If you’re limited on time and budget, check out our list of things you could skip in favor of these alternatives.

By Travel + Leisure and Travel + Leisure Staff
December 18, 2015
Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

It’s no secret why certain sights become famous, and their perennial crowds underscore their enduring allure. But every once in a while, it’s worth exploring some alternatives, especially if you’re on a trip limited in time or budget.

We’ve collected our picks for some major attractions worldwide that may deserve a pass on your next visit—whether to avoid the crowds, a hefty entrance fee, or other hassle—along with some less-popular gems equally worthy of your attention.

So read on for the list, straight from a local, or skip ahead to your city of interest: Amsterdam; Atlanta; Chicago; Denver; London; Los Angeles; New York City; Paris; San Francisco; Sydney; Tokyo; Toronto; and Washington, D.C.

Credit: Getty Images


This Dutch city may conjure images of bucolic canal side row houses, Technicolor tulips, and leisurely bike rides, but make no mistake about it: it’s one of the world’s most popular destinations, and faces crowds all year long that flock there as a result. Many of them come to experience what they think are typical local traditions or practices, but there are several popular spots with nary a local in sight. Want to experience the city authentically? Read on for this list of tourist traps you can pass on.

1. Shopping on Kalverstraat

Amsterdam’s main shopping street is always crowded, mainly it seems with day-trippers from out of town, and the stores consist primarily of bland global chains. For browsing, it’s hopeless, so give it a miss and go to the Nine Streets instead.

2. Drinking on the Leidseplein

Why drink in one of the most crowded, noisy, touristy (and slightly overpriced) bars on the Leidseplein, when you can visit one of the city’s fine brown cafes and drink with the locals instead?

3. Hanging Out in Dam Square

With its fire-eating buskers, costume wearing human “statues” and droves of tourists, Dam Square could be anywhere—there’s nothing really Dutch about it. Head to the Nieuwmarkt instead for a more atmospheric city square.

4. The Red Light District

You may feel you have to see it, and though there is evidence that it’s coming around, the Red Light District is charmless as a whole—unless you find drunken stag parties, the smell of beer, fries and urine, and constant streams of gawping tourists appealing.

5. Heineken Beer

It’s Dutch, it’s ubiquitous, and it’s certainly a global marketing phenomenon, but there are much better tasting native beers to drink when you’re in town. Try anything from Brouwerij ’t IJ, for starters.

6. Driving

It’s never worth hiring a car in Amsterdam. The roads are narrow, bicycles are legion and own the road, traffic jams are endemic, and parking is impossible—and ruinously expensive if you do manage it.

7. Drinking Tea

If you order a cup of tea in Amsterdam, you are going to be disappointed. The water is seldom hot enough to extract any flavor from the teabag (teapots are the rarest of rarities in Amsterdam), and most eateries will rarely be able to produce fresh milk or lemon to go with it. Stick to coffee.

8. The Metro

Banish all visions of the London Underground and Paris Metro from your mind. Amsterdam’s version is old-fashioned, uncomfortable, and not even particularly fast. Take the tram.

—Jane Szita

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Credit: Courtesy The Varsity


The sprawling southern city of Atlanta has become a backdrop for many TV shows and movies, as well as a mecca for young professionals from all countries. It's no surprise, given the city's charm and spate of great eats and attractions. Among these offerings, though, there are some things that don't quite live up to their hype. We've listed them here for you, but know that it's allright: for every overrated activity found in Georgia's capital, there are several worthy alternatives to see instead.

9. The Varsity

This landmark Atlanta restaurant has been around for eons and is often a must-see spot for visitors. You can expect chili dogs, hamburgers, french fries, and onion rings galore. This is where the magic of this place begins and ends, though: at the end of the day, it's a typical greasy spoon. If great wings and comfort food is what your heart desires, there's exponentially better fare at J.R. Crickets in Midtown, the birthplace of sorts in Atlanta for buffalo wings, which also has burgers, ribs, steak, Philly cheesteaks, and seafood.

10. The World of Coke

Ah, Atlanta: the Coke capital of the world. But while the all-new World of Coke museum is beautiful in its own right, and will give you a well-rounded history of the company and even an opportunity to taste Coke from cities all over the world, it's a bit cliché. And often, the best place to learn about the goodness of Coke is when you have a frosty glass paired with a great burger and fries. Head to some of Atlanta's best burger spots, such as Holeman and Finch in Buckhead, the Vortex Bar & Grill in Midtown, or Brick Store Pub in downtown Decatur.

11. Underground Atlanta

Historic storefronts, freshly roasted peanuts, some unique (yet cheesy) souvenirs, and a food court are the components that constitute Underground. Want a better feel of what characterizes Atlanta? Stroll around Piedmont Park, or explore Little Five Points, a hybrid artsy, music epicenter with great pleaces to eat. (Tip: don't drive to Little Five Points; take the city's transit system).

12. Atlantic Station

Just another run-of-the-mill open air shopping center, Atlantic Station is in the Midtown area of Atlanta. Although there are a few locally owned stores that are worth a look, perhaps the coolest feature of Atlantic Station is its regular programming that changes seasonally, so skip the usual draws and focus on the area's events instead. During the summer, for instance, movies are projected on a huge screen as attendees watch from the lawn on blankets. During the warmer months, vendors sell merchandise there: anything from sweet-smelling essential oils and lotions to handmade jewelry.

