising. Hopefully, they have some plans for this Hall of Boredom, since underwhelming might be the kindest way to describe it.
It’s a pretty building, but even Athletics fans might get bored of this one – a must-avoid.
The Alamo – Texas
You know that old saying, “Remember the Alamo?” well you can only do that if you visit the place to begin with. The Alamo is where Texas fought for independence from Mexico, and despite losing the battle, it won the war. San Antonio, Texas has enjoyed a steady tourist trade because of this famous Mission, and it is definitely nice to see it in person if you are in this part of town.
It's a handsome stone building in the middle of a park, and you can do interesting, educational tours too. And it isn't too far from the San Antonio River Walk, which espouses the natural beauty of Texas with ease.
It’s a great place to get a taste of the history of the Wild West – a must-visit in our books.
The Congressional Bunker – West Virginia
The Congressional Bunker was supposed to be a place for Congress to hide out during national emergencies (the code name was “Project Greek Island”), but word got out before too long, which sort of defeats the purpose. It's been turned into a luxury resort. You can not only stay there, but you can also take a tour.
Despite a beautiful exterior, it's still a bunker. For a tour price of thirty-four dollars, you'll get to visit cinder block walls, wooden bunk beds, and canned foods. Look at pictures online instead of wasting your time and money here.
It’s a stunning building on the outside. But inside? Don’t bother – a must-avoid.
Portland Japanese Garden – Oregon
So these actually look gorgeous. And the photos don’t even do them justice. And besides, if you’re in Oregon already, we know that you’re there for nature! Anyway, this popular tourist spot has been called a trap before.
But you know, if you’re into Japanese gardens and are looking for a bit of zen, well then this may just be the perfect place for you. If you’re not into watching koi swim under wooden bridges, maybe the Umami Cafe can offer you something.
When in Oregon, do as the Oregon people do. Be one with nature, the Japanese way. An absolute must-visit.
Epcot – Florida
Orlando is a theme park lover's paradise, and Walt Disney World has some of the best and biggest. Epcot is just as essential to check out as anything else in this part of the world. It has two sections – Future World and World Showcase – which showcase different countries, including food and drink.
There aren't that many rides, but visitors are often wowed by the wide range of countries on display. Worst case scenario, there is a wide range of options for the entire family in the vicinity, including the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, or Disney's Animal Kingdom.
It’s a pleasant alternative to the over-the-top Disney attractions – a must-visit.
Diamonds State Park – Arkansas
Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas sounds like a treasure hunter's dream come true. If you do dream of sparkly items, or maybe you're a budding archaeologist, it might seem like fun, but the park has been open for more than a hundred years – if there were ever diamonds here, they're certainly almost all gone by now.
Now it's little more than a large empty field full of people. There's plenty of dirt, lots of trees, and even some old cabins, but unless you like unearthing lots of, well, earth, you might be better off trying your luck elsewhere.
Why go to Diamonds State Park if there aren’t even diamonds to discover? A definite must-avoid.
Cross Island Chapel – Oneida, New York
Picture the teensiest, tiniest chapel in the world. Okay, got it? Open your eyes — it probably looked something like Cross Island Chapel, right? Located in Oneida, New York, the 30-square-foot chapel only has the space for the essentials — two lovebirds and an officiator.
Couples are always looking for new, innovative places to go for a romantic getaway and you can do a lot worse than Cross Island Chapel. If you wanted a place to elope that wasn’t Vegas, this is it! Definitely not a tourist trap.
A perfect, tiny location to elope and tie the knot in secret. A must-visit (for lovebirds, at least).
Graceland – Tennessee
If you are a fan of the King of Rock and Roll, then Graceland sounds like a dream to visit. And while there might be a sky-high entry price, this makes sense when you consider you get to tour Elvis Presley's famous mansion in Tennessee. So it’s safe to say this kind of attraction is definitely worth the price of admission.
The grounds are well-kept and the mansion itself is beautiful, and we would go as far as to say that casual fans of Elvis and diehard lovers of his entire discography will get a kick out of this rock haven.
We think it’s definitely worth paying a little extra for a slice of rock n’ roll history – a must-visit.
