What "touristy" attractions live up to the hype?

Inspired by a concurrent thread asking for cool and unusual things to do in NYC (which is of course an admirable goal).

For my part, one my favorite experiences on my all-too-brief trip to NYC was the Natural History Museum. For one, I’m a Teddy Roosevelt fan and enjoyed seeing the various artifacts from his travels. Even more thrilling were the dinosaurs - the T. Rex specifically. Made me feel like a kid again.

So - what tourist attractions do you feel live up to their fame? I’ve heard, for example, that the Mona Lisa is underwhelming in person.

Michaelangelo’s David? Yes!

Leonardo’s Mona Lisa? Not so much. Small, hard to see behind glass, etc.

The Grand Canyon. Pictures and videos don’t really do justice to just how big it is.

Mount Rushmore? Meh.

The Crazy Horse monument, even unfinished, is Wow! impressive.

This is what I would say. When I went with some friends, we were all complaining about how out of the way it was from our destination (Las Vegas). But when we got there, looking out at this HUGE hole in the ground made it worth it.

The Smithsonian museums. Any or all of them. Pick your interest, it’s amazing.

The National zoo, however, is depressing. Especially the panda “habitat”. It’s what zoos used to be.

Las Vegas = Yes. Even if you don’t like gambling (and I don’t), it’s worth going once just to see the glitz of the Strip, and the shows are absolutely top-notch.

Hoover Dam = Yes. The size is totally awe-inspiring.

Jamaica = No. The resorts are nice enough, but you can find nice resorts anywhere in the world. There really isn’t much in the way of excursions, and your resort will be surrounded by impoverished slums, so striking out on your own would be a very bad idea.

The Mayan archeological sites I visited were more awesome than I would have imagined beforehand. Particularly Palenque.

Niagara Falls. Magnificent!

Antelope (slot) Canyon. Gorgeous beyond words.

The pyramids and the Sphinx. Seeing them for real was awesome.

Not that famous, but the ruins at Ephesus were also amazing. Including an ancient outdoor toilet.

The Parthenon and Roman Forum didn’t do it for me, but the Coliseum was pretty cool.

Closer to home, the Smithsonian and the Lincoln Memorial.
I’m from New York, so I can’t judge New York landmarks since I’m so used to them.

I’m not a veteran and I don’t know anybody who fought in Vietnam, but the Vietnam War memorial is one of those places that just humbles you (unless you’re a stone).

By contrast, the Korean War memorial which is nearby is very haunting and beautiful but I’d never heard of it before I saw it. It counts as under-hyped and under-appreciated in my opinion.

Back to touristy things: the Scottish highlands

I think many National Parks live up to the hype–as long as you don’t mind the crowds. Just driving in to places like Zion, Arches, or Yosemite is a jaw-dropping experience, and it just gets better once you have a chance to get out and walk around.

The British Museum
The Eifel Tower
The Bund in Shanghai
Taipei 101
Hong Kong skyline
Pat’s or Geno’s in Philly
Skiing anywhere in the Rockies
Old Yankee Stadium
The top of the WTC twin towers
The Breakers mansion in Newport, RI
The Alamo
Any US aircraft carrier

Ewww, really? Even surrounded by the cheap tourist trap stuff? My opinion is that you can see the falls for about 30 seconds and be satisfied for the rest of your life.

The cheap touristy trap stuff in Niagara was sometimes more awesome than it seemed …



The Tower of London/The Crown Jewels. Even more impressive than the most glossy brochure or travel guide can describe

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I thought the Warner Studio tour outside London was pretty cool. Every imaginable prop and set from the movies were on display. Total geekfest for a fan.

Pompeii and pretty much all of Rome is wonderful.

The Pyramids?..meh.

I’ve been to Pompeii twice and I’d go again in a heartbeat! It’s fascinating and sobering and humbling and sad.

I don’t know if Iceland counts as touristy, but I loved it and I’m definitely going back. It’s an amazingly beautiful place.

New Orleans, especially the French Quarter and Garden District, are world class. Everyone should go at least once because there is no other city like it.

Pearl Harbor and especially the USS Arizona memorial on Oahu, Hawaii is way more moving than I expected.

The Mona Lisa is certainly small and it is hard to get close to it or even see it well because of constant crowd of people constantly snapping flash pictures. What do they do with those pictures anyway? You can get a much better image of it for free on the internet and even blow it up to a reasonable size if you have a large monitor.