Every country has embarrassing destinations, locations that amount to only a fraction of either former or potential glory. And honestly, it’s kind of sad to see a city flounder, to not find a way to properly cultivate or advertise its attractions. I’ve been to so many cities that leave me scratching my head - places that have obvious advantages, but lack the wherewithal for creative urban planning. For instance, any city with an uncultivated waterfront makes absolutely no sense to me. If a city has water, that’s literally a goldmine waiting to happen! So why would any city planning official waste this precious resource? I’m looking directly at you, Cleveland and Baltimore. But now I’m just getting ahead of myself...
Depressing, mismanaged cities can drive an objective person insane. And, more than this, it really just amounts to a waste of precious vacation time. So - lucky you - here is a list of US cities to avoid, compiled by research, personal experience, and testimonials of people who have had the misfortune of visiting these underwhelming spots. We’ve done the work so you don’t have to.
25 Lubbock, Texas: Famous for Boredom
Looking at the above photo, it is rather clear why Lubbock has made the list of places to avoid. There simply isn’t a whole lot to do. Lubbock’s only claim to fame is Texas Tech University....so unless you're a massive football fan, this destination is likely to disappoint. In fact, Lubbock is (almost) famous for being so boring.
According to Statesman.com, a Californian named Steve Kranz ironically visited Lubbock in 2017 because a real estate blog named it the “Most Boring City in America.” Kranz claims to have had a pleasant trip, but we’re not buying it...
24 Mackinac Island, Michigan is some kind of suburban nightmare.
This one makes the list mainly from personal experience. Touted as an adorable resort town, I made a trip to Mackinac Island with my family 5 or so years ago. There is literally nothing to do but buy fudge, ride bikes, sit in a horse-drawn carriage, or golf. The whole place is a kind of hokey farce, straight out of a robotic suburbanite’s dull non-imagination. And once you’re on the island, you’re literally trapped until you schedule a ferry for your exit.
It is the epitome of a tourist trap, and you’d be better off visiting a city that has even a fraction of relevance in today’s world.
23 Fresno, California has an unfortunate problem.
Despite being the fifth-largest city in California, Fresno is definitely a place to avoid. First of all, the climate is miserable here. Fresno is a dusty, scorched pit, with July temperatures averaging between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s virtually uninhabitable. Plus, Fresno is rife with low standards of living and high levels of questionable activity.
I don’t know about you, but I will not be stopping in Fresno anytime soon.
22 Erie, Pennsylvania: the “sinking ship”
We’ve arrived at the first Rust Belt city on the list. As you can probably guess, Erie is a post-industrial city that never quite recovered from the countrywide shift away from manufacturing. Erie used to be a rather booming resort town, with waterparks and boardwalks on the lake shore. While these technically still exist, they are encased in a grim atmosphere. For the past seven years, Erie’s population has been declining at an alarming rate.
According to GoErie.com, the innermost city population has dropped from 101,750 in 2010 to 97,300 in 2017. One resident, Jim Stewart, called Erie a “sinking ship” in an interview with CBS News. We tend to agree: steer clear of Erie.
21 Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a wasteland.
Like Erie, Milwaukee can attribute much of its decline to the countrywide loss of manufacturing jobs. According to BizTiz, this Midwestern city's population has dropped by 6,800 over the past three years. And, according to Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee was the country’s third poorest major city in the 2015 census. Plus, Milwaukee has gained notoriety for being one of the most segregated cities in the nation.
Add all of these statistics together, and you definitely get the impression that this is a place to avoid.
20 San Bernardino, California: Dull and Dangerous
Oh, San Bernardino. In the 1950s, this was quite a happening place. But now, according to CBS, San Bernardino ranks #14 in the most dangerous cities in the USA. And if that’s isn’t reason enough to avoid San Bernardino, Movoto named it the 7th most boring city in the country.
California has a plethora of wonderful destinations, from San Diego to San Francisco and some great stops along the way. But unfortunately, San Bernardino isn't one of them.
19 Little Rock, Arkansas just isn't very special.
According to USA Today, Little Rock is the 16th poorest city in the country. Plus, Arkansas is consistently in the top ten states with health problems. If you’re still not convinced that Little Rock is worth avoiding, I guarantee you’ll be bored by the lack of culture there.
