Disappointing Vacation Destinations, and the Surprisingly Great Ones

DelRayA disclaimer, before we get started… I visited some of these places a long time ago, the 1970s in some cases, and they may have improved by now. Or, it’s possible I was just young and dumb, and my perception was defective. I certainly wouldn’t base any vacation plans on what I’m about to write. I’m far from an authority.

No, I’m simply going to list the places I’ve visited that disappointed me. And, at the end, I’ll tell you about a couple of destinations that were surprisingly great. And then I’ll hand it over to you guys to do the same.

We’re talking about personal experiences here, not blanket dismissals. At least I am. You folks can do whatever you want. Let’s get started, shall we?

Niagara Falls

Niagara

The falls themselves are amazing, of course. And we donned smelly communal raincoats, and took a boat tour that got us very near the roaring water. Even behind it, I think.

So, all that was fun. But… the area surrounding the falls is a real downer. The U.S. side is a shithole. It feels like a town that was once quaint and prosperous, and is now sinking fast. Depressing. And the Canadian side is a tacky-ass tourist trap. Sometimes tourist traps are fun, like Myrtle Beach, but Niagara Falls fits into an entirely different category.

This one tops the list. We all thought it was going to be a mind-blowing experience, and left feeling like a dark shadow had passed over our souls.

Disney World

Disney World

When I was a kid we visited an amusement park called King’s Island once or twice every summer. It was almost impossibly fun. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but it was the absolute pinnacle of amusement park greatness.

Then my parents suggested we visit Disney World in Florida, and I was psyched. This was going to be EVEN BETTER!

Yeah, not even close. The rides and attractions were more elaborate, that’s true. But it wasn’t nearly as much fun. It was crowded and hot, and almost everything felt like it was hitting at about 75% on the enjoyment meter. It wasn’t a complete disaster, like Niagara, but certainly disappointing.

After that, we just went back to King’s Island, and vowed to never forsake our old friend again.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah

All my life I’d heard about the charms of Savannah. It’s like a trip back in time, they said, to the Old South. I’d been to Charleston, South Carolina many times, which mines the same vein. And Charleston is pretty kick-ass.

But Savannah? No. The historic district is tiny, and it’s surrounded by crushing poverty and sadness. If you stay within the few blocks set aside for tourists, it’s OK; there are great bars and restaurants, and it is indeed charming. But there’s not enough of it. And there are crack deals going on, right over there.

Is that unfair? It’s how I remember it.

Hollywood, California

hollywood

The glitz! The glamour! The movie stars! The palm trees! That’s the image, right? In reality, it’s more like drug addicts passed out and shitting themselves in doorways, and pansexual whores asking if you’re lonely. If your idea of glamour is staring at a used condom on the Phil Silvers Walk of Fame star, then Hollywood is for you!

Oregon

Cape Kiwanda - Haystack And Tide Pools - Oregon Coast - Sunset

On a more positive note… Many years ago, before we were married, Toney and I went to visit her sister in Oregon. It’s one of those states that doesn’t really trigger a lot of expectations. Ya know? Sorta like Arkansas. I would have no idea what to expect before visiting Arkansas.

But it turned out to be one of the best trips ever. Portland was a lot of fun, and really pretty. We spent an afternoon at Powell’s bookstore, which was crazy in the best sense of the word. And there were amazing brewpubs and walking trails everywhere.

Eugene was full of hippies, but also offered many a brewpub, as well as great coffee shops and the like.

And the Oregon coast blew my freaking mind. I’d never seen anything like it. There are giant rocks on the beach, and the weather was like fall in the summer. It was so pretty and unusual, my brain had trouble processing it. I’d just stand there and marvel at what was before me. I loved every minute of it.

I highly recommend Oregon. We need to get back there, ASAP.

London

London

During the run-up to our London trip, I kept telling Toney we were setting ourselves up for disappointment. There was no way it could possibly be as great as we were imagining it in our romantic visions.

But it was even better. It was a perfect vacation. Perfect! Everything we did went off without a hitch, and every single day was amazing. Good god, it’s another place we need to revisit, before our organs start cutting in and out. Maybe in 2015? Yeah, let’s make that an official goal.

Now it’s your turn. In the comments, please tell us about the disappointing vacation spots you’ve visited, and the ones that were shockingly good.

And I’ll see you guys again next time.

Have yourselves a great day!

Curious about the tools used to produce this site? We’ve got you covered!

Comments

  1. You are totally correct about Oregon and Hollywood. Having lived most of my life in L.A., the only good thing about Hollywood is seeing bands play. The place itself is bad news.

    I want my ashes scattered at Powell’s. It is truly a wonder of the modern world.