13. Lenox Square Mall

For some reason, this sprawling mall in Buckhead, with its many designer stores and regular celebrity sightings, tends to be a stomping ground for Atlantans and out-of-towners alike. There's no real appeal to this mall, and many will tire of its jam-packed parking lots before even stepping inside. Lots of crowds await inside, too, and for someone who is truly looking for unique finds, Fab'rik, a local boutique with several locations throughout the city and with one adjacent to the mall, is a more promising, less crowded option.

14. Skyview Atlanta

It's been two years since a Ferris wheel appeared in the skyline of Atlanta, just feet away from Centennial Olympic Park. And many still can't say why such an eyesore was needed.

15. The Georgia Aquarium

Yes, this aquarium has one of the largest single habitat aquariums in the world, more aquatic life than any other aquarium in the world, six galleries, and more than 60 exhibits. But, in the end, it's a large building dedicated to looking at fish. Skipping it would not be a total loss.

—Nneka M. Okona

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Credit: Getty Images


For someone looking to get to the heart of Chicago, the first thing they should know is that it doesn't all center around Michigan Avenue. The Loop and its landmarks definitely have their charms, but to travel like a local, branch out into the city's neighborhoods and hidden spots, and don't feel guilty about skipping these well-trod activities.

16. Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean)

Unless you're deliberately photobombing hundreds of tourists carrying selfie sticks, the novelty of The Bean's reflective curves can start to look more like a funhouse mirror than a fascinating reflection of the Chicago skyline. Instead, walk around Tribune Tower. There may not be any crazy mirror-like surfaces, but the 120 stones embedded in the concrete along the building's perimeter are eye-opening in their own way. Sourced from significant sites around the world, they're dated and note their provenance, whether they trace their origins to London's Westminster Abbey, Moscow's the Kremlin, or the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt.

17. Magnificent Mile

At this time of year, it's too crowded, too expensive, and a little too uniform. Head for Clark Street in Andersonville instead. The Swedish-centric neighborhood is high in local flavor. Not only does it have the phenomenal Swedish Bakery, but there's an array of funky boutiques and indie shops, such as Akira, which stocks women's clothing and accessories from hip but affordable brands like Sam Edelman and Gracia; Room Service for expertly selected Midcentury Modern furniture and decor; and Jameson Loves Danger for all your pet needs.

18. Navy Pier

Not that we have anything against this iconic landmark, it's just that Navy Pier has become less about history and more about city-branded tourist shops. Try heading south to visit the Pullman Historic District. What was once a planned industrial town for George Pullman, the creator of the famous Pullman sleeper cars on trains, has become a historical village of about 7,500 people that offers tours of the community that feel like a walk back in time—almost all of the original 1880s housing and many original public buildings still populate the district today.

19. Willis Tower SkyDeck

Even if you're still sour about the city getting robbed of the Sears Tower moniker, SkyDeck has unparalleled views of Chicago. But it's also swarming with tourists and unattended children. Locals go to 360 Chicago, the observation deck at the John Hancock building, which offers fewer crowds and just as commanding views.

20. Chicago Botanic Garden

If you don't want your views of the Botanic Garden's stunning displays interrupted by nearly every group of suburban schoolchildren in northern Illinois, head farther south to a different garden. At the Garfield Park Conservatory, a beautiful world of flowers and stone walkways under a historic glass building, there are twelve acres of outdoor gardens and paths, waterfalls, fountains, and art.

21. Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Granted, Vosges has some delicious goods. But the chocolate bacon bar is pretty overdone at this point—along with several other of the store's unique flavors. At privately owned chocolatier Veruca Chocolates in Bucktown (named for the Willy Wonka character), every piece is handmade and looks like a miniature artwork, from the gilded champagne truffles to the technicolor turtles. Bonus: they specialize in gourmet s'mores.

22. Wrigleyville

Although it's home to historic Wrigley Field, this North Side neighborhood also is a haven for rowdy fans and over-served college kids. The neighborhood to explore these days is Pilsen. It's a cultural powerhouse famous for its public art and murals, young Chicagoan-owned businesses, unique shops (Accent Minded, Shudio), and quirky art and music experiences (Thalia Hall, Redmoon Central, National Museum of Mexican Art).

—Jennifer Billock

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Credit: © Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo


With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, an amazing location near the mountains, and a revitalizing urban core packed with restaurants and breweries, Denver is on the rise (T+L even named it one of the Best Places to Travel in 2016). But some of the city's most popular activities don't deliver in the same way. Take a hint from the people who live there, and skip these seven overrated attractions.

23. A Stroll Down 16th Street Mall

Lured by the free shuttle ride that runs on this pedestrian-friendly downtown street, visitors' first stop in Denver is often the 16th Street Mall. Take the shuttle if you need to get around town, but unless you love chain restaurants and vagrants, stay north of Curtis street. Looking for Denver's best shops and walking areas? Opt instead for the picturesque Larimer Square, or head to Denver's recently renovated Union Station, where you'll find great restaurants and plenty of fine people watching.

24. Casa Bonita

Just because it was featured on Comedy Central's South Park doesn't make it cool in real life. Yes, this historic establishment boasts cliff divers and an arcade, but the mariachis are irritating and the food is a far cry from the real deal if it's Mexican food you're craving. If you want authentic eats but don't care about aesthetics, head to El Taco De Mexico for excellent green chile and an array of satisfying tacos.

