The Most Boring Tourist Trap in Every U.S. State
July 16, 2019 12:58 PM   Subscribe

We've scoured the U.S. to find the least interesting and most skip-worthy destination in each state and Washington, D.C. We’re prepared for the fact that we’ll anger many locals, and we mean no offense with these choices. It’s likely we included many folks’ favorite detours. But just because you have a fond memory of a place doesn’t mean it’s worth anyone else’s time. And you can be sure that if it claims to be the world’s “largest” or “best” of anything, it made the list.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (227 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
h/t Miss Cellania
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:00 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Most of these rock.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:06 PM on July 16 [29 favorites]


Hey, some of these places sound awesome!

I've been to Elvis's birthplace - it's super weird, in that inside it's sort of a museum to Elvis fandom? They've got some real things, but then they also have a mug that someone stole from Elvis's motel room at one point.

I'm intrigued by Holy Land USA and I love wall drug!

(Also the Mall of America is the mall that's easiest for me to get to - I don't get it as a tourist destination but at least it's more interesting shopping experience than most other malls, and I can get some crepes afterwards.)
posted by dinty_moore at 1:08 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Calling bullshit on Georgia right now. There are surely many worse tourist places in Georgia than the Lunchbox Museum, which sounds fantastic.
posted by thelonius at 1:08 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


Most of these rock.

And yet they somehow miss the obvious one in Massachusetts, the original tourist rock, in favor of a plumbing museum?!
posted by backseatpilot at 1:08 PM on July 16 [28 favorites]


Yeah, a lot of these actually look like very much My Jam.

This is fucked up though: Ouachita National Forest and the crystal deposits there were sacred ground for American Indians. Nowadays they serve the needs of tourists desperate to dig up some earth.
posted by capricorn at 1:09 PM on July 16 [19 favorites]


Can confirm that the Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour is a waste of time with limited free samples.

Absurd that the selection from Missouri was NOT anything in Branson, which is itself, taken as a whole, a prime candidate for this list.
posted by daisystomper at 1:13 PM on July 16 [12 favorites]


The wall of gum doesn't rock, though. That's just gross.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:13 PM on July 16 [15 favorites]


Absolutely correct for DC, although I would have thrown the Spy Museum in there as a tie. Some of these places look weird and kitschy though, which to me is the opposite of a tourist trap.
posted by sallybrown at 1:14 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I guess I see how Iowa's "Largest Frying Pan In Iowa" got the nod, but my immediate guess was the Iowa 80 Truckstop ("World's Largest Truckstop"*), and I don't think that impulse was wrong, if the category is The Most Boring Tourist Trap.

*"Some say Iowa 80 Truckstop is like a small city, others have likened it to a Trucker’s Disneyland, all can agree it is a place not to be missed."
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:14 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


My kid loves machines, the bigger the better, and would probably lose his toddler mind at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base. It's on our list the next time we go to a Delaware beach vacation.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:15 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I don't know about the other states as I am a shut-in who hates going someplace that is different, but this list got Michigan wrong. An odd display in an otherwise solid museum does not count as a tourist trap. No one is getting on a freeway exit because a large billboard told them to go see Edison's last breath.

The tourist trap of Michigan would be The Mystery Spot outside of St. Ignace, which is stupid. The GarLyn Zoo down the highway is much more fun!
posted by riruro at 1:16 PM on July 16 [12 favorites]


Aww, what do they have against poor Lucy the Elephant? Yes, the museum was somewhat boring, and, yes, the view from the cramped top was somewhat lackluster, my kids still enjoyed it, so that's a win for me.
posted by ElleElle at 1:17 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Okay, well, now I have the destinations for my next cross-country roadtrip planned. I say this with great sincerity: it is hard for me to imagine a person who would not enjoy a plumbing museum or a potentially haunted Bible theme park.

(The gum wall is...odd, certainly, but also I love it with a love that is true and unending.)
posted by darchildre at 1:19 PM on July 16 [17 favorites]


Dinosaur Land in VA with young kids is loads of fun. (I'd guess that going without kids but drunk would also be awesome.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:20 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Yeah, this list is weirdly mean-spirited in parts and displays a lack of, like... curiosity about things. And I do not relate. But I learned about W'eel Turtle, so thumbs up!
posted by cocotine at 1:20 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


These people do not understand the appeal of the tourist trap.

I actually got wildly lost looking for the Kansas version of the biggest ball of twine, and ended up visiting the biggest hand-dug well instead. It was pretty much a big hole in the ground that the operators had convinced people to pay good money to see.

If you don't know what's cool about that you don't get tourist traps.

Also, the rink at Rockefeller Center is not a tourist trap.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on July 16 [14 favorites]


And here I thought the only thing to do in Delaware was visit the JC Penney return center.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:24 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


is this the thread where i ask whether the corn palace is worth visiting? i’ve successfully avoided it every time i’ve traveled through south dakota, but nevertheless i remain intrigued.

(mostly the only reason i read this list was to see whether wall drug or the corn palace was named the worst tourist trap in south dakota)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:25 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


I'm disappointed the Texas one isn't the Funeral Museum in Houston, which, predictably, rocks.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:25 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Nope, they were wrong, should've gone for Times Square after all.
posted by praemunire at 1:25 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


cocotine, yeah; this has the feeling of something that started as maybe a pretty solid gripe about one or two tourist traps and got sucked into the "well, let's make it a full article" pipeline without regard for how it'd feel when it was done.

In any case:

1. That turtle w'eel is fucking great.

2. I've lived in Portland most of my life and I've never heard of that chocolate fountain. The vogue thing these days for tourist-trap grumps is to dunk on Voodoo Doughnuts for being too famous and too over.
posted by cortex at 1:25 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


it is hard for me to imagine a person who would not enjoy a plumbing museum

I can imagine them, but I certainly wouldn't want to travel anywhere with them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:26 PM on July 16 [13 favorites]


I had no idea Stonehenge 2 was real, I thought they made it up for Friday Night Lights.
posted by BeeDo at 1:26 PM on July 16


is this the thread where i ask whether the corn palace is worth visiting? i’ve successfully avoided it every time i’ve traveled through south dakota, but nevertheless i remain intrigued.

I went as a kid and I still like it, but also I unironically love the Minnesota State Fair Crop art (which is smaller in size but more likely to feature Prince or politics).

I think it's worth it if you're in the area.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:26 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Absurd that the selection from Missouri was NOT anything in Branson, which is itself, taken as a whole, a prime candidate for this list.

You'd say Branson as opposed to the Precious Moments Chapel?....

I've seen things you wouldn't believe....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on July 16 [18 favorites]


Absolutely correct for DC, although I would have thrown the Spy Museum in there as a tie.

Surely it's the Museum of Crime & Punishment?
posted by capricorn at 1:27 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


For a second I had Holy Land USA mixed up with The Holy Land Experience.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:29 PM on July 16


I have no idea about the other states, but the Maine one is exactly correct.
posted by anastasiav at 1:29 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'm pretty sure Minnesota has a couple dozen Paul Bunyan statues scattered around; I'd choose one of them if only because it's also really unoriginal. The Mall of America has a solid (if overpriced unless you don't get the discount coupons) aquarium, a lot of strange events on weekends, and the aforementioned crepes.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:30 PM on July 16


Oh, there's a Stonehenge memorial in Maryhill, WA, too, just a ways up the Columbia Gorge from Portland. Odd duck of a construction and out of the way, but the Maryhill Museum is right nearby and a nice visit as well. Plus you're driving up the Gorge which isn't something that really requires further excuse.
posted by cortex at 1:31 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


From EmpressCallipygos' link:

The Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, MO is the creation of artist Samuel J. Butcher as a gift of thanks to God; recognizing the many blessings given by God. The Chapel has often been described as “America’s Sistine Chapel” as an artful representation of Michelangelo’s own Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Hubris Town, USA.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:31 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed the corn palace (though I haven't been since my moving-across-the-country road trip 20 years ago), as a "wow, people are weird/great!" kind of monument. Certainly more fun than Mt Rushmore, if you like weird kitchy things.

Also, there's a super creepy doll museum across the street, so that's also great.
posted by darchildre at 1:31 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I didn't know we had a kazoo museum! I didn't know anyone needed more than one kazoo? Aren't they just wax paper in a little tube?
posted by mittens at 1:32 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


"And yet they somehow miss the obvious one in Massachusetts"

The least interesting place in Massachusetts is the entire state.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:33 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I propose the Vancouver Steam Clock for the International List. It is Ridiculously Popular! Tour buses full of people stand in front of this thing every single day.

It is NOT steam powered. It is basically a steam whistle attached to a very regular clock. You can recreate the same effect at home with steam kettle, a clock radio, a kazoo, and some duct tape.
posted by helmutdog at 1:37 PM on July 16 [19 favorites]


Try to make it to the bottom of the list to see a wax version of President Santa Claus in Washington DC. I also like that they aren't in any kind of order, like they formed their own former president cliques for the group photo.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:38 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


As a Nebraskan, I gotta give them some credit for naming a literal spot in the middle of nowhere, notable only for a geographical property that you cannot actually discern, as the state's worst "tourist trap'. Like, I've never encountered any marketing material that's intended to draw people to that spot. This seems like a very abstract idea of "tourist trap".
I personally would've voted for the Kool Aid Museum in Hastings.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:38 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Hubris Town, USA.