Cloud Gate – Chicago
The shiny, metallic Chicago Bean – its actual name is “Cloud Gate” – was made by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor, and the sculpture now resides as the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park in Chicago. It's free to visit, and certainly an attractive item.
This iconic structure has shown up in so many movies over the years. So you most likely recognize it. You can take a selfie with your warped reflection in the background – it will go great on your dating profile. Moreover, Cloud Gate is at the heart of one of the most vibrant areas in all of Chi-town.
An iconic spot to take a selfie in the heart of Chicago. A must-visit.
Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska
Stonehenge is one of the most famous places in the world, but if you don't have the time to travel all the way across the pond you can visit Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. A replica of Stonehenge, Carhenge is made of vintage cars, spray-painted gray. It was designed by Jim Reinders in memory of his father.
Love of a son aside, there's really not much to see here. It's your typical road-trip attraction, great for pulling over and stretching your legs, and maybe getting a photo, but nothing more aside from the gift shop. Then again, it might be one of the most exciting things Nebraska has to offer.
It’s pretty much a mockery of the legitimate tourist attraction that is Stonehenge – a must-avoid.
The Mall of America – Minnesota
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota has been the United States' biggest indoor mall since it opened in 1992. It has over five hundred stores, an immense indoor theme park, an aquarium, play places, food courts, and even a movie theater. There's a lot that might attract a person, but plenty to overload, as well.
Its immense size allows a huge amount of people, many of them tourists. The theme park is loud, there are daily events, and all the other sensory information can sometimes make one dizzy (but if you do go, check out the Lego store. It's incredible).
Listen, it’s just a mall, just a really big one. Don’t get too excited – a must-avoid.
The Mysterious Viking Tower – Rhode Island
In Newport, Rhode Island, there stands an old structure – a tower, made from stones in a style you might expect to see in the middle of the United Kingdom. It is called the Mysterious Viking Tower, and as the name suggests, a lot about the attraction is shrouded in mystery. This is mainly because there is not much definitive information about it.
For example, no one knows who built this structure, and the prevailing theory is Viking visitors erected it long before settlers began populating the New England area – in which case it would be the oldest structure in the whole of the US. Despite the fact that its origins are unclear, it is a beautiful structure to lay one’s eyes on.
If you’re not worried about the fine details and just want to check out a cool-looking, ancient building, then this is a must-visit.
Mystery Spot – Santa Cruz, California
If you're driving through California you might start seeing billboard after billboard for something called “Mystery Spot.” This spot does have plenty of attractions: a zipline, a huge maze, and even some mini-golf, but in the back of your head you'll always be thinking “What's the mystery?”
The “Mystery” is a bunch of little more than visual tricks, designed to make people think gravity isn't working correctly. Kids might find it interesting, but if you've had a few decades on Earth, it won't exactly leave you mystified.
There is fun to be had here, but the mystery is non-existent – a must-avoid.
The Rock of Ages – Vermont
The Rock of Ages is quite an evocative name, so when you travel to Vermont to take a look, there's a pretty big chance you're going to feel the grandeur of the attraction. It definitely lives up to its name, that’s for sure.
The natural, bright blue pools do give you something interesting to take some pretty stunning pictures of. We should warn you though that the quarry is pretty dangerous to explore. It's pretty to look at, but just make sure to show up with a qualified tour guide and the right equipment to stay safe.
One of the more dangerous attractions on this list, but worth being well prepared for – a must-visit.
Waikiki Beach – Hawaii
You might not notice it, but Hawaii is a place for lots of tourists. There's lots of amazing stuff to do, but Waikiki Beach – possibly one of the most famous stretches of sandy beach and beautiful water the island chain possesses, might be the best place of them all.
It's brimming with luxury hotels, fancy shops, and fine dining restaurants, which definitely add to the experience of enjoying a truly stunning beach. Visitors are recommended to also visit the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Lanai Lookout in Oahu, or Pipiwai Trail in Maui.
It might be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – we think it’s a must-visit.
The Space Needle - Seattle
The Space Needle is one of Seattle's – and Washington state's – most famous attractions. Not to mention the fact it shows up in every episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Mental images have it stretching up toward the stars as you dine in the famous SkyCity restaurant as it spins atop the Needle.
