The joy of travel for me is seeing and tasting what’s unique. In any new place, I try to slip into its native rhythms. If they eat at 10 pm in Seville, so will I. If Londoners take the tube, so will I. If they celebrate Christmas in Buenos Aires with family trips to ice cream parlors, I want to join in. But sometimes I love to plunge into tourist traps.
Do you avoid tourist traps, the most famous spots in each city? Tourist traps draw huge crowds and often long boring lines of sweaty impatient visitors. But I overcame my aversion to tourist traps once I gave a few a try. Now, I’m a fan. If you give them a chance, you might be a fan too.
Overseas Tourist Traps
The lengthy line waiting to see the Tower of London is daunting. But the prison cells of the Tower can come alive if you and your kids wander while listening to the audio guide’s dramatic stories of the queens, dukes and courtiers and the acts of betrayal that landed them in Tower cells. While viewing the Crown Jewels requires yet another long line, the dazzling display of wealth is gorgeous and drives home the economic distance between the royals and us (even if they do pose for People).
American Tourist Traps
Chicago was built mostly after an 1871 fire destroyed most of the city. Chicago built the world’s first steel skyscrapers and now has a tall, dense skyline of gleaming high rises. One of the few Chicago experiences that caters to tourists is the memorable river cruise tour of the city’s architecture, led by knowledgeable docents. While the weather limits boat tours to April through November, docents also lead architectural tours on foot and via the city’s mass transit system.