  2. I agree with the Oregon Coast. It is my favorite place I’ve ever been. Newport, Depoe Bay and Lincoln City are where I have been. If I have my way that is where we will retire someday.

  3. Not necessarily a destination, but this would be incomplete without someone mentioning South of the Border. What a sh-thole.

    What you said about Savannah can and should be said about New Orleans. Lots of fun if you stay in the prescribed tourist spots, but do NOT venture outside that area. Also? Add NYC Chinatown to that list. Definitely.

  4. “crushing poverty and sadness”, how much more old south can you get?

  5. You mentioned Myrtle Beach, which was actually quite a bit more fun than I expected. I went with my sister and we spent several days visiting every tourist trap we could find (and there’s no shortage of them there) when we weren’t hanging out on the beaches.

    Another surprisingly interesting vacation spot was Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There’s a big cat rescue, several caves (damaged, crappy caves, but still), a winery, “haunted” hotels, and neat old springs left from the town’s heyday.

    As for disappointing vacations, I’d say my last trip to Epcot Center qualifies. I’d remembered it as a lot of fun from when I was a kid, but it did not hold up as a destination for adults.

    I’m also rather tired of Las Vegas. I’ve been there a half-dozen times and that’s where my husband I got married and also renewed our wedding vows on our 10th anniversary. But enough is enough. This year is our 20th anniversary and we’ll be looking for something new to do.

  6. North Conway, NH is a great place to visit. The mountains are beautiful and the trees in the fall are spectacular.

  7. Jazzbone Swirly says:

    Denver sucks as a destination. Went through there for a few days earlier this year. Everyone there seems pissed off, and the city in general generally lacks in anything approaching charm. They’ve basically torn down everything historical and replaced it with soulless urbanity. Going to a Rockies game was the only high point.

    I cannot think of another place that I have visited and have been disappointed. I keep a very open mind about travel, and I find something interesting and fun to do just about anywhere I find myself (cities, rural areas, wilderness settings). I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively, and have lived in just about every region of the U.S. over my adult life, so have traveled regionally from those jumping-off points.

  8. Ruby Falls in Chattanooga Tennessee. We walked for what seemed like forever single file in a dark, damp, drippy cave. The climax was when you get to the end and the guy flipped the switch and all the colored lights come on and illuminate the falls and rock formations. Two minutes of ooohs and ahhhs and then we all turned around and trudged all the way back. wow – fun – ugh.

  9. Someone who respects the Myrtle. We stay in North Myrtle, right on the beach. It is awesome. I fish, surf, lay on the beach, drink, rent mopeds and jam around. Lots of fun.

    • Mookie325 says:

      Totally agreed! We vacation in North Myrtle every October, and in 5-6 years will retire there. Not as touristy as Myrtle Beach and there’s just a million cool things to do. Now if only I can get the hang of this golf crap…

      • revashane says:

        We always stay south of Myrtle. Called Pirate Land home for years. Folks got old and sold the trailer. The day the music died. We are in Arkansas now and plan to retire there too. We should start our own crotchety old folks club when we get there.

  10. Steve in WV says:

    My wife and I stopped in Hilton Head on our way to Florida one summer. Total disaster. Couldn’t find a hotel that was even remotely reasonable. Most resorts wouldn’t even let you on the property without a reservation.

    I expected it to be a more upscale version of Myrtle Beach. Not so. What a bunch of rich bitch bull-shit.

  11. Steve in WV says:

    Holden Beach, on the other hand, surprised me at how non-commercial, laid back, and very quiet it was. I am amazed to find a strip of beach on the east coast that wasn’t over run with McDonalds or Hyatt Grand Douche Resorts.

  12. bikerchick says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Disney….add Epcot to that giant day care park. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back. Hot as fuck. Stand in lines with crying kids for hours. Waaaay over priced. Did I mention crying and whining kids? Jumping Jesus. Why in Gods name do people take infants to this hell hole? Baby carriages, diapers, puke…..just to get a photo with Mickey Mouse? And the kid won’t have any recollection of the family vaca anyway.

    Rodeo Drive. The movies and TV make it look like it goes for miles. It’s only a few block long with the high end shops. Not that I could afford to buy anything, it was still disappointing.

    Southfork Ranch from the TV show “Dallas”. It’s TINY! You would think it’s a sprawling estate. Nope. Another disappointment. (I was there in the 80’s during it’s heyday)

    One of the best places, for me, is Key West. Awesome. Always something to do, sights to see.. On or off of Duval St. It’s fantastic.

    • Lew in Bama says:

      We weren’t overly impressed with Key West. Enjoyed Hemingways place, but too many people for us. Between seasonal tourists, spring break, Daytona bike week visitors, and the enormous cruise shop docked and blocking the views, it was a mad house we did not enjoy. Road construction made it a nightmare. Marathon/Key Colony Beach was perfection though.

