The 14 Biggest Tourist Traps In New England (& Where To Visit Instead), According To Travelers

New England has earned renown for its beautiful coastlines, rich history, and quaint country towns surrounded by mountains and forests. A year-round destination, it offers fun activities every season. The warmer months center on soaking up the sun on the beaches. Autumn presents the perfect opportunity to take road trips to see fall foliage, and winter opens up the option of hitting the ski slopes. Thanks to this versatility, the region attracts tourists in droves, so the presence of more than a few tourist traps scattered throughout the six states should come as no surprise.

Like any popular travel destination, New England has many attractions that can be ultra crowded, overpriced, mediocre, or just plain bad. While some may merit waiting in line or going out of your way to see, others are straight-up tourist traps to avoid at all costs. To help you get the most out of your trip to this beautiful region, we scoured traveler reviews and local recommendations on online forums to uncover the overrated and disappointing New England tourist attractions. We've also provided alternative destinations for each tourist trap that many believe offer much better experiences. You can find a more in-depth explanation of how we made our selections at the end of this article.

Avoid the crowds at Connecticut's Lake Compounce and amp up the adrenaline at the Adventure Park in Storrs instead

Lake Compounce (pictured above) opened in 1846, making it North America's oldest continuously operating amusement park. However, that may not be such a good thing. Numerous reviewers have commented on how overpriced it is and how it has consistently under-delivered. Common complaints include closed rides, unavailable food items, and the high cost of nearly everything. In 2022, one visitor commented on Tripadavisor, "Waited over an hour in line for food, items not available ( French fries! , burgers) understaffed ( staff they had were working hard) and food was outrageously expensive. 30 dollars to park. Rides closed and part of the water area closed. Our son had fun but the cost was not worth the experience."

If you're looking for an exhilarating day out, The Adventure Park at Storrs has received much better feedback. You won't find scary roller coasters or carousels there. Instead, the outdoor park has zip lines that snake through the treetops. Visitors have nine treetop trails to explore, with 106 treetop platforms. Kids as young as seven can try the zip lines, and younger kids can play in the Adventure Playground. You'll also find an axe-throwing area for individuals over 12. Reviewers rave about the variety of courses, the friendly staff, the lack of crowds, and how well the staff has maintained the park.

Ditch the lines at Red's Eats in Maine and get your lobster roll fix at Sprague's

There's no doubt that people love the lobster rolls at Red's Eats, as indicated by the lengthy lines alone. The Gagnon family has owned the small shack off of Wiscasset's Main Street since 1977, and they catapulted it to fame with their simple but delectable lobster roll (above on the left) recipe. Each sandwich contains a hefty amount of steamed lobster tail, claw, and knuckle meat in a buttery roll with butter and mayo on the side. People come from far and wide to sample the sandwich. But is it really worth standing in line for over an hour?

Sprague's Lobster sits across the street, and many locals swear that its lobster rolls (on the right) are just as good as Red's and served much faster. The slightly bigger Sprague's shack has a waterfront deck with tables. This results in much shorter queues, so you don't have to wait as long to get your lobster fix. The recipe also strongly resembles Red's — huge portions of steamed lobster meat on a butter-fried bun. In addition, you'll find the costs comparable, as both Red's and Sprague's charge based on the market price. Other spots that travelers and locals recommend nearby include Taste of Maine in Woolwich and Sea Basket in Wiscasset.

Give Misquamicut State Beach in Rhode Island a miss, and sunbathe on Napatree Point Beach instead

With 0.5 miles of golden sand fronting the calm waters of Block Island Sound, Misquamicut State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Rhode Island. But that also means it can get ultra crowded. Locals and out-of-towners flock there on hot summer days to swim, suntan, and take advantage of the beach's amenities like concessions and outdoor showers. Some don't mind the crowds, but others find the experience lacking. Plus, parking can be pretty pricey for non-residents at $20 on weekdays and $30 on weekends.

If you want to visit a quiet stretch of sand that won't cost you a fortune in parking fees, consider Napatree Point Beach. Located about a 15-minute drive down the road in the Napatree Point Conservation area, it tends to get far fewer visitors than Misquamicut Beach. You don't have to pay an entrance fee, and you have a chance of finding free parking in Watch Hill Village.  Remember, though, that you only get two hours of free parking in the village, so keep an eye on the time. The beach does not have restrooms or lifeguards, but you'll get beautiful dunes and plenty of space to spread out in exchange for the lack of facilities and services.

