Tourist traps are often overly crowded, overly commercial, and focused on taking your money. And let’s face it: they’re tacky. These spots generally don’t give a real feel for the culture or history. They can have high prices and lots of souvenirs. Some are still enjoyable in a kitschy way, but others are just a waste of your money… and time. And most of us have a limited amount of time when we’re on vacation.
A recent USA Today report examined the world’s top tourist traps, prompting us to avoid or indulge in their charm. They looked at 23.2 million Google reviews of the 500 most popular tourist spots worldwide in 65 countries across six continents. Their method was simple. They checked how often words like “tourist trap,” “overrated,” or “expensive” were mentioned in the reviews for each place. To compare the places, they divided the number of mentions by the total reviews for each attraction.
What they found about tourist traps worldwide
Their analysis revealed that the Four Corners Monument, spanning Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, stands as the foremost tourist trap globally. In Europe and Asia, the titles of top tourist traps belong to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and Penang Hill in Malaysia.
During their study, the Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia had 397,905 Google reviews without a single one branding it a “tourist trap,” according to their study. The California Academy of Sciences, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and the South Carolina Aquarium emerged as the most excessively priced attractions in the United States.
Taking the title of the most overrated tourist attraction worldwide is Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon.
Witches, ghosts, and UFOs
Their analysis shows that eight of the top ten tourist traps globally are in the United States. Three draw attention to paranormal phenomena like witches, ghosts, and UFOs. These attractions include the Salem Witch Museum in Massachusetts, Calico Ghost Town in California, and the International UFO Museum and Research Center in New Mexico. Reviews for each site frequently referred to the term “tourist trap,” says USA Today.
Check out the complete study here, where they dive deeper into global tourist traps and offer tips on avoiding them.