25. Pretending to be a Cowboy

It's been decades since Denver was a cow town. No one rides horses to school and the only time cattle run through the streets is for the city's annual National Western Stock Show Parade in early January. No matter how many people try to convince you to buy that cowboy hat, don't do it. Denverites are more likely to sport yoga pants or Patagonia down jackets than cowboy boots, so pick up a pair of running shoes from Boulder Running Company and join the locals at Washington Park for a 2.3 mile run.

26. The Coors Brewery Tour

It may be the world's largest single-site brewery, but the beer is stocked nationwide. In a city that consistently tops the charts for its number of microbreweries per capita, it's a shame to waste your time on brews you can get anywhere. Opt instead for one of Denver's award-winning breweries, like Great Divide (don't miss the Collette Farmhouse Ale or the Titan IPA) or Prost, where you can sample traditional German beers, like the gold medal-winning Weissbier.

27. Eating at "Historic" Denver Restaurants

Despite a buzzing culinary scene that's attracting top-notch chefs from around the country, gullible visitors still flock to the city's not-to-be-named "historic restaurants." Bland food, high prices, and awful menu items like Rocky Mountain oysters (bull, pig, or sheep testicles) are better left avoided. Follow the locals to more unique (and far more delicious) places to dine in Denver. Adventurous eaters should try Acorn in the hot RiNo neighborhood for oak-fired specialties, or Work & Class, where you'll find well-priced meats (goat, anyone?) and addictive side dishes. Hankering for a steak? Try Guard and Grace downtown.

28. A Tour at the Denver Mint

Most residents are rather perplexed by the tourists' fascination with the historic Denver Mint. Reservations, airport-style security, and a large-group, impersonal tour make the Mint more of a hassle than a good time. Coin collectors may enjoy it, but everyone else should consider a visit to History Colorado instead. Opened in 2012 and conveniently located near other popular attractions like the Denver Art Museum, the History Colorado Center has a range of permanent and temporary exhibits that will appeal to all ages.

29. Recreational Marijuana

Pot tourism may be all the rage right now, but it's mostly a novelty for locals in Denver. If trying cannabis is on your must-do list, be aware of the regulations. Visitors can only purchase 1/4 ounce at a time, no one can smoke in public, and the marijuana can't leave the state. Or just do what the locals do, and spend your evening at a wine and cheese bar instead.

—Megan Barber

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Credit: James McCormick


Anyone who visits London for the first time usually comes with a lengthy checklist. Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, The Shard, and the London Eye are always high on it, but ask any local what they think, and they'll advise you otherwise. We're not telling you to skip on the sights (there are plenty of historical and iconic must-sees in London that any resident could bend your ear about); we're saying you can pass on the tourist traps. Below, a local's list to the most overrated attractions in town.

30. Leicester Square

I get the attraction of Piccadilly Circus (the lights!) and likewise that of Oxford Circus (the stores!), but Leicester Square? Essentially, you're lining up for 40 minutes to spend $25 on a cinema ticket. There's a park in the middle that's flooded with pigeons, while around the edges are overpriced, underwhelming restaurants. Plus, there are plenty of better cinemas nearby. Avoid.

31. Eating in Chinatown

I see the attraction, I do, but every city has a Chinatown, and London's isn't so special that it deserves a proper pilgrimage. If you're looking for good Chinese food, try Hakkasan or Hutong. If you're looking for dumplings, go to Yauatcha. But if you just want somewhere to eat in Soho, book a table at The Palomar. You'll spend the same (Chinatown is considerably overpriced), your food will be better, and you'll escape the tourists.

32. The O2 Arena

The Millennium Dome was a must-visit right through the year 2000, then it sort of became redundant. Now known as the O2 Arena, it's really only worth visiting for a concert. It takes a mission to get there, it's full of overly excited children and tipsy adults, and the dining options are largely overpriced fast food. If you want good fast food, a better vibe, and a cooler crowd, go to Street Feast.

33. View From The Shard

The Shard is quite the spectacle, dominant in the London skyline, so it's no surprise that going to the top is a popular box to tick on many a visitor's checklist. But paying $40 just to take the elevator to the crowded viewing platform? Don't do it. Instead, go to one of the bars at the top of the Shard and spend that money on cocktails. The panoramic views are just as good and the cocktails are great. Also see the earlier recommendation for dining at Hutong: you won't regret spending a bit more for that Peking duck and those views.

34. Riding the Bus down Oxford Street

London red buses are an international icon, and it makes sense that anyone would want to ride one. Just don't ride it down Oxford Street. What sounds like a fun idea is actually a painfully slow, frustrating experience. You'll hop on, squeeze together for about 20 minutes, during which time you'll move precisely seven feet before deciding it's faster and more enjoyable to walk. Take a bus down any other street in London—for the same experience, it will go much more smoothly.

35. The London Eye

I've lived in London for five years and not once been on the London Eye, because so many people have advised me not to. It's fun for a few minutes before the novelty wears off; then you're stuck in your pod, making your way round for the rest of the half hour. And don't be fooled by what you've seen in romantic movies: expect to share your bubble with 25 other people. As an alternative, admire this giant Ferris wheel from afar, during a stroll along Victoria Embankment, which offers even better photo opportunities.

36. Dinner Cruise on the Thames

I don't know anyone who's ever done this, but I know the concept exists. Be forewarned: It's unlikely the food will be good, and it's destined to be an overpriced experience. There are plenty of far nicer places to eat, and similarly, other ways to see the sights—a stroll across Blackfriars Bridge, for example. Eat at Butlers Wharf Chop House, and you'll get good food and unbeatable views of Tower Bridge.

37. Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue seems to feature in all the guidebooks, though it's still a mystery why. There's not much to see here; it's primarily a gateway to Soho. Instead, take a back route to the neighborhood, where there's far more interesting shops and cafes along the way.

—Alice Tate

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Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Los Angeles

Many Angelenos have blissfully allowed the outside world to think of our city as overrated, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it’s pretty much the best place on the planet—if you know how to do it right. That means avoiding tourist traps at all costs, indulging like a local, and adhering to the advice of a native. Here are some of the places to avoid in Los Angeles at all costs, as well as some excellent alternatives to check out instead.

38. The Hollywood Walk of Fame

Unless you’re a celebrity getting your own star, Angelenos wouldn't dare step foot anywhere near Hollywood Boulevard, especially during awards season. If you want to get a better handle on our city and its tastemakers by foot, try one of the amazing walking tours that celebrate historic architecture, like the L.A. Conservancy walks through Downtown’s Art Deco buildings, instead.

39. Pink’s Hot Dogs

Having grown up in L.A., it always blows my mind how long the line is at this La Brea Avenue dog shop. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, there’s always a wait. And while in a major metropolis I value the consistency, there could hardly be anything more over-hyped than these wieners.

You’d get better sausages at Korean-inspired Seoul Sausage or BierBeisl Imbiss, which serves Austrian bangers, both of which are much more representative of the multicultural patchwork of L.A. Better yet, opt for a Danger Dog, L.A.’s official signature street food—made by wrapping a hot dog in bacon and smothering it in grilled onions and red peppers—after a good show at one of the city’s great music venues.

40. Santa Monica Pier

Though the beaches on the Westside are certainly better than nothing, the Santa Monica Pier, especially in the summertime, is the epitome of a tourist trap. Save for the Malibu Farm outpost, pier food is mediocre at best. If you’re staying in SaMo, opt for a ride down the Strand, riding through for a pit stop on ultra-hip Abbott Kinney and then southbound toward Manhattan Beach, where there’s a pier and some great new bars and restaurants.

41. L.A. Live

To Angelenos, this eyesore is the equivalent of New York City’s Times Square. There’s no good reason to eat at any of the chain restaurants or bars there, unless there’s a great show going on at the Club Nokia, or you’ve got courtside seats to a Laker game. There are so many other great spots for live music and comedy in DTLA, like the Orpheum or the Ace Hotel’s United Artists Theater, which also offers incredible 1920s architecture. And the same goes for Universal City Walk: Avoid it at all costs.

42. Umami Burger

It might come as a bit of a shock, considering our reputation as a city full of health nuts, but L.A. has always had a strong burger culture. This is the birthplace of In-N-Out, after all. While it’s impressive that Umami has become a national chain since its inception in 2009, the burgers have never truly been as epic as those at Plan Check (get the blueprint burger, with smoked blue cheese, pig candy, fried onions, roasted garlic steak sauce, and peppercress), The Oaks, or Oinkster. Be sure to give those a try when you’re in town, too.

43. Chinatown

While this corner of Downtown L.A. has certainly seen a renaissance as of late, with restaurants like Pok Pok, Chego, and Burgerlords opening up shop, if you want real, authentic Chinese food, head out to the San Gabriel Valley: it’s worth the trek up the 110 Freeway. Brace yourself for the best dim sum and dumplings you can find outside the motherland.

44. Rodeo Drive

Big box luxury brands abound on this iconic street in Beverly Hills, but if you want to shop where the upper echelons do, it’s not in 90210. Spend your wad over in Silverlake or Abbot Kinney. And if you’re really after brand names—you know, the kind that celebs really wear—head down Robertson Boulevard for some window-shopping.

45. Sunset Strip

There’s nothing that pains me more than hearing someone complain about our nightlife scene based on their trip down the Strip. Sure, our bars might not stay open til 2 a.m., but most of the credible nightlife and bar action has moved to DTLA and the Eastside. If you must visit this godforsaken park of our city, please, please do not do it on a Star Tours bus.

—Krista Simmons

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Credit: © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy

New York City

The things we've shared here shouldn't surprise—even a list of overrated things in New York is overrated. But as oft-repeated as much of this advice is, it's still sound. Avoid the crowds (as best you can) and get an alternate view of the City that Never Sleeps.

46. Times Square

Sometimes you have to go to Times Square. Sometimes you are going to the theater. Sometimes you are visiting a midtown office building. Sometimes you are walking from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Central Branch of the New York Public Library. Sometimes, you just have to take a picture for your Instagram. We get it. But get a good squint at all those lights and then get out of there.

For a better sense of New York City's public spaces, try Union Square instead. (Its particularly delightful greenmarket is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Browse the stalls and pick up some much-beloved treats like ostrich jerky from Roaming Acres Ostrich, sachets from Lavender on the Bay, and honey and jams from Berkshire Berries. You are just like a real New Yorker now.)

47. The Empire State Building

You've seen King Kong—all three of them. You love An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle. The Empire State Building means something to you. Great! But why go up it when you can see it from someplace else? Try the Top of the Rock instead—it's got equally delightful views of the city, a slightly less oppressive crowd, and—best of all—the panorama includes the Empire State.

48. Williamsburg

Maybe you have seen Girls? Maybe you have a cousin or a niece who drinks PBR? Maybe you have spent your whole life listening to Jay-Z songs? While Brooklyn is definitely worth the trip across the East River, Williamsburg—for all you may have heard of it—isn't its most representative quarter (though we'll admit its restaurants can't be beat). Try Fort Greene instead—a historically diverse neighborhood full of delightful local restaurants and businesses (check out Greenlight Bookstore), and tree-shaded brownstones.

