Determining whether or not something is overrated, underrated or held to the perfect level of acclaim is a subjective decision that exists in two phases: one's own personalized system of metrics, and how that perception compares to that of the population at large.
When it comes to popular tourist attractions, locals must weigh their personal feelings about the place while also putting themselves in the shoes of visitors. These locations can prove controversial among natives of the same state, as there are multiple attractions that received equal numbers of “overrated” and “underrated” votes, according to data released from RENTCafé.
Stacker referenced RENTCafé’s study in reporting the most overrated and underrated tourist attractions in every state and the District of Columbia, according to residents. Each state polled a sample of 2,500 locals on their opinions. Read on to see which attractions in each state get too much and not enough hype.
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Originally cast for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, the 56-foot Roman god of fire now towers over Birmingham, Alabama. Vulcan is the largest statue ever made in the U.S., and the biggest cast-metal statue in the world. Though the statue’s bare buttocks did cause some controversy as to where the Roman god would permanently reside, Birmingham boldly approved Vulcan’s buns of steel.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville is the largest spaceflight museum in the world. Its notable artifacts include the National Historic Landmark Saturn V Moon Rocket, Pathfinder—the world’s only full-stack space shuttle display—Apollo 16 Command Module, Skylab Orbital Workshop and Apollo 12's moon rock.
Comprised of six million acres of mountains and wildlife, Denali National Park is bisected by a single 92-mile dirt and gravel roadway. During the summer months, tourists are permitted to drive 15 through miles of the park, with the rest accessible by bus tour. Patience is required.
Kenai Fjords National Park is Alaska's smallest state park, at 607,000 acres, but sometimes big things come in small packages. The park is rich in wildlife and glaciers, including Harding Icefield: a massive river of ice that’s been shaping the terrain since the Pleistocene era.
It may appear strange to apply the word "overrated" to a canyon that’s 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep—but the locals have deemed it as such.
With 1.8 million acres of red rock buttes, forests and rivulets, Sedona’s mesmerizing landscape is a one-of-a-kind experience. Hike, bike, camp or spa—Sedona is a mecca for soul-seekers.
Hot Springs National Park, nicknamed “The American Spa,” occupies the northern end of Hot Springs, Arkansas and boasts dozens of mineral-rich baths. During the "gangster era" of the 1920s and 30s, the spas were frequented by Al Capone, Frank Costello, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano and other infamous mobsters. Even the most notorious of the bunch knew where find a good mud mask.
An arts-focused community nestled in Arkansas' Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is home to more than 350 working artists, performers and musicians. This quaint town has 15 spas and 30 art galleries—impressive for a town just shy of seven square miles.
While Disneyland pulls in plenty of visitors, Californians themselves tend to look elsewhere for entertainment. Nevertheless, the Anaheim destination has been sprinkling fairy dust on adults and kids since 1955, with popular attractions like Star Tours and the newly re-vamped Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Locals recommend touring the prehistoric jungle of Lego brick dinosaurs on the Coastersaurus at Legoland in Carlsbad. For the experienced outdoor adventure enthusiast, spend the day scaling Yosemite’s Half Dome, formed from molten rock during the Cretaceous period.
Colorado has a wealth of popular ski resorts—Breckenridge and Snowmass might come to mind. For those who keep up with celebrity culture, there is Vail. Nevertheless, there are plenty of other states with higher annual snowfall that are every bit as worthy of your ski vacation.
Located in Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a widely photographed National Natural Landmark with stunning sandstone rock formations backdropped by the snow-capped Pikes Peak. For runners, the Garden of the Gods hosts an annual summertime 5K and 10-mile race.
The live animal exhibits at Norwalk, Connecticut's Maritime Aquarium may be a little misunderstood—somehow, the aquarium's 2,700 marine animals are both over- and underrated. Perhaps those who voted “overrated” missed their chance to stroke the sharks and rays in the touch pool?
