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san francisco golden gate bridge nightAs the Senior Editor of IndependentTraveler.com, one of the inevitable questions I’m asked when someone finds out what I do for a living is “What’s your favorite place?” Or the equally impossible-to-answer “What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?” Honestly, I’d have a hard time just narrowing it down to my top five. You might as well ask a mother to choose between her children.

Of course, if you travel long enough, you’ll also develop a list of places that maybe you didn’t love as much. In the Huffington Post, fellow travel writer David Landsel has come up with a doozy on places he’d rather not see again: 10 Terribly Overrated Destinations (And Where To Travel Instead).

Landsel dubs San Francisco a “grotfest,” disses Denver as “a weirdly bland, Midwestern snore” and rejects the entire Caribbean region in one sweeping stroke (“Too many of the islands are depressingly violent, pathetically corrupt and/or hopelessly dysfunctional”). Ouch.

He also takes issue with Asheville, North Carolina, describing it as “a bottlenecked blot on a lovely landscape” and a “physically and emotionally fragmented mountain town full of people who seem really annoyed by everything.”

But after returning from my second visit there a few months ago, and having included it in IndependentTraveler.com’s favorite spots for a weekend getaway, I have to disagree. Maybe Landsel should have come with me and my mom to one of Asheville’s Friday night drum circles, when it feels like the entire town gathers for a lively, joyful musical party that goes for hours.

And Asheville’s food is “just fine”? Bummer — he must’ve missed out on the decadent, dinner-plate-sized sweet potato pancake at Tupelo Honey Cafe, topped with spiced pecans and peach butter. I’m still dreaming about it.

9 Places You Haven’t Visited — But Should

Of course, everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion. My own let-down list would probably include Belfast, Northern Ireland; Atlanta, Georgia; and Aix-en-Provence, France. I’d heard good things about all of them, but somehow they just didn’t speak to me. That said, I’d be willing to give them all a second chance; maybe I was in the wrong neighborhood, or simply the wrong mood.

So lest any readers out there are considering avoiding places like Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Costa Rica or Chicago on the strength of this article, allow me to throw my own advice into the ring: take the trip and see for yourself.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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7 Responses to “Overrated Destinations and the Travel Writer Who Loves Them”

  1. Rod Kaufmann says:

    The writer is wrong in so many ways that you wonder why he wrote this at all. Perhaps just to get a rise out of the readers? Costa Rica and Hawaii are almost NOTHING alike….Costa Rica is a wildlife and jungle paradise; Hawaii has all of its charms, but almost no wildlife at all. He favors Detroit over Chicago? O.K. His comment about Colorado show his ignorance of that beautiful state. If you don’t like Denver, Boulder, Salida, Grand Lake among manhy others are charming towns with good food, great scenery, and tons of activities all within two or three hours of DIA. Lumping ALL of the Caribbean nations together as dangerous, corrupt is just silly…particularly when he cites MEXICO as a better alternative. The whole Riviera Maya is overrun with huge All Inclusive resort that shut their visitor off from any real experience of Mexico. I don’t particularly care for San Francisco…it is expensive, smug, and full of itself…but it is one of the most beautiful cities in North America. Don’t knock New Orleans: it is corrupt, but so what. It is also one of the most civilized and enjoyable cities in the world…with unique food, heritage, culture etc.

  2. vagabondginger says:

    Top of my list would be Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, TN & Branson, MO. But even as much as I love to hate Vegas, I wouldn’t put it as overrated as there are shows worth seeing like O and Blue Man Group & JImmy Buffet, etc.
    Could never say places like San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Buenos Aires or Costa Rica were overrated. These places have so much to offer. Belfast was worth seeing but not a great city to hang out in for bars, etc. Every place I go has something worth doing with the exception of my opening line – really!
    Watching fat tourists on the sidewalks eating ice cream & tourist traps like Ripleys Believe or Not, etc when there is a beautiful National Park right next door was just too much for me to take.
    Oh, but I do need to say Cabo is overrated & Cancun as well. But to the north of Cabo is Todos Santos and to the south of Cancun is Tulum, so seek these out instead. But I wouldn’t put all of the Caribbean in this pool by any means as each island is so different. The only time I ever did or will do again a cruise took me to 12 islands & I loved all of them except St Thomas. But I got off the ship & immediately hired a driver to take me around the island so it wasn’t a week in one place. I like to always have the option to move on if a place is not quite what I expected.
    Happy Travels!

  3. QuiGonJohn says:

    I haven’t been to a lot of those places, but he is DEFINITELY WRONG about SAN FRANCISCO. Spent 6 days in March 2011 and loved it. The public transportation was great. Within 30 minutes of leaving the airport on BART, we were outside Hallidie Plaza, just a few blocks walk to our hotels. With the weekly transit pass, ($26), we rode the cable cars, buses, subways and street cars at our leisure, making it so easy to get around and so grateful not to deal with the expense and hassle of a rental car. We saw a lot of the usual tourist sites, rode bikes from Fisherman’s Wharf, across the Golden Gate into Sausilito, then back on the ferry, went to Alcatraz, etc. Met a lot of nice people and ate a lot of different foods. Great vacation, I hope to go back again some day.

  4. And a “rise” he did get out of readers! So true, Rod: Costa Rica and Hawaii are almost NOTHING alike… Hawaii has no whitewater rafting and many other of Costa Rica’s famed adventure offerings. Sarah’s right-on – it’s best to try both!

  5. David Kay says:

    I love the Caribbean. I’ve been to 11 of the islands there. They all do look pretty much alike, except for Barbados, but they all have something to show for themselves. I think the author is comparing apples with oranges when he wrote the article. I do find San Francisco worn out and full of stereotypes and definitely overrated, with people who seem to be stuck in the 60’s and 70’s or desperately trying to throw off that image. I lived in Hawaii for 18 years before moving to Southern California and Costa Rica is nothing like Hawaii. If anything, Hawaii is the lesser of the two because it has been overdeveloped and “Californiaized” almost beyond recognition.

  6. Emjay says:

    HA! Costa Rica is definitely overrated. My brother-in-law is there now. So far, he’s had his camera and lenses stolen off the table on which he was having lunch, his cell phone swiped from his bag, landscape items stolen overnight from the house he’s trying to reclaim from the crooks who moved in while he was back in the states, and ..the list goes on. Foreigners have no rights in CR. The local constabulary cares not, yet if a Tica is somehow charged with a legal infraction, there is no investigation. For a country that relies on tourism, there is no respect accorded to the foreigners. Take warning. If you go there, watch your stuff, your car and your SELF.

  7. John Zimmerman says:

    The article, like many, really doesn’t convey specific, actionable info. People have different tastes, so if you give enough specific info, they can figure out if they will like the place. Seasons, and crowds can really affect your opinion of a place. We hate crowds, so we like to find out when shoulder season is for a place and go then. Someone else might like lots of people and seeing a place when it has special events happening. You do have to do a lot of homework up front to sift thru the things available, and find the ones that are right for you. We just got back from Atlanta and saw the Botanical Garden (we love plants) and the High Museum show of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (we like art). For some people that would have been the recipe for a disaster. I think there is something redeeming about every place, you just have to dig to find it.

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