Forgo the food at Quincy Marketplace in Boston, and try Boston Public Market instead

Quincy Market is one of the largest and oldest food halls in the United States. However, it's also one of Boston's biggest tourist traps. Yes, it has tons of restaurants, but you'll probably pay more than you would elsewhere and have to share space with hordes of other tourists. Plus, according to many locals, the food quality is seriously subpar. When Eater magazine asked readers to give their opinions on why the food at Quincy Market was so bad, many commented on the lack of independent, local businesses and the fact that vendors rely on tourists to make money, so they have no incentive to aim for repeat customers. Others commented on the high rent and limited prep and storage space, which drives some vendors to cut corners.

If you want to experience a true local market in Boston and support local producers and creators in a less chaotic environment, head to Boston Public Market. It's about a five-minute walk north of Quincy Market near the corner of Hanover Street and Congress Street. Inside, you'll find about 30 vendors selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to pastrami sandwiches, smoked salmon, and handmade gnocchi. Most of the vendors offer products that were sourced or produced in New England. The market also hosts regular events like tours, trivia nights, and magic shows.

Escape the crowded streets of Stowe, Vermont and swap them for sleepy Bennington

Stowe (pictured above on the left) is one of Vermont's most popular travel destinations, and for good reason. It's the quintessential New England town with charming shops and restaurants, historic homes, hiking trails, and a world-renowned ski resort. It also gets overrun with tourists nearly year-round. During the fall months, leaf peepers from around the world descend on the town to see the foliage. Come winter, skiers and snowboarders pack the slopes at Stowe Ski Resort. Spring and summer can also be busy, with tourists taking advantage of the warm weather to do some fishing, hiking, and golfing.

The good news is plenty of small Vermont towns offer quaint New England vibes without the same volume of tourists as popular places like Stowe. Bennington (pictured on the right) is a pretty Vermont locale with natural beauty, historic buildings, and a charming, walkable downtown. Located in the state's far northwestern corner, the town gets fewer visitors than well-known hotspots like Stowe and Burlington. Book into a charming B&B and spend your days strolling through the old historic streets, hiking nearby trails, and visiting attractions like the Bennington Battle Monument and Bennington Museum. The area also has several antique shops, craft breweries, and diners.

Pass up the Redstone Rocket Replica in Concord, New Hampshire for the real Redstone Missile in Warren

New Hampshire's capital city of Concord is home to a 92-foot replica of a Mercury-Redstone rocket erected in honor of Alan Shepard, the first American to travel to space. The rocket was modeled after the spacecraft that launched Shepard into the stratosphere in 1961. The replica is part of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, a science museum where visitors can learn about astronomy, space science, and aviation. You'll have to buy a ticket to enter the museum, but you can see the rocket outside for free. Then again, you could take a trip to Warren to see a real Redstone missile.

In 1971, Warren native Ted Asselin was stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and he noted several decommissioned Redstone missiles in the field. He thought a rocket would inspire the children in his hometown to learn more about space, so he got permission from the army to take one and hauled it back to Warren on a 60-foot trailer at his own expense. The rocket (pictured above) has been standing tall on the side of Water Street ever since. The town is pretty remote, but if you're fascinated by missiles and the history of space exploration, the real Redstone missile is worth a visit.

Have a look at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, but spend more time at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums

Plymouth Rock (above) was supposedly where the Mayflower pilgrims first set foot in the New World in 1620. At least, that's what an older man claimed in 1741, 121 years after the pilgrims landed in Plymouth. Even though there is no authenticated evidence to back up the claim that this giant boulder was the pilgrim's first landing place, many people still revere the rock. Others find it a tad lackluster. For example, Laurel on Google Reviews said, "It's worth taking a look for 5 mins or so, (or however long you can stare at a rock.) Take a picture and move on."

If you find Plymouth Rock underwhelming, you might want to try the Plimoth Patuxet Museums instead. These living history museums offer a more comprehensive look into life when the pilgrims landed and created their colony. You can explore live-scale replicas of an indigenous Patuxet homesite, the 17th-century Plymouth colony, and the Mayflower II. While you can visit Plymouth Rock for free, you must pay to see the exhibits at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. It's not cheap, but many people believe the experience is worth the money.