Many residents of Connecticut view the Maritime Aquarium as underrated because it's home to a huge selection of aquatic creatures and the dedicated professionals who care for them. Its overarching message of conserving and appreciating the unique ecosystem of the Long Island Sound is also a major plus.
Visitors to Rehoboth Beach will find the ocean, a boardwalk and a beachside bandstand that plays familiar tunes all summer long. Situated in eastern Sussex County, Rehoboth Beach is a popular family destination with all the usual charms of a small beach town.
Delaware’s state parks host diverse ecosystems, ranging from rolling sand dunes near glistening bays to woodlands near freshwater ponds—all of which can be enjoyed year-round. Camping in the dead of a Delaware winter may prove a tad chilly, however.
According to Floridians, Walt Disney World in Orlando is a bit lackluster. Is Disney World 47 square miles of magical merriment, or just an overcrowded bother?
Busch Gardens in Tampa is home to one of North America's largest zoos. Its 65-acre Serengeti Plain can be toured from an open-air vehicle, which makes hand-feeding the giraffes a lot easier.
Located in Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola is an interactive museum that allows visitors to experience the stories behind the beloved brand. In 2011, the museum opened its "Vault of the Secret Formula," which invites guests to immerse themselves in a multimedia journey through Coca-Cola's safeguarding of its world-famous recipe.
Zoo Atlanta is one of four in the United States housing not one, but two adorable panda cubs. The zoo’s Ford African Rain Forest is home to more than 20 gorillas—America's largest gorilla population.
Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is world-renowned for its surfing. It’s also known for being a popular tourist destination, which means hordes of people occupying every available inch of sand.
Lush mountains, gushing waterfalls, lava tubes, volcanoes, breathtaking coastlines and an array of chirping birds all make hiking Hawaii's trails an unforgettable experience. For spine-tingling sea-cliff views, hike the Kalalau Trail on the Napali Coast of Kauai.
Built in 1936 by the Union Pacific Railroad, Sun Valley Resort in south-central Idaho is a premiere outdoor recreation area. Winter recreational activities include skiing, ice skating and hockey. In the summer, the resort offers golf, tennis, swimming, horseback riding lessons, fishing and paddle-boating.
Idaho's Craters of the Moon is aptly named: the national monument and preserve in Arco is positively otherworldly. Lava eruptions have morphed the landscape over the past 15,000 years into a desertscape of rock and rubble.
The Bean, officially titled “Cloud Gate,” is a larged installation created by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor that was unveiled in Chicago's Millennium Park in 2004. It's a hollow, metallic structure containing a workspace.
Grab your hiking boots, because the Starved Rock State Park has 13 miles of trails hungry for shoe soles. Steep, sandstone canyon walls and whispering waterfalls provide a picturesque landscape for rest and rejuvenation.
Home of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t exactly revving the engines of Indianans, according to the poll. The famous speedway remains crowd-ready, however, with more than 250,000 permanent seats. For comparison, LA's Dodger Stadium can seat 56,000.
Resting along the southern edge of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes offer miles of sandy shorelines, beach swimming and plenty of space for tossing a frisbee. The restaurants surrounding the dunes take cuisine seriously—serving up everything from gourmet burgers to oysters on the half-shell.
Hitch up the camper trailer and head to the Iowa State Fair to see the Butter Cow—a 1000-pound sculpture made from everyone's favorite toast topping. This famed feature isn’t the only delight to find at the fair, however. Country music fans will enjoy an impressive line-up of artists.
Adventureland features upwards of 100 rides, including terrifying roller coasters like “Outlaw” and “The Monster.” It also offers park-goers access to a diverse collection of rush-inducing water attractions which are especially popular during the hot summer months.
Cawker City, Kansas has just the attraction to impress someone excited by large amounts of twine woven together into a spherical structure. Frank Stoeber began the winding process on December 24, 1953, and twine is still being added to the 19,000-pound ball.
Perhaps no other open area is more evocative of 19th-century western expansion than Kansas’ Flint Hills, a beautiful plain in the very center of America. Standing out in the fields, one can’t help but think of all the wagon trains that assembled hundreds of years ago in search of a new life via the Oregon Trail.