And apparently inspiration for the Mountain Goats' bangin' Psalms 40:2!
posted by praemunire at 1:38 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


If I could afford, it's this sort of stuff I would visit. Driving around in a wood-paneled Jeep, pulling an Airstream trailer, that sort of thing.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:38 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


Also, I was driving across Iowa on I-80 just a couple of weeks ago, and went directly past the big truckstop; I wasn't remotely tempted to stop.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:39 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Excellent clickbait. Clearly the list was chosen as another generic 'best tourist traps' piece, but then someone had the genius idea to spin it around and call them all boring and write the blurbs accordingly. Nice job Max DeNike.
posted by crazy with stars at 1:40 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I would totally visit the plumbing museum.

For Hawaii, they should have listed the road to Hana.
posted by Slothrup at 1:40 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


I assumed Nebraska would get listed for carhenge. the harold warp pioneer village is pretty awful too. there's also the roller skating museum. I haven't been to the kool-aid museum, are there free samples?
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 1:41 PM on July 16


The rest of NY outside of the city has plenty of standard roadside tourist traps like the Big Duck, the various lighthouses, etc.
posted by bleep at 1:42 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


And yet they somehow miss the obvious one in Massachusetts, the original tourist rock, in favor of a plumbing museum?!

I've heard from many people who've grown up in Massachusetts that the school trip to the fake Plymouth Rock was the worst field trip they'd ever been on.

On the other, and speaking from personal experience, I've run into many who found that very plumbing museum to be fascinating. It's well worth a visit!
posted by msbrauer at 1:42 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Virginia's Dinosaur Land is kind of fun, in a campy sort of way. You can take photos with all the big goofy fiberglass sculptures. Run from a velociraptor, get eaten by a sea monster, that kind of thing. But the last time I was there, about fifteen years ago, the gift shop was full of traitor flag merchandise and creepy racist knickknacks. I doubt things have improved since then.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:44 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


The biggest ball of twine is in Kansas? Not Minnesota?
posted by Metro Gnome at 1:45 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


Gilgal Gardens in SLC isn't really touristy. I've never encountered another soul there whenever I'd walk over and wander the sculpture gardens. Mostly it's just weird Mormon stone art in a very nice little park in the middle of the city.
posted by msbutah at 1:45 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Speaking as someone who has visited a six-foot statue of an ear of corn, I would visit most if not all of these. As I read entry after entry, I imagined being in a car with this asshole complaining about each pointless destination. I wonder how many states we would have made it through before I pushed them from the vehicle.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:46 PM on July 16 [15 favorites]


Most of these sound kinda nice- but they definitely got California’s right. Fuck the Full House house. And fuck the tourists standing in the middle of the fucking street holding up traffic so they can take a picture of it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:47 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


The biggest ball of twine is in Kansas? Not Minnesota?

The world's largest ball of twine is in Kansas, the world's largest ball of twin wound by one man is in Minnesota.

Apparently the Minnesotans had the idea first and then the Kansas town decided to make a bigger ball of twine to steal away their tourist attraction fame. It was a point of (probably passive-aggressive) contention.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:47 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


I actually got wildly lost looking for the Kansas version of the biggest ball of twine

I have a friend who visited it when she lived in Kansas. She took pictures in front of it with a cop who pulled her over on the way there, asked where she was going, told her she really didn't want to go there, and then followed her there and said "Told you so!" when she got out. Now that I've typed that out it sounds extremely menacing, but she said the town was sketchy as hell and the cop was probably worried about her. Anyway, this is all to say, I guessed Kansas before clicking the link, but California took me by surprise. I mean, not that the Full House house isn't boring as shit, but California is such a big state that I figured there would be many other boring things that I didn't know about. And this is how I find out that the fucking Pez Museum is permanently closed.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:48 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


All those morons, standing around gape-jawed at the gum wall are a pain in the ass to get past on my way to the Alibi Room.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:48 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Me, I'd find the Air Mobility museum interesting. And maybe this is west coast bias, but are there really any interesting things in Delaware? Looking at old troop transport planes seems interesting to me.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 1:48 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


It's been over a decade since I've been to the Mall of America (or Minnesota), but I recall being underwhelmed by it.

It's the world's largest, yes, but that's achieved partially by redundancy. Four Gaps, Four Victoria's Secrets, Eight Starbucks...it's not that the individual stores are larger or that there's so much more variety; it's mostly just 4 regular malls crammed together with a few amusement park attractions in the middle.
posted by explosion at 1:49 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The Iowa one was one of the most disappointing I'll stop in a random town experiences. I always drove by the sign advertising it, but when I finally went there it wasn't even a real frying pan. I have a memory that it wasn't even the largest in Iowa, actually. So yeah, nice "Largest Frying Pan in Iowa", Brandon, IA.

I did see the "nightmare inducing" world's largest popcorn ball in Sac City two weeks ago though and right next to it is a strange museum that is in a bunch of buildings. Most of the buildings are small and centered around a gazebo and are different town buildings like post office, doctor's office, hardware store. A lot of care went into making it all. It's really cool.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:51 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that South Dakota's was Wall Drug, "The ice water destination for early Mount Rushmore visitors," and not Mount Rushmore itself. Fuck Mount Rushmore.
posted by witchen at 1:55 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


Weeki Wachee is pretty all right. The mermaid show, I mean, you probably already know whether or not that's interesting to you (although kids love it — and they'll write your little ones "tail mail"). But it's also got some of the most beautiful kayaking and canoeing imaginable.
posted by penduluum at 1:56 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


the fucking DC Spy Museum is a waste of money and time when you could be going to so many better museums. Ahem.

The Georgia one is also incorrect. Stone Mountain is the most godawful tourist trap in Georgia. This lunchbox museum just seems fun.

On the other hand, I really want to visit that pinback museum in Illinois. I love pop culture ephemera like that. I'm not going to go on a trek just to see it or anything, but I'd spend a happy afternoon there if I was in the area. And the plumbing museum in Massachusetts seems kind of cool.

Nothing on that list really stacks up to the planned destination of my next road trip, of course: The Museum of Osteology out in Oklahoma. There are SO MANY BONES.
posted by sciatrix at 1:57 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


And here I thought the only thing to do in Delaware was visit the JC Penney return center.

I once spent a night in a town that my guidebook billed as both "the birthplace of John Mellencamp" and "the home of the region's largest Wal-Mart Distribution Center".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:57 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


In the category of Storage Tanks of Things Painted to Look Like a Can of the Thing in Wisconsin, I am very disappointed that they passed up the World's Largest Can of Chili in favor of the World's Largest Sixpack.
posted by BrashTech at 2:01 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


It's true that the International UFO Museum and Research Center is bad, but it's the delicious kind of bad that you've just gotta see to believe
posted by polecat at 2:01 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


As a New Yorker, I propose the plumbing museum should be moved to Flushing Meadows. It's just a pipe dream of mine.

And I've always wanted to see the Weeki Wachee mermaids. Color me lame, I guess.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:01 PM on July 16 [15 favorites]


Haven't read the article or comments but as a native Dallasite the Texas one should be the grassy knoll. Most underwhelming thing you'll ever see.
posted by bookman117 at 2:03 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


(PS the actual worst tourist trap in Florida is Old Town.)
posted by penduluum at 2:03 PM on July 16


I'm disappointed the Texas one isn't the Funeral Museum in Houston, which, predictably, rocks.

also I just shared the link to this one in my housemates group chat, and at least two people are now agitating to take a day trip to this magical place. I'm excited.
posted by sciatrix at 2:04 PM on July 16


Yeah, I thought this would be helpful, as there are a lot of really unimpressive roadside attractions out there, but it was compiled by somebody who just hates roadside attractions. If you like this sort of stuff (like I do, oh boy do I!), check out Roadside America. They even have an app to help you out when you're driving aimlessly on the road.
posted by queensissy at 2:05 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


As a New Yorker, I propose the plumbing museum should be moved to Flushing Meadows. It's just a pipe dream of mine.

What a crappy pun. Try spouting off about something else!
posted by backseatpilot at 2:05 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


 You'd say Branson as opposed to the Precious Moments Chapel?....

Aaaaaaaaaaah! There's a whole gravitational field of suck around that place. It is not a place of honour. But it's nothing to compare with the World's largest Pecan (Brunswick, MO), which is a small trailer with an inexpertly-fashioned fibreglass pecan on top.

That excavator place tho …
posted by scruss at 2:06 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


How many times has that "Center of the Universe" manhole cover been stolen, I wonder?
posted by clawsoon at 2:06 PM on July 16


PS to sciatrix - Museum of Osteology rules. They even have a sign in their Prehistoric Man display that says basically, "Sorry if this display offends you, but it's science."
posted by queensissy at 2:07 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Nicolas Cage's future pyramid tomb is unfair, seeing as it's inside St. Louis Cemetery #1, which is well worth visiting on its own, independent of Cage's gaudy and out-of-place pyramid. What're you gonna do, visit St. Louis #1 but keep your back to the pyramid the entire time?

Although come to think of it, if it weren't so incredibly awkward to do it, that would actually be a pretty good way to visit the cemetery.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:09 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


The worst trap is that one where you have to keep scrolling to see content when all you want to do is ctrl-F your state.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:10 PM on July 16 [26 favorites]


California: "Full House" House

How could they have missed the Winchester Mystery House?
posted by chavenet at 2:16 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Special award for Cabazon, California Dinos - Best Roadside Attraction Turned into Worst Roadside Attraction by Creationists.

Still cool if you don't go in the museum though.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:17 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Colorado: Four Corners

A-and they haven't read Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day, either.
posted by chavenet at 2:18 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


My kid loves machines
posted by joyceanmachine


I mean, that's just biological necessity, obviously.
posted by axiom at 2:18 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Surely it's the Museum of Crime & Punishment?

Certainly for a while, but it closed a while back. Between that and the Newseum, DC is quickly shedding its wildly overpriced museums.
posted by Copronymus at 2:18 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


is this the thread where i ask whether the corn palace is worth visiting?

It is. I would go during the festival (August 21 - August 25 this year) but if you can't quite make it, there's the cam.

One of my favorite T-shirts of all time was white puff-paint on black Corn Palace drawing.
posted by donpardo at 2:20 PM on July 16


Had my car worked on next to the plumbing museum, was not open, it's a room in a large supply distributor, the mechanic said he'd never been over there but the workers at the plumbing supply house used the mechanic and did not recommend. At least Plymouth Rock is near some nice waterfront restaurants. There is a good fruit stand near the plumbing museum...
posted by sammyo at 2:21 PM on July 16


I do think that the listicle misses something important, that a lot of these sorts of places aren't destinations in themselves so much as slight diversions between destinations. Wall Drug is great because it's between nothing and nowhere and really only exists because people are going well out of their way to see Mount Rushmore (itself probably the biggest tourist trap in South Dakota), and if you're on a long road trip it's nice to have something else to do every few hours. I absolutely do not recommend going to Four Corners, stopping, and turning around to go back home, but if you're already driving through northeastern Arizona, it's not a terrible place to spend 10 minutes and kick the Navajo Nation a few bucks.
posted by Copronymus at 2:24 PM on July 16 [17 favorites]


Mitchell High School has their PROM at the Corn Palace.

Thought you would want to know.
posted by donpardo at 2:24 PM on July 16 [11 favorites]


Totally called it on The Desert of Maine.
posted by briank at 2:25 PM on July 16


How could they not mention the Jello Museum in Leroy, NY? See the boxes of Jello, the spoons and Canadian magazine ads! You'll be enchanted for seconds on end.
posted by tommasz at 2:26 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Most boring spot in any state: wherever whoever wrote this is, because they're apparently congenitally incapable of having fun.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:28 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


Yes, Four Corners is pretty worthless, but it's problematic to attribute it to a single state. At least it's right on a highway you might already be driving on, so why not?

When we were there, it started to rain and we got back in the car and on our way. The rain turned out to be the first inklings of a squall line coming through and moments later there was so much rain that we could hardly see the road but were also afraid to stop for fear of being rear-ended. The wind shook the car like an earthquake and lightning was flashing in every direction. A+, would recommend.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:33 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


The California is pretty accurate. Imagine driving through San Francisco (and please stick to just imagining it, driving there is not good) just to stop at Alamo Park and then get out to take a selfie with a house. AND NOT EVEN THE ONE FROM MRS DOUBTFIRE. THERE ARE BETTER HOUSES TO TAKE A SELFIE WITH IN THE CITY PEOPLE.
posted by GuyZero at 2:38 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


The International UFO Museum and Research Center

My first impression was mild disappointment. I guess had been expecting something more grandiose? but once I considered how faithfully they'd created the experience of walking around inside a conspiracy website from 1998, I decided it was I who was wrong and the museum it exactly what it should be.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 2:39 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


JUST GO DOWN LOMBARD LIKE A NORMAL PERSON STOP FUCKING AROUND IN OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS GOD!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:40 PM on July 16 [11 favorites]


I'm sure the giant ball of twine is sufficiently disappointing, but imagine making the trek to Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:44 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Wall Drug is transcendent, worlds largest truckstop no more and no less than it claims, and I went to The Alchemist brewery next door instead of Ben & Jerry’s.
posted by rodlymight at 2:48 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Is there a more annoying sound than that which emanates from a kazoo?

Final confirmation: not Pynchon readers.
posted by chavenet at 2:49 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, Edison's last breath in a glass tube is a real thing? I thought Tim Powers was making that part up.
posted by hades at 2:53 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


It's true that the International UFO Museum and Research Center is bad, but it's the delicious kind of bad that you've just gotta see to believe

It honestly looks like middle school science projects, except they're all about UFOs.

I got super high in the Mall of America and couldn't find my way out. Then I found a store called Alpaca Connection and totally lost my shit and couldn't stop giggling.

The "best" tourist trap I've been to was Meteor Crater. We went there at the last minute (were on a road trip passing by), and there are signs on the ~11mi road leading to the site that advise you to turn to an AM radio channel. Once you do that, you'll hear a ~30 second ad, repeated infinitely, that sounds like the SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY monster truck advertisements. METEOR CRATER! METEOR CRATER!. We memorized it, and since that trip, anytime someone says the words "meteor" or "crater" someone else will shout "METEOR CRATER!".
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:53 PM on July 16 [15 favorites]


On the Spy Museum--we just did a week in DC, and did a lot of museums, but the Spy Museum was probably my 12-year-old's favorite. This is probably largely due to the sheer number of interactive exhibits; I may have enjoyed seeing space capsules at Air and Space, but he was just not very interested.

It was the only museum we paid for, but also the only one where my 12yo wanted to stay longer than we did.
posted by Four Ds at 2:53 PM on July 16


As another person who has been to the plumbing museum in Massachusetts and found if fascinating enough to recommend to multiple people, I think it also needs to be pointed out that there it doesn't qualify as a tourist trap. It's a private collection in a private building, belonging to a guy who owns a plumbing business and collected all kinds of related stuff. You can't see it without calling and making an appointment. They were very accommodating when we called, but I'm pretty sure a tourist trap has to be actually be open to the general public. (For interested locals, it also has a full catering kitchen and you can rent it out for work functions and parties and such; the founder was apparently also an serious cook in his slightly younger days).

Then again, a number of things on this list look like local oddities that no one actually expects to attract tourists with.
posted by Dorothea Ladislaw at 2:55 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I was semi-relieved that the California dishonor didn't go to anyplace here in San Luis Obispo County, because we have several candidates, including Hearst Castle, our own Bubblegum Alley, the shrine where James Dean's fatal car crash occurred, the giant Pismo Clam statues, Madonna Inn (and its prehistoric themed mens room), and just across the border in Santa Barbara, the Andersens Pea Soup Restaurant and Santa Claus, California. There are several houses in the L.A. area that were immortalized in TV sitcoms, from the Brady Bunch to the Addams Family, but Full House is the most recent TV house. The Bullwinkle statue in front of Jay Ward Productions is long gone, but there are many stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that would be in contention, not to mention the LaBrea Tar Pits and the intersection immortalized in song, Pico and Sepulveda, and Johnny Carson's favorite freeway ramp, the Slauson Cut-Off (where he cut off his slauson in many a monologue). Come to think of it, most of California is a Tourist Trap.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:55 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


The only reason to click a link like this is to argue with it, and it delivered!

The plumbing museum obviously sounds like fun, and putting it on the list can only be an act of trolling or of someone who has never had any problems with their plumbing and also no interest in fluid dynamics or technology or medicine.

The Center of the Universe manhole cover is genius.

And I would totally go see the Ball of Paint.
posted by biogeo at 2:57 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


All respect to the Full House house, but if you're visiting San Francisco, your time is spent better literally anywhere besides Fisherman's Wharf. (But if you go anyway, the mirror maze is actually pretty cool.)
posted by sjswitzer at 3:01 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


I was at the Corn Palace a few days ago. If you're already driving across South Dakota on I-90 it is worth a stop. It is a perfect example of small town pride mixed with grandiose kitsch. The designs on the outside are interesting and the hallway exhibits tell the story of corn palaces in general and this corn palace (the last one standing) in more detail than one would think possible. The auditorium functions as a concert hall, civic gathering space, basketball arena, and when none of those things are happening, a gift shop. The Elixir Roasterie down the street is a pretty good coffeehouse/cafe.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:02 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Oh man. Glad to know the details of the plumbing museum, I used to work quite near it and didn't know it existed. Now, I want to go!

Yeah seriously this is all my bag. My wife and I have done many road trips, and we love stopping at weird and off-beat attractions. I will say about the corn palace, my understanding is that there have been many of them, and when I visited it had reached the point (10+ years ago?) where it's literally just a high school gym with corn art that sells tourist tickets to fund local athletics. Not the worst thing in the world, not really worth a big side trip.

