15 American Tourist Traps That Are a Complete Waste of Money

There are tourist attractions in countless U.S. cities that are worth your time and hard-earned cash. But, unfortunately, some attractions can best be described as tourist traps, designed only to extract as many dollars out of your wallet as possible. An article was recently published examining these American tourist traps, and about half of them can easily be marked as a total waste of money!

1. Waikiki Beach

Couple walking on Waikiki beach Hawaii vacation. Happy couple in love relaxing at sunset on tourist famous travel destination in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Maridav

While this Hawaiian beach is pristine and beautiful, it’s surrounded by an endless stream of high-rise hotels. There are better representations of the Hawaiian islands. So do yourself a favor and visit the beaches of Maui or Kauai instead!

2. Santa Claus House

The beautiful santa claus house on MAR 18, 2015 at Fairbanks
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Since it’s located in Alaska, I shudder to think how expensive it would be to visit Santa Claus House – primarily because it’s an overpriced gift shop. If you want to buy a customized “letter from Santa,” more power to you, but there have to be better ways to spend your money.  

3. The Space Needle

seattle space needle
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

As one of the most exciting and naturally-gorgeous cities in the United States, there are plenty of reasons to visit Seattle. Unfortunately, waiting in line to walk through the Space Needle is not one of those reasons. Like other entries on this list, it’s expensive – and the view isn’t even that great!

4. Plymouth Rock

disembarkation point of plymouth rock
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Don’t pay money to look at a rock. I repeat: don’t pay money to look at a rock. Massachusetts is full of American history; your tourism dollars are better spent elsewhere. 

5. Four Corners

Four Corners Monument - Border of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A small placard notes the precise location where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. Upon arriving, you have bragging rights saying you have stood in four states simultaneously. The amount of time and money it took you to reach this tourist trap (it’s in the middle of nowhere) will be nothing to brag about, however. 

6. Bourbon Street

street in new orleans
Courtesy Deposit Photos

New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street is known for one thing: debauchery. So while you’ll undoubtedly have a memorable time strolling the streets and taking in the sights and sounds of New Orleans, it will come at a price, and your wallet will hurt once morning comes!

7. Hollywood Walk of Fame

stars on the hollywood walk of fame california
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Walk of Fame is in a rather seedy part of Los Angeles and is strewn over endless dilapidated city blocks. Skip visiting here and take a free hike to the fabled Hollywood sign instead. You’ll take much more impressive photos than close-up shots of dirty sidewalks. 

8. World of Coca-Cola

USA. Atlanta. Georgia. May 2019. Coca Cola Museum.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the soft drink, there’s no stopping you from wanting to visit this Coca-Cola paradise, but I’m going to try to stop you anyway. Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola is a larger-than-life gift shop aiming to extract as much money from your wallet as possible. Support the company in other ways – like buying their product in stores. 

9. The Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center

Ice skaters fill the skating rink under the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a popular holiday tourist attraction in Midtown Manhattan.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Before visiting New York City, ask yourself if you’d be interested in the idea of paying an excessive amount of money to ice skate nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of other people. But, then, be honest with yourself: the answer is no. 

10. Graceland

Living room in Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion. The mansion had been placed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Although this is a rite of passage for Elvis fans, Graceland, found in Memphis, Tennessee, is yet another example of a gift shop taken to the extreme. There are much better ways to pay respects to “The King” than pay the exorbitant admission fee to Graceland. 

11. Beale Street

Blues Clubs on Beale Street at dawn.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Even though there’s fun to be had on Beale Street in Memphis, the good times come at the expense of your common sense: you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for drinks and food throughout your visit. I advise spending money at some lesser-known local establishments instead of the touristy restaurants and bars located up and down Beale Street. 

12. Times Square

Times Square ,is a busy tourist intersection of neon art and commerce and is an iconic street of New York City and America
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

New York City‘s Time Square shocks the senses: it is an overwhelming square of lights, sounds, billboards, restaurants, and tourist attractions. It’s truly a sight to behold, but it’s also a shock to your wallet – especially if you’re considering visiting during New Year’s Eve.

13. The Corn Palace

The Corn Palace in Mitchell South Dakota, USA. Every year a new mural of a different theme is constructed of corn and other grains.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The pride and joy of South Dakota, The Corn Palace, is exactly what it sounds like; a palace made entirely of corn. With that information now firmly entrenched in the logic center of your brain, I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth paying any amount of money to visit. 

14. The Las Vegas Strip

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Don’t get me wrong, some of the most fun I’ve ever had has come on the Las Vegas strip. But, coincidentally, I’ve never been more broke than when I left the Las Vegas strip – and I’m far from being the only person to experience this. 

15. World’s Largest Ball of Twine

The world's largest ball of sisal twine sits proudly under a protective canopy in Cawker City, KS.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Based on the name of this tourist trap, you would think people would know to avoid it. Sadly, that’s not the case, as thousands of travelers visit this literal ball of twine in Kansas annually. It’s just a big ball of string – nothing to see here, folks. 

This thread inspired this post. 

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