49. Hamilton

Okay, Hamilton isn't overrated; it's just too difficult to get a ticket. If your luck runs out (Hamilton also offers a "Ham4Ham" $10 ticket lottery, replete with special performances), try something at the Public Theater, where Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical originally premiered, instead.

50. Magnolia Cupcakes

People are still going to Magnolia Cupcakes! It has been 11 years since Sex and the City ended. (And 10 years since the SNL video short "Lazy Sunday.") Let the cupcake trend finally die, and indulge in a superior dessert: pie. Try Brooklyn's Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which features specials like Bourbon Pear Crumble or Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan, instead.

51. Cronuts

We'll admit they sound appealing in the abstract, but there's nothing alluring about the line of people still gathering outside of pastry chef Dominique Ansel's bakery every morning. Why wait when the city has so many spectacular donut alternatives? Try the Donut Plant, Peter Pan Donuts, or Dough instead. New York (the country, even) is in a donut golden age.

52. Statue of Liberty

Bring me your tired, your poor, your hungry ... Lady Liberty, an inspiring symbol and ogle-worthy work of colossal statuary, actually isn't that fun to visit. While peering out from her crown is pretty cool, the long wait to get up there isn't. Try Ellis Island, the next stop on the Statue Cruise's ferry. Your tired, poor, hungry, and historically inclined still get a great view of the Statue from the water, and get a lot more besides: a look back at all those immigrants (from which 40 percent of U.S. citizens can trace their lineage) "yearning to breathe free."

—Molly McArdle

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From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the Catacombs, there are more things in Paris than any visitor could experience in a lifetime. That doesn't mean all the possible attractions are worth it, though. Overpriced, plagued by long lines, and just generally unnecessary, here are some things to consider leaving off the itinerary.

53. Dinner Cruises

With thousands of restaurants around town, it's difficult to justify confining oneself to a floating eatery for an evening. Who can appreciate the beautiful scenery while focusing on the food and wine? It's more exciting to be on the deck of a boat or to eat in a memorable restaurant, instead of cramming both together.

54. The Sewer Tour

The name says it all. While the sewer system is brilliant from a city planning perspective, tourists may be less enthusiastic about this stinky experience. The repeat visitor might appreciate the oddball aspect, but in general, going underground to see and smell sewage isn't really high on the Paris bucket list. There are other notable oddball attractions, like the Catacombs or the Deyrolle taxidermy boutique, that are easily more enjoyable.

55. Towers of Notre Dame

There's only one downside to exploring the towers that housed the fictional hunchback of Notre Dame himself—the lines. Few things in Paris merit hours of such waiting, and the towers, while offering great views, are no exception. The Museum Pass has no sway here. The church itself is free to enter and the line takes mere minutes, so the towers are really only worth it if there's time to burn. The dome at Sacre Coeur rarely ever has any lines and its 300 stairs offer an equally intense workout.

56. Les Deux Magots Café

Hanging out in iconic, historical haunts is perfectly fine, but there's little going on at the Deux Magots these days. This famous café is a magnet for tour guide-wielding travelers and friends, not the Hemingways and Picasssos of old. There are plenty of other cafés where the food and coffee are just as good, and better priced. Try Café Constant for great dining, or the Les Editeurs Café for a drink.

57. The Champs Elysées

Sure, it's the world's most famous avenue, and like it or not, nearly every tourist will walk down it at some point. Surrounded by H&M, the Disney Store, Marks & Spencer, and other commercial stores, it's hard to see what the draw is anymore. The Arc de Triomphe at one end is an iconic sight to visit, but there's no reason to dally too much on the avenue afterwards.

58. Luxury Shopping

Chanel and Louis Vuitton boutiques are not lacking anywhere in the world, so it's a wonder why people flock to the French capital to stock up on the luxury brand names. Instead, the smaller, artisan one-off shops are what travelers should be trying to find, however difficult it may be in an ever-globalizing world. Instead of worrying about brand name boutiques, try finding something original and funky at the St. Ouen flea market.

59. Ladurée Macarons

For those who still go bananas for macarons, the debate over Ladurée will pop up at some point. The bakery sells their little cream-filled meringue cookies all over the city, at the airport, in London, in New York, and beyond. They're far from rare, and many other bakeries make even better ones. It's an institution and Instagram-ready, but at the end of the day, over-rated. Instead, the macarons at Pain de Sucre are a bit more local, less industrial, and, for some, better tasting.

60. Rue Cler

This street is a cutesy little stroll that seems utterly Parisian. It's full of small, quaint-looking shops that are mostly forgettable. The food offerings are rarely impressive, and it's full of tourists more than Parisians, though it does offer something to eat not far from the Eiffel Tower. Spend a few minutes walking it and then move on to better things, like the nearby Aux Merveilleux de Fred boutique that sells delicious sweet meringues.

61. Moulin Rouge

Few tourists hate seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge, but even fewer rave about it. It gets mixed reviews in general, but really, there are probably better ways to spend some $100 for a night on the town. It's not a bad show, but it's over-rated for what it is. Instead, join the locals at the Theatre du Chatelet for a concert or musical comedy, like "An American in Paris," which moved to Broadway after its debut in Paris in 2014.

