Mention places like New York City, Paris, or London to the avid traveler, and you might see them stifling a yawn. Not everyone has the opportunity to venture off to these well-known travel destinations, of course, so people don’t realize that names like Las Vegas and Tokyo are ridiculously overrated. Besides being uncomfortably busy, these destinations have little to offer if you are trying to get a taste of local life.
Even for travelers who are fans of all the famous tourist stops, there are alternatives available just around the corner, where you won’t have to push your way through a crowd all day long. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or just starting out, here are 10 popular travel destinations to avoid and their (arguably) better counterparts.
10 New York City, New York
Like most of the places on this list, it doesn’t hurt to visit somewhere like New York City once. But after seeing a couple of Broadway shows, venturing into the Statue of Liberty, and taking a run (well—a strained walk) through Times Square, NYC will be out of your system.
Where To Go Instead: Washington DC. While DC is just as populous and touristy as New York City, the crowds are much more bearable here. DC is sheathed in history as old as America itself. You’ll find your way around and the restaurants will be a bit cheaper, too.
9 Orlando, Florida
Orlando is the pinnacle of tourist traps. With top-tier theme parks like Disney World, Universal, and Seaworld within miles of each other, it can be hard to say no to Orlando (especially if there are kids involved). However, the prices are enormously spiked, with only trails of chain restaurants at your disposal. Plus I-4 traffic (the most dangerous highway in the U.S.) will surely take up time in the likelihood of an accident.
Where To Go Instead: Clearwater. Clearwater Beach is a mere two hours from the House of Mouse. If you decide to take a break from the interminable Orlando mobs, Clearwater has everything you need and more. Clearwater’s boardwalk offers an endless amount of local fare, with plenty of affordable drinks to add to the tab. The white sandy beaches are unparalleled and there’s even a casino in nearby Tampa. If it’s thrill rides your seeking, Busch Gardens is only a short drive away with half the crowds to deal with.
8 Paradise Island, Bahamas
Paradise Island is a popular Bahamas cruise destination, and so, only a few key excursions are highlighted. Many know of the Atlantis Hotel here, along with the island’s favored scuba diving environments. Adventurous outings like zip-lining are always available too. However, the Bahamas have more to offer than these blatant tourist features, and it is worth noting the different spectacles to be seen while near these islands.
Where To Go Instead: Pink Sands Beach. This haven is located on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. The sand is quite literally pink, making it one of the most distinctive and beautiful beaches this side of the Atlantic. Microscopic coral insects, known as Foraminifera, help give the beach its pale pink color. It's breathtaking at sunset.
7 Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is a true wonder of the world, so, naturally, we're not discouraging you from visiting this historical area in Central America. But if you want a true taste of Peruvian lifestyle, your best bet is to stay at a hotel or hostel in Cusco, Peru.
Where To Go Instead: Cusco. While it definitely caters to its massive tourist industry, Cusco has more of a local touch to it. Travelers are encouraged to roam the town on foot and visit the Centro Historico De Cusco. There’s shopping, excursions, old historical buildings, and even a Starbucks to keep your fun-filled day going.
6 London, England
Like New York City, London has people scrambling to get from Point A to Point B at an undesirable pace. There is plenty to do and see for the curious globetrotter, but England is a beautiful, lush country that has more to offer than the sights of the city.
Where To Go Instead: Manchester, England. Manchester is known for its soccer, its night-life, and its multicultural inclusion. Manchester is a bit of old England with a bit of new, so that fans of the old country get the best of both worlds.
5 Paris, France
Paris definitely has its draws— the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame both call this gorgeous French city home. But like most popular travel destinations, Paris can be a hard city to master. Travelers will want to get up early to beat the line for these key attractions. Plus the views from within the Eiffel Tower are nothing to write home about. In fact, it looks better from a distance.
Where To Go Instead: Lyon, France. Besides its historical significance, France is known for its mouth-watering cuisine. If you want to take a step outside the norm, make a trip to Lyon, which is known for its restaurants and award-winning gourmet delicacies.
4 Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas can be fun if you go there with the right mindset. You need to be prepared to lose more money than you win if you’re here to gamble. Be sure to bring an extra wad for all the money you’ll have to fork out for the hotel food and buffets, too.
Where To Go Instead: Atlantic City, New Jersey. A cheaper and just as exciting route lies on the other side of the country in New Jersey. Atlantic City is known for its resort-style allure. Besides a plethora of casinos, excursionists can also enjoy a beverage by the sea or have some fun on the iconic Boardwalk.
3 Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is the capital of Japan and one of the busiest cities in the world. Sure, it has everything from historic temples to high-tech skyscrapers, but where’s the excitement in that?
Where To Go Instead: Setouchi Islands. The Setouchi Islands make for a tranquil travel spot for anyone looking to gaze at Japan’s natural wonder. Like Tokyo, they offer historical excursions with plenty of museums to wander into. It's somewhat cheaper as well, and you will get to try exquisite dishes like Kobe beef without drastically breaking the bank.
2 Niagara Falls, Canada
The Niagara Falls straddle the border between Canada and New York in the U.S. The natural phenomenon offers boat tours, trails, and an observation tower. However, there is another place in Canada that will definitely make for a more interesting travel story.
Where To Go Instead: Ontario Ice Caves. On the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada, there are stunning ice caves just waiting to be explored. The waves from the lake help mold the ice formation, meaning these caves change shape on a regular basis. The Ontario Ice Caves are certainly worth penciling into your Canadian travel expedition, especially if you’re looking for some Instagram-worthy photo ops.
1 Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles— the City of Angels. However, if you’ve ever sat in L.A. traffic, you might think otherwise. Los Angeles is home to plenty of movie stars and theme park attractions, but there is one other place near California that tops this overrated travel destination.
Where To Go Instead: Catalina Island. Right off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island beckons inquisitive nomads. Here, you can experience local life or enjoy a relaxing day at the beach. There are plenty of wine tastings, relaxing spa locations, and a ton of other entertaining activities that beat the jostle of LA any day.