A majority of restaurants and retail are large chains, such as Chili’s and Walmart. So unless Chili’s is really your thing....stay away.
18 Sea Breeze, New Jersey is now a wasteland.
Seabreeze was once a bustling resort town. In the 1800s, Seabreeze’s Warner House boasted 40 rooms, billiards, a bowling alley, horse stables, and a merry-go-round for children. The Warner House was destroyed in a fire in 1890, but this setback did not destroy Seabreeze’s reputation.
According to NJ.com, a fur trapper naming Jessie Smith opened the Seabreeze Hotel while an entrepreneur named Harry Griffith opened the nearby Seabreeze Tavern. However, Seabreeze seemed doomed to fail. The new hotel burnt to the ground in the 1940s, while the tavern was destroyed in 1985 by Hurricane Gloria.
17 Daytona Beach, Florida is clogged by tourism.
I think the above photo speaks more than any words I can summon. I mean, does any part of Daytona Beach look appealing? It’s just a massive booze-y, sweaty patch of sand, with overpriced food.If you’re lucky enough to find room for your towel and umbrella, you’ll likely be surrounded by obnoxious neighbors, preventing you from enjoying the very little that there is to enjoy. Skip it; don’t bother, go literally anywhere else.
16 Cleveland, Ohio because, well, duh.
This entry essentially writes itself. Again, this is a formerly-booming manufacturing metropolis, which has yet to strategize a recovery from job loss in the 1960s. You’ve doubtless watched the self-deprecating Cleveland Tourism Video?
Aside from being hilarious, this video is exceptionally accurate...Cleveland is a sad, decaying city. I mean, even their sports teams are underwhelming. Lebron James ditched the Cavaliers (twice), and the city actually held a parade after the Browns' 0-win season in 2017. Need we say more?
15 Memphis, Tennessee is rife with sketchy groups.
Memphis is known as something of a music capital, credited for the birth of many influential strains of blues, soul, and rock n’ roll. Unfortunately, Memphis has fallen from this former glory, as it now ranks as the 5th most dangerous city in the United States.
According to Revolvy, there are currently 182 gangs in Memphis County alone, with approximately 8,400 members.
14 Liberty, New York houses the ghosts of opulence past.
Liberty has an interesting history. It is a part of the Catskills region, a region which overall continues to prove an attractive retreat to wealthy metropolitan New Yorkers. Specifically, Liberty was home to the mega-luxurious Grossinger’s Resort from the 20s through the 80s. Grossinger’s was the top of the top. They were the first resort to use artificial snow, so vacationers could ski year round.
According to Atlas Obscura, Elizabeth Taylor married Eddie Fischer there. You can’t really get more elite. Unfortunately, after the owner’s passing in 1972, the resort steadily declined before closing in 1986. Now, Liberty is just like any other small, rural town in America: forgettable, dull, and not worth a visit.
13 Baltimore, Maryland is behind the times.
Baltimore may seem like a cute place to visit with its ideal location on the Atlantic Coast, and only an hour’s train ride to Washington, D.C. However, I must warn you to not waste your time. Despite its geographical advantages, Baltimore has done literally nothing to market its assets.
The waterfront has little more than a Hard Rock Cafe and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, as if this were the 80s. Plus, Baltimore has so abused its natural resources that it is chemically dangerous to eat fish from the harbor. Any crab you eat in Baltimore is not from Baltimore. And, in case you’ve never seen the Wire, Baltimore is the nation’s #1 most dangerous city. Avoid at all costs.
12 12. Stockton, California is a risky bore-fest.
Stockton is another city in Movoto’s list of Ten Most Boring Cities in America. Plus, it ranks #10 in the nation’s most dangerous cities, according to a CBS study. Need I say more? What is worse than a place that is both exceptionally boring and exceptionally dangerous?
11 Las Vegas, Nevada: Home of All Things Base
Waste of time and a concocted tourist trap. Joie Pena of VICE.com calls the city a “charmless place.” It’s hard to find any evidence to disagree. Aside from the morally-askew behaviors that Vegas advertises to tourists, the city does not exactly encourage its locals to develop into upright citizens.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, the Vegas graduation rate is 63%, the lowest national average. Plus, the incarceration rate is the 13th highest in the country. Yikes.