In actuality, the Needle is only six hundred feet high. While the restaurant is expensive to book, its food is absolutely to die for, with a killer view to boot. If you have the time and money, it is definitely worth the trip.
An iconic building that is definitely worth the spin at the top. A must-visit.
Vulcan Statue – Birmingham, Alabama
In case your ancient history is a bit rusty, let's refresh your memory: Vulcan was the famous architect of the gods in Greek mythology, and he is relocated from Mount Olympus to make a new home in Birmingham, Alabama. It's a testament to the city's metalworking and construction history.
The statue is the world's largest iron-ore statue, standing fifty-six feet tall and weighing in at over eleven thousand pounds, more than ten and a half tons. It's in the middle of a nice park in this bustling city. We think it’s definitely worth checking out.
An iconic statue of Birmingham, Alabama. A must-visit if you’re in town.
Cannon Mountain – New Hampshire
This rock formation kinda looks like a dude, doesn't it? It's a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and from the right spot, it appeared to be the jagged profile of an old man, hence the name Old Man of the Mountain.
Unless you're looking at it from the right angle, it wouldn’t be so obvious. Sadly, in 2003, the ridges collapsed. However, the landscape is still beautiful to look at and is still worth a visit.
Despite the changes it faced, Cannon Mountain is still one of New Hampshire’s treasures. A must-visit.
Museum of Funeral History – Houston, Texas
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Houston, Texas. In Texas, the weird gets even weirder — and this tourist uh…attraction may just be a tourist trap. It all depends on the customer, right? Anywho, the curators here delve into the macabre.
They have collected rare coffins, memorabilia, and even John Paul II’s Popemobile (the bulletproof one, which you may need in Texas). Truth be told, most people don’t like being reminded of their own mortality. So we can understand why this attraction isn’t particularly popular.
Death doesn’t need to be all around you. Go somewhere more lively than this must-avoid. Basically anywhere.
Roswell – New Mexico
If you're anywhere near Roswell, New Mexico, you're sure to know all about it quickly. Thanks to a 1947 weather balloon crash, theories of alien UFOs, abductions, experiments, and much more are still leaping across the world. Now the town is little more than a huge tourist attraction and alien enthusiast sanctuary.
Everything is alien or space-themed, and everyone who spends any amount of time there is sure to be crazy for the grays and greens of classic science-fiction stories. If you're just passing through, be sure to do it quickly.
Aliens aren’t for everyone – but generally speaking, we think that this is a must-avoid.
Leila’s Hair Museum – Missouri
Love hair? Well, then you’ll love Leila! And… her collection of hair wreaths and jewelry. There are even a few hairpieces in there that were worn by distinguished Victorian-era women, and some of the wigs have locks of hair from celebrities! Which ones, you ask? The likes of Marilyn Monroe!
We think it’s safe to say that this attraction is one of an acquired taste. If you think this sounds like more of a tourist attraction to you, it’s located in Independence, Missouri! Otherwise, stay well clear. It’s not essential for everyone.
This attraction is for a very specific audience. A must-avoid for most.
The World of Coca-Cola – Georgia
The world-famous cola originated in Georgia, and while Coca-Cola has gone through hundreds of changes and spread all over the globe, there's no place for the Coke fan like the World of Coca-Cola in Georgia. It's bursting at the seams with memorabilia.
While some might say it's little more than a prolonged commercial (which has an admission fee) the vast array of memorabilia and mementos will have you foaming at the nostalgic mouth. There is also a tasting room, which is one of the big draws that crowds are sure to fill. And the gift shop has so many cool souvenirs to end the visit in style.
It's always the real thing in the World of Coca-Cola – it’s definitely a must-visit.
J. M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum - Oklahoma
The J. M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum is just that – no advertising tricks here. It's a huge gun museum that includes over fifty thousand artifacts. It also has plenty of historical facts and information. Mostly about or involving guns.
Mr. Davis really liked guns. If you're an aficionado, you might be able to get some kick out of all the items to look at, one of which dates back to the fourteenth century. But if you're firearm-averse, there are plenty of other things to do in Oklahoma. Yeah, we were kind of surprised too.
