From soaring monuments to jaw-dropping natural landforms, the US has a wealth of iconic landmarks which attract masses of tourists, both native and international, each and every year.

Take a selfie from the top of the Empire State Building - check. Stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame - check. Learn history stuff at The Alamo - check. So many travellers in the US are so focused on ticking off the country’s major attractions from their bucket list that they never stop to consider whether or not they are actually worth the time and effort.

Long queues, shabby upkeep, aggressive hawkers and disappointing views - so many of the country’s most recognisable landmarks fall short of the grandeur and scale portrayed by countless film and TV appearances. Up-close, in real-life, they can look a bit depressing.

But America is not a country short on opportunity and choice, and for every overhyped landmark, there’s an incredible alternative just around the corner, just waiting to deliver the picture-perfect holiday experience to any intrepid traveller willing to take the road less popular. Here’s our guide to what’s overrated and some lesser-hyped alternatives to experience instead. Life's too short- don’t follow the herd.

25 25. Overhyped: The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Supposedly the pulsating heart of Los Angeles' global cinematic legacy, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is where super famous movies stars put their hands in concrete. That’s literally all there is to it.

A staggering 10 million people visit this two-kilometre long stretch of cracked, cheap-looking tiles that line Hollywood Blvd, alongside failed actors dressed as superheroes, claustrophobia-inducing crowds, and a never-ending line of gift shops, tattoo parlors and lingerie stores. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Avoid this grubby and vapid attraction at all costs.

24 24. Alternative: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

For film fans wanting to capture a glimpse of Hollywood’s real movie magic, forget the Walk of Fame, and go, instead, on a studio tour.

Take a peek behind the soundstage doors at Warner Bros. Studios on a three-hour fact-filled tour of its sizeable 110-acre lot. It’s an encyclopedic tour of all types of filming locations, as well as a stop on both single and multi-camera sets. There’s an actual museum midway through the tour as well as a behind-the-scenes look at production techniques.

Take a seat on the couch at Friends' Central Perk, mount a Harry Potter broomstick and come face to face with almost every Batmobile imaginable.

23 23. Overhyped: The Empire State Building, New York

We get it: You’re in New York and visiting this iconic building just feels like something you really ought to do. But here’s the thing - it’s crowded, cramped, expensive and rubbish for selfies.

There’s no question the building is beautiful, especially the marble lobby, but the views from the top can only be enjoyed through the wire safety fencing. And the queues. Wow. You can expect to wait for an hour or longer during peak times and holidays, and why would you want to waste your precious vacation time in one of the world’s most dynamic cities vying for elbow space with strangers?

22 22. Alternative: The Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center is not the tallest building in New York City, yet it can't be beaten for great city panoramas at a reasonable price. While most visitors scramble up the Empire State Building to look across Manhattan, those in the know make for the Top of the Rock Observatory.

Not only will the Rockefeller's observation deck afford you views of Central Park, the Hudson River and the Empire State Building itself, it's almost half the price of its rival. Time your visit for sunset for the most epic views.

21 21. Overhyped: The White House, Washington DC

Home to ‘the most powerful man in the world,’ you’ve seen the White House on television and in the movies, and you’ve probably been led to believe that no visit to DC complete without taking a photo in front of it.

Admittedly, if you manage to bag tickets for a tour of the inside, it might be a little more exciting, but if you think it’s worth a visit to gawp at it from the outside, you might be left wanting. It’s not particularly remarkable to look at and the necessary security measures mean onlookers are kept at arm's reach.

20 20. Alternative: United States Capitol, Washington DC

Capitol is a weird and beautiful place, with 540 rooms and almost as many lawmakers, all connected by winding halls, tunnels and an underground train.

You can go on an official tour after getting tickets from a kiosk just outside the building, or you can contact your state Senator or Representative to get a pass to the gallery and watch the place in action.

For lunch, visit one of the surprisingly decent, low-priced cafeterias in the Rayburn House Office Building or the Longworth House Office Building on Independence Avenue, and keep your eyes peeled for some decent politic-spotting.

19 19. Overhyped: Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore is a national icon, but standing on a viewing platform and looking up at the real thing is a very underwhelming experience. The famous heads look rather tiny and disappointing.

Another problem is that you have to travel out of your way to the middle of nowhere to see it, and considering the novelty wears off in minutes, it really doesn’t feel worth it. It looks way better in the photos than it does up close.

18 18. Alternative: Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Established in 1978 and covering 244,000 acres of South Dakota, Badlands National Park is home to one of the most distinctive landscapes in the country.

The rock formations at Badlands are characterised by their unusual shapes and vibrant red, tan, and white stripes and they attract around one million people every year. It’s also an opportunity to see wildlife you won't see anywhere else in the world, including mountain goats, rabbits, bobcats, antelope, and even bison.

17 17. Overhyped: Driving Across The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Constructed in 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco's biggest landmark, with its mile-long, red suspension making it visible from just about anywhere in the city.

Its beauty is best appreciated at night when it lights up along with the rest of the city and it’s also best appreciated when you’re not actually battling commuter traffic while driving across it.

You might think that any trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without zipping across this iconic bridge but, unfortunately, it’s not that dazzling when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic.

16 16. Alternative: Fort Point, San Francisco

Located at the southern side of the Golden Gate at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, this fort was completed by the United States Army, just before the Civil War, to defend San Francisco Bay against hostile warships.