By the way if you're ever in Wisconsin, you should go to The House On The Rock. It's hard to completely describe -- all sorts of collections and art and weird stuff, but like, just insane amounts. You could get lost there. Just like, warehouses full of crazy shit like life-sized replicas of whales and octopuses fighting each other, or recreations of small towns, or burma shave signs. I gather much of it is not "real" real but I don't care, I had a great time and would go again if I'm ever in the vicinity.
posted by tocts at 3:02 PM on July 16 [11 favorites]


I gave up when they called A Christmas Story "embarrassingly dated." It's a movie from 1983 set some time in the early 40s. I don't think this writer knows what dated means. And what kind of person picks on A Christmas Story in the first place?
posted by trigger at 3:03 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


And what kind of person picks on A Christmas Story in the first place?

I am that kind of person.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:08 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


The author doesn’t know jack about Florida’s Weeki Wachee and the famous mermaids. Call it boring but the part about it being some dude’s fantasy from the 60’s is off-base. It’s a state park and they host women’s groups for mermaid camps every few months. I know this because I’m a journalist who’s actually been there and seen women who’s dream was to be a mermaid for a day.

These lists of drive-by shitting on things people like are boring at best and elitist judgemental crap that diminish people’s feelings about these places. If there’s a legit issue please point it out but pointing and laughing at what people find enjoyable sucks.
posted by photoslob at 3:08 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


The Mall of America was, depending who you ask, actually pretty cool in the 90s and maybe into the 00s. Used to have a bunch more interesting/themed restaurants, the Snoopy-branded theme park, nightclubs, a putt-putt course, some cool fountains, and some fun niche-interest stores. With the general death of retail, it has slid into more of "a really big mall", but it was at least once a fun place unless you were just determined to crap on it.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:12 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I almost forgot, if you are driving across South Dakota a must stop at the Porter Sculpture Garden near Montrose, about 20-30 miles east of Mitchell. It is very visible on the south side of I-90. The sculptor, Wayne Porter, has made dozens of welded metal sculptures. A couple are monumental (a bull's head the size of the Mount Rushmore heads, and a giant horse), some are serious and others are whimsical. They are intermixed with signs containing his poetry and quotes from others. Porter and his dog live at the park in a little trailer during the warmer months. He is an interesting guy. I was the only visitor late one afternoon and talked to him for about a half-hour.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:13 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Far be it from me, as a Memphian, to defend Nashville, but The Parthenon is actually very impressive.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:13 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


It's the world's largest

Mall of America isn't even the largest mall in North America. King of Prussia is bigger by leasable footage, West Edmonton Mall has more stores. Based on gross leasable footage, Mall of America is the world's 40th largest mall.
posted by zamboni at 3:15 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Three hundred years from now, people hanging around what used to the Gulf of Mexico are gonna be talking about the pyramid at the bottom of the Boiling Sea that's rumored to be a Cage for Old Nick.
posted by egypturnash at 3:17 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


Also, A Christmas Story was weirdly dated the very first time I saw it as a kid somewhere in the late eighties. I think it was the last straw for me getting tired of Boomers making love poems to their childhood.
posted by egypturnash at 3:19 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


You can very easily escape every single one of these so called traps.
posted by srboisvert at 3:21 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Disagree about the Ben and Jerry’s factory. I took a lot of people there when I lived in Vermont and it was great fun. Loved the flavor graveyard. Plus it’s right down the road from The Alchemist brewery.

Most worthless tourist trap in Philly is the Liberty Bell, by far. Stand in line for three hours to see the broken side of a bell! Or…see the other side from the sidewalk at any time.
posted by Diskeater at 3:24 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Cray's got an office in Minneapolis?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:27 PM on July 16


You can very easily escape every single one of these so called traps.

Well, as long as you don't get high in the Mall of America.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:30 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Oh, there's a Stonehenge memorial in Maryhill, WA, too, just a ways up the Columbia Gorge from Portland. Odd duck of a construction and out of the way...

And what makes it most sad is that even though it is full size (unlike the one in Texas), they didn't line it up astronomically so the solstice shines though the correct spot (or whatever the real one does).
posted by 445supermag at 3:37 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Cray's got an office in Minneapolis?

Since the very beginning! It was basically founded there.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:37 PM on July 16


Most of these places sound pretty fun to me... the writer must have a real low tolerance for small town kitsch. The only one I'm a bit whatever about is Anaconda, MO's 585-foot smelting stack. Sure it might be made of bricks or whatever but it is kind of underwhelming when compared to the 1247 foot Inco Superstack. Now that's a stack!
posted by Ashwagandha at 3:41 PM on July 16


Surely the Anaconda Smelter Stack in Montana stands out for being the only tourist trap you're not even allowed to get within a mile of.
posted by theory at 3:41 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The least interesting place in Massachusetts is the entire state.

He writes from Ohio... Actually, I think he's confusing it with Connecticut.

NH Has some much more worthless tourist traps than the one they picked. There's The Old Man of the Mountain, which fell off some years back, and was highly unremarkable before that. There's America's Stonehenge, which claims to be 4000 years old, but which was pretty definitely built beginning in the 19th century.

New York State, has this thing at Niagara Falls called The Cave of the Winds. No cave, and on the day I got suckered into going, no winds. A long walk on a series of shabbily-constructed decks is what it is. They had the Falls mostly turned off that day. (It apparently never runs at more than 50% capacity so they can generate electricity with the water.)

In CA, there's this place called The Crystal Cathedral, which is a lot of shell buildings made of reflective mylar. There's a statue of Jesus walking on a shallow pool, another of Moses waving his tablets, and do not miss the Chromium Baby Jesus. Really. My jaw still drops with the memory.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


theory, let's agree to call it a tourist event horizon.
posted by cortex at 3:46 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


For Arizona, I was hesitating between pumping for Four Corners (though arguably Arizona only gets one-quarter credit for that) and The Thing, but actually, they got it right. Tombstone is even more boring and (despite the sheer number of Thing billboards along I-10) even more over-hyped.
posted by Quasirandom at 3:47 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


So I did the Ben and Jerry’s tour as well, they weren’t making ice cream that day so the whole family got to watch some equipment being sanitized. The locals I talked to seem convinced that Unilever moved actual production to a larger facility and what the tourists now see is a Potemkin ice cream factory. I’m not sure what to believe here.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:57 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I think it was the last straw for me getting tired of Boomers making love poems to their childhood.

A Christmas story was written by Jean Shepherd (b. 1921) and directed by Bob Clark (b. 1939), was set during the Depression, and is largely a skewering of people's nostalgic memories of childhood during that era.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:03 PM on July 16 [14 favorites]


There are so many awesome things in Louisiana, but if they’re saying visiting the at least regionally famous mausoleums would be a waste of my time, I don’t trust them to know what I want.
posted by Selena777 at 4:10 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I have been to exactly none of these, but one is on my list for this summer for sure. I'll be visiting the folks in suburban Connecticut so Holyland, here I come!
posted by Gotanda at 4:27 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


The Mall of America was, depending who you ask, actually pretty cool in the 90s and maybe into the 00s. Used to have a bunch more interesting/themed restaurants, the Snoopy-branded theme park, nightclubs, a putt-putt course, some cool fountains, and some fun niche-interest stores. With the general death of retail, it has slid into more of "a really big mall", but it was at least once a fun place unless you were just determined to crap on it.
I first went to the MOA in the middle 90s, and I am apparently one of those people, or as I prefer, a discerning consumer. It was lame beyond belief. Took the kids to Camp Stimpy: every ride was exactly 90 seconds long, which was apparently the shortest time they felt would not quite cause most enraged or disappointed parents to demand their money back. And there was no one else in line. Also, no carnies.

There were 8 Nordic Track stores and a similar profusion of other outlets. They did have an interesting knife store, which maybe is what you meant by "niche interest store," but that was the only place I actually wanted to browse around in a little.

If you think about it, it doesn't make sense NOT to have duplicates of lame stores, because they depend on people passing them and no one is going to go through an entire four-story mall (or however tall is--I haven't been back since around 2000).

My overall impression: it was like a big airplane hangar, but instead of containing airplanes (which would have been awesome) it had a huge number of variously-cheesy stores.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 4:45 PM on July 16


Spy Museum: It was the only museum we paid for, but also the only one where my 12yo wanted to stay longer than we did.

I had to pay a stranger's kid to help me lure my toddler out of the interactive air duct, so if you go, there's always a chance of making some of your money back.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:46 PM on July 16 [11 favorites]


Most worthless tourist trap in Philly is the Liberty Bell, by far. Stand in line for three hours to see the broken side of a bell! Or…see the other side from the sidewalk at any time.

However, they also have a booth set up talking about the popularity of the Bell as a national symbol in the 1880s or thereabouts, complete with a button you can push to hear a song John Philip Sousa wrote about said Bell - and you will press it because you've forgotten that you've already heard it, and then when it starts playing you will remember and then laugh and laugh and the other tourists will look at you funny.

