Knowing which tourist attractions are worth seeing and which aren’t can help you save valuable time and leave you feeling like you saw the best of the area on a trip.
Inspired by this Reddit list of overrated tourist destinations, we wanted to round up some of the most disappointing tourist traps in the US, and suggest some alternative places to go instead.
Here are some alternatives to 10 popular US tourist attractions that will take you off the beaten path.
Instead of seeing New York City from the top of the Empire State Building, go to Top of the Rock.
- Shutterstock and Daniel Goodman/Business Insider
Skip the long lines at the Empire State Building and head to the Top of the Rock instead, where you’ll get better views of New York City, Central Park, and of the Empire State Building itself.
Go during dusk or dawn to get an even more stunning view of the city.”Watching the sun set or rise over the New York skyline is amazing,” Reddit user jesiman wrote.
Instead of waiting in line for an overpriced Philly cheesesteak at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia, try a cheesesteak from another local spot.
Getting a Philly cheesesteak – a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed rib eye beef and melted cheese – is a must when visiting Philadelphia, but knowing where to get it from makes all the difference.
While Pat’s King of Steaks is one of the most popular, many locals believe that their sandwiches are mediocre and overpriced.
Instead, try another cheesesteak joint that’s popular with locals. Reddit user Bar_Jude recommends going to Jim’s Steaks South St., where you can choose from American cheese or Provolone, a mushroom-smothered sandwich, or one stuffed with sweet peppers.
Instead of going to Walt Disney World, go to Universal Studios for a theme park experience.
It might be dubbed the “Happiest Place on Earth,” but thanks to incredibly long lines and overbearing crowds (especially in the summer), the Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida, can be more overwhelming than pleasant.
Universal Studios Orlando, the movie and TV-based theme park in Orlando, tends to have shorter lines than Disney. “Universal Studio is much better…single rider lanes, so every seat is filled,” Reddit user swiddie wrote.
Instead of Plymouth Rock, go to the Pilgrim Monument for a piece of history and great views.
While Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is historically important as the site where the Mayflower Pilgrims landed, it’s just a rock and the experience of seeing it can be pretty underwhelming.
If you’re looking for a way to connect to the historical past of the Pilgrims, check out the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, Massachusetts, instead, where you can climb 252 feet to its top and be rewarded with spectacular views of Provincetown.
Instead of going to Bourbon Street, go to Frenchmen Street for a true New Orleans experience.
- Flickr/Bart Everson and Flickr/Infrogmation of New Orleans
While Bourbon Street has become a crucial part of experiencing New Orleans for some, the iconic street tends to be expensive, touristy, and extremely crowded.
Frenchmen Street, on the other hand, has become a popular alternative. The street is home to plenty of short-order places, BYOB venues, quirky shops, and music venues with live jazz and blues.
Instead of staring up at Mount Rushmore from a tiny viewing platform, take a drive through South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.
- Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock
Mount Rushmore is an American cultural icon, but standing on a viewing platform and looking up at the real thing may make the presidents’ heads look rather tiny – and disappointing.
Instead, go to South Dakota’sBadlands National Park With nearly 243,000 acres of protected land, visitors can view incredible rock formations and wildlife they won’t see anywhere else in the world, including mountain goats, rabbits, bobcats, antelope, and even bison.
Instead of going up to the Willis Tower for views of Chicago, go to The Signature Room restaurant at the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center.
While the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois, does boast impressive views of the city’s skyline, tickets cost $20 and you might have to wait in line for hours before you’re able to go up.
Instead, go to the The Signature Room restaurant on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center for magnificent views of the Chicago skyline.
Instead of getting lost in the crowd at Hollywood Boulevard, go to West Hollywood.
- Wikimedia Commons
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a rude awakening for tourists – the street is dirty, littered, crowded, and not at all glamorous.
Instead, head to West Hollywood, where you’ll come across famous music venues like Whisky a Go Go and The Viper Room, authentic shops, outdoor cafes, and fine-dining options.
Instead of simply looking at the White House from outside, check out the amazing artifacts at the the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
- Wikimedia Commons
Don’t get us wrong, the White House is a crucial monument and is great to see if you are able to schedule a tour but otherwise you’ll find that you can only look at it from a distance, which can be greatly disappointing.
Instead, head to the Smithsonian, which includes 19 different museums and the National Zoo in Washington, DC. It is the world’s largest museum and research complex.From learning about the origins of man at the National Museum of Natural History to the future of space travel at the National Air and Space Museum, you’ll leave with a much wider knowledge of the country’s history.
Instead of waiting in long lines to see Alcatraz, take the ferry to Angel Island.
The foreboding island of Alcatraz is a popular attraction for tourists visiting San Francisco. However, since it attracts such a large amount of people for daily tours, lines to get on its boats are long and tours aren’t cheap at around $30 per person.
Instead, take the ferry out to the nearby Angel Island, where you’ll get gorgeous views of the Bay and plenty of island terrain for biking and hiking in stunning scenery.
For history buffs who want to experience the prison, take a night tour instead to avoid some of the crowds.