Disappointing photos show what 24 famous US attractions look like in real life

  • The US is full of incredible attractions, but some aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
  • The Empire State Building is an architectural marvel with amazing views, but the inside is nothing to write home about, and you’ll spend a lot of time there thanks to massive lines.
  • Las Vegas’ famous Strip by day is barely more than a strip mall.

The US is filled with iconic natural wonders, historic sites, and over-the-top attractions. But not everything is always as it seems.

Keep scrolling to see what 24 major attractions in the USactually look like in real life.


San Francisco’s beautiful Lombard Street calls itself “the crookedest street in the world.”

ShutterstockLombard Street, San Francisco, California.

Lombard Street is home to what could be San Francisco’s most expensive home.


Its eight famously steep hairpin turns are fun if you enjoy bumper-to-bumper traffic and spending twice the time advancing down a single block than normal.

Wikipedia/Gaurav1146Lombard Street, San Francisco, California.

It’s estimated that around 6,000 people visit the street daily in the summer.


The lights, the gambling, the colourful characters. The Strip is a big part of what makes Vegas “Sin City.”

lucky-photographer / iStockThe Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It comes as no surprise that Las Vegas was voted the most fun city in the US.


But by day, it’s more strip mall than the Strip.

ShutterstockThe Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, by day.

This road could be literally anywhere.


Looking to get a cute pic of Vegas’ iconic welcome sign?

ShutterstockLas Vegas sign.

Vegas saw over 42 million visitors in 2018.


You’ll have to wait in line for your turn.

ShutterstockLas Vegas sign.

Keep in mind it’s probably super hot and there’s no shade for you to wait in.


The Empire State Building is a must-see when in New York City. It’s an architectural marvel, a romantic-date spot, and an epic site for selfies.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The 102-story Empire State Building was completed in 1931 and is still one of the tallest skyscrapers in the country (the fifth tallest actually). Including its antenna, it’s 1,454 feet tall.


The inside, however, looks like a crowded convention center or something.

Flickr/Joe HallThe line to get to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City, New York.

Not only will you have to wait in an endless, crowded line, but it will cost you at least $US57 to get to the top. And the best part? All of your photos will be missing a vital New York City landmark: the Empire State Building!

Click here to see the 15 other tourist traps in New York City, and where to go instead.


Plymouth Rock marks the location where the Mayflower Pilgrims disembarked before founding Plymouth Colony in 1620.

jjron/Wikimedia CommonsPlymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

There’s actually no proof that the Pilgrims used this particular rock as a steppingstone. In fact, they first exited at Cape Cod.


It’s a rock.

Flickr/Mike NortonPlymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

It’s also cracked from an ill-dated attempt at moving it to Plymouth’s Town Square.


Disney World, the most magical place on earth.

Matt Stroshane/GettyDisney World in Orlando, Florida.

Click here for 22 secrets every Disney lover should know.


If you don’t suffer from claustrophobia, that is.

Flickr/marc smithCrowds at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

There are more than a few disappointing photos that show what Disney parks look like in real life.


The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most visited attractions in the world.

ShutterstockThe Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California.

Its distinct orange hue is custom made.


But a lot of the time, you won’t see much of it.

ShutterstockThe Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, enveloped in fog.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, San Francisco is the third-foggiest place in the US. The fog even has a name – Karl.


Niagara Falls is magical.

Shutterstock/SurangaSLNiagara Falls, New York.

Niagara Falls comprises three waterfalls – American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Around 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second.


But getting up close to the Falls is more of a poncho-clad nightmare.

ShutterstockNiagara Falls, New York.

It attracts 14 million visitors annually – though sometimes it may feel like all 14 million people are there at the same time as you, jostling for the perfect Instagram.


Visiting Mount Rushmore is like taking a page out of your history book.

J. Pat Hodges/ShutterstockMount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.

Did you know there’s a secret room inside Mount Rushmore that stores important US documents?


Until you realise the picture in your history book was basically to scale.

Flickr/Steve BittingerMount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.

The profiles of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt may be 60 feet, but that’s actually not that huge.

Mount Rushmore is also falling apart and in need of constant maintenance.


Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market in Boston is a historic site and filled with delicious restaurants.

ShutterstockFaneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Boston.

Sure, it’s been open since 1742, but these days it’s a glorified food court teeming with tourists that sells mediocre food and tacky souvenirs.

Flickr/6SN7Crowds at Quincy Market, Boston.

Do like a local and avoid it.


While a gondola ride may sound romantic…

ShutterstockThe Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas.

You may change your mind once you see the gamblers and shoppers strolling by as you float through what is essentially a shopping mall in dirty pool water.

Yelp/Andrea D.The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, NV.

Even worse, a private gondola for two will set you back $US144.


