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Tourist Traps(8 posts)

Tourist Trapsgregario
Jun 14, 2002 11:08 AM
The wife and I just got back from a short vacation so I thought I'd post a warning. The Wisconsin Dells are a Tourist Trap! Avoid at all costs. We didn't know much about the area but heard it was nice. What a waste of time.

What are your Tourist Trap stories (places to avoid) and favorite places to vacation? Mine: Glacier National Park.

By the way, I checked the general discussions board when I got back and our podium bound friend is still stirring people up.
Why Wisconsin??Fender
Jun 14, 2002 12:42 PM
just curious,
why would you go on vacation to Wisconsin??
Why Wisconsin??gregario
Jun 15, 2002 7:14 AM
we wanted someplace to drive to (we live in Kalamazoo, MI) for a short vacation. We've been hiking in the Smokies about 3 times and that was my choice but my wife wanted to go someplace different. We also have done Dorr County so that was out. We also contemplated Mammoth Cave/Cumberland Gap, KY but heard it was black fly season.
Doh! And you were so close to heaven!Kristin
Jun 14, 2002 1:59 PM
Yes, the Dells are a complete waiste of time. Its a shame too. Such a beautiful piece of earth and they've masacred it with cheezy plastic, and casino's. They've done just about everything they can to ruin it. Now, its a Griswold family dream vacation.

You were within twenty minutes of a great camping spot. If you go back to Wisconsin, check it out. Devil's Lake State Park is a beautiful place to hike/climb/and ride (though the trails are shared w/hikers and aren't technical.) A site costs $12.50/night with a $9.50 registration fee. Then you need to buy a park sticker, which is $10/day or $30/year if you're an out-of-stater. . I just got my pictures back from the Ice Age Trail and will be posting a report on

Also, for even more beauty in Wisconsin, head to Door Country. Near Canada, its God's country. Good fishing, kyacking, hiking, riding and shopping (if your wife is into none of the former.)

Lastly, Another fun spot to vacation in the area is Galena. More Glacial landscape, and the Missisippi palasades. Nice single track and hiking. Plus lots of country shops in a quiant town. Be prepared to spend a small fortune on lodging.
Second Door County.4bykn
Jun 15, 2002 5:19 AM
Although I'm not sure what you mean by "near Canada", Door county is a great get-away spot. I spent a week last summer there, camping in state parks and riding some beautiful roads. The rides along Lake Michigan and Green Bay are gorgeous! The "natives" are friendly, food is good, and beer is cold. Word of warning, avoid the hot tourist spots in season, traffic there is horrible.
Devil's Lakegregario
Jun 15, 2002 7:18 AM
Actually, we went to Devil's Lake. That's was saved our vacation. We went there twice for something to do. We did a little hiking and just hung out. It's a really nice park. We went to Door County a couple years ago. We should have gone hiking in the Smokies like I wanted, or went up to the REAL God's Country, the Upper Peninsula, to Pictured Rocks near Munising.
not a trap if you just keep going...mr_spin
Jun 14, 2002 2:23 PM
On the road to Mt. Rushmore you pass thru a town called Keystone. Don't stop. It is the cheesiest place I've ever seen. As I recall, it's barely a block long, but every available inch of space is advertising trinkets and worthless crap for tourists. I cannot imagine anyone actually lives there. You can't imagine it unless you've seen it. Think of the entire Las Vegas Strip (the old strip) compressed into one block. It's totally garish and rather disgusting. Just keep driving thru. Don't look back. Mt. Rushmore isn't all that great either. Basically what you see on a postcard is what you see when you get there. It seems as though you are a mile away. But if you ever find yourself in Rapid City, South Dakota, you don't have a lot of choices!
re: Tourist Trapstarwheel
Jun 19, 2002 5:09 AM
I've done a lot of traveling around the US, mostly camping. I've had good experiences at most of the national parks, but have my preferences. Generally I don't like to visit parks with heavy crowds as I like a little solitude when out in the wilds. You can avoid the crowds in almost all of the parks by actually out of your car and hiking. It's amazing how few people actually venture out of their cars in the parks. The Great Smokies are great if you can catch them off-season or during the weekdays in summer. Avoid summer weekends and autumn leaf season. Cades Cove is gorgeous, but nearby Pigeon Forge and Dollywood are tourist traps of the first order.

Also in the East, Acadia NP in Maine is spectacular and a welcome relief in the hot summer. Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia is a gem that most people haven't heard about. Spectacular dunes, old ruins, wild horses, miles of beaches. They limit the number of visitors so it never gets crowded. Close by to it is Okeefenokee Nat'l Wildlife Refuge, which everyone ought to visit once. Large swamp filled with huge alligators and equally large mosquitos. Best time to visit is late fall through early spring.

Out West, my favorites include Arches NP, Zion NP, Grand Tetons NP. We drove all the way from NC to Yellowstone a few years ago, stopping in the Black Hills area along the way. Black Hills were so-so, but we really loved the nearby Badlands, another great park that doesn't get a lot of visitors. Mt Rushmore was a bit of a trap, but I enjoyed it nonetheless as I didn't expect much. We loved Devil's Tower, which was just a sidetrip on the way to Yellowstone. Wished we had stayed longer. Spectacular scenery, nice weather, no crowds. Yellowstone is very crowded. Scenery-wise, it is not among the most beautiful parks I have visited, but the geysers, hotsprings, volcanoes and other sites are fascinating. The "grand canyon" there was totally unexpected and the highlight of our trip to Yellowstone with its spectacular water falls. Unfortunately auto traffic is very heavy in Yellowstone, which takes away some of the charm. Just down the road is Grand Teton, which is the most spectacular mountain park I've been to. It's not nearly as crowded as Yellowstone, despite the proximity.

A couple years ago, we drove a loop from Denver through Arches, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. All of these parks were worth visiting, but Arches was hands-down my favorite. We were lucky as the weather was perfect during our visit, sunny and relatively cool for summer. Trails everywhere with little traffic and spectacular scenery. Grand Canyon can be very crowded, but we went to the North Rim, which is much less visited and very nice. Zion is a great park, all the more so because they don't allow automobile traffic except on the main road. The park service operates shuttle buses to take visitors around the park and it works great. You can see a lot more that way and no traffic jams to contend with. Capitol Reef is the place to go if you want solitude. It's the newest national park and lightly visited, in the middle of Utah desert. Has an oasis right in the middle with apricot orchards full of ripe fruit free for the picking while we were there. Cool prehistoric petroglyphs carved in canyon walls. An interesting place to visit but not on a hot day.

The worst tourist traps, for me, are amusement and theme parks like Six Flags or Disneyland. Those sort of sites just don't appeal to me and can rob you blind.