  13. Unexpectedly good: Paris
    I went to Paris once for a week and it was unexpectedly good. I had always heard that they were all jerks and hated tourists. As far as I could tell they loved getting my money. The people at restaurants treated me as good as anyone at Chili’s in Dallas would. I didn’t actually have anything scheduled to do while I was there, so it was just me walking around the city. It seemed to me like anything else, act like you are supposed to be there and people will treat you like any other jackass that is supposed to be there. They aren’t lined up to see who can get you wiener farther down their throat (except maybe the hooker that asked if I needed company), but they weren’t hostile in any way either.

    About that hooker: I was 17 and had no idea how women of the night worked in the US, much less Paris. I would have defiantly needed company if I weren’t a retard (maybe lucky that I didn’t know what was going on) rather than staring blankly and walking away.
    —–
    Unexpectedly bad: Hawaii
    I was sent to Hawaii for 15 days on work once. I knew it wouldn’t be that great on account of me hating beaches, but it ended up being worse than expected. I hear of a few great food places, the Inside Out (or something like that) in Waikiki and the shrimp trucks up on North Shore. The world famous pork chops at the place in Waikiki were just fried pork chops. Big damn deal. That’s the blue plate special on Tuesday at the Pinecone Café in Pine Prairie, LA. Then the shrimp trucks were just pan fried shrimp with a bunch of plain white rice. OMG such noms!!1! Whatever the fuck.

    I also did my normal thing where I walked around the city. There’s nothing there. You have the main drag with various TGI Friday’s and Apple stores. Then one mile off the strip and you get into ghetto land island style. Honolulu is just another shitty big city. It’s got no character of its own because it’s trying to appeal to the tourists. You have tourist row from Waikiki beach to about 3 blocks in, then slums. What a great travel destination. Never go there, go anywhere else. You aren’t missing anything not going to Hawaii.
    —–
    Expectedly good: Los Angeles (not Hollywood)
    Now that I look back on it, I think I’ve probably spent about 3 months of my life in Los Angeles. That’s a strangely large period of time to be in a city I have no actual business being in. I guess I just like it. It has a nice large anonymity to it. You can be anyone and no one cares, you can be someone and no one cares, you can be no one and anybody you want to care will, you can be someone and anyone you want to care will. I always go down Hollywood Blvd at least once because there is a store there I really like. It’s got stacks and stacks of National Geographic and Playboy back to the 60s. They’ve got really strange artifacts, like genie lamps and shit; it’s weird. The rest of the time I just put my hoodie on and saunter around town. Any part of the city works for me. I think I like LA for the reasons Jeff outlined above. It’s dirty and pristine and collectively doesn’t seem to give a fuck. Walk around the ghetto with a bent cigarette or walk around the Hills with a wad of cash, all in the same day. Be anybody.

    —–
    Expectedly bad: New Orleans
    I grew up in Louisiana, but I didn’t make it to New Orleans until I was 21. It never held any value to me because all the talk was about getting fucked up, having anonymous sex, and being a generally free wheeling douche. Well, that’s exactly what it’s like. If you are a member of the Bro-for-Life fraternity you might get a kick out of it. It smells like urine and garbage. There’s nothing but backwords hats and spray on tans. The music is generally terrible. Saxaphone players honking like dying ducks on the street, cover bands blaring out hits from the 80s, and what seems to be a perpetual middle-aged middle-class convention that couldn’t afford the trip to Vegas are what await you in New Orleans. The food is junked up yuppie versions of what you could find anywhere else south of I-10 for half the price and 10 times the taste. The boardwalk smells of ripe seaweed and the casino could make jerky. The city promotes public intoxication for two reason, so you fail to see that you are spending your time in a slum with a mask of history and so they can arrest your ass if the coffers are running low.

    • Do you look German? Your reception in Paris might just have been them trying not to piss you off. How many surrenders did you accept?

      I agree that Honolulu is a crap hole, but some of the other islands are great. My personal preference is Kauai. No city anywhere, it’s a very quiet and laid back kind of place and the scenery is beyond spectacular.

  14. The picture up there reminds me of a place I stayed in Cranbrook, Canada.
    The mattress was on a cement platform, the TV was chained to the wall, and the door only locked from the outside (you had to use a sliding bolt to secure it from the inside.)

  15. Savannah=New Orleans=Atlantic City. Stay within prescribed tourist parameters or see the every day reality of poverty and decay that most residents live.

    I am not a fan of stuff like overblown amusement parks, destination vacation spots, Vegas, or big cities in general. Natural sights interest me more or offbeat stuff in non-touristy areas…..like the Largest Truck Stop in the World in Walcott IA or the Giant statue of a Walleye fish in Downer’s Grove MN, that sort of thing.

  16. Erica in Charlotte says:

    Apologies in advance for this long comment – didn’t mean to hijack your journal-of-sorts…

    Just got back from London and Edinburgh, and it tops my list of vacations, EVER. (I used the travel notes from your first trip as a jumping-off point for my planning, since we seemed to have similar goals for our trips – and thank you for that!)

    My dad worked for Delta when I was a kid, which meant we flew standby (free), and I’ve been all over North America, and into Europe a time or two.

    Disappointing destinations:

    Paris (we didn’t have enough time there, though everyone was much friendlier than I had expected – because I spoke French – but just overall… meh.)

    Montreal – meh. And French Canadians are MUCH ruder than French Parisians, in my experience.

    Las Vegas – meh. If you don’t like gambling, there’s not much to do here. (No one advertised the destination as anything more, so not sure what I expected to be different.)

    Philadelphia – depressing and dirty on a Sunday afternoon.

    Savannah – agreed. We went there and Charleston on our honeymoon. Have never been back to Savannah, though we hit Charleston about every other summer.

    Good destinations:

    Florida – that stretch of highway through the Everglades. If you can get past all the alligators, mosquitoes and sexual predators-in-hiding… just a crazy throwback to another time. ‘Course, that was back in the early 80s. And I could have been experiencing the journey enveloped in a contact high from my hippy dad… hmm…yeah maybe not for everyone.

    DC – always a great city to visit, something for everyone, love the transit system.

    Toronto – loved it. Vibrant, friendly, different.

    Charleston SC – love this place, rich history and good restaurants. We usually stay in Isle of Palms (beach just north) and only hit the city when it’s less than 100 degrees.

  17. aileen in jackson ms says:

    Oh no, no, I’m a Disney lover! Not such a fanatic that I don’t recognize the problems and priceyness, but I’ve always enjoyed it.

    Among the vacation places I’ve thoroughly enjoyed are Baltimore; London; Hot Springs AR even though they like to promote themselves as a Victorian town when the significant buildings are all clearly 20th century; Clarksdale MS during one of their many festivals; Santa Fe; Quebec City; Asturias Spain; Oklahoma; Eastern TN/Western NC; and the YMCA camp at Estes Park CO. And Belize, especially if you go to the Xunantunich Mayan ruins.

    Disappointing vacations for me are cruises, except for one particularly good one on the Disney Magic. I’ve been on a few because sometimes it’s the cheapest and most efficient way for my family of four to visit a country, even if it is only for a few hours, and some lines are better than others. The longer I have to be on the boat itself the less I enjoy it, but the stops have usually been worth it.

    • aileen in jackson ms says:

      I’m sorry, I mixed up Hot Springs with Eureka Springs, which is the Victorian town. Never been there, but it looks awesome.

  18. johnthebasket says:

    Two thoughts, then more later . . .

    The commenters today seem a remarkably privileged lot: pissant complaints about vacation spots most Americans would save for a decade to get to, and — sorry — amazingly naïve observations about complicated places, e.g., Hawaii. I don’t entirely disagree about Hawaii, but Honolulu AIN’T Hawaii; e.g. New Orleans was inauthentic: only if you don’t do a little research before you go.

    Well, if nothing else, that was a hell of a complex sentence structure. Where was I? Oh, yeah, privilege. Those places you hated, followed by a long list, sound to me like God letting you know you have entirely too much money.

    Thought number two:

    Enjoyment is largely a product of expectation. I hate the very idea of the Disnification of America, but when I made my trip to Disneyland (when I was 43) and was entirely prepared to hate it, I had a blast. (I was in Anaheim for a computing conference with a half dozen people who were fun to be with). I expected nothing and, at least that day, Disneyland was more than nothing rather than less.

    The nice thing about a little sprinkling of pessimism in life, is that one is frequently surprised by the beauty that hides behind the bombed-out buildings and under the dirty sidewalks.

    Fuck me, that was my short comment. Don’t wait up for my long one. I can tell you ahead of time, it won’t be worth it. And I’m sorry if I sounded more like an asshole than usual. I’m having a good day. No need for nursing help or antidepressants. Just keep moving. Nothing to see here.

    Love,

    John

    • Indeed, great privelage comes from great work.

    • Jazzbone Swirly says:

      Your comment about people’s expectations is spot-on. A person needs to have the right attitude to genuinely enjoy travel. Then you will find something interesting and enjoyable anywhere that you find yourself. As they say on the Camino: “El turisto exige, el peregrino agradece. (the tourist demands, the pilgrim appreciates),

      • Ron from PA says:

        Good points. When I travel, not much, but when I do, ( I drink Dos Esquis, sorry) Anyway, I go into it with the attitude of “Wherever I am, is where I’m suppossed to be” Kinda hard to go wrong where ever you are, if you have that mindset.

    • Basket Case, Your point about being an asshole is well taken, not to mention spot on. I’m sorry but today is also a good day for me, so I feel more like I can speak my mind. Who knows, I may regret this later, but “JTB” who appointed you Jeff’s grammar police chief? I never one time in all the years of lurking saw him ask you to criticize the people who he spends his precious downtime trying to please and entertain Did it ever occur to you that running through everyone’s comments with your red pencil, and your constant negative combative attitude you discourage a wider audience from participating in this blog? I , myself was afraid of being criticised for the slightest typo and didn’t comment for years. Your nasty disposition and off-putting attempts at humor drive people away. You sir, it seems, find yourself above the rest of us. Have a nice fucking day. I’m going back to my bottle of wine.

      • Wine is on me!

      • johnthebasket says:

        Heidi . . .

        I’m genuinely sorry that you feel that way. I’ve not criticized anybody’s grammar for years, nor, for that matter, their syntax, but if I made you feel reluctant to comment I offer my sincere apologies.

        I do reserve the right to comment on the comments in general. I try very hard not to make it personal, and I go way out of my way NOT to offer negative responses to new or occasional commenters.

        But I acknowledge your feelings and your position. Even though, when I read the comment I made above, I don’t find anything I regret or would withdraw, I will try to sweeten my prose. The last thing I wish to do is to discourage new participants. To the extent that I discouraged you, I again offer my regrets. Thanks for being honest and direct.

        John

        • Since syntax was never part of my original criticism of your narcissistic rants, I assume you’ve taken issue with mine. I could give a buttered rats ass.

          As for your second paragraph there, well, we all know, that’s just a string of bullshit. Anyone who has read your posts knows exactly what I am speaking about. I would be willing to bet there are many who might be just a little glad someone is finally laying it out. I’ve seen you shred people many times before and it’s always those who never dare question your actions for fear you will target them. When you are called out you backtrack and put on the “poor innocent me” act (puppy dog eyes I’m sure). You, sir, are a bully. An internet troll.

          If you see no criticism in your first comment tonight, I suggest you purchase a copy of the Oxford Dictionary and look the word up. ( ” sorry — amazingly naïve observations about complicated places” ) Was that supposed to be complimentary?
          One last thing. I haven’t, nor do I believe, anyone else has, mistaken your tongue in cheek apology, sweetened or unsweetened, sincere. It’s condescending.

          I’m once again going back to my wine. I just purchased a case of Cakebread Cellars Merlot. BoMama, Not Oprah, and anyone who wold like to raise a glass with me, Cheers!

          • johnthebasket says:

            Nope, what I did was NOT backtrack. I stood by my comments and issued a sincere apology for the discomfort you say I gave you.

            Of course, you are not obligated to accept it, and you didn’t.

            This has digressed from an actual question of whether a traveler’s attitude regarding his/her position in society affects the way he/she experiences travel, into what can only be called name calling.

            I won’t play.

            I’m sorry you’re upset, but I doubt I can do much to change that. You turned a trivial disagreement about privilege into an internet attack on me. I’m a big boy and can take it, but this kind of thing repels me, so I’m done commenting on this thread.

            I hope we can find points of agreement some day.

            John

          • Not Oprah says:

            Cheers!

          • Not joking when I say that jtb is one of the reasons I come to this site. Jeff’s great, of course, but I do enjoy most of the comment section as well, and John is one of the biggest reasons for that. I lurk more than comment, but I’ve been around a while and it’s hard to recall a time when he was nasty to anyone.

            Ymmv and all, but I thought maybe someone should add a different view to Heidi’s.

      • Not Oprah says:

        I usually just skip right on by. 😉

  19. The bad:
    Phlly – Generally, a pretty sketchy town. Some great history, but there’s this undercurrent of hostility. I was there in maybe the late nineties

    Bologna – We used Bologna as a ‘home base’ to see Italy. We took the train out of town each day and then arrived back relatively late. Tons of thieving gypsies and lots of hostility. I was there about five years ago.

    The good:

    I will second Oregon. We took a several week road trip down the coast with my parents, my brother and myself when I was about 12. Not a ton of tourists, lots of neat little inns and B&Bs and very mild weather. I have a vivid memory of drawing out a big field in the sand on a deserted beach with the waves crashing on the rocks in the background and playing football with my brother for what seemed like hours. Maybe the best family trip I’ve ever been on.