Bypass busy Bar Harbor in Maine and stay in Southwest Harbor instead

Bar Harbor (above on the left) sits on the border of Acadia National Park and is a pretty seaside town, which makes it a magnet for out-of-state tourists. Like many tourist hotspots in Maine, it has its fair share of traffic jams, tacky souvenir shops, and overpriced seafood restaurants. On a Reddit thread about the most overrated towns in Maine, one user wrote, "Bar Harbor for sure. So crowded in the summer you have to wait to eat anywhere and every store is basically the same kind of tourist shop." Another echoed the sentiment, saying, "Bar Harbor in the summer is like Disneyland except instead of rides you're just overpaying for lobster."

For a more low key locale on Mount Desert Island, try Southwest Harbor (on the right) on what locals call the "Quiet Side" of the island. The waterfront town is much more peaceful and offers a more authentic Maine experience than what you'll get in Bar Harbor. There are several art galleries, shops, restaurants, and inviting inns and cottages in town. It is also an excellent base for hiking trips into Acadia National Park and along coastal trails. You can set off on sailing and fishing excursions from the harbor, do a sea kayaking tour, or take a lobster cruise on a vintage boat with a traditional full lobster dinner.

Snap a photo of Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut, but grab a slice at Nana's Bakery & Pizza

Mystic Pizza (above on the left) is renowned for inspiring the iconic 1988 movie of the same name that launched Julia Roberts' acting career. Over 35 years later, the Mystic, Connecticut pizzeria still gets a slew of visitors who come for a taste of nostalgia and a slice. Despite the crowds, the reviews of the food are mixed. While some reviewers say the pizza is excellent, others say it's nothing to write home about. For example, one noted on Tripadvisor, "This may be a great place to go if [you] want to say you ate at the restaurant that gave us the movie 'Mystic Pizza.' Besides that, the food itself, including the pizza, is average and a bit overpriced."

Foodies might prefer the much-lauded sourdough pizzas at Nana's Bakery & Pizza (right). This cozy spot earned a place on Esquire's Best New Restaurants in America list in 2021. The editors at Esquire said, "The New England pizza, strewn with clams and bacon, tastes like clam chowder if it spent a few months in Italy and had an epiphany in Naples." Other offerings at Nana's include the Fall Squash pizza with roasted squash, brown butter tahini, and sage; the Sourdough Grilled Cheese sandwich with tangy cheddar, tart apple slices, and onion jam; and rotisserie chicken that comes with creamy roasted garlic aioli.

Pass up a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad and do a road trip through eastern New Hampshire yourself

The Conway Scenic Railroad (pictured above on the left) looks like it would be a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty of eastern New Hampshire. The company offers several train excursions, setting off from the North Conway railroad station and heading into the Mount Washington Valley and Crawford Notch. However, many reviewers have said it's not worth the money. Several commented on the poor condition of the trains, the disappointing food options, and the lack of scenery on some routes. Tickets range from $23 to $79, but you may be better off renting a car (or driving your own) to take in the scenery.

A road trip is the perfect way to explore eastern New Hampshire on your own steam. You'll be able to play your own music, stop wherever you please, and venture off on side adventures if you feel so inclined. North Conway is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, with gorgeous forests, lakes, and mountains to discover. You can stop at beautiful parks like Echo Lake State Park, where you can hike and swim, or see Diana's Baths Waterfalls in Bartlett. The area also has several covered bridges over rivers, like Swift River Bridge (on the right), that make for great photo opportunities.

Skip the Salem Witch Museum and visit the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem instead

In November 2023, USA Today released a report of the biggest tourist traps in the world based on millions of Google reviews, and the Salem Witch Museum (left) took second place. Overall, reviewers seem to find it small, outdated, and overpriced for what it is. One summed it up pretty succinctly on Tripadvisor, stating, "It's not a museum- it feels like a classroom. You come in and sit in a big room and listen to a voice talk as – bunch of broke-down looking mannequins are lit up during the story. Then you stand in another room and listen to another voice for a few minutes and then you're done."

Head to the Peabody Essex Museum (right) for a more comprehensive overview of what happened during the Salem witch trials of 1692. The PEM's Salem Witch Tours Walk is an engaging and informative audio tour that takes you through the museum to see authentic artifacts from that time and outside the museum to see key sites in Salem where the events took place. You can also peruse the museum's digital collection to see original legal documents from the Salem Witch Trials. The museum also has a vast collection of artworks and artifacts from around the world, dating from the 1700s to the present day.