The entire country is full of museums dedicated to firearms and military history – this is just one of many – a must-avoid.
The Hollywood Sign – Los Angeles
There's lots of famous stuff in Tinseltown, from legendary movie lots to theme parks and the chance to spot an A-lister just walking down the street. The Hollywood sign may be iconic, but it's illegal to get too close – it's actually privately owned by a non-profit.
You can hike up to it, and take some pictures, and that is certainly a worthwhile hike. It's an interesting view to see from afar, and then you can spend the rest of your time in the world-famous Hollywood attractions like museums, restaurants, and shopping centers.
It’s a sign that we’ve seen a million times before in movies and on postcards – why not see it in person too? A must-visit.
The Biggest Ball of Twine – Kansas
If you really, really, really, really, really like twine, we have the destination for you. Cawker City, Kansas has the WORLD'S BIGGEST BALL OF TWINE! And yeah, it is pretty big, and it's been around for a while – since the 1950s – and even got its start as a community project, with citizens adding more and more.
It's practically a poster child for silly tourist attractions to stop at if you're driving cross-country. Like a lot of the places on this list, it's a nice place to stretch your legs and snap a pic. But unlike other pointless attractions, we think this one stands out because of how ridiculous it is.
It’s so ridiculous, but that’s part of its charm and what makes it a must-visit.
Ark Encounter and Creation Museum – Kentucky
Noah's Ark may have preserved animal life, and the Kentucky Ark Encounter and Creation Museum is certainly preserving the memory of this biblical tale. The structure itself is imposing – built like the ark itself, running 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet tall.
Naturally, this ark contains a “zoo” that takes a few hours to walk through and thankfully, the animals are fakes. They're statues and facsimiles. So if you don’t support the idea of zoos, this might be a better ethical choice, while you’re also able to reenact the events of the story of Noah.
A must-visit for people interested in the story of Noah and the vessel he built.
Elvis’s Birth Home – Tupelo, Mississippi
You've heard about the famous mansion, Graceland, but now marvel at the humble home of one Elvis Aaron Presley, in Tupelo, Mississippi. Visit and you'll be treated to a museum site that features wonders: a two-room cottage – built by the King's father – where Elvis was born in 1935, a chapel, and an Assembly of God Church where Elvis and his family worshiped.
Elvis wasn't even all that old before the family had to move out. Nothing wrong with being a big Elvis fan and making a stop. If you are able to do both this attraction and Graceland on the same trip, then it might just be one of the best of all time.
If you love Elvis, you need to go to the place where it all began – a must-visit.
The Magnificent Mile – Chicago, Illinois
The Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the largest shopping centers in the United States and the world. It has endless mid and high-end shops, but there are also famous restaurants, massive museums, and five-star hotels. It's currently the eighth-most expensive place to rent in the US.
The place is an expensive version of almost any shopping center. Make a stop to see the sights, then move on to places like Millennium Park, Willis Tower, or any of the other numerous places in the Windy City that offer a wonderful view.
At the very most, it’s a place to pass through very quickly – a must-avoid overall though.
The Frontier Prison – Wyoming
Wyoming is the least-populated state in America, but even they have some things to see. The Frontier Prison sits on the National Register of Historic Places, and was in use for eighty years, from 1901 to 1981. If you visit, they even let you take a seat in the gas chamber.
If you're a fan of the macabre, this dark, gloomy structure might be right up your alley. It even has an interactive tour. How interactive, you ask? Our reporter hasn't come back yet. Even if you do visit, maybe the kids should stay at home.
A pretty dark, depressing attraction that isn’t even kid-friendly. A must-avoid.
The Gum Wall – Seattle, Washington
Say you're walking around Seattle. It has plenty of amazing attractions, like the famous Space Needle, the Fremont Troll, and lots more. It also has a wall covered in chewed gum. If you're worried about catching something – anything, really – then you might want to stay away from the theater under Pike Place Market which has a wall coated in gum.
This gross tradition began in 1993 when theatergoers stuck coins to the wall. It's a colorful sight, but it was also voted one of the top five germiest tourist attractions, and you can't really do much more than take a picture. But it’s a good picture!
It's absolutely disgusting, but it’s definitely worth taking a selfie in front of the 'gram – a must-visit!