Not much comes closer to paradise than the white sand and blue waters of Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach.

ShutterstockWaikiki Beach on Oahu, Hawaii.

This year, flights to Hawaii are cheaper than ever.


Good luck finding your patch of paradise in this sweaty, sticky hell.

See more overrated attractions in Hawaii, and where to go instead.


Yellowstone Park is the perfect place for the quiet contemplation of nature’s beauty.

Peerasith Patrick Triratpadoongphol / ShutterstockYellowstone National Park is mostly in Wyoming, but spans parts of Montana and Idaho, too.

People flock to Yellowstone National Park for a variety of incredible natural sites, but most come to see Old Faithful, a geyser that’s the oldest tourist attraction in Wyoming, and sometimes erupts snow.


If you can find some quiet.

Nick Amoscato / FlickrCrowds waiting for Old Faithful to erupt at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone saw over 4 million visitors last year.Many claim it is too crowded.


The lights of New York City’s Times Square are world famous.

Andrew F Kazmierski/iStockTimes Square in New York City, New York.

If you have to eat around Times Square, these are the only restaurants worth trying.


But there’s a reason locals avoid the area at all costs.

Locals avoid this spot at all costs, and so should you. Not only is it overcrowded, it’s also full of expensive souvenirs and tacky chain restaurants that you can find anywhere else in the country.


Salvation Mountain in California beckons with its bright colours and psychedelic artwork.

Flickr/BrainSalvation Mountain, California.

People from all over the country flock to the Colorado Desert in Southern California to explore this colourful religious shrine and work of art.


In reality, its just a little painted hill in the desert.

Chris M. Morris / FlickrSalvation Mountain, California, from a distance.

The site (a mere 150 feet wide by 50 feet tall) requires gallons of paint, and constant maintenance and upkeep because of the harsh desert environment it calls home.


The Liberty Bell embodies American independence.

ShutterstockThe Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Formerly in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House, today it’s housed inside the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


But really, it’s just a very small, very cracked bell made of copper and tin.

Small children tower over this bell.


Who doesn’t want to take a detour off of the Atlantic City Expressway to climb inside a six-story elephant?

wikipedia commonsLucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey.

Lucy the Elephant is a National Historic Landmark, and the oldest roadside attraction in the US, having been built in 1881.


Though in the middle of a parking lot isn’t the most scenic of stops.

Cambodia 4 kids / FlickrLucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey.

At least you don’t have to get out of your car for an up-close look.


Hawaii’s steam vents give the landscape an otherworldly look.

Matthew Dillon/FlickrSteam vents on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Steam is released when groundwater trickles down to hot volcanic rocks.


But up close, they’re glorified holes in the ground.

Flickr/Malcolm MannersSteam vents on Hawaii’s Big Island.

It’s basically a manhole.


The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Anton Foltin/ShutterstockThe Grand Canyon, Arizona.

The breathtaking natural wonder is almost 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep.


But you’re far from the only one trying to catch a glimpse.

Flickr/Scott B 211The Grand Canyon, Arizona.

There were 6.25 million visitors to the Grand Canyon National Park in 2017 alone.


There’s always something to see or do on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Simply Photos/ShutterstockBourbon Street in New Orleans.

It is one of the world’s most famous streets, after all.


But it can get messy. Really messy.

Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesBourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Do yourself a favour and check out the many other things New Orleans has to offer.


Hoping to ride Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster in the world?

Wikimedia CommonsKingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey.

A 456 feet, Kingda Ka is the tallest roller coaster in the world.


Don’t count on it — Kingda Ka is frequently closed.

YouTube/magitronic8Not a shocking sight.

Being that tall comes with a lot of problems. Once it was struck by lightning and closed for months. In fact, Kingda Ka is closed so often there’s both a Quora thread and a TripAdvisor thread discussing the frequent “technical difficulties.”


The Hollywood Walk of Fame has become one of the biggest hotspots for tourists visiting California.

ShutterstockThe Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles.

Sadly, the stars that celebrities are so proud of are on a dirty, crowded footpath, in a seedy neighbourhood filled with tacky street performers and bootleg costumed characters.

Flickr/DaveYninThe Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, CA.

It’s a tourist trap.


Who wouldn’t want to visit the well-manicured sandy oasis of Clearwater Beach, Florida?

Shutterstock / Erin CadiganClearwater Beach, Florida.

Which is exactly why Clearwater won’t actually look so manicured when you visit.


The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine conjures up images of a grand, gushing spring.

Jim Moore/FlickrThe Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida.

Find the Fountain of Youth in Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida. The attraction is named for the eponymous Spanish conquistador who colonised Florida in the 16th century while searching for the fountain.


The reality is more of a dried-up well.

Jim Moore/FlickrThe Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida.

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