With a travel industry worth roughly $488 billion, the U.S. doesn’t lack for tourist appeal. From cultural landmarks to natural splendor, every state boasts attractions designed to invite visitors. But while most residents don’t mind sharing their states with travelers, they don’t exactly spend their time gawking alongside them. Some locals feel famous attractions are more a point of pain than pride: Take away the novelty, and it’s hard to understand what all the crowds are about.
We asked more than 2,500 Americans living in all 50 states which landmarks they felt were overrated, and which hidden gems they thought got too little attention. Our findings reveal residents’ honest opinions on what’s worth seeing and skipping in their states – essential knowledge for all travelers. Ready to learn which tourist sites are unworthy of their hype? Keep reading.
The Most Overrated Tourist Attractions in America
In many cases, locals snubbed commercial tourist entities when determining which attractions were overrated. Disneyland and Walt Disney World were most scorned in California and Florida respectively, despite attracting daily droves of children and their families. Other corporate operations were similarly dismissed by residents, including Minnesota’s Mall of America and Georgia’s World of Coca-Cola. Some states seemed tired of sites synonymous with debauchery, as well: Nevadans rejected the Las Vegas Strip, and Louisianans weren’t too fond of Bourbon Street.
In a few states, however, famed natural beauty failed to meet expectations in the minds of residents. Arizonans, for example, thought the Grand Canyon was overrated, and Montana and Wyoming both said the hype about Yellowstone was undeserved. Sites expressing national history did not escape locals’ criticism either: Mount Rushmore, Plymouth Rock, and the Alamo each irked residents of the states that contained them.
The Most Underrated Tourist Attractions in America
When deciding which attractions were the most underrated, residents in many states favored the scenic. In many cases, locals suggested their national parks were not properly appreciated, although they do attract nearly 83 million visitors each year. In North Carolina and Virginia, for instance, residents agreed the Blue Ridge Mountains were a hidden treasure, and a single road connects two national parks featuring those peaks. Some states suggested lesser-known alternatives to the tourist destinations they assessed as overrated: Glacier National Park as opposed to Yellowstone in Montana, and Sedona in Arizona rather than the Grand Canyon.
There were, however, a fair number of states proud to take their nature inside: Georgia, Nebraska, and Missouri heralded zoos, and Connecticut voted for an aquarium. Even a few theme parks got the underrated nod, such as Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, Dollywood in Tennessee, and Adventureland in Iowa. The competition between natural and commercial attractions was most evident in California, where Legoland and Yosemite tied for the most undervalued attraction. Put the two together, and you have quite a site indeed.
Use the search box in the interactive table below to see your state’s most overrated and underrated tourist attraction side-by-side.
|State||Overrated Tourist Attraction||Underrated Tourist Attraction|
|Alabama||Vulcan Statue||U.S. Space & Rocket Center|
|Arkansas||Hot Springs||Eureka Springs|
|Colorado||Ski Resorts||Garden of the Gods|
|Connecticut||Maritime Aquarium||Maritime Aquarium|
|Delaware||Rehoboth Beach||State Parks|
|Florida||Disney World||Busch Gardens|
|Georgia||World of Coca-Cola||Zoo Atlanta|
|Hawaii||Waikiki Beach||Hiking Trails|
|Idaho||Sun Valley||Craters Of The Moon|
|Illinois||The Bean||Starved Rock State Park|
|Indiana||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Indiana Dunes|
|Iowa||Iowa State Fair||Adventureland|
|Kansas||World's Largest Ball of Twine||Flint Hills|
|Kentucky||Churchill Downs||Mammoth Cave National Park|
|Louisiana||Bourbon Street||State Parks|
|Maine||Old Orchard Beach||Acadia National Park|
|Maryland||Ocean City||Baltimore Inner Harbor|
|Massachusetts||Plymouth Rock||Mountains in Western Mass|
|Michigan||Mackinac Island||Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore|
|Minnesota||Mall of America||Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness|
|Mississippi||Casinos||Natchez Trace Parkway|
|Missouri||The Arch||Saint Louis Zoo|
|Montana||Yellowstone||Glacier National Park|
|Nebraska||Chimney Rock||Henry Doorley Zoo and Aquarium|
|Nevada||The Strip||Red Rock Canyon|
|New Hampshire||Old Man of the Mountain||White Mountains|
|New Jersey||Jersey Shore||Delaware Bay|
|New Mexico||Roswell/White Sands (Tied)||Carlsbad Caverns|
|New York||Statue of Liberty||Niagara Falls|
|North Carolina||Carowinds||Blue Ridge Mountains|
|North Dakota||Medora||International Peace Gardens|
|Ohio||Rock & Roll Hall of Fame||Hocking Hills|
|Oklahoma||Bricktown||OKC Bombing Memorial|
|Oregon||Multnomah Falls/Voodoo Doughnuts (Tied)||Crater Lake|
|Pennsylvania||Hersheypark/Liberty Bell (Tied)||Knoebels|
|Rhode Island||Newport Cliff Walk||Beaches|
|South Carolina||Myrtle Beach||Downtown Charleston|
|South Dakota||Mount Rushmore||Badlands National Park|
|Texas||The Alamo||Big Bend National Park|
|Utah||Temple Square||Arches National Park|
|Vermont||Ben & Jerry's Factory||Lake Champlain|
|Virginia||Virginia Beach||Blue Ridge Mountains|
|Washington||Space Needle||The Gorge/Deception Pass (Tied)|
|Washington, D.C.||White House||Hirshhorn Museum/National Arboretum/Rock Creek Park (Tied)|
|West Virginia||New River Gorge Bridge||New River Gorge Bridge|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin Dells||Wisconsin Dells|
Living Like a Local
Some regard their state’s attractions as little more than distractions, while others cherish their proximity to sites others can only visit. Whatever your perspective when at home, keep an open mind next time you hit the road. Our findings show the biggest names in tourism may not deliver the best experiences, at least according to locals. A little research may reveal more intriguing alternatives – and keep you away from massive crowds.
In your own city, however, you probably have a pretty good idea of where you’d like to be. With RENTCafé in your corner, you can find the latest and greatest rental listings in your target neighborhoods, without having to wonder what’s available. Our unmatched information will help you hunt like a local, so you can live as far from tourists as you’d like.
To create the charts shown above, we surveyed 2,587 Americans in all 50 states solicited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Reddit postings for states with inadequate Mturk responses. We asked individuals to only answer questions relating to their primary state of residence. We asked the same series of questions and collected short-answer responses from each respondent. We then analyzed the answers and organized and grouped similar answers where appropriate (for instance, we grouped “Disneyworld” and “Walt Disney” with “Disney World”). We did our best to collect similar amounts of residents from each state, although some states had more representation than others. All states had at least 30 responses, but some had more than others due to response rates in certain states. Counts of responses from each state listed in the table below:
The content above is intended solely as entertainment and should not be considered an academic, scientific, or educational piece. While the content above was collected, analyzed, and presented as accurately as possible, there are limitations to our findings. While we did our best to include all answers, the variation in answers, spellings, and interpretation of responses was largely subjective. We could not ask those surveyed follow-up questions as to the meaning of their answers, so some groupings and judgment calls were made as to the meaning of answers. Because of the sample size, these figures may not represent the opinions of all members of a state and are only a small sampling.
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