    Just north of LA – I don’t know where I was exactly, but I was travelling with a buddy and we hit a few wineries maybe a couple hours north of LA. Super-dry hills and really different terrain than my neck of the woods up in Canada. Afterwards, we headed to a foggy beach and had dinner. Just a gorgeous place to be.

    • From your description, I’d guess that the wineries were in Paso Robles, CA, and the dinner was at Moonstone Beach in Cambria. About 4 hours north of L.A., and a good reminder of what CA was like 100+ years ago.

  20. I can’t get this site at work anymore. Bsstards. Loved Carmel and Monterrey California. Biggest disappointment was seaside heights – snookie land. Spent countless summers in my youth. Went back a few years ago and damn near wept. What a shithole. I want to go to Ireland soon.

    • Not Oprah says:

      I had to cancel a trip to Monterey in April due to work commitments but was so looking forward to it, looks like paradise. I’ve vacationed a number of times in Southern CA and have been to SF but that’s it. I was so looking forward to do some playing in the ocean and was sad to have canceled. I hope to tie it I with a road trip down the Oregon Coast one day.

      • I haven’t been to SF since 1989 but boy did I just love that city.

        I’m a big Steinbeck fan so that also drew me in with the beauty of Monterey.

  21. Mookie325 says:

    Wow Jeff, the wife and I honeymooned at Niagara Falls (Canadian Side) for a couple days in 1997 and we had a great time. Of course the falls are rather awe-inspiring, but we also had a great time at the casino, found more than one cool canadian pub to lunch at and totally loved dinner at that restaurant that overlooks the falls with everything all lit up at night. Can’t really say that we’ve had any real stinkers as far as vacations go, maybe because I research the crap out of every one before I get the jaws of life to pry the money out of my incredibly tight ass. I also rely heavily on word-of-mouth and previous experiences of friends/relatives. I will agree with one thing though – met some friends in Disney once (it was sort of halfway between them and where we were staying) and now wish never to step foot in there again. $100 to get in the place, $100 for dinner for two and another $100 for drinks ($8/pint for draft beer) and munchies while walking around. I’ll stick to the TV station for my dose of childhood flashbacks.

  22. Not a fan of Disney World either. Been there twice, no doubt I’ll be dragged there again. Some of the rides are very good, but all the rest of the crap, at $100/day/person + all the other costs, fuck off. The people who think it’s a magical place and the happiness place on earth have a mental illness, it’s a corporate shake-down theme park.

    I’ll be in London later in the week. I shall have a pint or 3 and a proper snake and pygmy pie in pub.

  23. Not Oprah says:

    I don’t remember any really disappointing vacations spots, If something is lame, I will pack up and move on. In a new city, I will usually do the tourist checklist in a day on a jump on/off tour, then talk to local people and explore on my own or head to more nature type adventures.

    I haven’t been there in ages but do remember the Cdn town of Niagara falls as being incredibly tacky, although the falls are amazing. I’ve been to most of the North America/Mexico that I care to see for now except Oregon and Western Alaska and don’t mind California for short-term trips – including amusement parks.

    I guess I get a little disappointed to see how Westernized parts of Western Europe are, so try to avoid those specific areas when touring around there.

    Highlights for me to date have been Chiang Mai province in Northern Thailand, ethical elephant sanctuary – one of the best experiences of my life as part of a 3 week trip to Thailand. As well just under a 3 month vacation on the east coast of Australia. 2nd day in was snorkeling on the reef and saw some amazing stuff, clams the size of Volkswagen beetles, hard to top that with anything I saw after, but all was good. I don’t know that I would go back anytime soon, as I spent a lot of time there and there is so much more of the world to see. Eastern Europe and South Africa were on my list of big trips upcoming, but neither are a good idea anytime soon. South America or full blown out Alaska are probably next on the list.

    • Wow……
      Can I have your life?
      I went to Home Depot a few weeks ago.

      • Not Oprah says:

        I’ve spent my fair share of time there at times entertaining myself while save up for vacations. That being said, in between vacations, I frequently am working in armpit mining towns with no home depot to be found for 100’s of miles, The only thing that keeps me going is planning for my next get away.

        fyi – Thailand is so cheap once you get there. I would find last minute hotels for the equivalent of about $20/night, something that you would probably pay $140 bucks for the same quality here.

  24. Ron from PA says:

    Jupiter FL. Great little town. It’s like Miami “light”. All the great things about FL without the crowds of tourist. Great bars, excellent food truck scene and the beaches are awesome. No tourist trap crap, just uncluttered beaches. The have a Zoo like Animal sanctuary and the fishing is really good too.

    • aileen in jackson ms says:

      I wrote the local historic register nomination for The Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater when I worked in Florida many years ago. Great little town AND I got to meet the man himself. Good times! Is it still there?