This famed Louisville racetrack is home to the biggest horse-racing event of the year: the Kentucky Derby. Though the infamous Twin Spires top an architectural masterpiece of a stadium, Kentucky locals find there's too much hype around the home of a sporting event that lasts, on average, no more than two minutes.
Devout fans of horror movies will enjoy a trip to this secluded national park. The cave, discovered 4,000 years ago, will give serious chills to anybody who sets foot inside. For that reason (and others), it's highly recommended to visit with a large group.
This may be the most recognizable street in Louisiana, and possibly in all of the south. Bourbon Street is the main artery running through New Orleans’ French Quarter, featuring burlesque clubs, bars, amazing culinary options and all-out, non-stop partying. That said, anybody who has been to the French Quarter knows that all these things can be found elsewhere in the city, begging the question of why one street maintains such popularity.
Perhaps one of the most robust collections in the nation, Louisiana's state parks feature a wide array of names indicative of one of the strongest cultural blends in America. They range from Jimmie Davis State Park—named after a former governor, country singer and staple of southern culture—to Fontainebleau State Park, erected in 1829 by Creole planter Bernard de Marigny.
Though there is no denying the beauty of the docks, sand and water at this popular spot, there is nothing particularly unique to differentiate it from other New England getaway beaches. Golfers can shoot 18 holes at a beautiful nearby course after a swim, but where in Maine can that not be done?
Though most national parks are known for a handful of landmarks or park-specific activities, Acadia offers a wider array to park-goers. Dubbed the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” this area, known for its beauty in both winter and summer, welcomes visitors to stunning guided tours of the coastline's rocky headlands.
Straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wight Bay, Ocean City is overrated in the minds of many locals as an overtly fashioned tourist area. The boardwalk, museum and “world-famous sport-fishing” are activities typically enjoyed by those popping in and out for the weekend.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is one of the most beautiful downtown areas on the East Coast. Visitors can enjoy fine dining and entertainment of all kinds while young ones are visiting renowned educational centers like the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center.
The landing spot of William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims is undoubtedly a must-see for history buffs. At the end of the day, however, it is only a rock with the year “1620” etched into it. For those already visiting the area, it’s worth seeing, but likely not worth an entire trip.
Among the most beautiful nature sites the Northeast has to offer, the Berkshire Mountains extend as high as 1,000 meters. Some of the most notable peaks include Mount Everett, Misery Mountain and the massive Mount Greylock.
One of the country’s most luxurious getaways, Mackinac Island sits cozily in the northwest corner of Lake Huron, the second-largest of the Great Lakes. While tourists love it, Michigan locals likely see it as just another snobby resort town that could otherwise be maintained as a public nature reserve.
Michigan's lake shores are rich in natural beauty, particularly Lake Superior, along Michigan’s upper peninsula. The shore is best-known for beautiful sandstone formations, but the park also features vacation-worthy beaches, waterfalls and diverse forests.
Easily the best-known attraction in the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington, the Mall of America is more than just the nation’s largest indoor shopping center. It also features fun amenities like roller coasters, mini-golf and a large aquarium. The list of things to see may prove exciting for first-time visitors, though it’s undoubtedly seen as kitschy by Twin Cities natives.
Known by its acronym, BWCAW, the area is popular for canoeing and hosts other nature-centric activities as well. Park-goers can pick from bicycling, horseback riding, water sports and a wide range of nature-viewing trails.
Gambling enthusiasts may be familiar with the city of Biloxi, as it's home to some of the higher-end casinos along the Gulf Coast. Some of the best-known include the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, the Golden Nugget Biloxi and the Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel.
This parkway is a 444-mile recreational road that gives drivers the opportunity to scale three states while taking in uniquely stunning mountains and valleys. The road features a handful of historic spots, many of which have important ties to Native American Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.