And how is the one for Utah not Hole N" The Rock?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:52 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Um excuse me, that Las Vegas place where you can operate giant construction equipment sounds AWESOME?
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:55 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


I thought there would be a competition in the comments over who had seen the most of these, but no such luck. I've been to the Henry Ford 3 times but I never saw any last breaths. I've seen the (fake) Redstone rocket from I-93 and I ate lunch in Tombstone one time though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:02 PM on July 16


The fact that my wife and I actually made a point of going to Pop’s on our recent trip to Oklahoma to visit my parents says a lot about the tourism opportunities in Oklahoma.
posted by yhbc at 5:10 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Most things are only as boring as the people looking at them.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:12 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I've been to five of these places. Mount Rushmore was far more of a waste of time than Wall Drug, where I got an ashtray shaped like a prairie dog burrow with a prairie dog peeking out. I had a delicious walleye dinner at the Mall of America, thank you, and bought a fishing lure. As far as the concrete Parthenon is concerned, I liked it, but don't listen to me, read "Greek to me" by Mary Norris and see her defend it. As far as pointless places in Michigan are concerned, there is nothing pointless about the Henry Ford Museum, and everything pointless about The Mystery Spot, but let's not forget the largest free-standing wooden crucifix in Indian River, MI. I keep meaning to go to the Peeps art exhibit in Westminster MD: a friend with kids loved it. Surely the Jug Bridge Monument Park in Frederick MD is more pointless. However, since I often have to drive people to the sheriff's office, I drive them by the monument, then when they go inside the Sheriff's office and see the Frederick County Seal, they can stare at it with a full appreciation. So: not completely pointless.
posted by acrasis at 5:15 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


My adblocker tells me it blocked more than >1k ad requests while reading this, which I think qualifies the article as some kind of giant tourist trap all on its own.

Lucy is a museum dedicated to itself. Are there any other such museums, possibly located not in New Jersey?
posted by joeyh at 5:36 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


You people are ridiculous, the Spy Museum is great. It's in my top 5 DC museums, and I grew up there. Well-designed exhibits, fascinating gadgets, and a good bit of interesting background on the Cold War. I mean it's no Udvar-Hazy Annex, but what could possibly compare to the Udvar-Hazy Annex?

It does help to have a tween with you though - it's basically aimed at them.
posted by xthlc at 5:41 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


And what kind of person picks on A Christmas Story in the first place?

I am that kind of person.


I cannot STAND that movie. If you asked me back then if it would become a classic, I would have injured my young self laughing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:59 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Whoever upthread implied that they got the California one wrong is spot on. Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 is by far the worst tourist trap in CA, among some very tough competition (My kid insisted we visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame a few years back and, as a local, I’ve never felt like more of a rube). I grew up in Northern California, so really have no reason to go to Fisherman’s Wharf, ever. A few years back I was mentioning to a co-worker that I was heading up that way to visit family for a few days and he said, unironically, “Don’t forgot to go to Fisherman’s Wharf and get some clam chowder out of a bread bowl”, which is roughly the equivalent of telling a New York native to make sure they hit up Times Square.

For Hawaii, they should have listed the road to Hana.

Oh, man, this. We just did this two weeks ago. So, I’m in Hawaii, I could be sitting on a beach somewhere or hanging out by the pool with a cocktail, but instead I’m sitting in a car for 12 hours on a road that makes me feel like I have to barf, and it’s impossible to stop at half the “attractions” I’m supposed to see along the way because there are like 5 parking spaces for 10,000 people. What a blast.

That said, I’m a total sucker for visiting houses that were seen on TV shows. Wasn’t enough of a Full House fan to ever make that stop, but finding Mary Richards apartment and taking a picture in front of it is one of my prouder achievements and well worth the effort.
posted by The Gooch at 6:07 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Whoever picked Mall of America for Minnesota has clearly never visited the Jolly Green Giant statue.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:11 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


So this ends with a song that should be this thread's theme song.

One of my good friends is a dude I started out by dating briefly. A couple weeks before our first date I'd just been on a solo road trip through kitschy roadside stuff like this, and talked about it a lot that first date, to his amusement and fascination. It kind of became a Thing for him that "EC likes that kitschy stuff."

Fast forward to about a year ago, when he and his girlfriend were getting ready to move out of New York. He scored some tickets to a night on the Weird Al concert tour that year, and as luck would have it I was the only one who could join him. It was the tour did with all of his original songs, many of which I'd not heard before, so it was fun and educational.

And it was the first time I heard Al's song "The Biggest Ball Of Twine in Minnesota", which I found utterly charming and weirdly sweet. As we left the theater after the show, we were talking about the show, and I mentioned that it had been new to me, and I liked it a lot.

My friend gave me a sheepish look and said "I have to confess - for the past 15 years or so now, this song has reminded me of you."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:18 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


If you plan your trip to see the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota properly you also can see a giant chicken at a gas station along the way.
posted by wintermind at 6:23 PM on July 16


Also, the Air Mobility Command Museum is awesome — and free!
posted by wintermind at 6:24 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Okay. I haven’t read the thread yet, but I have to defend the honor of Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama (and the water park specifically, which is technically named the J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center, about which more presently).

Here are my bona fides: I was born and raised in Decatur. I had a season pass nearly every summer of my childhood. And reader? Decatur Mayor J. Gilmer Blackburn, the man who thought up Point Mallard was my grandfather.

(Phyllis Blackburn, my grandmother, was responsible for the name, though.)

This article implies that the wave pool claims to be the first in the world. Poppycock. My grandfather took a research trip to Germany to look at their wave pools, for Pete’s sake! The claim was always “first in the US,” and in any case my grandfather always thought that being first was only really a point of pride, and not a recommendation in itself.

Second, the article snidely implies that it’s dumb to have a wave pool because Alabama is on the Gulf Coast. They neglect to mention, however, that Decatur is a six hour drive from the coast.

That was the point. There’s nothing like it anywhere nearby. It’s not really for folks coming from other places; it’s a regional attraction, a park that has athletic facilities and hosts an annual hot air balloon festival and military re-enactments and also this water park as its anchor, with a nifty distinction of an early wave pool.

This kind of thing seems like small potatoes, but before Point Mallard, my hometown was best known for hosting the trial of the Scottsboro Boys. My grandfather gave the city another, better bit of history.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:25 PM on July 16 [30 favorites]


Some of these, as promised, are obviously looney. Like how could anyone not love the chance to operate heavy equipment if that wasn't part of your regular job.

And in the great state of New York the most boring tourist attraction is The Rink at Rockefeller Center?

The Plumbing Museum, Four Corners, and Air Mobility Command Museum are exactly the sort of things I like to go to on a non-specific vacation.

Interestingly I've been to two "Centres of the Universe"; one in Arizona and the other in BC. The experiences were completely different and the two different places made a delightful contrast. Can't wait to visit the version in Idaho.

Haven't read the article or comments but as a native Dallasite the Texas one should be the grassy knoll. Most underwhelming thing you'll ever see.

While the grassy knoll itself is just a patch of grass I found the setting in/of Dealey plaza absolutely fascinating. For me it was a interesting experience in how descriptions, even when including pictures, don't encompass the entirety of a location vis a vis spatial relationships. I can see how for someone who grew up there that sort of thing doesn't apply though; the setting would have soaked into your brain via osmosis practically at birth. When I was there in the 90s there was a guy running a private information booth; another weird thing to this Canadian as that function generally would be paid by the government in Canada.
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The Plumbing Museum is actually quite interesting with lots of history and historical devices. The wall visible in the picture in the article has a mock-up of the plumbing connections of a home that was informative.

For two reasons I doubt the author actually saw the inside of the museum. First, the museum the private collection of the family of one of the largest plumbing and mechanical contractors in the Boston area, and as such visits are by appointment only (already noted). Second the article displays ignorance of what is actually in there. The author simply decided the concept sounded stupid and wrote accordingly.
posted by haiku warrior at 6:34 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I would totally go see the luncbox and kazoo museums.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:38 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Hi from New Jersey! You guys I am so stinking proud that our Lucy made the featured image is the whole story!

I saw her today actually — Margate is where I head when I go “down the shore.” I suspect that through the cynical lens of 2019 these tourist traps are boring but when you’re a little kid in the 80s, a walk through elephant is pretty magical.
posted by kimberussell at 6:45 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]



The thing about a tourist trap is that it has to overpromise, and under deliver. A biggest ball of twine, Wall Drug, or the gum wall aren't like that. At worst they do what they say on the tin, and if you go out of your way and feel cheated, shit, that's on you son.

Wall Drug is just sitting there at an I90 exit in the middle of South Dakota. You're going to have to pee, get something more to drink, and rest your eyes for a few minutes sooner or later...
posted by wotsac at 6:53 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


I thought for sure that Wisconsin's would be going to see that year's Susie the mallard duck swim and raise her ducklings in Spring Creek in the town of Lodi (it's near Madison). Every year, a mallard mom builds her nest in the same spot as the original Susie did in 1948. The town has a Susie the Duck Day every August. It's all very cute and wholesome.

And I have seen that Hormel Chili can, in college whenever I went to Chicago. I was very confused about why it was there.

