Seasoned travelers scoff at places where tourists often tread, but such snobby adventurers just might be missing out on the fun. It's a strange place on an unpublished map -- the lines that crisscross what is "camp" and what is "cool" in these road-much-traveled "touristy" destinations. Travel, like life, can be theatrical, kitschy, and beautifully full of surprises. So next time you think it's un-cool to take in a "tourist trap," consider this: Would these places so popular and so enduring, if they weren't somehow, on some level, so much fun?
So here are some truly touristy things you really should do, without shame or apology, before you get too cool or too jaded to "get them" anymore.
- Graceland Mansion, Memphis: Elvis hasn't entirely left the building in this, his weird old mansion -- he's actually buried in the backyard by the pool. And with the famous "Jungle Room," Graceland is so weird it's actually wonderful.
- The Grand Ole Opry stage at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Stand on the spot where Hank Williams stood and Johnny Cash walked the line. Even if you aren't a country music fan, it's a thrill to be in Nashville.
- The Empire State Building: For an Affair to Remember, take the elevator to the top -- the view is spectacular. Everyone should see New York this way at least once. And while you're at it, head to Times Square. Tourists go there, sure, but there's a reason so many do.
- Bourbon Street. It's like a bad boyfriend: It's decadent, loud, stays up too late, and it's full of bawdy beer fun, Karaoke bars, Hurricane drinks, and plastic beads. And, like any true bad boy, it's got its own irresistible charm.
- Niagara Falls. Take the Maid of the Mist boat ride under the falls. It's mind-blowing.
- Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood. Kick your feet up in Hollywood and stand in the footprints of the legends -- both major and minor (very minor, sometimes) -- of the silver screen.
- The Las Vegas Strip. It's Disneyland for adults. Try your luck there at least once.
- The Grand Canyon: There's more to this than just a huge hole in the ground. Take a helicopter ride over the Canyon's edge or ride a mule train down to canyon floor. Now that's a cool family vacation.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our United States Forum today.