Four Corners Monument
We've all wanted to be in four states at once. It's on our bucket list, that's for sure. Luckily, the Four Corners Monument, stationed right at the meeting of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, means it can really be done. It's the only place in the United States where four pieces of the union get to meet.
Some might be bothered by the fact that there's literally nothing else to see there. But you know what, the idea of standing in four states at the same time is just too awesome not to do. Also, the monument showed up in “Breaking Bad.”
Four states with just two feet? That is definitely going to be Kodak moment – a must-visit.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum – Baltimore
Plenty of states have one of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museums. They can certainly be interesting, with lots of fun facts and knowledge to absorb. However, the museum in Baltimore might be one to skip. Not because it's bad, but because there's so much more to do in Baltimore.
Baltimore brims with astonishing attractions, like helicopter tours, fabulous restaurants, places of historical importance, and plenty of other museums that have lots more to offer. It overflows with art and culture, and sure, maybe you want to go see the Ripley Museum... It just shouldn't be at the top of your list.
What’s the point if there are basically the same museums in other states? This one’s a must-avoid.
The Liberty Bell – Philadelphia
It's an enduring symbol that almost every American has heard about. The Liberty Bell was famously rung after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but the bell has been around since 1752 and has a large crack down the middle, which developed during the 19th century.
You can visit it in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While colonial fans and history buffs might enjoy their time, it's impossible to get too close to the bell, and others may find the long lines just to take a picture of a piece of metal less enjoyable. But hey, if Barney Stinson got to lick to the Liberty Bell, then why can’t we?
Yes, it is just a bell – but it might be the most iconic bell of all time – a must-visit.
Venetian Gondolas – Las Vegas
Las Vegas is basically one large tourist trap, but one piece sticks out as a specifically bad choice to make for the visitor. The Venetian gondolas are based on the famous and romantic gondolas from Venice, featuring costumed paddlers taking people to and from.
Previous visitors describe it as floating through dyed water for up to fifteen minutes, and there's little to look at besides other gondolas and surrounding buildings. And the price is steep – the cost of a private ride for two reaches above a hundred dollars.
Save yourself the time, stick to the casinos, and just go to Venice for the real thing – a must-avoid, for sure.
Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite – Iowa
Colorado's biggest funeral was for one Buffalo Bill, who is sometimes called the original superstar. During the period of the Old West, he dazzled audiences with riding tricks, expert scouting, and performance tours. Truth be told, his gravesite is a bit underwhelming.
There's a headstone, a flag, and a plot surrounded by a large fence, so if you're a grave fan, go nuts. We think that separately, they’re a little underwhelming. But together, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite is a really great combo attraction, since it features photos, artifacts, and plenty of historical information on this Old West hero and celebrity.
A great combo attraction – thank God they’re close to each other! A must-visit.
The Farnham Colossi – Unger, West Virginia
Want to feel small? Like, really small? Have young kids? Then this place will probably still not be worth a penny to keep them entertained! It’s called Farnham Colossi (Land of Giants) and it is in Unger, West Virginia.
The property has a ton of oversized statues and even a giant Santa Claus! Santa…is…real, okay kids?! With that said, it is a very weird-looking attraction and might even give your kids nightmares. So is it really worth the risk? Just take them to Disney World and be done with it.
A surefire way to give your kids nightmares. A must-avoid.
The Rink at Rockefeller Center – New York
Okay, before you berate us for choosing this tourist haven and start defending it — we’re actually here to say that it’s kind of worth your money. Not to mention the fact that The Rink at the Rockefeller Center has been the backdrop for a plethora of iconic movie scenes.
Sure, some of the tourist “attractions” on this list are wastes of time and money, but we actually recommend you spend on this one. It’s the epitome of Christmas with the ice skaters at the rink and that big Christmas tree in the background, right?
The perfect location to skate, go on a first date, or propose to your loved one during Christmas time. A must-visit.
The Mars Cheese Castle – Wisconsin
Wisconsin's reputation for cheese is well-earned, and there are plenty of cheese shops and stores to pick up some of the best in the world while watching this dairy treat being made by master cheesemakers.