I can't think of outright tourist traps in NYC, because I've enjoyed all the usual touristy spots, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, but I live here, so I don't need to see those all again. I've not seen enough of New York State to know about any tourist traps upstate.

Now, in Australia, my god. They have "The Big" everything: The Big Prawn, The Big Banana, The Big Guitar, The Big Chook, The Big...

I'd like to see that plumbing museum. I like seeing the history and development of things like that. When I moved into where I live now, I was really hoping for an 1880s tub with the feet, like the one I grew up with. But, no. It's just a plain old basic model tub. No fancy Art Deco design. On the floor. With no feets. And I can't use any abrasives to clean it, or the 1929 finish will wear off, so it's the worst of both worlds. ::sigh:: At least over half of the original tiles are still on the walls, if not on the floor. :|
posted by droplet at 7:00 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I would totally make a trip out of going to all of these. And I can't imagine Dig This is anywhere near the worst tourist trap in Las Vegas, much less Nevada! I'd love to do that.
posted by meinvt at 7:06 PM on July 16


what do they have against poor Lucy the Elephant?

If you like the Lucy statue you may like the statue of Jumbo in, of all places, St. Thomas Ontario. We went by last summer - it had plenty of visitors when we were there!
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:08 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I do have to applaud them for picking Indiana’s paint ball. It’s not like Alexandria is on anyone’s travel plan.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:23 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Next time I'm in Chicago I am definitely looking up the button museum. I love buttons and enjoy my own large collection. I hope the next election cycle will bring back the buttons, they got to be a better way to spend campaign money that these huge campaign mailers that go straight into the trash.
posted by charlesminus at 7:25 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Oh no. I have to defend fisherman's wharf. Its... not great. But it has a pepper palace. And the pepper palace has my absolute favorite hot sauce ever... so I have to defend it's existence. memail me if you want info on the best hot sauce ever. But yeah- as long as the pepper palace's only SF location is at the wharf- the wharf has a reason to exist.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:32 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


capricorn, “unfortunately” the Museum of Crime and Punishment closed. Although I think it was replaced by some kind of Bible Museum, which should be in the running for tourist traps.
posted by sallybrown at 7:37 PM on July 16


Look, I've never seen A Christmas Story, but I live near that house and it's practically in my buddy's backyard. That damn thing has taken over half the street, and there's a line of people outside of it year round. It's ruined the bar across the street, caused just about every restaurant, bar, coffee shop, etc, in this town to have a "leg lamp" on display, and is just generally baffling to all of us locals.

So what I'm saying is they got that right.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:45 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to offer both of my middle fingers to anyone who has a problem with the Gum Wall.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:48 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


there's also the roller skating museum

Which I kind of love. It’s just a couple of rooms in the back of an office, but it’s fun!

I want to go see that plumbing museum.
posted by PussKillian at 8:01 PM on July 16


I got super high in the Mall of America and couldn't find my way out. Then I found a store called Alpaca Connection and totally lost my shit and couldn't stop giggling.

Someday we'll find it...
posted by deludingmyself at 8:22 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I want to go to the Air Mobility Command Museum RIGHT NOW IMMEDIATELY. As in, wow, may have to organize a road trip to Delaware. I know several other people who will be greatly enthused.

Which is to say, this is a bad article and it should feel bad.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 8:35 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


When I was a college student in LaCrosse, WI, we were very proud of that giant 6-pack, thank you very much.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:03 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Hey don't slam Lucy like that! Maybe you have to be geekily fascinated with 19th century seaside tourism, but if you are, she is pretty amazing. Also, the tour has come a long way in recent years and is much less boring. We're down that way every year and every year there's someone new along and we have to make an obligatory pilgrimage to Lucy. Knock it if you must but standing on the howdah on a high summer day with a sea breeze and gazing up and down the Shore is pretty great.

Also this reminded me that long, long ago in MetaFilter far, far away, I made this post about her.
posted by Miko at 9:05 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


As a northern California loving California resident, I would say our various drive through redwoods are worse and more embarrassing traps than the Full House house.
posted by mark k at 9:31 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


As I started to read your comment I thought about how my main association with Northern California is the beautiful redwood forest I drove through and as I continued to read the comment I was like ah...I've been pwned
posted by bleep at 9:37 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I get that some people may be utterly uninterested in spy stuff, but even though I didn't get to go to everything in DC that I wanted to, I had absolutely no regrets about the Spy Museum, because I used to read about the miniature cameras and hollowed-out nickels for smuggling microfilm as a kid, and they had them. They had a copy of the Enigma machine. The basement was full of James Bond stuff, including one of the Aston Martins; they had Jaws' teeth. Super-easy to put it together with a visit to the smaller Air and Space Museum (visit Udvar-Hazy on the way into or out of town) and Ford's Theatre on the other side of the National Mall. Which is, in fact, what I did.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:47 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


As a northern California loving California resident, I would say our various drive through redwoods are worse and more embarrassing traps than the Full House house.

FIGHT ME.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:50 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


FIGHT ME.

"Do you know what would enhance the beauty of a redwood? Cutting a big hole in it and driving a car through it."
posted by mark k at 9:57 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


And, not to abuse the edit window, fencing it in so it is no longer in a forest but next to a parking lot and a gift shop.
posted by mark k at 9:58 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Most things are only as boring as the people looking at them.

I'm reminded of this quick exchange from an old 'Mercury Theatre of the Air' radio show:
Bored women:
New York is so dull.
Orson Welles:
New York is exciting - it's you that is dull.

It's also where I had to visit 1049 Park Avenue, speaking of houses from TV shows. This is the apartment building where Felix lived with Oscar.
posted by Rash at 9:59 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


They got Arizona right at least. People expect a fun Wild West town and they quickly realize it’s just a big tourist trap. It’s about an hour from here. I rode out there with some friends once when we were all new to motorcycling; hey, a chance to ride out of town and they’d never seen Tombstone, so sure, I’ll humor them. We were there all of five minutes when they said “OK, we’ve seen it, it’s a tourist trap, let’s go.” To me Tombstone is a place you can stop if you need to get out of the car for a drink or restroom break on your way to the much more entertaining Bisbee, a scenic half hour away.
posted by azpenguin at 10:28 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


an old 'Mercury Theatre of the Air' radio show

Speaking of depressing things to see, the former site of the Mercury Theatre is now a Soulcycle.
posted by praemunire at 10:32 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


For the record, the San Luis Obispo gum alley predates the Seattle one, but I guess the Seattle is the official one now.

The Anaconda Smelter Stack kicks ass. It’s a really fucking enormous smokestack!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:34 PM on July 16


"Do you know what would enhance the beauty of a redwood? Cutting a big hole in it and driving a car through it."

Here's the thing: I completely agree! Holes in redwoods are bad FULL STOP. But here's the thing! The redwoods are kinda not around your house right? Not in your city right? Idiots who want to gawk at the Full house house block traffic in a living city! So it *is* worse because its not just stupid- it's stupid that regularly gets in the way of ordinary people on their way to the grocery store, or their job or the hospital AFTER THEY'VE HAD SURGERY AND ARE WAITING TO GET STITCHES OUT WHILE THEIR PERCOSET WEARS OFF BECAUSE THEIR FATHER IS STUCK IN TRAFFIC BECAUSE OF MORONS gawking at a fucking house and holy shit I did not expect to be this mad 5 years after the fact. Lets band together and be mad at both sets of stupid tourists and stupid tourist attractions. argggh.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:53 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


I'm really confused about the idea that the Full House house is supposed to be a tourist trap. I mean, it's just a house. They used the exterior for the show, and now you can go look at it if you want, but can something be a tourist trap if it does nothing to encourage you to visit and no system exists to even try to profit off you while you're there? (I suppose the $2,000+/sqft asking price is an attempt to profit off you, but since nobody gawking at the house has that kind of money, that's not all that relevant.) A tourist trap should be a trap of some sort, not just a structure.

It sounds like the best solution is to just cut a big hole through the Full House house so people can drive through the middle of it and avoid blocking surgery patients. That sounds expensive, but this is the same city that's proposing a $3 billion/mile rail tunnel right now, so maybe it's a bargain?
posted by zachlipton at 12:03 AM on July 17 [13 favorites]


If I ever get to America I would totally want to see most of these.

Browsing through the list I had to do a double take at Gum Wall, which I inexplicably thought said Cum Wall. Now that would be gross.
posted by Atom Collection at 12:40 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Oh man, don't get me started. That the city (SF) couldn't have funded the (short) rail extension to the actual transit hub from redevelopment fees is simply criminal.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:42 AM on July 17


We clearly need to have a Mefi meetup at the plumbing museum.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:33 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


Surely the Anaconda Smelter Stack in Montana stands out for being the only tourist trap you're not even allowed to get within a mile of.

I got curious and looked it up, and it turns out that it's unapproachable not because it's unstable or anything, but because the ground around it is contaminated with (among other things) arsenic.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:15 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Whoever upthread implied that they got the California one wrong is spot on. Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 is by far the worst tourist trap in CA,

Except for the fact that it has one of the only brick and mortar Left Handed stores in the country! So I guess that and the pepper store can stay.

