From Mount Rushmore to the Statue of Liberty, the most damming Tripadvisor reviews of popular US landmarks
- Disgruntled travelers have left a stream of damning reviews on Tripadvisor
- Queues and high prices are among the complaints about US landmarks
- One traveler said of the Niagara Falls: ‘Why not just stand under a shower’
Have you ever visited an attraction that quite didn’t live up to expectation?
Well, it appears many sightseers have been left unenthused by some of America’s most revered landmarks after seeing them up close.
Taking to Tripadvisor to air their frustrations, the disgruntled travelers have left a stream of damning reviews, giving everything from the Hollywood Sign to The White House ‘terrible’ ratings.
Take a trip down to see how some of the top sights across the county failed to impress, with queues, a lack of cleanliness and high prices among the complaints…
Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles
Disgruntled travelers have left a stream of damning reviews on Tripadvisor. Queues and high prices are among the complaints about US landmarks
The Hollywood sign was first installed in 1923, to advertise a new housing development called ‘Hollywoodland.’
Originally light bulbs were installed to outline the letters and they would flash to bring attention to the hillside – but the wood sign was not intended to be permanent.
As Hollywood grew to become the capital of American cinema, the sign became a beloved symbol that beckoned aspiring stars to the Los Angeles district.
It was ultimately shortened – and now measures 45 feet tall and 350 feet wide.
Despite it being an iconic US landmark which attracts close to 50 million visitors annually, one traveler was unimpressed by the structure.
They wrote: ‘Not as amazing as TV makes out. It’s a bit disappointing. Just don’t go out of your way for it. Not even that big… strange it’s iconic.’
Statue of Liberty, New York
Designed by Frederic Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty is a neo-classical sculpture representing the Roman Goddess of Freedom, Libertas
Designed by Frederic Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty is a neo-classical sculpture representing the Roman Goddess of Freedom, Libertas.
She was a present to America from France to celebrate the US’s independence and was erected in 1886 in Upper New York Bay on Liberty Island.
The Statue is 305 feet, an inch from the ground to the tip of the flame, making it the equivalent height of a 22-story building. In 1886, it was the tallest structure in New York and it was designated as a National Monument in 1924.
In 2022, the iconic figure received 3.14 million visitors. While many people are left enthralled by the copper Statue, one traveler wasn’t impressed by her green color, which is the result of weathering.
They mused: ‘Out of all the colors the person who created this beautiful lady could choose they went for green. If she was pink she’d get more attention.’
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Ever since the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic on May 27, 1937, it’s been an iconic symbol on the American landscape
Ever since the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic on May 27, 1937, it’s been an iconic symbol on the American landscape.
By 1870, people had realized the necessity of building a bridge spanning the Golden Gate Strait to connect the city of San Francisco with Marin County.
However, it was another half-century before structural engineer Joseph Strauss submitted his bridge proposal.
The plans evolved, and the final project was approved as a suspension bridge that ended up taking over four years to build.
When the Golden Gate Bridge went up, it was the longest suspended bridge span in the world – with cables holding up the roadway between two towers and no intermediate supports.
Thanks to its design and distinctive red paint job, the bridge lures travelers from far and wide and in 2022, the National National Park Service reported that more than 15.6 million travelers checked out the structure and its accompanying park.
Despite its popularity, one Tripadvisor was less-than-impressed with what they saw. They wrote: ‘Darn it; it’s not golden! And don’t go there expecting the Eiffel Tower – that’s in some other city. Walk across it, though; that’s pretty cool.’
The White House, Washington, D.C.
The site for the White House was selected by George Washington in 1791 and the following year, the first cornerstone was laid
The site for the White House was selected by George Washington in 1791 and the following year, the first cornerstone was laid.
Over the years it has gone through various iterations and President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the building its current name in 1901.
Today, it serves up 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms over six levels. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, eight staircases, and three elevators.
A website for the White House states that it serves as ‘both the home of the President of the United States and his or her family, and a living museum of American history.’
Tours are free but they are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. As tickets are hard to come by, most tourists choose to take a photo of the stately home from the garden gates.
One Tripadvisor wasn’t very impressed by the site and said it would best to ‘snap a photo and be gone.’
They added: ‘Not much else to see except secret “or not so” service standing around. Unless you jump the fence, not much to look at; it is a large house. Enough said!’
Niagara Falls, New York
Set on the Canada-US border and bisected by the Niagara River, Niagara Falls offers stunning views of three waterfalls, with its most famous measuring a breathtaking 187 feet high
Set on the Canada-US border and bisected by the Niagara River, Niagara Falls offers stunning views of three waterfalls, with its most famous measuring a breathtaking 187 feet high.
The locale also has the distinction of being America’s oldest state park, and is flanked by Buffalo to the east and the Canadian city of St. Catharines to the west.
More than 20 million visit the site each year, often with the expectation of taking scenic hikes and savoring its stunning views.
While it is considered a natural wonder of the world among many, one Tripadvisor reviewer wasn’t swept away.
They wrote: ‘I must be missing something here. I just cannot see what is so fabulous about these waterfalls.
‘Some people will pay to get drenched by the falls and then pretend that they are having a great time. Why not just stand under a shower and close your eyes.’
Empire State Building, New York
The Empire State Building currently ranks as the fourth tallest building in New York City, and the 43rd tallest tower in the world
Construction of the Empire State Building began in March 1930, with a workforce of 3,000 men, under the direction of architects Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates.
It rose at a rate of four-and-a-half-stories a week.
A little over a year later, President Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C., to ‘turn on’ the lights of the building, on May 1, 1931.
As the world’s tallest building – standing 1,250 feet tall – the tower quickly became an acclaimed tourist attraction and people from around the world flocked to see it.