The Mars Cheese Castle, on the other hand, isn't much more than a place for vacationers to stop, nestled right next to the freeway. You can get cheese, yes, but you're in Wisconsin – you can hardly throw a stone without hitting a cheese store or one of the many cows. Give it a pass.
You can get cheese basically everywhere else in Wisconsin – so don’t limit yourself to this place – a must-avoid.
Maid of the Mist – Niagara Falls
Pretty sure this was the boat that Pam and Jim got married on when they took their troupe up to Niagara Falls in "The Office," right? Niagara Falls is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world, never mind the United States of America.
Who wouldn’t want to hear what 600,000 gallons of water sounds like? The crashing, the deafening noise, and the mist. Maid of the Mist is the boat that tourists can embark on to do some essential sightseeing of the enchanting Niagara Falls. Totally worth it!
If you like waterfalls, boat tours, and all things nature, then this is definitely a must-visit.
Craters of the Moon – Idaho
It’s safe to say that Craters of the Moon in Idaho is pretty much out of this world (pun intended). With a science-fiction name, this tourist attraction has pretty a stunning landscape of volcanic rock. If you are planning a trip for yourself or the space fanatic of your family, this is definitely a must for all considered relevant.
You are bound to get many minutes of enjoyment out of a trip to this national park. It is an absolute essential for all those who are natural geologists at heart or consider themselves big fans of volcanic rock.
If you want to feel like you’ve gone to space for an hour or two, this is definitely a must-visit.
Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk – Delaware
The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk in Rehoboth, Delaware isn't exactly overrated, but it's certainly overcrowded. It has little to distinguish itself from any other boardwalk, with plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops – the shops have received plenty of their own negative reviews.
Parking spots are practically non-existent, and taking a picture that's worth anything – and isn't packed full of photo bombers or garbage – is rare. It's worth a one-time visit and might make for a nice walk, but don't expect an exciting day. It might not be the worst place to visit on this list, but it's still not worth it.
Let’s face it – Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk is a pretty tacky waste of time – a must-avoid.
The Undersea Gardens – Oregon
The Undersea Gardens in Oregon sounds like the kind of place that might be fun, but don't be fooled. This was nothing more than a master tourist trap for people who didn't know any better. Here was the scam: you’d shell out some money, go underwater in the Garden structure, and through windows, watch swimmers swim around.
It's dirty water, the undersea wildlife wasn't all that exciting to look at, and it's Oregon – it's not like there were reefs or anything like that. This attraction closed for good in 2019, which means even if that sparkling explanation got you hyped, you're out of luck.
Even if you want to visit the location it once stood on, it’s thankfully no longer open for visits – therefore, a must-avoid, for sure!
The Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum – Missouri
The Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum in Missouri is a huge mound of rocks, covering up TNT, asbestos, mercury, radium, and radioactive uranium. It used to be one of the country's largest explosives factories, and later it turned into a uranium ore processing plant.
It shut down in 1966, and after two decades the US Department of Energy covered it with rocks and added a museum. You can take a walk and learn some history, but other than that you'll probably find yourself wondering why you bothered to visit.
Any site that is basically just a hill full of rocks should not even be considered – a must-avoid.
The Desert of Maine
You're sure to know what a desert is – rolling waves of sand, harsh winds, a burning sun. That's true for the most part, but The Desert of Maine is a little different, truth be told. It has sand, yes, but it's also surrounded by pine trees.
And instead of real camels, it has plastic ones. But it is a beautiful attraction. It's meant to attract attention (“What? There's a desert in Maine?”) and sell kitschy souvenirs. If you want to have a pleasant, scenic walk through a spacious landscape laden with colorful structures, then the Desert of Maine is the place to go.
A beautiful spacious area perfect for pensive walks both alone and with loved ones – a must-visit.
Luray Caverns – Virginia
This is a site that has been coined one of America’s first tourist traps — it was actually called a “show cave” back in the late 1800s! But don’t let the label fool you. This is a stunning location to check out if you find yourself in the state of Virginia.
They are the largest caverns on the East side of the US, in Luray, Virginia, so you know, if you’re into well…caves…and stuff…it’s worth it! We’ll let you decide on this one.