For Hawaii, they should have listed the road to Hana.

I did this! I thought it was cool, however we happened to be behind a construction truck that DGAF (the road has alot of one lane blind curves), so we were able to get back from Hana in great time!

When I was there in the 90s there was a guy running a private information booth;

There was only one when you went?
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:51 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


The Road to Hana is an ordeal of varying intensity, but there's stuff at the other end that makes up for some of it. After I did it, I understood why my brother, who lives on Maui, declined to come along. There's another twisty scenic road at the far opposite corner of the island, with a completely different character and a whole lot less traffic. It passes a blowhole like the one the article complains about on a different island. A pretty neat feature, in reality.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:36 AM on July 17


Hm. What does it say about me that I've been to almost ten of these?

Oh come on now. The Desert of Maine? The Desert of Maine is great! I once camped there . - they have a really nice campground, which is a couple miles from the LL Bean Flagship Store in Freeport (24 hours!). It's a good time. And the tram tour through the "desert" is pretty fascinating and kind of a little preview of climate change in a way. You really learn how important that layer of topsoil is.

They're really mixing up the concept "boring" with the concepts of "dated," "quirky," and "kitchsy." Some of us actually like that stuff....

I agree also that "a tourist trap" isn't just a geographical destination like a house exterior, or like the Mall of America, or an oddball museum, but a particular phenomenon where the overplayed lure of unique culture and history is parlayed into an effort to strip you of cash through the sale of gifts, food, and activities. South of the Border is a tourist trap. The Corn Palace in SD is a tourist trap. Wall Drug is kind of the gem of the genre. Lucy, sure, is a tourist trap. But a lot of these (Four Corners, the Viking Tower in Newport, the Plumbing Museum, the Pops store in Oklahoma which is great) are not in themselves tourist traps. I am disappoint.
posted by Miko at 4:49 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


Don't let this grouch spoil you on the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village! You may not be impressed by Edison's last breath, but it is a teensy part of an enormous collection. You can ride in a Model T! You can see the chair that Lincoln was shot in! You can sit on Rosa Parks' bus! It's a good museum and this person could have clearly found a worse attraction in Michigan.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 5:04 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


What does it say about me that I've been to almost ten of these?

To me, it says that you have good taste.

(I think the group consensus is that the author is a Grumpy Lumpkin who hates fun, and I get the feeling that a lot of us have re-adopted this list for Travel Bucket List purposes.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:53 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


So, the Land of Oz is awesome. And because it's not open all the time, the days it is open are event-ish and gloriously surreal (nothing like watching a bunch of children dressed as flying monkeys dancing around a bluegrass band covering "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" on top of a mountain surrounded by spectacular views at peak leaf season, while a fellow customer freaks out to the point of tears about how much she loves Judy Garland). Also, for a while there you could rent Dorothy's house as a vacation property, including yellow brick road access, andthe Escher-ish psychedelic basement at Dorothy's house, which you wall through to simulate "tornado" on the way to the Oz part of the park.

TLDR: these people have never been to the Land of Oz theme park.
posted by thivaia at 5:55 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


I'm just hoping this is viral marketing for a new Sam & Max game.
posted by threecheesetrees at 6:00 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


The rest of NY outside of the city has plenty of standard roadside tourist traps like the Big Duck, the various lighthouses, etc.

Somewhere in a random town in the Hudson Valley there's a dude who built an enormous prozac pill and stuck it by the side of the road just because. He also built a big fork sculpture and stuck it at a point where two roads intersect ("the fork in the road", get it?).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:10 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Is he also gone with the Schwinn?
posted by wellred at 6:20 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I could tell you my fav spot in my native Rhode Island, but then I would have to kill you. Hint: it's nowhere near Newport.
posted by DJZouke at 6:21 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I guess I see how Iowa's "Largest Frying Pan In Iowa" got the nod, but my immediate guess was the Iowa 80 Truckstop ("World's Largest Truckstop"*), and I don't think that impulse was wrong, if the category is The Most Boring Tourist Trap.

It had to be the pan. Brandon claimed it was the largest in the world until fairly recently (see here for controversy). The thing is, it's just sheet metal painted black. If it was cast iron, maybe it'd be worth the 20 minute detour from 380. Or if they'd take it down each year, clean it up, and make Iowa's largest Denver omelet. Without either of those conditions, it is the worst tourist trap in Iowa.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:22 AM on July 17


Just got back from a road trip through New England. My brother was all fired up to go see North America's biggest zipper, so we went out of the way to visit Barre, VT... to find some mediocre public art. His irritated reaction was one of my favorite memories of the trip.
posted by duffell at 6:25 AM on July 17


The biggest ball of twine is in Kansas? Not Minnesota?

It's complicated. Listen to the most recent episode of 99% Invisible. Short version: the Minnesota ball is the largest one made by a single person. Also, it's rounder than the Kansas one. There's also a largest ball of nylon string and a heaviest ball of twine and they all have an uneasy truce.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:55 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I'm imagining post-apocalyptic scenarios where there is a desperate need for binding materials and the owners of the respective balls have a gambit to see who blinks first and gives up claim to the biggest ball to help save the world.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:05 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, Edison's last breath in a glass tube is a real thing? I thought Tim Powers was making that part up.

I think this all the time about things in Tim Powers books, and I'm always wrong. They are always real and it's glorious.
posted by PussKillian at 7:06 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


> Without either of those conditions, it is the worst tourist trap in Iowa.

I will publicly defer to your obvious expertise, but in private, I will continue to believe that I am correct. (MetaFilter:)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:12 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Washington, DC: The United States Presidents Gallery at Madame Tussauds. So who is the guy in red satin? Okay, John Adams.

I've been to three of these destinations. A couple are still on my bucket list, if I'm passing that way.
There is a whole This Old House / Home Depot / YouTube DIY video culture that is all about the plumbing museum. I'd have to bring my crochet and a snack lunch because my husband would make a day of it.
posted by TrishaU at 7:22 AM on July 17


My nine steps of listicoholism.

curiosity > mild agreement with a few items > ambivalence > mild disagreement > less mild disagreement > strenuous objections > mental self-flagellation > resolution to never do it again

(repeat the next time a list is linked to on metafilter.)
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 7:23 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


To measure the biggest ball of string, you'd probably have to... Mark Twine.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:43 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Lose a Newseum and a Spy Museum, gain the Museum of the Bible.

Has this clickbaiter even been to any of these places?
posted by aspersioncast at 7:47 AM on July 17


You'd say Branson as opposed to the Precious Moments Chapel?....

OH LORD I FORGOT ABOUT THE PRECIOUS MOMENTS CHAPEL, thank sweet Jesus I never was forced to go to there as a youth
posted by daisystomper at 8:12 AM on July 17


For me, the best part of the Wall Drug experience was that it's not just a store; it's a phenomenon extending over hundreds of miles with its signage, building up unreasonable expectation and then deflating it in an orgy of jackalope kitsch. If I remember right, there's even a sign as you head away saying something like GO BACK, YOU HAVE JUST PASSED WALL DRUG, which is just a perfect final chuckle.
posted by mubba at 8:30 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I actually had a really good time at Wall Drug. Yeah, the marketing leadup is very clever - you basically can't NOT stop by the time you've had it drilled into you 300 times.

One of the favorite things I learned there was that their famous "free ice water" come-on in the 1930s was sort of disingenous, in that all drug stores offered free ice water back then. But I suppose when it's put right in front of you when you're rumbling along in some Depression truck with no AC, it means a lot.
posted by Miko at 8:57 AM on July 17


OH LORD I FORGOT ABOUT THE PRECIOUS MOMENTS CHAPEL, thank sweet Jesus I never was forced to go to there as a youth

Oh, it's really something. I even went back in the days when it also operated a separate wedding chapel and reception area onsite for people who wanted a whole themed wedding, a "fountain of angels", and its own RV Park on the grounds. However it still has the main chapel proper, complete with its Hallelujiah Square mural centerpiece; the tour details many of the stories behind the little figures painted into the work. The guide also points out that the figure of Jesus in the mural is the exact dead-center of the painting, and was accidentally rendered thus; but then adds "and that's appropriate because Jesus should be the center of all our lives!"

Yeah it was a thing alright. (I freely confess I visited it ironically.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Atlas Obscura has the story of Edison's last breath.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:38 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


A lot of this looks like sneering at those who are curious about things not connected to survival, sex, social status or spectator sports; as in, “look at those dweebs who'd go to see a museum of aerial logistics or infrastructure, how lame!”

I.e., “Plumbing is vitally important to any functioning society, but there’s a reason everyone who's not a plumber spends exactly zero time thinking about it on a daily basis.” Translation: being curious about important things is embarrassing. Far better to just watch the football or read a gossip magazine like a normal person.
posted by acb at 10:52 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I think it was replaced by some kind of Bible Museum, which should be in the running for tourist traps.

Lose a Newseum and a Spy Museum, gain the Museum of the Bible.