While the fort never saw any real military action, it has seen some drama and appeared in the 1958 Hitchcock film Vertigo. It’s also one of the most incredible vantage points to take pictures of the iconic bridge above it. You may also get a good view of daredevil surfers dodging the rocks, and you might see a sea lion or two. You can also go inside the old fort building and admission is free.

15 15. Overhyped: The Washington Monument, Washington DC

This iconic landmark in Washington DC is actually kind of boring. Built to honour George Washington, the 555-foot marble obelisk towers over the city and while it looks cool, after waiting in a long, slow-moving line, you take a 70-second elevator ride to the top where you jockey for a view out of one of eight windows. Trust us, it’s better viewed from afar.

If you are desperate to get inside however, you’ll also have to wait until 2019, as the monument is currently closed to visitors to allow for modernisation of the elevator

14 14. Alternative: Mount Vernon Estate And Gardens, Virginia

If presidential history is your thing, skip the Washington Monument, dedicated to the country’s first president, and head to his former 500-acre estate instead.

This attraction features a 14-room mansion that is beautifully restored and furnished with original objects dating back to the 1740s. Visitors can explore the mansion, the outbuildings (including the kitchen, slave quarters, smokehouse, coach house, and stables), the gardens and the new museum and learn about the life of America's first president and his family.

13 13. Overhyped: The Alamo, Texas

Located in San Antonio, this iconic 1700s Franciscan mission was the site of the legendary 13-day siege that became a pivotal moment in Texan history. It’s where some 150 volunteers fighting for Texan independence - including folk heroes Davy Crockett, James Bowie and William Travis - heroically held out until they were swamped by the thousands-strong Mexican army.

While visitors can immerse themselves in the site’s history with tour guides and various virtual and audio offerings, the original part of this Catholic mission is, dare we say it, fairly unremarkable to look at, and The Alamo is only marginally less disappointing than the 2004 movie of the same name.

12 12. Alternative: San Antonio Missions

The San Antonio Missions are part of a UNESCO world heritage site and span the San Antonio River for several miles south of Downtown. There are four missions in this National Park: Mission Concepcion, Mission San José, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission Espada.

Each mission is about 2.5 miles from the next mission, and they’re each visually more impressive than the Alamo, and not so mobbed with visitors. The best way to see them all is to rent a B-bike and cycle the riverside Mission Reach Trail.

11 11. Overhyped: The Statue of Liberty, New York

This iconic New York landmark is truly a sight to behold, but anyone wanting to go visit her up close needs to prepare for slow-moving queues and a genuinely underwhelming view staring up at her behind.

There are a number of things that have to be seen properly at a distance, and this is one of them. Getting up close to Lady Liberty will cost you more time and money than it’s worth and you may just find yourself disappointed. The truth hurts, people.

10 10. Alternative. The Staten Island Ferry, New York

Look, we never said Lady Liberty wasn’t worth seeing - she is one magnificent dame - we’d just recommend admiring her from a distance.

For some of the best views of this New York icon, the Staten Island Ferry is a no-brainer. Millions of tourists take the ride every week and yo get to enjoy the excellent view twice. Best of all, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but remember to take your own snacks because food from the terminal is pricey.

9 9. Overhyped: The Santa Monica Pier, California

With natives and visitors flooding it at all times, Santa Monica Beach is one of the most popular hangouts in the City of Los Angeles. But Santa Monica Beach, especially in the summertime, is nothing short of a tourist trap. It’s overcrowded, run-down and over-priced. Plus, it is the most polluted beach in Los Angeles County, according to environmental group Heal the Bay, and the seventh dirtiest in the state. Gross.

If you want to soak up the atmosphere of this famous LA hotspot, maybe stick to the pier and grab a ride on the Ferris wheel, but whatever you do, stay out of the water.

8 8. Alternative: Malibu Surfrider Beach, Los Angeles

This stretch of sand is not only deemed a World Surfing Reserve but it’s busy enough to offer fantastic people watching, while feeling much less commercialised and, importantly, it’s much cleaner than it’s Santa Monica sibling just down the coast.

Whether you’re a novice surfer or a seasoned pro, there’s no better place to grab a board than this iconic spot, which is famous for its perfect waves. And if you’d rather just be an observer, the laid-back vibe makes it a perfect spot to while away an afternoon. As an added bonus, make sure to check out Malibu Pier which is home to the amazing Malibu Pier Farm Restaurant & Cafe.

7 7. Overhyped: The Space Needle, Seattle

This observation tower is an iconic landmark of the Pacific Northwest. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it draws more than 20,000 people a day. But when you break it down, you don’t really get all that much bang for your buck.

Visitors wait in line for what feels like a lifetime, before listening to a recital of factual spiel from an elevator operator during the 41-second trip to the top, all to enjoy views of the city they could've had from a nearby park for free.

6 6. Alternative: The Incredible Underground Seattle

Did you know that there's an underground city below Seattle? The original Business District was destroyed during a fire in 1889 and in the rebuilding process, the city decided to elevate the streets because of constant flooding, due to the city having been built on tidelands.

The result is that there are two cities stacked on top of each other, but the underground city was closed in the early 1900s because of concerns surrounding the bubonic plague.

Today, tours like Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour take curious onlookers through a series of tunnels in the Pioneer Square Historic District, where brick storefronts still stand.