Tourist trap is an establishment, or group of establishments, that has been created or re-purposed with the aim of attracting tourists and their money. Tourist traps will typically provide services, entertainment, souvenirs and other products for tourists to purchase.

Are tourist traps less worthy of attention because they are popular? This would exclude classic American destinations like Gettysburg, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and the Grand Canyon. And European destinations like Paris, France.

There are places to avoid where hype exceeds experience, but plenty more that are too much fun — or too beautiful — to miss. The trick is finding the right time to visit. For a lot of places that would be before the end of the school year, or after Labor Day. If you don’t have kids in school and you can schedule vacations off-peak, the world is yours. At a discount.

Tourist towns are great, which is how they became so popular.  Are they expensive? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. They can cost less than you expect. The fanciest accommodations might cost more than you can manage, but there are plenty of places from which to choose. That can translate to modest prices, even in the middle of summer. If there’s a place you’re really hankering to see, check it out. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Tourist towns, and the people in them, are glad to see you. They want you to have a good time and come back next year and the year after that. With your credit cards, traveler’s checks, and cash. You are welcome in shops and restaurants. You’ll find plenty of places to stay, lots of things to do. Restaurants from cheap to five-star.

Although a lot of vacationers are looking “get away from it all,” some of us wouldn’t mind getting back into it. Garry and I want to be someplace unlike home. We want to do stuff we can’t usually do. History, shopping, good food. Mountains. Moose. Cities. Interesting people. Comfortable accommodations.

Tourist traps? Probably. Fun? Absolutely.

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. A reconstructed colonial town with great photo opportunities. Cute tee shirts. Even better? Busch Gardens is next door and it has roller coasters!

Way to go.

Categories: #American-history, #Photography, Summer, Travel, Vacation

Tags: , , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I live 45 minutes from there and my ex-fiance lives there. Definitely a “tourist vs. townie” attitude, almost like in “Jaws” LOL. It is a beautiful place though.

    Busch Gardens is amazing! Kings Dominion is closer to me and has more coasters, but BG is a nice all-day experience with awesome rides that make up for quantity. Sadly, I just cancelled our passes for the first time in years since we likely won’t be here next season.


    • I am a roller-coaster-holic. I think my husband has finally thrown in the towel, though. Verbolten — or was it Loch Ness? we did them all — finally did us in. I envy you living so close to that stuff. New England is long on history and nature, a bit short on excitement 🙂


  3. When we lived in Canada, there were quite a few authentic, operating villages which drew out-of-town visitors, heck, even locals enjoyed visiting for products such as local honey or beeswax candles.
    The log cabin buildings were original as were most of the furnishings and tools. I loved visiting those places and I think they are best if they are in the small town areas. Maybe not, I don’t know since I’ve only been to ones near small towns.
    Love the photos!


    • Old Sturbridge Village is less than half an hour from here. If it weren’t for the high price entry fee, we’d go there more often. Williamsburg lets you in free, but you have to pay to go into individual “exhibits.” I used to go to Sturbridge (not the “park”, just the town) to buy candles, curtains, furniture. Antique reproductions. And though you can’t get into the park for free, you can get into the shops at no charge. They wouldn’t want to deprive you of the opportunity to spend your money!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We loved Colonial Williamsburg when we spent the day there


    • I love these resurrected old towns. We have Old Sturbridge and Old Plymouth up here in Massachusetts and they are nifty too. Of course, I live in Old Uxbridge, a town which is stuck in its own time warp 🙂


  5. My favorite place to vacation is a tourist trap and we went there numerous times growing up — Silver Dollar City in the great Lake of the Ozarks area. Anything you could possibly want to do, you can do, and it is also relatively inexpensive.


  6. I think there is a touch of snobbery when I hear someone refer to a place as a tourist trap. I plead guilty. After summering on Martha’s Vineyard for many years, I found myself often referring to some folks as day people or weekenders who only spent their time in popular areas. I even called them “Touristas”. I prided myself on being on a first name basis with many year round locals. But never, ever would I be considered a regular. Only in my mind’s eye. I’m a tourista. Not at all a bad thing these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You ought to see it around Christmastime. It’s especially beautiful then.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been fortunate to live near some great places to visit. Grant’s Farm in St. Louis is a good example of free entertainment provided by Anheuser-Busch. No reservations required and no cost to go there. Monument Valley Utah is the home of the Navajo Nation and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I was born and raised in the St. Louis area so Onondaga Cave State Park with its huge natural caverns is a must see.

    There are dozens of tourist traps in Oregon like Timberline Lodge atop Mt Hood, Crater Lake, OR with its natural calders with Wizard Island in the middle is a natural wonder you must see. So many of these natural sites are totally free for the public. Fortuna, CA has the Avenue Of The Gods with its giant redwood trees that are over 1,000 years old. Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, WA must be experience at least once in a lifetime along with the Space Needle and ferry boat ride there.

    I love the outdoors and nature so I’m a sucker for tourist traps. They also provide great photo opportunities. 🙂


  9. Really enjoyed this post as well as the photos. I especially appreciate when you wrote: “There are places to avoid where hype exceeds experience, but plenty more that are too much fun — or too beautiful — to miss.” Well said, and very true. Great points!


%d bloggers like this: