Disappointing tourist traps seem to come in several varieties: some of them are places that used to be a big deal but now aren’t, others are places that everyone thinks should be interesting but somehow aren’t and then there are places that the locals are trying to pretend are interesting but it’s not working.
The first type is the pretty common. People feel they should go to a place where something special happened to see if there’s a little bit of that specialness is still hanging around. The special event can be something really horrible like an assassination, or fun something like a famous movie location, but people who go looking for what made the place matter a long time ago can often come away disappointed.
There are some places people go to because they sound interesting in theory but are disappointing in practice. Places that are oddities on a map but there’s literally nothing to see when you get there except some sign saying that this is where the imaginary thing on the map would be if you could see it.
But the most common type of tourist letdowns are the ones deliberately built on hype. In a way you can’t blame the locals; everybody’s got to make a living. Even so, it can be disappointing to find out there really isn’t much more to a tourist trap than that it’s a place a lot of tourists go to and leave money and you’ve fallen for it.
1) The Blarney Stone, Ireland
The theory is that kissing the Blarney Stone will give a person “the gift of the gab”, the ability to pull a little Irish charm out whenever it suits you. To get this magical power you have to go out to a castle, climb a bunch of stairs and hang your head out over a hole in the wall. Whoever came up with this sure had the gift of the gab.
2) The Four Corners Monument in Southwestern, United States
This must be the best example of the saying “there’s no ‘there’ there”. When you get to the spot on the map where the American states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico happen to meet up at perfect right angles you’ll find nothing there. Nothing, that is, except a marker with the states’ names telling you this is the spot on the map where two imaginary lines cross each other.
3) The Observation Deck of the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is deservedly famous for being good looking when seen from a distance but it’s observation deck is a dud. Its view of Central Park is blocked by the Rockefeller Center; which makes its much less cramped observation deck a better pick than the Empire State’s. In fact, you can go there instead and enjoy a good view of the Empire State Building.
4) The Prairies
This is the “big sky country” that just goes on and on and on. Once travellers get over the novelty of driving through a landscape with no noticeable landmarks it starts to get boring and then starts to get kind of worrying. What if this never ends? All that flatness just feels weird and wrong in a way you can can’t put your finger on.