Don’t Go There: Overrated and Underrated Attractions Around the World

malibu, california

Some attractions have a way of wearing themselves into the fabric of the typical vacation. That doesn’t mean they’re worthwhile.  Here are some you can give a miss, and recommendations for what to do instead in a variety of places around the globe.

Overrated Atlanta: World of Coca-Cola

Only a Coke fiend would spend $17 to wait on line to learn the history of America’s favorite drink, from its beginnings as an elixir to its worldwide domination.  Your admission price does, however, include tastes of more than 100 different Coke products from around the globe, from Peru’s Inca Kola to Italy’s Beverly, a bitter tonic made with quinine.

Underrated Atlanta: Historic Sweet Auburn District

You don’t have to be Baptist (or even Christian) to sit in on Sunday services at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached his message of non-violent social change. Newcomers are greeted with a handshake or “holy hug” from a congregant. Across the plaza at the National Park Visitors Center, videos and other installations bring Dr. King’s stirring oratory to life.

Overrated Ireland: Kissing the Blarney Stone

Even if you don’t believe tall tales of local lads relieving themselves here, you might think twice about puckering up to a rock that’s been bussed more often than a call girl. Legend has it that smooching the stone bestows the gift of gab, but to find out for sure whether it’s truth or Blarney, you’ll have to pay 18 Euro admission.

Underrated Ireland: The Wild West Coast

This is not the Ireland of wee whitewashed cottages and tiny teashops, but a landscape of soaring mountains, sweeping valleys, glittering bays, and dolphins frolicking in Killary Harbour, the country’s only natural fjord.  The Connemara peninsula surrounding the still-charming town of Westport is Ireland’s answer to Colorado, luring hikers, bikers, kayakers, and even surfers to its great outdoors by day and its affable local pubs by night.

Overrated Los Angeles: The Hollywood Sign

There’s no reason to make a special excursion to view L.A.’s most recognizable landmark. After all, it’s just a sign; what’s the big deal?  The traffic and parking in the residential neighborhood is maddening, and once you're there, the sign itself isn’t any different in person from the image you’ve seen in countless movies. You’re sure to catch a glimpse of it from some freeway or parking lot on your way to doing something more interesting.

Underrated Los Angeles: Malibu

Want to see some real Hollywood icons?  Roll up Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, a secluded community where you just might run into a movie star buying milk at the local grocery store.  Malibu is home to some of Southern California’s finest beaches—including Zuma, Carbon, Matador—for surfing and for sunbathing alike. And the drive along the ocean is one of the world’s most spectacular.

Overrated Maui: Sunrise at Haleakala

Getting up at oh-dark-thirty in the morning and driving two hours up a tortuous mountain road has been part of Maui’s beaten path since 1866, when Mark Twain declared sunrise at Haleakala “the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed.” What Twain didn’t mention was freezing cold temperatures, theme-park-style throngs, and clouds that obscure the sun’s appearance as often as not.

Underrated Maui: Sunset at Haleakala

“Haleakala is a sacred spot for native Hawaiians, but the time of day has nothing to do with it,” said the late Keli’i Brown of Maui’s Visitors Bureau.  Unless you’re biking down the mountain, plan to arrive before dusk, when the sun illuminates the gorgeous colors of Haleakala crater before descending behind Hawaii’s other islands. It’s also warmer and a lot less crowded.

Overrated Mexico: Cabo

Big anonymous hotels, overpriced restaurants serving mediocre food, jam-packed tequila bars hawking watered-down margaritas, and everywhere a timeshare representative trying to sell you a vacation home.  Why was it you wanted to visit Mexico?  Oh, yeah, the weather.  San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas definitely have that going for them. Just not much else.

Underrated Mexico: La Paz

Baja California Sur’s capital is a real city (population 280,000), but still has the relaxed feel of a small boating and fishing community. The palm-fringed malecon (sea wall) hums with activity day and night, but you needn’t venture far to find a deserted beach. Duffers will delight in the Gary Player Signature golf course at Costa Baja Resort, overlooking the ultramarine Sea of Cortez

Overrated New York: The Statue of Liberty

Long lines and wait times of 90 minutes or more can turn a Statue of Liberty visit into a day-long chore. If you’re not one of the 3,000 people permitted onto her pedestal, (or the 240 lucky folks allowed to get inside her head), behold her from shore or from the decks of the Staten Island Ferry, a free ride across New York Harbor.

Underrated New York: Ellis Island ...

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