The absolute most important thing to know about the Museum of the Bible is because they wanted to fancy it up with Real Life Ancient Artifacts, the family that run Hobby Lobby and started the museum ended up buying a whole bunch of looted cuneiform tablets from dubious sources, i.e. a whole lot of money from some of the most showily pious and smugly self-righteous Christians in the US went to funding ISIS and al-Qaeda.
posted by Copronymus at 11:11 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


I guess I see how Iowa's "Largest Frying Pan In Iowa" got the nod, but my immediate guess was the Iowa 80 Truckstop ("World's Largest Truckstop"*), and I don't think that impulse was wrong, if the category is The Most Boring Tourist Trap.

I remember being very bored at the Field of Dreams house in Dyersville as a kid, if we're relitigating Iowa.

"If you build it they will come."
"And do what exactly?"
"Uhhhh... that's their problem."

The lunch box & button museums look like EXACTLY my jam; thanks for the heads up, cranky article writer!
posted by taquito sunrise at 11:52 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I remember being very bored at the Field of Dreams house in Dyersville as a kid, if we're relitigating Iowa.

Oh, yeah, I was taken there once as a kid (we were visiting relatives in Iowa). If you ever want to see a baseball diamond carved into a cornfield, that's where you want to go. Me, I find baseball to be even more boring than corn.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:55 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Absurd that the selection from Missouri was NOT anything in Branson, which is itself, taken as a whole, a prime candidate for this list.

"Branson, Missouri. My dad says it's like Vegas, if it were run by Ned Flanders."

I went to Branson as a kid before it was Branson and it was pretty fun. Silver Dollar City is an amusement park with a cool underground roller coaster set in a mine. But then was The Baldknobbers (AKA Baldknobbers Hillbilly Jamboree).
posted by kirkaracha at 12:03 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Ben and Jerry’s? Really? That was a must-see for our family on a trip several years ago, mainly due to my brother in law, who in addition to really liking Ben and Jerry’s is a mechanical engineer who works with packaging equipment and wanted to see their operation. But what the authors totally missed is that in addition to being interesting, after the tour you get FREE ICE CREAM! Surely there are worse places in Vermont that don’t reward you at the end like that.

And in an interesting bit of serendipity, the same guy responsible for Dinosaur Kingdom in Virginia also made Foamhenge, a full size Stonehenge replica that was originally displayed nearby.

As for Kentucky, I would much rather see a Col. Sanders bust than the Ark Park.
posted by TedW at 12:03 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


These are all some value of cheesy fun, which is the point.I've been to two Mystery Spots even though I know it's an illusion, and it was fun! My kid loved it and was mystified.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:06 PM on July 17


(In case I didn’t make it clear, I agree with those who think the author needs to lighten up on the snark and learn to enjoy all the quirky things people have to offer.)
posted by TedW at 12:07 PM on July 17


(I think the group consensus is that the author is a Grumpy Lumpkin who hates fun, and I get the feeling that a lot of us have re-adopted this list for Travel Bucket List purposes.)

Yeah, this got me thinking about being on the road and needing to get out and take a break, but not wanting to sit in a fast food joint at some godforsaken highway rest stop listening to tired families bicker. So you take the turnoff to the quirky thing because it's something to do for 20 minutes that isn't sitting behind the wheel, and it turns out to unexpectedly interesting.

Or it turns out to be kinda weird or creepy, and then you have a really good road story.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:43 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I'm really confused about the idea that the Full House house is supposed to be a tourist trap. I mean, it's just a house. They used the exterior for the show, and now you can go look at it if you want, but can something be a tourist trap if it does nothing to encourage you to visit and no system exists to even try to profit off you while you're there?

No. Wikipedia says
A tourist trap is an establishment that has been created or re-purposed with the aim of attracting tourists and their money.
Like South of the Border, the loathsome Pier 39 and even Wall Drug.

But the Full House place isn't a tourist trap -- it's just a too-popular local landmark. These come and go; another current example (though far from any city) would be Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.
posted by Rash at 1:49 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Side note, Wall Drug is totally fine and worth stopping at. Also, South Dakota is way more beautiful than it gets credit for, do stop and check out the national parks if you drive by!
posted by tocts at 1:58 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Props to Wall Drug for building the energy over at least a few state's worth of roadside signs. By the time you get there you are compelled to stop just to figure out what the hell it is.
posted by GuyZero at 2:23 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


My buddy and I drove cross country in 1995. In southeast Missouri we started seeing signs for The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, which was 720 miles and three states away. We saw tons of signs over the next two days so of course we had to stop.
"The Big Texan is best known for its 72 ounce (4.5 pounds or 2.04 kg) steak. The steak is free to anyone who, in one hour or less, can eat the entire meal, consisting of the steak itself, a bread roll with butter, a baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and a salad; otherwise, the meal costs $72."
According to the rules, "Should you become ill, the contest is over… YOU LOSE! (Please use the container provided as necessary.)"

We figured that you'd have to eat more than 1.2 ounces of steak per minute, plus having to also eat all the sides seemed unfair, so we made do with humble one-pound steaks.

Man vs. 72oz Steak (do I really need to warn you?)
The Simpsons - Steak eating contest
posted by kirkaracha at 3:18 PM on July 17


I'm just here to say that I thought the Spy Museum was fucking awesome, and that's not even taking into account that I got to live out my life-long dream of crawling through a ventilation shaft.

Next up, I just need to find a course that lets me sprint along densely situated tile rooftops while jumping from one to the other.
posted by MysticMCJ at 4:06 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Delaware: Air Mobility Command Museum

It’s hard to imagine a more boring (if totally important) mission than airlifting supplies to soldiers during wartime and refueling aircraft mid-flight

Whatever, pal, NKAWTG.
posted by mlis at 4:39 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


The gum wall sucks, and they have to keep cleaning it all off periodically so that it doesn't eat away at the bricks.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:46 PM on July 17


As a kid, I remember being generally positive on Wall Drug with the exception of what I remember regarding, at the time, as a very subpar donut. I have since come to wonder whether it was the kind of donut that is so dry and cake-y that it only works well with some serious black coffee applied.
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 5:23 PM on July 17


People who hate Americana kitsch are extremely no fun, and I will not roadtrip with them. I regret that I have only been to 3-4 of these, and also that I went to the Precious Moments Chapel when I too young to fully appreciate its splendor. Meteor Crater itself is unironically rad, although the marketing around it adds some good kitsch factor (I treasure my "Experience the Impact" t-shirt).

This crappy page keep freezing before I get to the bottom, can someone tell me what they picked for DC?
posted by naoko at 6:22 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


This crappy page keep freezing before I get to the bottom, can someone tell me what they picked for DC?

The President’s Gallery in Madame Tussaud’s near Gallery Place. Good pick.
posted by sallybrown at 6:48 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I know this is just clickbait, but it could be relatively entertaining. But they really picked some extremely not boring places, and it's just a mess.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:00 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


what I remember regarding, at the time, as a very subpar donut. I have since come to wonder whether it was the kind of donut that is so dry and cake-y that it only works well with some serious black coffee applied.

You’re exactly right. It helps that the donut is part of a package deal: “coffee and a donut for only 5 cents!” It is a pretty plain, but serviceable, cinnamon-sugar cake donut. The coffee was good diner coffee and they were good together. My main disappointment with this was that they don’t have a waiter serve it to you on a plate, it’s just out on a cafeteria tray with a coffee urn, and you just drop your Nickel into a little cash box, IIRC. So it was a bit less folksy than I had wished but it delivered on the promise and for 5 cents, it’s hard to complain.

They did have great fresh brewed ice tea though. A huge and eminently browseable gift store. And a wooden carved statue of Annie Oakley, so there’s that.

Thinking about this cranky author, it’s overwhelmingly likely that he(?) has not visited many or even any of these locations, and has based the entire thing on Googlinh, and got paid peanuts for it. It’s very much the same model as “only in your state,” which I’ve recently been reading about - these sites pay really small fees to writers who then basically steal content from bloggers, magazines, forums and whatever else they can find and cobble the thing together in a couple of hours. And it may not even reflect his actual opinion so much as an attempt to satisfy the assigned clickable title. So it’s a shame it’s not a whole lot better, but if we are bringing Atlas Obscura (an outlet with editors that pays writers to do original research for a lot of what it’s putting out) expectations to it, it is natural that we will be disappointed.
posted by Miko at 5:32 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Since I now live in upstate NY, I would like to nominate New York City as New York's tourist trap par excellence.
posted by DJZouke at 5:52 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I got super high in the Mall of America and couldn't find my way out. Then I found a store called Alpaca Connection and totally lost my shit and couldn't stop giggling.

This is amazing because I once had some drinks with lunch at the restaurant across from there, promptly got day-drunk or at least buzzed. Day-drunk and a store full of soft things = ended up with an alpaca scarf.

Apparently the alpaca connection holds strange powers over the inebriated.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:36 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


The Parthenon is actually very impressive.

Didn't make it to the bottom of the list and probably missed a few in the middle because the ads broke my browser, but had to defend the Parthenon. Best place to plan a picnic stop even if you're just passing through Nashville.
posted by asperity at 11:02 AM on July 22


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