St. Louis’ most identifiable architectural structure is undeniably beautiful, representing a symbolic gateway between the eastern and western United States. Though the structure stands masterfully over the Missouri metropolis along the Mississippi River, and truly completes the skyline, it is simply one of those attractions that does not offer visitors much more by being seen up close.
The Saint Louis Zoo has 18,000 animals from 700 unique species across 70 acres of land. One of the most impressive collections in the Midwest, the zoo is broken down into categorical regions, including “River’s Edge,” “The Wild” and “Red Rocks.”
One of the best-known national parks, Yellowstone spans three states and is home to some of the most recognizable national landmarks of any major national park. Montana residents tend to view it as overrated, perhaps because the park's most famous attraction, Old Faithful, resides in their neighbor state to the south: Wyoming.
Though climate change has contributed to melting a sizable share of the glaciers that made the park famous, there is no shortage of amazing sights to be seen. Visitors can take in majestic views of mountaintops, and crystal-clear lakes that reflect beautiful views of the sky—especially during sunrise and sunset.
Chimney Rock, while a remarkable construction of nature, is overrated for good reason. It is in fact a stately structure, and perhaps one of the most curiously revered landmarks in the country. Its sole historical significance, however, was simply that it served as a marker for travelers on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails.
Omaha, Nebraska’s largest city, boasts one of the most impressive displays of wildlife west of the Mississippi river. The Henry Doorley Zoo allows visitors to get close to an extensive collection of flora and fauna. One of the most exciting attractions is the Desert Dome, which encapsulates “the world’s largest indoor desert.” It features models designed after three of the world's notable deserts: the Namib, the Sonoran and the Red Center of Australia.
The Las Vegas Strip is either the most amazing place on Earth, or a wildly overblown tourist attraction, depending entirely on one's proclivities. It proves unsurprising that locals have deemed the Strip overrated, since the city is designed primarily for weekend visitors.
As is the case with some of its fellow overrated entries, the Old Man of the Mountain is an example of a naturally occurring structure that looks cool, but does not have much else to offer. As a matter of fact, its interesting visuals no longer even exist, as the geologic structure which once resembled a man’s face alongside Cannon Mountain collapsed in May of 2003.
Depending on what time of year one visits this beautiful mountain range, it will either live up to its name (owing to abundant snow) or sport luscious shades of green. The mountain hosts a wide array of fun outdoors activities, including moose tours, historic adventures and wellness spas.
Popularized by the massively watched MTV reality television series of the same name, the Jersey Shore is not necessarily all it’s made out to be. While it is still home to huge parties and general merriment at a relatively low cost, the shore itself is nothing special in terms of beach quality, made worse by the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy.
The southernmost tip of the Garden State borders a little-known body of water that straddles New Jersey and Delaware. This region features many beautiful sites worth visiting. Perhaps the most notable is Cape May, an affluent town favored for for beach- and boating-based tourism.
Straight out of a scene from a “Harry Potter” film, these caves are both stunning and haunting. The national park features 119 limestone caves bound to leave each visitor breathless with their immaculate beauty. They're also sure to scare those prone to nervousness in dark, isolated situations, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Lady Liberty is an iconic statue whose presence is an essential symbol of American freedom. While tourists from around the world view it as a must-visit attraction, New Yorkers are undoubtedly tired of seeing it.
The most famous marker of the United States-Canada border, these gargantuan falls have become so popular that the national park has expanded to accommodate more visitors. The park currently covers more than 400 acres—more than 140 of them underwater.
The Blue Ridge Mountains, named for the way light falls on the peaks during certain times of day, are one of the most spectacular ranges in the American Southeast. Visitors can deeply relax by taking a stroll around Lake Blue Ridge or hiking the beautiful Appalachian Trail at sunrise and sunset.
Located at the heart of the Turtle Mountains, these beautiful gardens were erected as a marker of peace between Canada and the United States close to a century ago. The gardens boast more than 2,300 acres of diverse plant life, and host more than 100,000 visitors annually.
