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5 Most Overrated American Landmarks

5 Most Overrated American Landmarks

The U.S. is full of parks, attractions, and natural landscapes that have become beloved destinations. But over time, some of these cherished American landmarks become spoiled and undoubtedly overrated.

This begs the question: At what point does a favorite location turn into a disappointment?

Check out this list of five of our most overrated landmarks and see if you agree.

Let’s explore!

American Landmarks are Icons of the Great American Road Trip

Who doesn’t love the thought of hopping into a 1965 Corvette convertible and hitting the road to visit many of this country’s great American landmarks? With the wind whipping through your hair, you might pass right by the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 or ogle at the size of the Gateway Arch. But somewhere along the way, you may find a landmark or two that doesn’t impress. 

5 Most Overrated American Landmarks

Famous American landmarks are too numerous to count, as millions of tourists make their way to these popular sites. But we’ve found five that don’t live up to the hype. Here’s why.

1: Hollywood Walk of Fame

Many tourists flock to see their favorite celebrities’ stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of what used to be called Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now the TLC Chinese Theater) in Los Angeles. What they don’t realize until they arrive at Hollywood and Vine is just how difficult it is to find their favorite “stars.” There is so much foot traffic in the area that locating specific memorials is often an exercise in futility. 

However, there’s hope as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has published a “Star Directory and Map” on its website. You can now find the street address of your favorite celebrity’s star. Still, some don’t love the crowds and solicitors often present along this overrated American landmark.

Image of some stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Instead of exploring the Hollywood Walk of Fame, try out the Griffith Observatory.

What to See Instead: Griffith Observatory

Rather than cruising Hollywood and Vine, why not drive into the hills and explore Griffith Observatory? You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the City of Angels and the famous Hollywood Sign. Plus, you can see the cosmos through telescopes and catch the night skies at the planetarium.

2: Times Square

Situated at the confluence of Broadway and 42nd Street in New York City, Times Square is a vibrant destination. What started as a horse exchange eventually became the center of bright lights and glitz with theater billboards and advertisements in every direction.

But the highly pedestrian nature of this overrated American landmark has also made it a target for crime. On top of that, it’s always busy. If crowds aren’t your thing, you might want to skip Times Square.

Busy Times Square
Times Square is known for being overly crowded and touristy. Instead explore The High Line.

What to See Instead: The High Line

You might enjoy your time more by exploring The High Line on Manhattan’s west side. A former elevated rail line, The High Line now serves as a sleek, relaxing park overlooking the city’s streets. With gardens, walkways, sculptures, fountains, and plenty of green space, this 1.45-mile trail sits above the traffic, giving visitors a taste of quiet escape amid the city hustle and bustle.

3: Mount Rushmore

This national memorial lies in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a granite tribute to four  U.S. presidents. Although these gigantic human heads overwhelm, at first sight, many say they aren’t quite as big as they expected.

The reality often underwhelms, and many struggle to make out details in their faces.

Learn More: Controversy has surrounded Mount Rushmore since before sculpting even started. Read more to find out why!

Girl taking photo of Mt. Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore can be underwhelming, but the Badlands are a must see!

What to See Instead: Badlands National Park

Venture east to Badlands National Park, once the ancestral hunting grounds of the Oglala Lakota and Sioux Indians. Here the eroded pinnacles showcase colorful layers of sedimentary rocks, with buttes and prairie grasslands thrown into the mix.

It’s easy to imagine Native American villages of days gone by as you watch today’s buffalo graze on the land. This is a magical place for boondocking because camping is allowed anywhere in the park, as long as it’s half a mile from a road or trail and isn’t visible.

4: Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, Bourbon Street has become a symbol of raucous revelry. This famous but overrated American landmark undeniably celebrates the city’s cultural heritage.

However, many businesses lining the street have historically had an undercurrent of debauchery. Bourbon Street has seen it all, but perhaps your family doesn’t want to. It might attract some, but this iconic destination isn’t very family-friendly.

What to See Instead: Frenchmen Street

Just two blocks away from Bourbon Street lies the center of live music in The Big Easy. Frenchmen Street sprang up as a neighborhood where locals could enjoy music and avoid the tourist-filled French Quarter.

Today it has three blocks of clubs, all of them hitting just the right note for an evening of dancing to some of the best music in the country. Several venues are even kid-friendly.

5: Cadillac Ranch

Ten Cadillacs sit buried in a field just outside Amarillo, Texas. An art group named The Ant Farm insists these vehicles are part of an art display. The Caddies date from 1949 through 1963. The angle of their mass burial (nose-first into the ground) copies that of the famous Cheops Pyramid in Giza, Egypt.

But even the pharaohs might balk at these sculptures, as tag artists are encouraged to spray paint on the automobiles. What once was a novel idea has become a junkyard of abandoned paint cans.

Pro Tip: If you’re driving down Route 66, you might consider stopping at Cadillac Ranch, but Is Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 Worth a Visit? Read more to find out!

Painted Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch.
If art installations aren’t your thing, skip Cadillac Ranch and spend some time in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

What to See Instead: Palo Duro Canyon State Park

To see fewer neon colors but more natural landscapes, check out Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, this American landmark is 120 miles long and was created by water erosion that cut into siltstones, shales, and sandstones.

Each exposed layer presents soft reds, pinks, and oranges that give the canyon its vibrant hues. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding will provide visitors with an up-close view of this stunning Texas Panhandle park.

More Overrated American Landmarks?

Favorite American landmarks number in the thousands, but some have gotten too busy, too dirty, too unsafe, or just too boring for us to keep on our list of must-see destinations.

These overrated places may need an overhaul, a thorough cleaning, or just an upgrade. We’ve listed five here, but we’re sure there are more out there. What American landmarks would you add to the “overrated” pile?

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  1. Mike says:

    The Highline can be just as crowded as Times Square. Central Park would be my choice. It has a lot of open space and is surrounded by places of interest, such as: the Dakota (Where John Lennon lived) and Strawberry Fields, The Museum of Natural History, the Plaza Hotel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Central Park Zoo, just to name a few.