—Bryan Pirolli

Credit: Hiroyuki Matsumoto

San Francisco

Life—and especially vacation—is too short to spend on time-wasters. San Francisco, though known for its creative culture, is not immune to having its own tourist traps, and while savvy travelers may know the obvious places to avoid, like Fisherman’s Wharf, there are some surprises, too. Read on for what you can skip on your next visit to SF (along with some alternatives that can take its place).

62. Visiting Haight-Ashbury

No one has worn flowers in their hair in this neighborhood since the early 1970s. Yet somehow its reputation as a free-love hippie haven refuses to die. Every year thousands of tie-dye-wearing tourists fall victim to this tragic tourist trap. Instead of the “turn on, tune in, drop out” visionaries who once lived here, stoned teenage runaways now crowd this intersection, and little remains of its colorful past.

Better option: Venture to Lower Haight Street, where a more contemporary bohemian vibe draws urbanites for artsy dive bars, yoga studios, and funky restaurants.

63. Dim Sum at House of Nanking

Sadly, the quirky neon sign above this Chinese restaurant immortalized in many guidebooks and blogs no longer lives up to its hype. The silver lining? The city’s high Chinese population has kept the dim-sum competition going strong, so there are plenty of other alternatives for getting your fix.

Better option: Find top-notch dim-sum at Shanghai Dumpling King on Balboa Street in the fringe Outer Richmond neighborhood, where xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) are served family-style in bamboo steaming baskets.

64. Sightseeing by Segway

San Francisco constantly ranks as one of the most walk able cities in the US, so why cheat yourself and see it from the helmet tunnel-vision on a Segway? There is likely not a single resident who has stepped foot on a Segway in the city limits, so you're not exactly experiencing the city through the eyes of a local.

Better option: Join one of the city’s dynamic walking tours. Groups like Wild SF employ local artists and activists to lead their tours, for true insider insight.

65. Attending Bay to Breakers

The lighthearted footrace that began as a spirited rebound from the disastrous 1906 earthquake has, in more recent years, devolved into a cesspool of early morning bacchanalia and people puking in skimpy costumes—most of whom pass out at Alta Vista or Golden Gate Park way before the finish line.

Better option: While San Francisco has no shortage of great festivals, the Fillmore Jazz Festival in July is one of the best, and is often overlooked by visitors.

66. Driving Down Lombard Street

This is a great option if your idea of a good time is being stuck in gridlock traffic. Everyday of the week this street is a cluster, yet somehow this glorified parking lot still gets touted as a must-do when visiting San Francisco.

Better option: Walk it. It is a beautiful street with great views of North Beach and Coit Tower, and on foot you can pass the flower-strewn walkways that flank each side for a more immersive experience.

67. Shopping in Union Square

There’s nothing local about the clothes at H&M or Macy’s, so why spend your diminutive time in big-box retail stores you can visit anywhere?

Better option: Shop at neighborhood stores in the Mission and Hayes Valley, where city designers create natty West Coast urban clothes and accessories.

68. Riding the Powell Cable Car Lines

San Francisco’s rustic cable cars rocking up and down steep hills and past pastel Victorian homes is such an iconic image that it cannot be completely dismissed as a worthwhile activity. There is, after all, something thrillingly death-defying about standing on its tiny ledge with only your grip to keep you from flying into oncoming traffic. But for some reason, everyone seems to take the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason cable car lines, which amass unreasonably long queues, during which you will be subjected to soapbox evangelists and aggressive Market Street panhandlers.

Better option: Take the California Street line, nearly void of tourists, and get off at Polk Street, where you can explore the up-and-coming neighborhood of Polk Gulch.

69. and 70. Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39

At least a few times every week, a band of lost tourists stops to ask me the way to Fisherman’s Wharf or Pier 39. Anyone who has ever been hostage to the rank smell of sea lions knows to avoid this area at all costs. Instead of pointing them in the right direction, I tell them not to bother and send them to a landmark that is not full of overpriced Disney-esque rides and souvenir shops.

Better option: Just south of Pier 39 on the Embarcadero is the relatively new Exploratorium—a wonderland of scientific interactive exhibits and installations, still with an amazing bayside view.

—Jenna Scatena

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| Credit: Blaine Harrington III / Alamy


Sydney is undeniably beautiful, but it's also maddeningly spread-out and, in places, incredibly tourist-heavy. Ticking off the guide-book "must-dos" could take a week or more, a time-intensive endeavor that may prevent you from experiencing some of the city's other pleasures. Below, our picks for attractions you could skip in favor of shaping a more fulfilling itinerary.

71. Visiting Bondi Beach

You'll spend an hour getting here on a hot, crowded bus. Then, when you arrive, you'll find the sand heaving with rowdy backpackers, and cringe when you see the souvenir t-shirts and overpriced food nearby. Bondi looks impressive from a distance, but nearby beaches such as Bronte and Maroubra (as well as many area pools) are just as picturesque yet less choked with tourists.

72. Climbing Harbour Bridge

It's an icon, and the Opera House is clearly visible from the top. But partaking in an expensive "bridge-climb"—and negotiating the cumbersome safety gear and whipping wind that come with it—may hold less sway when you consider the other breathtaking vantage points dotted around Sydney Harbour. Why not spend that money on a seaplane or helicopter ride, or catch a harbor ferry and check out the bridge from the water?

73. Attending the Mardi Gras Parade

Sydney's month-long Mardi Gras Festival, which runs from early February to early March and celebrates queer culture, is full of worthwhile events, including boundary-pushing theater and provocative lectures. The parade itself, though, can be a logistical nightmare: much of downtown is closed to traffic, and unless you arrive well ahead of time, you won't see much from behind the barricades.