Though Cleveland could potentially be losing its biggest attraction—current Cavaliers superstar LeBron James—it will always have the museum responsible for celebrating the history of rock and roll. While it’s a fun attraction for visiting families, the museum is more of a landmark than an extensive gallery, which may contribute to its reputation for being overrated by the locals.
This quaint, lesser-known spot southeast of Columbus offers visitors a variety of nature-driven activities. Those seeking more of a relaxing getaway will enjoy a visit to beautiful natural formations like Ash Cave or Cedar Falls, while those seeking more of a thrill can try out some of the largest and most exciting zip lines in the Midwest.
Oklahoma City’s preeminent entertainment district gives visitors the opportunity to explore a variety of activities, like the dueling pianos show at Michael Murphy’s or a leisurely cruise along the Bricktown Canal. One of the newer staples in the neighborhood is Brickopolis, a mega-complex home to laser tag, mini golf, arcade games and other family-friendly fun.
One of the greatest tragedies in American history is often overlooked. Though a visit to the Oklahoma City Bombing memorial may prove a harrowing, emotional experience, it offers visitors an intimate perspective into the event.
Oregon natives no longer seem to see the excitement in one of the Columbia River’s most beautiful waterfalls. They're also not swayed by one of the quirkiest donut shops the West Coast has to offer. The winning combination still remains popular, however, for visitors from around the world.
The aptly named Crater Lake may be one of the most photogenic natural formations the United States has to offer. This incredible body of water was created more than 7,000 years ago when the volcano known as Mount Mazama erupted.
Those who have experienced Hershypark's chocolate-inspired fun know that locals likely view it as overrated. As far as the Liberty Bell is concerned, the historical significance is enormous, but the sight itself is not worth an entire trip.
This action-packed theme park doesn't get enough press for what it offers thrill-seekers everywhere. Not only are the rides wild and the memories and photo opportunities immeasurable, get this, parents: Knoebels claims the title of America’s Largest Free-Admission Amusement Park.
While the Cliff Walk is certainly a hot spot for the rich and famous, it is not for everybody. Locals are justifiably unenthused about this area, known for massive mansions that represent the income disparity apparent elsewhere in the state.
When one thinks of great American beaches, the likes of Florida, California and Hawaii likely come to mind. New England, in fact, has plenty of select sandy spots. Among the most impressive are the cliff-filled Crescent Beach on Block Island, and South Kingstown’s East Matunuck State Beach.
It clearly takes a lot to impress the residents of South Carolina, as they have little love for one of the most fascinating fusions of big city and beach town living along the Atlantic Coast. The skyline is marked by a plethora of high-rise beachfront properties, as well as the famous SkyWheel.
Few urban centers are more evocative of traditional southern beauty than South Carolina's largest city. Though Charleston has an undeniably dark past, having been a major port in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the city is now considered one of the friendliest in the country. Its streets are inviting, lined with palm trees and brightly painted buildings, and the locals are known to be exceptionally warm.
North Dakotans are clearly unamused by their state's rock commemoration of celebrated U.S. presidents. Visitors, however, will always stop appreciate the structure when swinging through the Black Hills.
South Dakotans have plenty of love for their state's unparalleled natural beauty. Badlands National Park boasts “massive buttes and deep gorges,” and is easily one of the most visually appealing locations in the center of the country.
Strap on your blue suede shoes and go see the former home of the still-reigning King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Though it remains a popular destination for music fans, Tennessee locals are spoiled for famous musical landmarks. It therefore proves unsurprising they see this piece of history as overrated.
Tennessee residents don’t stray far from their musical roots. Locals attest that their most under-appreciated attraction is the amusement park co-owned by country and bluegrass legend Dolly Parton. The park is inexpensive to visit, offers fun rides and grants visitors impeccable views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Lone Star State locals are undoubtedly sick of hearing about the Alamo from their friends and family across the country. Still, there is no denying the pivotal historical importance or the immense beauty the Alamo Mission represents in San Antonio. A tribute to the the key battle in the fight for Texan independence, the memorial is open to the public and offers guided tours for $15.
