People who travel the world regularly learn a lot of tricks along the way. And one of the tough ones is to figure out what attraction recommendations to pay attention to, and which ones to ignore. No matter where you go in the world there are books, blog posts, and all kinds of other resources telling you what you might want to do there. Lately there’s even been talk of traveling in VR, in part as a means of planning things out even more.
Some of this is great, and it can help you figure out an itinerary before you’re ever on the road or plane. Still, there are a lot of commonly recommended types of attractions that fail to live up to the hype more often than not. Recognizing these can save you a lot of time and sometimes a lot of money in your travels.
Celebrity Chef Restaurants
Thanks in large part to various cooking shows on television, there are a lot of famous chefs these days. And most of them have leveraged their names and talents to create global restaurant empires, such that it’s not at all uncommon to see a celebrity restaurant recommended in a high-end resort and/or big city. The trouble is, the chefs’ personal touches are often lacking in these restaurants, which are effectively licensed steakhouses. There was a very telling article in 2017 about Wolfgang Puck – a legendary chef and by all accounts a great guy. Puck discounted negative reviews of a new restaurant of his in New York, arguing that for him, the biggest critics were customers. Yet a guy like Puck knows that a majority of customers are automatically going to like the restaurant because his name is on it. In other words there’s a built in advantage and a snowball effect that often leads to places like his being recommended regardless of actual quality. To be sure, some celebrity chef establishments are incredible – but many aren’t worth the hefty prices.
This is to some extent a matter of taste, but it’s almost shocking how many different places around the world have noteworthy botanical gardens. And in a way, that makes them all less noteworthy. If most every major city you travel to includes gardens on lists of things to do, you can quickly get the idea that there are always pretty gardens around, and unless you just happen to be into this (which, to be fair, many people are), they’re not the most unique aspect of most cities. There are exceptions of course, where a city’s botanical gardens are particularly impressive or unique in some particular way, but for the most part you’ll be seeing some pretty plant life that could exist the same way in any other city.
Casinos aren’t everywhere, but a large portion of major cities and popular vacation destinations still have them, and wherever they are they tend to be popular tourist draws. Sometimes the hype is justified and a few hours exploring a casino and playing games can be fun. However, this also tends to be an expensive experience, it can be surprisingly antisocial even if you go with friends, and it’s important to remember you’re there so that the venue can collect as much of your money as possible. Plus, casino experiences are less and less specific to destinations thanks to the meteoric and sustained rise of online casinos, which are now even available on mobile devices. Mobile casinos are now closely mirroring their online counterparts, which basically means you can get everything you’d get at a destination casino in your pocket – more affordably and more conveniently. The real venues just aren’t always worth it.
Royal residences are by nature only available in a relatively small number of cities – usually either capitals or former capitals. Sometimes they can be breathtakingly beautiful and are well worth touring, as with Versailles in France, for example. Just as often however they can be half-restricted so that you can only tour certain areas, and you’ll basically be looking at ornate chandeliers, old paintings, and antique furniture. It can be interesting, particularly for history buffs, but you’re often better off just checking out a local museum, where you can see just as much interesting stuff at a pace more your own.