Instead of dining on bustling Thames Street in Newport, Rhode Island, head to the restaurants on Broadway Street

It's hard to visit Newport without spending some time on Thames Street (above on the left). This city's main drag is jam-packed with shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. It can also be packed with tourists, especially in the busy summer months. If you're considering grabbing a bite to eat on Thames Street, make sure you have a reservation. If not, you could wait a long time for a table. Many popular dining spots suggest booking a few weeks in advance because wait times for walk-ins can be more than an hour in the high season. If you want to avoid the long lines and crowds, do like the locals do and head to Broadway Street.

Broadway Street (right) is just a bit north of Thames Street, but it's not as busy and has more local flavor than the city's main artery. Here, you'll find a great selection of restaurants serving up everything from barbecue to ramen, craft beers, and cocktails. Start your day with a cappuccino and avocado toast at Empire Tea & Coffee. Swing by Root for a healthy lunch that could include the kale salad with coconut bacon or the chickpea salad sandwich. Caleb & Broad and Fifth Element are both popular spots for cocktails, beers, and international-inspired eats.

Turn down a trip to York's Wild Kingdom Zoo and go whale watching in Maine instead

If you're traveling along the coast of Maine with kids in tow, you may be tempted to stop at York's Wild Kingdom Zoo (pictured above on the left). However, many visitors say the zoo and amusement park have seen better days and are not worth the money. One Tripadvisor reviewer commented, "This place is very old and tired. Animal zoo portion is sadly overgrown and neglected. Very few rides. Only one place to get food. I can't imagine it will be in business much longer." Another wrote, "This place was old and run down 20 years ago and now it's just a complete dump. Most of the animal enclosures are either falling apart or are so overgrown with weeds and bushes that it looks like it was abandoned."

For a more enriching animal experience in Maine, try a whale-watching trip just up the coast in Kennebunk. First Chance Whale Watch offers boat trips to the summer feeding grounds of humpback whales, blue whales, and fin whales. The boat has two decks with plenty of space along the rails to view the whales and snap photos. New England Eco Adventures also offers whale watching tours but on an RIB boat with cushioned seats. . While neither company guarantees whale sightings (whales are wild animals, after all), both offer free passes for future rides in the event that you don't see a whale.

Pass up drinks at Cheers in Boston and visit a visit a local craft brewery instead

Fans of the TV show "Cheers" can visit the actual bar that inspired the series at Cheers Boston (pictured above) on 84 Beacon Street. But if you expect the same easy-going atmosphere where "everyone knows your name," you might be disappointed. The exterior appears pretty much the same as it was portrayed on TV, but inside the bar, it looks very little like the set. The bar is much smaller, with tables lining the walls, and there are two gift shops where tourists are encouraged to buy "Cheers" merchandise. The prices on the menu may also surprise you. For example, an order of mozzarella sticks costs $17.00, and the fish and chips will set you back $28.99.

Why down a beer at a pricey tourist attraction when you can visit one of Boston's many craft breweries for a much more authentic experience? Night Shift Brewing was founded by a trio of friends passionate about brewing innovative craft beers. Its Lovejoy Wharf location is a sweet spot to sample a wide array of beers while overlooking the Boston Harbor. A whole Detroit-style pizza here will only set you back $18. If you're in the Seaport area, head to Harpoon Brewery to try interesting IPAs, wheat beers, and ciders. It's been brewing since 1986, so it knows a thing or two about beer. If you're hungry, you can grab a salted pretzel for $7 or a Sicilian-style slice of pizza starting at $7.

How we chose the New England tourist traps and alternatives

To uncover the biggest tourist traps in New England, we started by researching a wide range of attractions in the New England states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. We looked for popular and not-so-popular spots that New England is renowned for, like seafood shacks, amusement parks, and museums. We jumped on forums like Reddit and Quora to see which attractions were consistently called out for being overrated by locals. Then, we read hundreds of reviews on Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Google to see what people said about those spots.

These attractions got consistently negative reviews for being overpriced, disappointing, or downright awful. In some cases, the attraction may not be entirely bad if you don't mind braving the crowds or waiting in long lines. After all, taste is subjective. However, for those who prefer to steer clear of ultra-touristy spots, we offered alternative destinations that locals and fellow travelers recommended. The alternatives are all spots that people thought provided all-around better experiences.