There are the type of tourist destinations that exceed all expectations -- they look even more surreal than they did in pictures and weren't nearly as crowded as you had imagined. Then, there are those where reputation and reality don’t align, leaving you with one final thought: "wait, that’s it?" Whether it’s a destination you stumbled across on a must-see list on a travel blog or heard was a can’t miss landmark from your friend's sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a tourist trap. All of which is to say there’s no accounting for taste. That being said, our own well-traveled editors shared some of the destinations and attractions they discovered weren’t all they cracked out to be. Agree or disagree, it's nothing personal.
“I have one answer for this, and the answer is Cancun. In fairness, let me just say Cancun does have appeal that can be summed up as beautiful beaches, cheap lodging, and a ‘spring break forever’ atmosphere. But it’s also crowded, loud, and sloppy. And despite being in Mexico, Cancun offered almost no opportunities to practice my Spanish. I think I used it only once the entire time I was there, as Cancun is really just a sea of Americans. The dining is also predictably lackluster, thanks to having a clientele of non-repeat tourists. Next time I go to Mexico, I’ll be headed to Oaxaca, where Mexican culture shines much more brightly.” — Maria Teresa Hart, Editor
“I hesitate to say this, because I can already hear its loyalists coming to its defense. And to be fair, there is plenty to defend — depending on where you stay and how you plan your visit. But I’d have to say that I find Atlantis to be overrated. Sure, the facilities are nice, but during one recent stay there were tons of guests (good luck getting a beach chair), many of the offerings ended up not being available last-minute (after confirming a yoga class both the night before and morning of, for example, it ended up being cancelled 10 minutes after class was supposed to start), and while I looked forward to the celeb chef restaurants, some of them were right off the casino, killing the ambience.” — Jane Reynolds, Senior Editor
“It’s a national icon that tops many a bucket list — including mine, I’ll admit. Or at least it did. The giant cultural attraction, which depicts the visages of four former presidents in South Dakota‘s Black Hills, is, well, not so giant. Perhaps I had built it up in my head after years of reading about it in textbooks, but the size alone was underwhelming. Beyond that, we had to elbow our way through a crowd of tourists to snap a couple of pics, which is actually all you can do there aside from treading on a short trail that gives you a better close-up view of the monument. That being said, I’m still glad we made the detour — the surrounding Black Hills are a beaut and the not-so-far Badlands National Park made up for that lacking wow factor.” — Alisha Prakash, Editor
“Ireland had never been on my radar and it surprised me in so many ways: Dublin was far more vibrant than I’d been told; the scenery in the country’s west is jaw-dropping; the light is like nowhere else on earth; and the people are some of the nicest I’ve met while traveling. The Ring of Kerry, though, might be worth a pass for those who have a limited amount of time in the country. We spent nearly nine hours in our car, hopping from one cheesy museum to one supposedly quaint town to some cliffs that were fine enough, but nothing compared to the Cliffs of Moher, which we had seen just a few days earlier. It all felt a bit B-list. Still, I can’t say it wasn’t worth it — we shared a lot of laughs that day, and there’s a particular romance to feeling like you’re on a mission with someone, waiting for the big reveal to happen. If you only have a few days in the country’s southwest, spend your time in Killarney and its national park instead. There are tons of lakes and mountain streams to explore, and the Gap of Dunloe is one of the most surreal and beautiful hikes I’ve ever done.” — Kyle Valenta, Editor
“I fully believe that a vacation is what you make of it, and I have yet to travel somewhere and not enjoy myself. But if there’s somewhere that gets a lot of hype and is not on my must-visit-again list, that would be Las Vegas. I definitely see its appeal — world-class dining, gambling galore, and nightclubs that last until it’s time for breakfast — but the only part that truly appeals to me are the shows. My mom and I saw Elton John at Caesars Palace and it is still one of my favorite concerts ever. The all-day pool parties led by famous DJs like deadmau5 are certainly fun for college-aged spring breakers or bachelorette parties, but I’m just not the poker-playing or clubbing type. I’ve now traveled to Sin City three times and each time it’s just as PG-rated as my first visit when I was 13.” — Lara Grant, Associate Editor
“I hate to pick on any one place, but I’m going to have to go with Hilton Head for this one. To be fair, I check none of the boxes for Hilton Head’s demographic (golfers, families, older folk). The beach itself was pristine and lovely, but beyond that, it seemed as if most of the island’s natural beauty was covered with ritzy-but-bland housing and commercial developments. It was posh to the point of sterility — even the fast-food restaurants had large, impeccably manicured lawns with tasteful landscape lighting. I couldn’t get a sense of regional flavor, or even where locals might go to come together as a community. I guess I just like my beaches laid-back; the higher the funk factor, the better!” — Anne Olivia Bauso, Associate Editor
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