Utah natives recommend leaving Temple Square for a “latter” day. The headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon church, attracts three to five million visitors a year, almost as much as all of Utah’s national parks combined.
Spanning nearly 80,000 acres, Arches National Park is renowned for its rock formations, particularly Delicate Arch and The Organ. Wander around, and you're sure to spot peregrine falcons and countless varieties of cacti.
Founded in Burlington in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s has continued to serve ice cream in cleverly named flavors to devout fans. Take the tour of the Waterbury factory to see how their famous ice cream is made, or skip the tour entirely and pig out on all your favorite flavors (including some that can only be sampled on-site).
Skip the ice cream and check out Lake Champlain, which provides 250,000 locals with drinking water. While parts of the lake freeze over each winter, the water temperature can reach a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months.
Virginia Beach, the most populous city in the state, has a reputation for tourist activity as it’s home to one of the largest beaches in the world. There are countless hotels, restaurants and nightspots that cater to near-constant visitors. Mount Trashmore Park is worth the trip—yes, that’s its actual name.
Made famous by a John Denver song, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a sight to be seen in person. For hiking enthusiasts, a climb up Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in the area, is well-worth it.
Rising 605 feet above the Seattle skyline, the elevators at the Space Needle shuttled 20,000 people up and down a day at its peak during the 1962 World’s Fair. After a 41-second ride, visitors can head to the observation deck for a bird’s eye view of the city and grab a bite at the rotating restaurant.
Considered one of the best outdoor concert venues in the United States, the Gorge Amphitheatre seats 27,500 and offers a sweeping view of the Columbia River. Additionally, head to Deception Pass State Park, the most-visited park in Washington State. Cross the pedestrian bridges and view at the turbulent water below. For the exceptionally fearless: grab a kayak and brave the rapids yourself.
What has 132 rooms, five full-time chefs, a bowling alley, a movie theater and one exceptionally powerful individual? The White House: official workplace and residence of the President of the United States of America. The locals deem it overrated; however, up to 30,000 people visit the White House each week.
The “Brutalist Donut” Hirshhorn Museum provides a striking home to its expansive modern art collection. If fresh air is more one’s speed, try the National Arboretum. While only 446 acres in size, the Arboretum houses thousands of trees as well as an herbarium with 650,000 specimens in its permanent research collection. If the Arboretum is too tame, try Rock Creek Park, the third National Park founded in the country, which spans 1,754 acres. Jogging along the winding Beach Drive is a highlight, especially since cars are banned from most parts of the road during the weekend.
Many West Virginia natives may get tired of looking at this bridge all the time, particularly since it's depicted on the back of their state quarter. Though clearly a topic of disagreement among locals, many likely see the crossing as nothing more than a convenient means of shortening a winding 40-minute drive into the gorge. It can now be done in a minute or less.
An equal number of Mountain State faithfuls see the bridge as under-appreciated, likely because of its history and impeccable beauty. When the weather is especially foggy, the view underneath the bridge can be positively breathtaking.
Known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” it makes good sense that the Dells, as the area is known colloquially, carries a split opinion. The city is, after all, home to nearly 3,000 people, and it stands to reason that homeowners might want to downplay the locale's allure to keep visitors at bay.
On the other side of the coin, many Wisconsin residents simply cannot resist the fun of the Dells, arguing that the area is underrated for what it offers. Some of the best-known attractions include Noah’s Ark Waterpark (the largest in the United States), and Mt. Olympus Waterpark and Theme Park, which boasts “more fun under one roof than anywhere else in the Dells.”
The 50-square mile “Zone of Death” is considered overrated by locals, who may have grown tired of Wyoming solely being known for its sprawling, untamed nature. Yellowstone, the first established national park in the world, spans more than two million acres and is centered around the largest super-volcano on the continent.
Even without scientific knowledge about “laccolithic buttes,” Devil’s Tower, the first-ever U.S. national monument, is truly a sight to behold. Rising more than 1,200 feet above Belle Fourche River, the Tower is astounding in its solitude; no other structures in the area rival its height.