74. Strolling Through Chinatown

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Sydney—with its sizable Chinese-Australian population and balmy climate—is an ideal location for an open-air Chinese precinct. Think again. Not only is the city's Chinatown relatively small by global standards, it's also bland (gone are the days when gangsters and outcasts would crowd its late-night noodle shops). With so many good Chinese restaurants in Sydney's other areas, you can safely skip Chinatown.

75. Eating at Harry's Cafe de Wheels

What started out as a single food truck in the waterside precinct of Wooloomooloo has become a Sydney institution—there are branches everywhere. In addition, you can find traditional Aussie meat pies that locals love in most bakeries across Sydney, and you won't have to wait in line to purchase them.

76. Exploring Darling Harbour

It's marketed heavily toward tourists, but there's not much to see or do in this enclave, aside from visit Sydney's surprisingly tame aquarium, browse a small shopping mall, and eat ice cream in the cafes. Like many parts of downtown Sydney, it's also tricky to find and surrounded by intimidatingly busy roads.

77. Discover the Historic Rocks District

This headland was one of the first parts of Sydney to be populated by European settlers, and there are gritty stories to be heard about its former slums and ghosts. These days, however, the steeply sloping streets of The Rocks are full of quasi-English pubs, souvenir shops, and a few luxury mega-retailers. Take a walk through Millers Point instead—it's a fascinating old suburb directly uphill from The Rocks that's managed to retain a great deal of charm.

—Dan F. Stapleton

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Credit: Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery


There's plenty to love in Japan's famed capital, from the efficient and sprawling transportation system to the excellent high quality food, and to the exquisite attention to detail in local products. But there are a few things that are over-hyped, offering little bang for big bucks. Go ahead and skip these options the next time you tune in to Tokyo.

78. Tokyo Sky Tree

Admittedly, the sleek transmitter tower looks kind of cool, especially when it's lit up in a special color scheme. But entry is expensive ($30 on the day of, more for advance tickets), lines are long, and the reservation system is unnecessarily complicated if you want to buy a ticket in advance. You have to visit during a narrow window of time that will put a damper on your plans, unless you love highly scheduled vacations.

Instead, check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, which is free, impressive (designed by famed architect Kenzo Tange), and easy to access. Open late, lines are short (you'll rarely wait more than 10 minutes to go up), and you can also see the nerve center behind Tokyo public works.

79. Golden Gai

The seedy Shinjuku neighborhood famous for its crooked alleys of dingy-looking drinking establishments has had its moment in the limelight, and attracts quite a few tourists looking for an authentic dive experience. The result is a lot of jaded locals, jacked-up prices, and hidden cover charges.

If you want to drink in an old-fashioned alley, try Harmonica Alley in Kichijoji or Ebisu Yokocho, a few of Golden Gai's less famous counterparts. Or wander and discover your own crooked dive; they're strewn all over the city, and finding your own is more fun anyway.

80. Tokyo Disneyland

The park isn't even in Tokyo, but in neighboring suburban Chiba, part of the city's vast gray borderlands. This excursion (starting at $57) comes complete with hours-long lines for most of the major rides. Of course, there's the Fastpass, but almost everyone is using that, too, which means you get the privilege of waiting in a somewhat shorter line.

If you really must meet the Mouse, then try Disney Sea, a slightly more adult-oriented park, with different rides than at the main park built around watery themes like Captain Nemo, the Little Mermaid, and 1001 Arabian Nights. Or, skip the Magic Kingdom altogether and hit up Fuji-Q Highlands, a popular amusement park unique to Japan built near the base of Mt. Fuji. The park, which is cheaper by about $15 than Disneyland, boasts several major roller coasters and a whole host of Japanese character-themed attractions, with the fantastic iconic backdrop of Japan's famous mountain.

81. Maid Cafes

These establishments feature young women dressed in French maid costumes, sometimes with the addition of cat ears or another cosplay element fad, serving overpriced dishes like waffles and omurice (fried rice omelettes) decorated with hearts and other over-the-top cutesy motifs. The cafes haven't actually been popular domestically for a decade, and are the realm of tourists and creepy nerds.

There are too many awesome themed cafes in Tokyo to keep track of them all, with new ones popping up all the time. Why not try a hammock cafe, a video game cafe, or a Moomin cafe instead?

82. Sanrio Puroland

Although it may seem like a good idea to visit the land of Hello Kitty, the park can be an overpriced nightmare ($31). Attractions are aimed at very small children, yet they can be too loud and scary for the target tots. And while Kitty-chan can be cute in small doses, the large-scale version is overly saccharine.

The Ghibli museum, by contrast, is a lovely place to spend an afternoon for both kids and adults, with lots of props from the famous films made by the prolific Hayao Miyazaki and his Ghibli Studios. Find rooms and gardens decorated with bits from My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, and many more. If you really need a Hello Kitty fix, Sanrio goods are pretty much one of Japan's national currencies, and you can get character gear in just about any department store.

83. Lock Up

This themed izakaya seems to have an identity crisis. Though it's supposed to evoke the experience of dining in a prison, staff also periodically don monster masks and scream at you while distorted music blares so loudly that you can't finish your conversation. The food is standard bar fare with a few weak gimmicks, like shots in test tubes and sushi "roulette," with one piece loaded with excessive amounts of wasabi.

Pick any good izakaya instead and revel in the authentic, unforced atmosphere.