10 Miami, Florida is not what it’s cracked up to be.
Honestly, I would just recommend going somewhere else. Miami is crowded, hot, uncomfortable, and over-priced. If you want a beach, go somewhere less crowded, where you can perhaps actually swim or relax. If you want a big city, go somewhere with a better climate for sightseeing.
Miami is just a swampy, sweltering, stuffed money pit.
9 Poor little Detroit, Michigan.
I don’t want to kick Detroit while it’s down, but I think I’d be rather dishonest if I didn’t include Detroit in this list. Again, Detroit is a Rust Belt city, a former diamond in the auto industry. In the 80s and 90s, Detroit had a little something going for it with the birth of techno music. There is still an underground music scene here, but I don’t think it compensates for the city’s overwhelming deficits of poverty, unemployment, violence, and decaying infrastructure.
According to a recent Detroit Times article, Detroit is statistically the unhappiest city in the United States. Sorry Detroit, but I’m still avoiding you at all costs.
8 Hollywood, California: the most obvious tourist trap
I know Hollywood isn’t a city in itself, but I believe it still warrants a shout-out on this list. Hollywood, like so many other destinations, should be an intuitively obvious place to avoid. Hollywood is only appealing to people who will never work in Hollywood, so you’ll never see any real stars. It’s not a hub of stardom; it’s a cultural idea of something that doesn’t actually exist. The result is emptiness, along with overly-priced bottled water.
There are so many other things to see in Los Angeles, so why choose this massive, overly-crowded waste of time?
7 The Poconos Region in Pennsylvania struggles to maintain its former glory.
The Poconos still houses various resort sites throughout the region, but I believe the resort phenomenon is slowly dying in general. It seems like now, travellers desire authenticity and interaction with a raw, local culture. Resorts embrace an opposing mentality of elitism and seclusion: travelling without escaping oneself. The above photo shows the ruins of the Penn Hills resort, which experienced its prime in the 1940s through 1980s, before closing in 2009.
6 Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is isolated and bland.
Similar to Mackinac Island, Hilton Head is only worthwhile if you want to eat fudge, ride bicycles, or golf. The only difference is that Hilton Head has actually swimmable beaches, so I suppose you can spend your time enjoying the ocean or whatever. But if you desire waves, you can go to literally any other spot on the Atlantic Coast...so why here? It’s essentially a massive gated community, rife with middle-aged white men sporting potbellies in Oxford-style shirts.
It’s a sterile non-city, isolated from all other aspects of the world in the worst way possible. Again, only visit Hilton Head if you love to be bored out of your mind.
5 Gary, Indiana never lived up to its hype.
Again, Gary is a sad rust belt city. It was once dubbed the “City of the Century,” bustling with industry and opportunity. Now, Gary lies in ruin with a greater-than 100% decrease in its population since 1960.
According to Abandoned America, over 13,000 properties in Gary are considered “blighted,” meaning they are wrecked and uninhabitable.
4 Niagara Falls, New York has little entertainment beyond the falls.
Hooray, waterfalls! Right? I would be inclined to agree, but the city has done very little to cultivate excitement in the area surrounding the falls. And waterfalls can only stay interesting for so long. Sure, they’re stunning and breathtaking, but then what? You pay too much money for a burger before spending your entire evening wandering around the city trying to find something, anything at all, to do.
Once again, please avoid Niagara Falls at all costs.
3 Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the site of the University of New Mexico. In 2012, things seemed to be on the up-and-up for ol’ ABQ when enrollment in the University reached a record peak. However, according to the Albuquerque Journal, enrollment has fallen by 9.3% in only six years.
The citywide unemployment is 4.9%, and this is the 20th most dangerous city in the country. Ehh....let’s all avoid Albuquerque for now.
2 Four Corners, Arizona/New Mexico/Utah/Colorado....just, why?
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the Four Corners! Wow, you can literally be in four states at the same time! What an arbitrary accomplishment!
Seriously, just photoshop yourself over the guy in the above photo. It will literally amount to the same thing if you were to visit in person, plus you’ll save some money on gas.
1 Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
You can file this in your log of over-touristed beaches to avoid. Rehoboth, like so many tourist traps in the country, is cluttered by clunky people and pricey, low-quality food. Plus, it’s in Delaware. You’d have to really go out of your way to find an opportunity to avoid this place...Rehoboth will likely never find its way into your radar.
References: CBS, city-data, movoto, atlasobscura, vice, usatoday