I recently stumbled on this quick little online piece about the 10 Most Disappointing Travel Destinations. I started to write a Facebook post about it but realized I had far too much to say. First, I agree that some destinations are overrated, but travel is always what you make of it. I think that when you visit a place that has a lot of hype, your job is to find the things that appeal to you. I almost always have a good sense of what I’m going to like about a destination before I go. The key is to listen to your instincts and follow your interests. That being said, I can’t help but comment on some of the destinations in this piece:
Niagara Falls, NY. Yeah, I’m all over this one. I live in Buffalo and the Falls are in our backyard. While it’s true that you can get better panoramic views of the Falls from Canada, there are things you can do on the American side that aren’t available in Canada. The Cave of the Winds gets you as close to the Falls as possible – almost underneath it. You ride an elevator down to the base of the Falls then walk across stairs and platforms where you are absolutely doused by water coming over the brink. You look up and see the Falls coming down. It is absolutely spectacular. Also on the American side there is a platform that takes you out over the gorge with an amazing view. The American side is less crowded and you can actually find a place to park. So I don’t agree that this is overrated. If you go, you’ll want to experience the Falls from both sides and you’ll realize they are completely different, but equally fun.
Temple Bar, Dublin. I didn’t find this to be overrated because it is what it’s advertised: a bunch of bars. There are some street performers which make it fun and you can see the Halfpenny Bridge. If you’re in the city at night, it’s worth a stroll just to see it. If you’re expecting something else, you will be disappointed.
Nassau, Bahamas. Paradise Island, usually known as Atlantis, is a giant tourist trap. But it’s unfair to lump the entire area together. We stayed outside of Nassau on Telegraph Beach and it was simply gorgeous and very quiet. Get outside the man-made sites and see the rest of this beautiful island. Go to the Fish Fry, see the marching flamingos, drive around and see the other beaches. We did spend an afternoon at Atlantis where we saw the aquariums, had lunch and did some shopping. It was fine for a few hours, but not a place I would want to stay.
Liberty Island, NY. We loved visiting Liberty Island. Getting up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty was awe-inspiring and being able to go inside the statue was something we will never forget. Don’t go in the middle of the summer on a weekend. We went on a fall weekend and the lines were not bad at all. The ferry ride there is fun. Be sure to go to Ellis Island as well, a place I could have spent hours in, where you will learn all about the immigrants who entered our country through this island. I don’t think there is anything overrated about Liberty Island. In fact, it’s a must-see on my list.
Walt Disney World, FL. I hated it here. Passionately. But I have friends who love to go because their kids are happy and the parents can just relax by the pool and not worry. We had fun on a couple of rides but the lines were outrageous. Epcot did not excite us, although we had a fun meal at a Moroccan restaurant. I knew going in I was going to hate it, but we went because we really believed our kids deserved to go. It’s almost a rite of passage in this country.
Las Vegas, NV. I think the key to Vegas is to set your expectations and plan your trip. We don’t drink or gamble, but enjoyed our visit. Our hotel had a lazy river the kids loved. We saw the Mac King magic show which was just perfect for families. We saw the tigers and the dolphins and looked at the fountains and took a gondola ride. We drove by the Pawn Stars shop. My husband and son went to a pinball museum. We had some fantastic food off the Strip. It was one of those places that I thoroughly enjoyed, but would probably never go back to. I didn’t find it to be overrated because I found the things our family would enjoy and did those. My biggest complaint was that EVERYTHING smells like cigarette smoke. You leave Vegas and realize you absolutely stink because it is on you and all of your clothes.
I haven’t been to the other places on this list. A Facebook friend of mine commented that she would add Times Square to this list. I admit I am confused by Times Square. There is nothing to actually do there. It’s fun to walk through it at night once but I couldn’t imagine planning it as a the highlight of my trip. I found Florence, Italy to be overrated (and one of my friends will vehemently disagree!). I thought it was an ugly city with not a lot to do. Hilton Head, SC was overrated in our view. The beaches were great (except for the jellyfish which meant we got stung then never went in again). Because of the jellyfish, the pool was wall to wall people. There was nothing to do on that island at all – a family destination with absolutely no activities. We ended up driving into Savannah almost daily.
So now it’s your turn. Tell me what you thought was overrated as a destination.
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I think almost anyplace that is billed as a tourist destination can be overrated. We didn’t like Disney World, either. We enjoyed Disney Land in California much more.
Still disagree about Florence – maybe we’ll have up go together…! Some love the touristy spots and I don’t mind them but I like the hidden and not-so-well known spots. I’ve been to New York twice and quickly walked through Times Square, at the weekend I walked through Leicester Square in London and hated it but others were living it! Great list and observations Brette.
Haha I knew you would catch that and you’re the friend I was referring to! Leicester Square was fun when we were in London, but just for a walk through and a place to find a restaurant. Not a place I would spend a lot of time at for sure.
That’s interesting. I’ve never been. How is it different?
Enjoyed reading your article. You are right, even at common tourist spots you may find something off the beaten path – and what might be boring for someone is heaven for another.
I suppose it’s all in interpretation – different strokes for different folks, as the old cliche goes. What one person may love, another may find totally disappointing.
I like your perspective, Brette — find somehing you like where ever you are. I am not usually a fan of theme parks (excepttion: Dollywood) and since I grew up near where Disney World was built, not so much that as I remebr the wild lands — but I took my mother, years ago, because she, a Florida native living elswhere too, was curious to see it — and we had the best time. she was a teacher and just reveled in finding ideas at Epcot especially she could use with her students. she’s since passed on but it it still one of my best memories. though I’ve not been back and have no especial desire to go, I still think of the place with affection because of that.
as you say, a trip to such a place is what you make of it.
We loved Niagara Falls…the sheer size and natural wonder of them. I’ve not been to any of the other places.
I agree with many of your suggestions to get away from the typical experiences, especially at Liberty Island, Niagara Falls and Nassau. As far as Vegas goes, the reason I love it is because I have a different experience there from most everyone else: I rent a car and drive 30-45 minute each after noon to visit cool, unbelievably beautiful parks, including Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire. I bicycle, hike and walk the myriad paths and trails, explore petroglyphs, picnic and much more. Great places to check out.
I think it’s all about your perception. Some writer may say a destination is overrated, but isn’t that just their opinion?
We used to love Las Vegas and had lots of fun there until we were badly mistreated by hotel and restaurant staff. Now it’s a place to stay away from.
Have never had the urge to go to Las Vegas, but we’ve been thinking about a trip to Niagara Falls. Plus I think we could get there in a day’s drive.
My kids loved Niagara Falls but I can see how it would be disappointing if you didn’t take the time to go underneath them or if you went on a day that was crowded. As fate would have it we went at a time when there were few visitors so it was a great experience for us.
I’m with Pru, I love Florence
really great Las Vegas. I want to go there alot but from now on i have never been . i hope i will go.