15 Less Crowded Alternatives to the Most Popular Tourist Attractions
Calling a hot spot “overrated” does not mean that it is unworthy of a visit, but rather that there might be an alternative that is less expensive and crowded. Check out these solid alternatives to some of the most frequently visited attractions and destinations around the United States.
Baltimore’s Washington Monument
courtesy Jason Varney
You can’t miss the iconic Washington Monument in the nation’s capital, but the first monument to the country’s first president was actually erected in Baltimore. Located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood where many well-known writers like Emily Post and F. Scott Fitzgerald resided, this statue is less crowded, more historic, and close to the famous Peabody Library. The monument was designed by the same architect that created the D.C. landmark. Rooms at Hotel Revival Baltimore, a Joie de Vivre property, enjoy some of the best views. The United States isn’t the only place with overrated sites—these are the most overrated attractions around the world.
Bourbon Street in New Orleans
courtesy Paul Broussard and New Orleans & Company
One of the city’s most popular attractions is this energetic strip known for its lively bars, party scene, and occasional debauchery. But, for most, Bourbon Street can be a bit overrated. Those in-the-know should budget the most time for Frenchmen Street, which is similarly active and alive albeit a bit less touristy. You’ll find live music venues offering every style of performance from impromptu jazz to bars with traditional rock tunes. The Royal Frenchmen Hotel & Bar will have you front and center to all the action.
Try Seattle over San Francisco
courtesy Alabastro Photography
It may not have a famous red bridge, but it enjoys similar bayfront views and a vibrant cultural scene throughout its hilly cityscape. The natural mountain backdrop adds to the outdoors appeal of Washington state’s biggest city where Pike Place Market packs in hundreds of creative spots to shop and dine. It is every bit as eclectic as San Fran’s Ferry Building Marketplace. Chinatown-International District offers food and shopping from a multitude of Asian backgrounds, and city sights like the Space Needle and the waterfront Great Wheel are perfect for families. The new Hyatt Regency Seattle, decked out in natural wood, local art, and minimalist furnishings and the largest hotel in the Pacific Northwest, is in the center of the city’s most visited attractions.
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
courtesy South Dakota Department of Tourism
While a big draw, most visitors are underwhelmed by Mount Rushmore, which seems smaller than one might expect. Save more time to visit the Badlands National Park for its 244,000 acres of eroded buttes, grass prairies, and hiking trails. Campers will find the nighttime stargazing to be a magical experience. This is the largest mixed-grass prairie in the National Park System and is packed with roaming wildlife including bison, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, vultures, eagles, and hawks. This is one of the state’s top attractions and regularly earns high accolades from visitors especially after snapping a quick photo at Mount Rushmore. Get inspired for your trip with these spectacular photos of National Parks that will leave you awestruck.
Waimea Bay outshines Waikiki any day
courtesy Waikiki slide
While all eyes are often on famed Waikiki Beach, it can be crowded and packed with tourists. Instead, head for Waimea Bay for excellent snorkeling and swimming. Waikiki’s shore has a larger swell in summertime meaning less experienced swimmers fare better at Waimea Bay. In the winter, it’s also where people can watch professional surfers tackle waves that can reach 25 feet, which draws surfers from around the world to the island of Oahu. The scenic drive from Waimea Bay is reason enough to visit, and Turtle Bay Resort is one of the closest properties near this relaxed stretch of beach.
Enjoy the HOLLYWOOD sign from bed
While the HOLLYWOOD sign is a landmark of Los Angeles, it is quite far from most of Hollywood. And, it is not permitted to climb up to the sign itself. Instead, catch views of the sign from bed at The Kimpton Everly Hotel in Hollywood. While the sign itself is rather underwhelming, the hotel is only a short walk away from a major stretch of the Hollywood Walk of Fame where you will find the sidewalk stars of your favorite music, TV, and film icons. It’s a much better way to enjoy the celebrity world despite the sign’s legendary hype.
Been to the Grand Canyon? Try Crater Lake National Park
courtesy Travel Southern Oregon
Whether you’ve already seen it or just want to skip the crowds, the 1,943 feet deep Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon is the deepest and bluest lake in America. In fact, it is the ninth deepest lake in the nation. With cliffs almost 2,000 feet high, the views of this natural wonder are exceptionally glamorous. This is a great alternative for those looking to explore the great outdoors without the crowds. Activities include hiking, backpacking, picnicking, and boating; in the winter, both cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular. The spring-to-fall Crater Lake Lodge is the only hotel within the national park and a favorite of repeat visitors.
Tucson can match Scottsdale any day
courtesy Adrienne McLeod
These two destinations share common traits like desert heat and stunning mountain backdrops, but Tucson deserves attention for its laid-back appeal and less inflated prices to resorts and activities. Tucson is the first American city to become part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for gastronomy, honoring Southern Arizona’s food traditions and culinary innovation. With more than 40 popular golf courses and big-name resorts like Canyon Ranch and Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa luring everyone from spa aficionados to business travelers, Tucson doesn’t get enough credit in the shadows of glitzy Scottsdale.
Head to Catalina Island instead of Santa Monica
courtesy Catalina Express
Tourist lore draws people to Santa Monica Pier, but travelers looking for something more authentic are better off hopping the Catalina Express to Catalina Island from Long Beach or Dana Point. Once there, fine dining, eclectic shopping, and a historic casino are just some of the attractions that have been drawing celebrities and locals for years. The island boasts many renovated lodging options including the popular Hotel Atwater. Avoid the tourist traps of many Los Angeles waterfront venues and head for a well-kept secret off the coast instead. Couples, in particular, will love it as it’s one of the most romantic island destinations in the United States.
Cherry Blossoms in Michigan instead of Washington, D.C.
courtesy Traverse City Tourism
Avoid the camera-toting crowds of D.C. by snapping cherry blossom photos in Michigan. Lakefront Traverse City is well-known for the plentiful cherry blossom trees that cover the rolling hills and countryside. In fact, the city is known as the “cherry capital of the world.” The cherry blossoms are at their peak in mid-May and last only for a week or two. The state highway along the Old Mission Peninsula offers some of the most stunning photo opportunities.