By most standards, the United States of America is considered the greatest country on Earth. It has everything any person could ever want or need in the form of a strong economy, incredible freedoms, fair and just laws to go along with the best technology, education and cultures in the world. It’s a melting pot of what the rest of the world has to offer so it stands to reason that throughout its nearly three century existence, some pretty incredible sites and landmarks have been constructed or discovered along the way.

Some of these places have become immensely popular tourist destinations with millions flocking to see what all the fuss is about while others are much lesser known spots that the rest of the world has yet to fully discover. Although the famous places can be great, they can sometimes be a letdown for several reasons from overcrowding, expensive charges, overhyped expectations and more. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the more secretive sites that are less traversed can surprise in all the right ways.

Here are fifteen USA spots to avoid and ten hidden gems that are worth visiting.

24 AVOID: South Beach, Miami, Florida

Miami is one of the most sought after beach destinations in the US. More specifically, South Beach, the small island to the south of the mainland city is constantly attracting millions of tourists a year. In fact, according to the Miami Herald, South Beach took in nearly 9.3 million visitors last year.

It’s a great place to visit if you are looking to party non-stop. But for those who are looking to enjoy the beach and a more relaxing atmosphere, there are better options.

Although South Beach can be fun and it definitely has its perks, the truth is it is an overpriced, overcrowded, and at this point, overhyped destination.

The crowds have become unbearable and the prices to enjoy just one fairly simple, yet average dinner on Ocean Drive have gotten way out of hand.

23 AVOID: Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

There is no denying that the Liberty Bell is an iconic and important piece of history for the United States. Centuries ago in the 1700’s when the bell was commissioned for use, its purpose was entirely different than what it is stands for today. It was once used as an alert to the public for danger or a proclamation of an event in Philadelphia. Now, after hundreds of years, it is a relic that is protected by the government as a symbol of US freedom.

Although the Liberty Bell holds plenty of profound weight, the unfortunate reality is that the bell is a bit underwhelming. It looks pretty large in size and the cracks are pronounced, but ultimately many tourists feel somewhat let down after taking a trip to view it. After all, it is only a bell, albeit an important one.

22 WORTH VISITING: The Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

Although the city of San Antonio makes an appearance on our list with a landmark you should skip, it also makes it on here for a gem that is definitely worth visiting. The Riverwalk, a river that runs right through the heart of the city in downtown, makes for a magical evening.

Lined with boutique shops, restaurants, bars, and so much more, an evening stroll next to its banks is a perfect way to take in the nation’s seventh largest city. There are even boats you can pay to board for a reasonable price that will take you down the river while touring downtown San Antonio.

21 AVOID: Times Square, New York City, New York

The Big Apple makes our list again with its most visited landmark. According to Forbes Magazine, “It is said that 26 million people visit Times Square each year, which is about 50,0000 people who go through Times Square every day”. Even though this is the most trafficked tourist destination in NYC, it doesn’t mean you should be one of them.

Sure, the bright lights and huge billboards are something to behold, but you’ll be questioning your sanity as you try to make your way through the herds of crowds for some breathing room.

It also doesn’t help that everything is priced especially for tourists, with markups at 100% or greater.

20 AVOID: Mount Rushmore, Keystone, South Dakota

One of the most recognizable landmarks in the United States resides in the Black Hills Mountains of Keystone. The faces of the four famous men overlooking the plains of the vast lands of South Dakota have become iconic to USA folk everywhere. This is one of those bucket list US landmarks, but visitors should be prepared to temper expectations.

Mount Rushmore simply isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s exactly what you think it is - four giant faces carved into rock. And it’s a bit underwhelming when you see it from afar.

19 WORTH VISITING: Queens Museum of Art, New York City, New York

Although New York City is known for its Museum Mile in Upper Manhattan which is home to some of the world’s most visited and well respected museums, there are other hidden gems in the city that are just as awe-inspiring. The Queens Museum of Art, located in the Queens borough, right next to the Mets baseball stadium is one of those gems. The hours of operation are limited so you have to plan ahead, but once inside, you’ll be happy you did.

The star of the show is the Panorama of the City of New York which is breathtaking in every way, allowing visitors to take in aerial views of the entire city, scaled down to size with model buildings, bridges, rivers and more.

18 AVOID: The Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Its claim to fame is definitely an impressive one. According to its official site,, it is “a top tourist destination in the country and is known around the world” as the largest mall in the Western Hemisphere. With more than 40 million annual shoppers, it’s also one of the most visited destinations in the world. It’s all pretty grand and impressive, but it’s also just a mall when it comes down to it, albeit a really gigantic one. Are the lines and sardine-like crowds really worth it though?

17 AVOID: The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California

This is one of the more head-scratching US landmarks in existence. It’s only a sign. Sure the size is impressive and its location above the city on the Hollywood Hills makes for a cool view, but again; it’s only a sign. The hour long hike each way can be taxing and the payoff sometimes feels underwhelming. The views from the hill can be nice, but the sign itself is nothing to write home about. A photo from your car while driving through the hills is more than sufficient.

16 WORTH VISITING: Devils Tower, Bear Lodge Mountains, Wyoming

This landmark, hidden from most of the world is worth the visit. Devils Tower is a natural butte rock formation located in the Bear Lodge Mountain range of Wyoming.

The rock’s shape is enough to keep visitors gazing for hours as it is not only beautiful, but distinct in such a way that will leave many in wonder.

Once you’ve gotten over its uniquely gorgeous façade, you’ll still be in amazement over its massive size at 1,267 feet tall.