A must-visit for cave lovers, people who can’t help but marvel at rock formations and all things geological.
The Blowing Rock – North Carolina
Located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, “The Blowing Rock” is a lovely rock formation looking over a stunning vista. What could be wrong with it? Well, as long as you are careful, as the cliff edges can be quite dangerous – the incredible views are definitely worth the $10 entry.
It's certainly a beautiful view and will no doubt spruce up your Instagram account. There are also other stunning parks in the vicinity to take similar views from, so we think it’s a day well spent in this part of the world.
An ideal destination for some of the best views in North Carolina – a must-visit.
House on the Rock – Wisconsin
A roadside attraction that, according to some people is “worth planning a trip around.” Honestly, it depends on what your thing is — and hey, if you are in Wisconsin, and you want to see massive replicas of music machines and sea Krakens, then you’re in for a treat!
But clearly, this attraction is for a very specific audience. Opened in the late 1950s, there’s a carousel room with almost 200 chandeliers — but it’s safe to say that this is very much a tourist trap.
This is hardly a tourist attraction. More like a weird house in the middle of nowhere. A must-avoid.
Clark’s Trading Post – New Hampshire
This tourist attraction in New Hampshire is a little bit unique – tourists find it lackluster, but locals enjoy Clark's Trading Post, mostly for nostalgic purposes. They've been living with (and near) this attraction all their lives, so visiting is just part of living their life. The trading post includes a steam train, bumper boats, Segways, and even trained bears.
The problem is that trained animals don't have the draw they once did, and the other attractions are just modes of transportation. Tourists might want to stay away (unless you really love Segways) and leave this spot for the locals.
We’re really struggling to find any reason why we’d want to visit this one – a must-avoid.
Foamhenge – Centreville, Virginia
Virginia has its own fake Stonehenge, and this one is much easier to transport. “Foamhenge,” built by artist Mark Cline, opened on April Fool's Day in 2004. It's a full-scale recreation, and while the story goes that ancient British druids hauled the huge stones across hundreds of miles, Cline probably didn't even need help to carry all of these fake rocks.
The attraction was dismantled in 2016, only to move to its current location in Centreville, Virginia. If you feel the need to stop here, jump out, take a pic, and then keep driving. There's literally nothing else.
It's just a rip-off of the original from England. Just check that one out instead – a must-avoid.
Shell Service Station – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Cars have been on the road for more than a hundred years, and gas company Shell has been around for almost as long. The Shell Service Station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was made to get people talking, and the bright yellow and red shell-shaped service station is the only remaining one – it's part of the National Register of Historic Places.
You can't gas up here though, and it may be worth a few minutes to stop, but there isn't anything else to do there. It's used as a satellite office for Shell, as well as a museum for Preservation North Carolina.
It might look kind of interesting, but come on, it’s still a gas station – a must-avoid.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
It's ranked as one of THE most overrated tourist attractions in America, but don’t let that accolade dissuade you from checking out this must-see attraction. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is essential viewing for all fans of TV and film. While it's only two blocks long, this iconic walk is laden with the handprints and names of some of Hollywood’s most unforgettable performers.
With that said, it is one of the most crowded places in L.A., and it's also brimming with pick-pockets and other seedy types – so be careful. And for those who aren’t interested, you can always locate your favorite celebs and move on.
You need to see your favorite actors' handprints at least once! It’s a must-visit.
Sure, Miami likes its beaches, and we are not here to say that the people of Miami are wrong to be proud. We're just saying that as far as beaches go, there is very little to mess up. There's sand, there's water, and that's a great place to start.
But once you add the overcrowded stretches of sand and the fact that the humidity is not for the faint of heart, the place starts to sound significantly less inviting. We'll stick to a nice bubble bath with ocean sounds on speaker, thanks.
There are plenty of nice beaches around the world. You’re not missing much with this must-avoid.
Kirk’s Birthplace – Riverside, Iowa
Captain James T. Kirk is one of Star Trek – and science fiction's – most famous names, and you'd never guess he was born in one of the smaller states of the union. At one point, series creator Gene Roddenberry decided the town was Riverside, and fans began to flock. But there's only a single monument, stating it's the future birthplace of a fictional character.