      • Ron from PA says:

        I pretty sure it isn’t. Been over a year since I was there last. Although Burt put the sleepy little town on the map, he’s all but gone now. I even think the BR park is being sold off to developers

    • bikerchick says:

      Jupiter may get a little more populated for a while as that is where the next storyline of “American Horror Story” is filming. This year it’s called “Freakshow”. About one of the last surviving freakshow circus in America.

  25. I pretty much have a blast anywhere I go. The few exceptions have been a matter of badly chosen traveling companions rather than the destination.
    Florence and Venice were both amazing and I had a great time in Paris. I could spend a month there and not even scratch the surface of my to-do list.
    Savannah can be a bit disappointing to stay in-though it does have some truly beautiful B and Bs and good food-so just travel on through to Tybee Island. Very laid back and always fun.
    Disney World sucks so bad I can hear it from my cubical in Atlanta. What a colossal waste of time and money.

    • Not Oprah says:

      Hi cc, I just started to tell a long winded story of bad travelling companions (learned my lesson early) but just realized that this might be off topic and maybe a great idea for a new topic! Jeff if you are listening – just a suggestion.

  26. Favorite Places: Hamptons, New Orleans, Aspen/Breck/Vail, USVI, Curacao, Prague…

    A few odd Hate / Love comparisons:

    Hate LA / Love Malibu
    Hate Denver / Love the Rockies
    Hate Miami / Love the Keys

    Just booked a trip to go diving at the Four Seasons in Nevis… hopefully a new place to add to the list of good places.

    All time worst place in the world: Whorelando… I have to go there for business pretty regularly and my blood pressure instantly ratchets up when the wheels hit the runway. I hate the airport full of idiotic families with children running around and the highways are nothing more than death labyrinths of swearving minivans filled with suicidal fathers trying to drive around a godforsaken town via GPS with a bunch of screaming mouse-eared kids in tow.

  27. Jazzbone Swirly says:

    Without going out of my door,
    I can know all things on earth
    without looking out of my window,
    I can know the ways of heaven.

    The farther one travels
    the less one knows
    the less one really knows.

    Without going out of your door,
    You can know all things on earth
    without looking out of your window,
    you can know the ways of heaven.

    The farther one travels
    the less one knows
    the less one really knows.

    Arrive without travelling,
    See all without looking,
    Do all without doing.

    • johnthebasket says:

      Jazz . . .

      I miss George. It’s nice to see his work live on. Sweet comment.

      John

  28. What we have here are a bunch of First World problems….

  29. johnthebasket says:

    There are a number of places on the Washington coast that are beautiful, desolate and charming.

    One place I have visited numerous times is Point Grenville, which is about half way up the Pacific coast on the Quinault Indian Reservation. From the nearest access point, it’s about a two mile walk along the beach to reach the point. Most days of the summer, you’ll be the only person on the beach, and, at most, you’ll run into a few people.

    The beach approach is from the south, and as you near the point, numerous huge rocks appear in the surf, as if God dropped them while he was working on a larger project. They are strewn among the breakers, and the waves part when they meet them and rejoin on the shore side, creating spectacular eddies and swirls in the water.

    You are alone with ancient rocks, a beautiful, sandy beach, and five thousand miles of ocean. The Point itself is a 200 foot high rock that protrudes into the grey surf. There is a “pass” of 100 feet or so you can climb to reach the north side of the point which, otherwise, blocks your northern progress in all but the very lowest tides.

    We usually brought a camp stove and had lunch on the beach (it’s a long walk). The Quinault people won’t be in evidence unless you don’t pick up your candy wrappers and other detritus. You don’t want to meet them under those circumstances. They take this beach and Point very seriously.

    The nearest campground and motel facilities are a little primitive, and ten to fifteen miles to the south, but from there you have easy access to other Washington beaches that are lightly used.

    The weather can be iffy. I’ve been there on 70 degree sunny days, and on days where the Pacific mist clings like a blanket. It’s not a particularly rainy place, but you are just a dozen miles or so from the only temperate rain forest in the world, where it rains up to 200 inches a year.

    Perhaps not a primo destination for the Disney folks, or those who demand to be entertained by the locals, but an argument for the existence of an Omnipotent Force in the universe more powerful than Thomas Aquinas ever dreamed of.

    John

    • Jazzbone Swirly says:

      I have a very fond memory of a New Years about 7 years ago, singing Karaoke at the bar at the Kalaloch Lodge with a bunch of folks from the Quinault reservation. There’s a guy I met that night that had some of the best smoked salmon that I ever had the pleasure of eating. His father taught him the craft, and I’m sure that his granddad taought the father (etc). As I recall, my version of Devo’s “Whip It” went over really well with the folks at the bar that night.