84. Takeshita Dori

Once upon a time, this little street in Harajuku may have been a counterculture haven for rebellious teenagers, but it had already jumped the shark by the time Gwen Stefani named her line of accessories after the neighborhood. These days, you're less likely to see the street artists and cosplayers that used to populate the area than the tourists who are looking for them.

You're better off going to Koenji or Shimokitazawa or Nakano, where artists, musicians, and bohemians congregate for the reasonable rent, thrift stores, music venues, and tasty non-chain restaurants.

—Selena Hoy

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Credit: Alamy


If you're the kind of traveler that wants to see and do it all when you reach a new city, we understand. That's why it's tough to watch precious hours tick by stuck in a long line, waiting to get into a sought-after destination—only to be disappointed when you're inside. If you're wondering what you can skip on your next visit to Toronto, we've got some ideas. Do check them out if you've got your heart set on them, but for certain travelers, there are other highlights just as worthy of discovering.

85. The CN Tower

We know, it's iconic. It's emblematic. Some even say a feat of modern engineering. It's also $33 a person to reach the top and during peak season, likely a three-hour-plus wait. Savvy locals suggest you check out the tower from other sky-high vantage points. Instead of blowing the bank on passable fare at the tower's 360 Restaurant, try the 54th floor atop the Financial District's TD Tower, where for almost the same amount, you can dine at the Canadian-inspired Canoe. Craft cocktails, a great view (of the tower and the city), and fine fare—it's a win-win.

86. Yonge-Dundas Square

This is Toronto's Times Square. Same bright lights, big city vibe with chain restaurants offering the North American equivalent of the European "Menu Turistico" of overpriced, lackluster fare. If you're a fan of blazing billboards bombarding you from every angle and chain retail franchises you can see in most any North American city, it's all yours. Locals, however, urge you to visit independent eateries that tell a more interesting story of where you are and what you're eating. These can be found all over the city without breaking a sweat.

87. The Eaton Centre

Once you've seen Michael Snow's fiberglass installation of Canadian geese in mid-flight, aptly titled Flight Stop, you may want to seek other shopping pastures. This is Toronto's number one tourist destination, with more than one million visitors a week passing through. That might have something to do with its proximity to the aforementioned Dundas Square. To be fair, the mall has undergone a huge revitalization, but most of the shops are non-descript chain stores that you can find anywhere. Instead, walk the charming neighborhood streets boasting local designers of every stripe to suit your sartorial or creative inclinations.

88. Ripley's Aquarium

One of Toronto's latest tourist attractions, the aquarium is state-of-the-art. Visitors glide along a moving sidewalk underneath a clear tunnel, where you can view the teeming underwater life above. At $22 a pop per adult and $15 for children, you'd hope there was a side of context or marine education in the mix, for which Vancouver's Aquarium is known. No dice here, but if you're a fan of sea creatures, do check out the colorful jelly fish section.

—Mary Luz Mejia

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Credit: Courtesy of The Capitol

Washington, DC

If there is anything hard about planning a trip to DC, it's overabundance. The city has a lot to offer and much of it is free, so the key to doing it right is prioritization. Few things on the list below are without value (except for driving) but many have a longer wait for a less satisfying pay-off. Figure out what works best for you, but don't be shy about taking a turn off the beaten track.

89. The Capitol

Other than Congress itself, there's not much inside the Capitol building that's particularly exciting. (Take note, DC is the nation's capital, but the iconic building is the Capitol.) This isn't always true if you get an especially talented tour guide—the stories are what animate the institution. But with Hill interns, it's hit or miss—plus, planning for a tour takes a little work. Also, the building is full of statues that make the corridors look cluttered. Save time and appreciate the view from the outside.

90. The Archives

The Constitution! The Declaration of Independence! A copy of the Magna Carta! Arguably the most important objects a person can see in DC, but the wait is long, the text easy to Google, and the documents themselves are just paper. It's a hard sell, particularly when traveling with kids. Try the National Gallery of Art sculpture garden (which features ice skating in winter and live jazz in summer) out back.

91. Museums That Charge Admission

It's no secret that the city is a cultural wonderland, with world-class museums at nearly every turn. But if you're short on time, or watching the budget, why not get your art fix at one of the many free museums on offer? It might make space in your wallet for a visit the area's best bakeries, a day trip, or even a unique gift to mark the trip.

92. Georgetown

Charming, yes, but not easy to get to. And there's just as much great shopping—if not better—along the U Street corridor and in Dupont Circle.

93. Chinatown

In many American cities, Chinatown is the go-to place for delicious (and often cheap) food, as well as a living testament to communities of immigrants who have helped build the country since the 1810s. But in DC, since the construction of the Verizon Center in 1997, the population of Chinese Americans living in the neighborhood has dropped from 3,000 to 300. A bevy of chain restaurants and luxury condos followed in their wake. What remains is a Chinatown only in name: think Chipotle and Hooters with signs both in English and Chinese script. The neighborhood's beautiful blue and gold Friendship Archway, a gift from Beijing from 1986, is the only sight worth seeing.

94. Eating on the Mall

There is one exception to this rule—the Museum of the American Indian's fabulous Mitsitam café—but on the whole, the food is unexceptional and overpriced. Walk a few blocks (or a few museums over) to get a better tasting, and better value, meal.

95. Driving

The streets really aren't as confusing as the out-of-towners make them out to be, even with the roundabouts, but the traffic is. With the second largest public transportation system in the country (with total miles of rail second only to New York City)—avail yourself of the convenience of the Metro.

—Molly McArdle

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