15 AVOID: Touring the Inside of the Statue of Liberty, New York City, New York

Lady Liberty was meant to be seen and experienced from the outside. Her beauty, which can be seen standing tall in New York Harbor, overlooking the Big Apple is magnificent and perfect when viewed while IN the harbor from a boat.

Paying the price of admission to go inside the statue and climb up the crown just doesn’t make sense. You aren’t able to see the statue and the view you get from one of the crown windows for a minute or so, as crowds are pushing behind you, can be seen from so many other vantage points in a city full of skyscrapers.

Opt for the free water taxi from Manhattan to Staten Island for better (free) views of the magnificent statue instead.

14 WORTH VISITING: Glacier National Park, Montana

The northern plains of the United States joins our ranks as another must visit with all of its sheer beauty. Montana’s Glacier National Park is a gem that is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. With over a million acres of natural lands that span every ecosystem one can imagine, this park is a site to behold.

The mountains, wooded forest, rivers, waterfalls and plains are simply astounding and worth a hike. While there, seeing some of the country’s wildlife will also amaze as many animals call Glacier home including mountain goats, mountain lions, grizzly bears, caribou and bison.

13 AVOID: World of Coca Cola, Atlanta, Georgia

For nearly twenty dollars a person, you can learn the history of the most successful drink company on the planet, along with a tour of how it’s made and packaged. It’s a somewhat interesting way to past the time for a couple of hours, but it’s a big mistake to plan your entire trip to Atlanta around the World of Coca Cola tour. Although most visitors agree the visit is fairly decent for the price, they all feel like they are a part of a big corporate brand marketing ploy for two hours. Atlanta has so much more to offer than soda.

12 AVOID: Four Corners Monument, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah

The idea of standing in four states all at once is pretty fascinating. The reality of actually standing in four states all at one time is not nearly as fascinating as the idea. It’s a letdown and a big one at that.

Traveling by highway for hundreds of miles to a site that is literally a slab of concrete with each state’s name printed on the ground, indicating where you’re at, is exactly like it sounds.

You get to stand on a well-kept piece of rock and take pictures of the arrows and words. This one is definitely a site that can be skipped without much second thought.

11 WORTH VISITING: Bodie Ghost Town, Mono County, California

This small little town, hidden from the rest of the world is a once in a lifetime experience that should be visited for anyone who loves a good spook. The town, located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is officially considered a Wild West ghost town because it was abandoned by its residents with only its buildings and housing left behind after the decline of its economy in the mid 1900's. It is now run by the government as a protected landmark for visitors to travel to.

The abandoned structures make for an uneasy visit, but one no one will soon forget.

10 AVOID: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California

The City of Angels makes another appearance on our list of places to avoid with the Santa Monica Pier. Although it isn’t technically Los Angeles, it’s often associated with the city because of its close proximity. There’s no denying that the beautiful ocean waters and incredible views from the pier are unmatched, but the site still falls short of expectations.

The consensus is that the pier has become an overcrowded tourist trap with overpriced food, expensive souvenirs and outdated rides.

You can get all of these things in LA for much less money, and there are definitely nicer beaches.

9 WORTH VISITING: The Texas Hill Country, Texas

Officially deemed the Texas Hill Country by the state residents, this area of Texas, centrally located is simply beautiful. The plains and hills are breathtaking, but it’s also a great time for anyone who pays it a visit.

The Hill Country is home to whimsical little southern towns like San Marcos which has incredible shopping, New Braunfels which is home to a river that Texans love to tube in and fish, and Wimberley which is a quintessential down south town with all of the niceties one could ask for.

Cabins for rent, lakes for boating, rivers for swimming and vast vineyards for wine tasting tours make for an incredible getaway that never disappoints.

8 AVOID: The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

Long considered one of the most important sites in the great state of Texas, the Alamo is rich in history. It is the site that features one of the most important battles in the state’s history, making this a battleground that is quintessential to Texas’ very existence.

Even though there’s a lot to learn here, the truth is the landmark can be somewhat of a bore with little to see with many visitors finishing their tour within half an hour. It also doesn’t help the Alamo’s image that the city has essentially turned it into a way to make extra revenue by renting it out for parties and events.

According to, the landmark along with a newly built hall are available for ceremonies, weddings, and private activities. This is definitely not what Sam Houston had in mind when he charged the battlefield yelling “Remember the Alamo!” while fighting for Texas’ independence.

7 WORTH VISITING: Apostle Islands, Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Not known to many outside the great state of Wisconsin, Apostle Islands is a landmark that should be discovered by everyone. Located in Lake Superior off the coast of mainland Wisconsin, Apostle Islands are a series of twenty two islands that are used for recreation to visitors.

With more to do than anyone can fit in a weekend, this gem calls for a whole week of planning as there are tours of the islands by boat, sea caves, shipwrecks, lighthouses, camping and more.

6 WORTH VISITING: National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee

Likely the most powerful landmark of any on our list is the National Civil Rights Museum located in Memphis. Formerly known as the Lorraine Motel, but converted into a museum, it is the site where the great Martin Luther King, Jr. was targeted. Dedicated to the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, the museum offers visitors a profound glimpse into our past, with replicas of the Birmingham bus Rosa Parks sat in and the motel room where King slept before his passing.

This is simply an essential for anyone looking to embrace US history.

5 AVOID: Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California

This landmark on our list is probably the one that fits the tourist trap mold more than any other in the country. With so many visitors flocking to L.A. to catch a glimpse of the stars who call the city their home, Hollywood is a huge draw.

The Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard brings out the crowds looking to feel at one with famous celebrities. But ultimately, it’s simply a sidewalk with stars carved into place with a famous person’s name on it. The novelty wears off pretty quickly.