      • johnthebasket says:

        In that case, I’ll withdraw my comment about being entertained by the locals. Sounds like you made some friends. Relationships between the Quinault Tribe and the non-Indians haven’t always been so Devo-like, but I guess you made progress. Thanks.

        About 20 years ago, the Quinault Tribe did a land swap, and ended up with some oceanside property in a resort town called Ocean Shores. They built a casino/hotel there (which I have stayed in several times) and, to my knowledge, have been willing to accept all my losses and the losses of the other non-native folks who gambled there. So I guess relations are improving.

        John

    • Thanks for the little trip to the coast, John. Google Earth has some nice pictures in addition to the overhead shots. Apparently one can drive right down onto the beach and get pretty close to the Point.

      Interestingly, none of the pictures featured a human hugging a tree. I guess misconceptions abound here in The OC vis-a-vis you Pac NW’ers.

      -Dude

      • johnthebasket says:

        Hi, Dude. . .

        Hey, if you can now drive on that beach, it’s a new one on me. The charm of the place was always that few people were willing to walk through soft sand as far as the Point, and the intrepid could be alone with his/her thoughts.

        As you probably know, Reservation land is not particularly subject to state regulation, so the Tribe could have changed its mind about the rules. If they did, that’s quite a departure from their prior treatment of this beach as one of peace and purity. I haven’t made the trip since my first back surgery eight years ago, so I’m a little out of touch with the local situation.

        If we huggers of flora have lost the Redskins too, we’re probably in for a bumpy decade or two. You efficient market bastards might have won another battle.

        Nonetheless, I send my love to your family. I’m damn glad to see you out here commenting again.

        John

        • Many thanks, John. We have a unique community here, and your expression of love is more meaningful than many would understand. More later, I would like to connect off-line, if only to arrange for your pissing on Nixon’s grave.

          -Dude

  30. Westersteve says:

    It seems like I’m in the minority with my affection for Walt Disney World. I have seen so many families melt down in the crowds and heat , it has become a sport with us. I compare it to the walmart game in the variety of afflictions that can be seen.
    Some tips for your visit: 1. Don’t go in the summer (duh, it’s florida), 2. Plan your visit as much as possible. 3. Read number 1 and 2 again.
    Hawaii was beautiful and very exciting it was also economically depressed and the locals live in horrible conditions.
    The Mackinaw area of Michigan was also a very nice vacation, the history made it twice as nice.
    Overall the key to them all is do your research into the history, then investigate the best places to go and best times to be there. If you go with children make sure you tailor the vacation to them and not to your timetable .

    • I’m right there with you! We LOVE Disney! Plus, watching the amateurs melt down and lose their minds is great fun!

      Agreed. Don’t go in the summer and have a PLAN!!! WDW is a massive place and for most, it really isn’t the kind of place you just decide to pop in on a whim. It requires planning and preparation.

      We usually go in late September. Still a bit warm and humid, but not too bad and the crowd level is nowhere near summer levels. Rarely a long line for anything.

  31. Since Disney keeps coming up I’ve decided to throw my two cents in.

    I never went as a kid mostly because my parents chose to vacation in other places. I never resented this fact and have great memories of those non-Disney vacations.

    My first ever trip to Disneyworld was with my wife on our honeymoon. We just popped in for a couple of days because she worked there in college and a couple of her friends were still there. They got us in to the parks and my wife gave me the tour. It was fine as amusement parks go, but I wasn’t caught up in the Disney magic.

    We returned several years later, this time with our 3 year old daughter. That’s when I finally understood Disney magic. My little girl had a blast and I can’t begin to describe how much fun it was to watch and share her fun. I will always treasure the memory of riding her first roller coaster with her and how she wanted to go again and again.

    I told my wife then that I didn’t regret missing Disney as a kid, but I felt bad that my folks never got to enjoy the park with their little kids.

    That vaction was more than worth every penny.

  32. Bad: I agree with your comments on Hollywood, and I’d like to expand it further and say “LA in General”? Is a real letdown.
    Good: I love Venice, especially in the cold foggy winter, when all the tourists have left the tired old lady alone to recover from the hell that is St Mark’s Square in August.

  33. i’ve had two bona-fide vacations since 1980.FML.

  34. Cindy from Oregon says:

    I agree that the Oregon Coast is worth a week’s vacation just to experience what should be seen. It’s incredible. I’m probably going to lose my US citizenship for saying this, but the two most disappointing vacations I’ve ever taken were to Glacier National Park in Montana, and Yosemite in CA. I understand Yosemite – gotta give all those Californians some outdoors or they’ll go crazier than they already are – but Glacier? Why? What’s the point? Snore. Yellowstone, on the other hand is the national treasure it was preserved to be, and should be seen.