Are These Really The Biggest Tourist Traps In The United States?

Researchers compiled a list of major tourist traps to avoid. You decide if they’re right.

A mom in the shotgun seat of a car, looking at a map at tourist traps, as a dad drives.
Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Has there ever been a stop on your summer vacation that you totally regretted? Say, that over-crowded visit to Times Square? Or that incredibly long line to get beignets at Café Du Monde, in New Orleans? Or are you planning a vacation now and questioning whether to visit certain attractions or landmarks?

Vacations ideally give you great family memories that will last a lifetime. But some stops were made to be skipped. A report from vacation rental company Casago (via Digg), ranked the destinations in the U.S. that are, at least according to visitors, the biggest tourist traps in the world.

Casago asked, “With so many sights to see and so little vacation time, how can we tell which attractions might not be worth the visit after all?”

To find the answers, researchers analyzed the phrase “tourist trap” on TripAdvisor to find the attractions in the U.S. that had the highest mentions of that phrase in reviews from visitors. There had to be at least five mentions of the attraction being a “tourist trap” in order for it to be considered.

Casago then compiled a list of the top tourist traps in the U.S. (and in the world) and found some deeply interesting results. For global results, the researchers found that four of the top 10 biggest tourist traps globally were in the U.S. — and that Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco was No. 1 in both the U.S. and the world.

The researchers also revealed the biggest tourist traps in each state and found some that may be surprising to visitors and full-time residents alike. For example, Graceland was the biggest tourist trap in Tennessee and Mystic Pizza (of Mystic Pizza movie fame) was the biggest in Connecticut. Meanwhile, Pike Place Market in Seattle (home to the famous, albeit gross, Gum Wall) and the Mall of America in Minnesota are also deemed tourist traps.


It’s important to note that your mileage may vary. First of all, some tourist traps may still be more than worth it or have provided a great time and memories for you and your family. These places are generally popular for a reason. And yes, sometimes places are overcrowded, expensive, and a little stressful, but they’re pieces of American history.

What do you take from a vacation? What matters to you? And when does something feel like a tourist trap, and when does if not? What’s worthy of our free time and family time is, of course, highly subjective. Maybe you like to do a little bit of exploring off the beaten path and a little bit of tourist-trap travel. That’s valid, too!

And although Casago ranked the biggest tourist traps by state, it also ranked the overall top 10 biggest traps nationwide. Here’s what the company found:

The 10 biggest tourist traps in the U.S. based on online mentions:

  1. Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco, California
  2. Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota
  3. Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, Hawaii
  4. Times Square in New York City, New York
  5. Café Du Monde in New Orleans, Louisiana
  6. Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois
  7. Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
  8. Hyman's Seafood in Charleston, South Carolina
  9. Historic River Street in Savannah, Georgia
  10. Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts

Anyway, do whatever you want. Have fun visiting the Alamo, or the Elvis birthplace museum in Tupelo, or every overpriced seafood joint on the East Coast. Do you!

To see more on tourist traps, including other ones across the globe, check out the full report from Casago.