6 'Tourist Traps' Worth a Visit

Aug 11, 2015
We're here to take an unpopular stance: There's a lot of value in visiting places that have been dubbed "tourist traps." Granted, some spots have earned their bad reputation by charging high fees for underwhelming, overcrowded attractions. But others have cemented their status as beloved attractions, either by reinventing themselves or staying exactly the way you remember them from your childhood. Below you'll find the six spots that we think are worth joining the crowds to see:

The High Line in New York City

Although there's no shortage of compelling art in New York, green space comes at quite a premium. Joined together, they create a spot that means a lot of things to a lot of visitors. The repurposed railroad line is a popular spot for strolls and a quiet reprieve from the city not so far below. The new Whitney Museum of American Art is right off the High Line as are tons of popular restaurants to fuel up before or after a visit.

Boating in Biscayne Bay around Star Island in South Beach

Members of our Miami office voted this hybrid activity -- part star tour a la Los Angeles, part sightseeing cruise -- as their favorite "touristy" thing to do in the area, hands down. Depart from Bayside piers and watch the skyline fade away while making your way to the man-made island with homes of celebrities, including Gloria Estefan and Shaquille O'Neal.

Signature Lounge at the 96th in Chicago

For the price of one cocktail, get access to a picture-worthy view of the city from atop the John Hancock building. Consider going before sunset to get the best of both worlds: clear views of the city in the daylight then the twinkle of the skyscrapers at dusk. And apologies to the men: surprisingly, some of the best views of the city below are from the women's bathroom.

The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas

One of Travelzoo's Deal Experts, who used to live in the city, said she could watch the choreographed water feature all day long -- and visitors tend to agree. Often times seeing the show all the way through once a day isn't enough. The complimentary show, which runs at least every half hour daily, is often saved for the end of a visit, but is also a festive way to start out a trip to The Strip.

Alcatraz Island ... at night in San Francisco

The unlikely pairing of spooky after-hours access at the infamous prison site, including looks at the hospital and dungeon, plus sunset, skyline and Golden Gate views make for a perfect way to spend an evening in the Bay Area. We tend to skip Alcatraz during the day, but a nighttime visit is worth planning a few months in advance. Sailings can sell out quickly.

Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica

Two recent additions -- the shops at Santa Monica Place and the oceanview Tongva Park -- just add to the reasons why this is a perennial picturesque favorite. Classic activities like taking a beach cruiser out to see the sites, noshing on snacks alongside the water and taking a spin on the iconic Ferris wheel or carousel bring visitors out in droves, and keeps them coming back season after season.

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