Here’s a secret:
Claire Benoist for Reader's Digest
As much as I love getting off the beaten path and learning about local cultures, sometimes I adore the artificial world that the mainstream travel industry has created. Many people think every moment on the road has to have profound impact and meaning. But sometimes you just need to take attractions and experiences for what they are: crowded, overrated, commercialized, mind-numbing, and enjoyable escapes.
Last year, I went on a cruise simply to relax and decompress. There was nothing authentic about Royal Caribbean’s “private beach” in Haiti or the dance parties on the boat, but gosh, was it fun. Because sometimes life is about just sitting by the pool with a piña colada while you listen to the band cover Bob Marley for the umpteenth time.
Walt Disney World
I love the rides, drinking my way around the world in Epcot Center, the haunted house, Space Mountain, and just feeling like a kid again—which I guess is the whole point at Disney. There’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying yourself in a make-believe fantasyland for a bit.
Yves Forestier/Getty Images
This is one of the most famous, crowded, and popular museums in the entire world. Sure, walking through it is like walking through a packed subway station during rush hour, but heck, it’s the Louvre. Why miss out? Even if the Mona Lisa is the most overrated painting on the entire planet, you have to see it.
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This beautiful city feels like a caricature of itself. That said, getting lost in that endless maze of tiny streets is fun, the city provides a beautiful backdrop for romance, and even though a gondola ride is 100 euros, you only live once, right?
The Great Barrier Reef
Yes, I’m daring to call this overrated. The snorkeling or diving you’ll do on day trips suffers from large crowds and tons of overfishing. There are far better dive spots in Australia. Regardless, get ready to grab your goggles. You may be sharing your view of Nemo with 50 other people, but who cares? It’s the Great Barrier Reef! You can see this thing from space!
I live in New York City, and yet it’s not often that I visit this iconic tourist spot. Times Square is jammed with visitors and completely commercialized. However, it’s home to Broadway, you can watch all kinds of interesting street performers, the massive M&M’s store is seriously a piece of heaven on earth, and sitting on top of the red stairs in Father Duffy Square is the perfect way to watch it all happen.