Today, it currently ranks as the fourth tallest building in New York City, and the 43rd tallest tower in the world.
While it has lost its edge in the height game, it still draws more than four million visitors a year and on Tripadvisor it has a 4.5 out of 5 score.
Despite most tourists having positive experiences, one visitor gave the attraction a ‘terrible’ rating after their visit.
They wrote: ‘All it is, is a huge line that carries on for an hour. Very drawn out and ridiculous. Would give zero stars if possible.’
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Arizona’s sprawling Grand Canyon was designated a national park in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson in a bid to ‘protect the land and the resources within it’
One of the most visited spots in the country, Arizona’s sprawling Grand Canyon is hailed for its towering cliffs and breathtaking landscape.
It was designated a national park in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson in a bid to ‘protect the land and the resources within it,’ and in 1979, the United Nations declared the park a World Heritage Site.
The park area encompasses 278 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands.
The website states that the canyon ‘is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world – unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers visitors from the rims.’
Despite the fanfare, one visitor seemed a bit on the fence after their visit.
Their tongue-in-cheek Tripadvisor review deemed the natural wonder ‘terrible,’ noting: ‘It was pretty cool I guess, the canyon. A bit much though.
‘Maybe less canyon next time would be better if you guys can fix that.’
The Gateway Arch, Missouri
A tram was installed to take visitors to the top of the Gateway Arch in Missouri and during the summer season, up to 80 trips can run per day
The 630-foot inverted catenary Gateway Arch in Missouri was designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen and completed in 1965.
It sits on a site along the St. Louis riverfront, which was ringfenced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (now known as Gateway Arch National Park) in 1935.
Architect Saarinen was the winner of a nationwide design competition which was launched in a bid to determine what shape the Memorial would take.
According to the National Park Service’s website, the arch is ‘an inspirational, transcendent symbol of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of building a unified continental nation and St. Louis’ role as a confluence and gateway to the American West during the 19th century.’
A tram was installed to take visitors to the top of the arch and during the summer season, up to 80 trips can run per day.
While it has more than 7,000 ‘excellent’ reviews on Tripadvisor, there are a handful of visitors who deemed it a ‘terrible’ experience.
One reviewer wrote: ‘This building is cramped and an eyesore. We tried it out anyway and we got scammed on our photo of the building (could not download it).
‘Someone had a panic attack on the tram ride to the top and held up the progress through the experience by like 30 minutes.
‘When we got to the top we got harassed by locals who go up there and panhandle all day. Park does nothing about it.’
Hoover Dam, Nevada
The 92-year-old Hoover Dam, on the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona, is regarded as an engineering marvel
The 92-year-old Hoover Dam, on the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona, is regarded as an engineering marvel.
It took five years and 21,000 workers to build at a cost of $49 million (approximately $760 million in today’s money).
The last of its more than five million barrels of cement was poured in 1936.
The quantity of concrete used in the building project would be enough to build a 3,000 mile, full-sized highway from one end of the US to the other.
For many years drivers had to use a windy road running into the Black Canyon to navigate the dam, but in 2010, the Hoover Dam Bridge was completed.
The Bureau of Reclamation started conducting guided tours around the dam in 1937 and a visitor center opened in 1995. The dam now welcomes more than one million visitors a year.
While it is considered one of America’s ‘seven modern Civil Engineering Wonders’ one traveler wasn’t blown away by the structure.
Their damning review read: ‘Some concrete and a bit of water. $30 entry fee. What a rip off. Could stay at home and look at my pond for free.’
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Sculptures carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota depict the 60-foot faces of four US presidents
Sculptures carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota depict the 60-foot faces of US presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).
Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln, the national landmark has become an iconic symbol for America.
Borglum started work on his ambitious sculpture in 1927 and he remained dedicated to the project until his death in Chicago following surgery on March 6, 1941, just shy of his 74th birthday.
After his passing, the project fell to his son Lincoln who ensured that it was seen through. The National Park Service website reveals that 90 per cent of the mountain was carved using dynamite and nearly 400 men and women were recruited during the construction efforts.
One Tripadvisor reviewer expressed their dismay around the environmental impact of the sculpture. They gave the attraction a ‘terrible’ rating and wrote: ‘A perfectly good mountain was ruined to create this.
‘The Barbie version my niece showed me was miles better and did not ruin the environment by creating the absolute eyesore that is the real Mount Rushmore.
‘To top it all off the train ride there was not great but the train ride back was the best hour of my life. We will not be returning.
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
Alcatraz, which is set on a rocky outcrop one mile offshore from San Francisco, operated for 29 years as a penitentiary
Sixty years ago one of the world’s most infamous prisons closed all of its 378 cell doors for good.
Alcatraz, which is set on a rocky outcrop one mile offshore from San Francisco, operated for 29 years as a penitentiary and during that time it held some of America’s most dangerous criminals, including Al Capone and George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly.
The prison closed on the count that it was too expensive to keep operating.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), an estimated $3 million to $5 million was needed just for restoration and maintenance work to keep the prison open. The main expense was due to the fact that Alcatraz was an island and all of the goods had to be shipped there by boat.
In 1972, Alcatraz was added to the newly created Golden Gate National Recreation Area and was opened to the public in 1973 as a historical landmark. Today the former prison welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors a year and tickets sell out nearly every day.
One person who managed to land a ticket didn’t feel so lucky after their visit, with it making for a haunting trip. They wrote on Tripadvisor: ‘The entire experience left me feeling unsettled.
‘The audio tour gave it the weight the experience of visiting a former prison deserves, but it was sad to see people taking goofy photos in the solitary confinement cells. Just a sad morning and I don’t recommend it.’
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