It might not even be correct: a town mayor basically pushed Roddenberry to make Riverside the origin of this famous character, which makes it nothing more than a cash grab from frenzied fans.
Even Trekkies might struggle to justify trekking all the way to Iowa for this snoozefest of a site – a must-avoid.
Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard – Vermont
Ah, c’est la vie! Flavors — they come and they go, and no one knows this better than Ben and Jerry’s Creamery. The famous ice cream brand decided that its flavors were like old comrades lost in battle, and decided to commemorate them in a “Flavor Graveyard” outside their factory in Vermont.
One of the members is the “Makin’ Whoopie Pie”, a flavor that existed between 2002 and 2003. It's an ideal destination for ice cream enthusiasts. And let’s face it, who out there hasn’t absolutely loved a few scoops of Ben and Jerry’s in their lifetime?
It’s definitely worth paying your respects to our fallen ice cream comrades. A must-visit.
Wild Bill’s Nostalgia – Connecticut
Located in Connecticut, you will find a place that is uh…rather special. Special in a way that we aren’t sure if this is a tourist trap or worth a visit. It’s called Wild Bill’s Nostalgia, and it’s got an interesting collection of artifacts — from hockey jerseys (Soviet-era ones) to the world’s largest Jack-in-the-Box.
It may be enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies! You may also enjoy the life-sized Terminator statues. Yeah, interesting place. What we would say is that it might just be perfect for visitors who are drunk enough to appreciate the bizarreness of it all.
Consider checking it out only if you have some alcohol in your bloodstream. Otherwise, it's a must-avoid.
Ave Maria Grotto – Alabama
A religious, cultural, or artistic fan might find a lot to enjoy about Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama, but most people won't have a lot to enjoy. It's full of tiny replicas of famous religious structures, built by one Brother Joseph in the early 20th century.
Some call the replicas too small, without enough detail to make them truly awe-inspiring. You'll get some more photos on your phone, you might find one or two interesting models, and you might learn some history, but other than that, it's just not worth the trip.
It makes more sense to just do the pilgrimages to the real-life religious structures – a must-avoid.
Atlantic City Boardwalk – New Jersey
Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey was one of the original tourist attractions, full of casinos, shops, and restaurants. Unfortunately, high crime rates have driven tourists and locals away, and the casinos and shops have become expensive and tacky.
Worn down and nearly empty, it went from a popular tourist spot to an area full of panhandlers, and during the non-summer months, it might as well be a ghost town. It's always been a poor man's Las Vegas, and for the traveler who wants to experience glitz and glamour, Las Vegas is certainly the better choice.
Just go to Vegas and thank us later – Atlantic City Boardwalk is a must-avoid, for sure.
South of the Border Station – South Carolina
This gas station is even less interesting than the other one we have on this list. It's the famous South of the Border station, which also includes a restaurant and a pretty large gift shop. What border is it just south of, you may wonder?
It's just south of the North Carolina border. To its credit, it is very close to the border. But, unless you need to fill up your car or belly, this is nothing more than a curio to comment on as you drive past.
It really doesn’t matter where you go to fill your gas in this part of the world – a must-avoid.
Churchill Downs – Louisville, Kentucky
Churchill Downs is the spot of the world-famous Kentucky Derby and has been around in bigger and better forms since 1875. During the Kentucky Derby, the place is packed full of race fans, tourists, gamblers, and even some celebrities.
If you aren't a part of any of those groups, or if crowds give you the fits, this isn't the place for you. It's a pricey destination, too, with fees reaching above a hundred dollars per person. While Churchill Downs does have numerous events throughout the year, the Derby is the big one, and it's the kind of place you really have to want to be.
Unless you love the Kentucky Derby, this is definitely a must-avoid.
The Statue of Liberty – New York City
It’s an enduring symbol of America's legacy of freedom, and the Statue of Liberty is without a doubt one of the first attractions that should be on everyone’s list when coming to the US of A. New York City has endless things to do and see, and yet, this famous statue remains a top priority.
With that said, it is a lengthy boat trip there and back, crowds are huge, prices are high, the torch has been closed off since 1916, and the statue is much smaller than usually pictured. Overall though, you must check it out.