New recipes

10 Tourist Traps to Skip this Summer Slideshow

10 Tourist Traps to Skip this Summer Slideshow

South of the Border — Hamer, South Carolina

We love Mexican kitsch — give us maracas and a bowl of guacamole and we will have a fiesta any day of the week. But if you’re planning a road trip down the Southeast, we’d suggest you skip South of the Border. It may seem like a cool, culinary adventure while you’re driving on the Interstate 95, but remember you’re in the land of barbecue and mint juleps, not burritos and margaritas. While their six on site restaurants may offer variety for the whole family, forgo the amusement park crowd at Pedroland Park, and plan a pit stop to sample some southern hospitality instead.

The Stinking Rose — Beverly Hills, California

Beverly Hills evokes images of the young, thin, and glamorous lounging poolside in tiny bikinis and carrying itsy-bitsy dogs in oversized purses. It is also the unexpected (and unfortunate) location of The Stinking Rose. Located on La Cienega Boulevard, this restaurant celebrates garlic with such fervor that it is the main focus of every last dish on the menu, from Forty Clove Garlic Chicken to garlic ice cream. While feasting in Dracula’s grotto may be a great story to tell your friends, you’ll only come out sounding — and smelling — like a tourist.

Serendipity 3 — New York, New York

Serendipity 3 is a staple for travelers looking to check off the infamous New York City dining spots on their wish list. And who can blame them? Their frozen hot chocolate is legendary. Unfortunately, so are the wait times to get a table at the original Midtown location. Instead of spending precious time clamoring for a table in the restaurant’s tiny vestibule, forget the colossal sized desserts and the Bermuda shorts-clad day-trippers who love them to find serendipity — and serenity — in another eatery instead.

Dick's Last Resort — Las Vegas, Nevada

Looking for restaurants with personality in Vegas is like looking for sand on the beach, which is why it should be very easy to skip Dick’s Last Resort. A chain restaurant with locations across the country, their schtick is to insult the diners every way they know how. In fact, Dick’s conducts in-house seminars for the wait staff on how to be ruder to customers. And if that theme hasn’t already turned you off completely, the sloppy food is likely to. Let other out-of-towners suffer under paper hats and bibs while you venture elsewhere on the Strip.

Ray's Pizza — New York, New York

The myth of Ray’s Pizza eludes even the most knowledgeable New York foodie. What started as a neighborhood pizzeria turned into a way for hopeful pizza makers to cash in an unexplainable phenomenon. Today, more than a dozen pizzerias in Manhattan go by the name of Ray’s Pizza, all with similar menus, signs, and logos — but with very different owners and ovens. And while the first and original location still exists at 27 Prince Street in Little Italy, we suggest avoiding all the hoopla. Maybe drive the point home by checking out Not Ray’s Pizzeria (in Fort Greene) instead.

Pink's Hot Dogs — Los Angeles, California

Family owned since 1939, Pink’s Hot Dogs is a Los Angeles institution that has kept the same location and original recipe since its inception. What started as a hot dog stand on a pushcart near the corner of Melrose and La Brea turned into a small restaurant that has been churning out chili dogs for 71 years. Despite its legendary Hollywood status, the epic lines are usually filled with more tourists than locals. Sure, they may cost only $3.30, but considering the battle to find parking and the lackluster taste of the dogs — $3.30 doesn’t seem like that great of a deal after all.

Tao — Las Vegas, Nevada

Visitors to Vegas generally want to go all out and when you hear about a restaurant, nightclub, and lounge under one roof, it seems like the perfect trifecta. Tao’s pan-Asian food (and pan-Asian décor) has appealed to visitors since its doors opened, and we’re not sure why. (Unless it’s for the 16-foot Buddha.) The space is overwhelming, the music is too loud, and the food is not worth the long wait you’ll undoubtedly have if you’re not on “the list.” Skip it and head for glitz, glamour, and Asian cuisine elsewhere.

Aura — Miami Beach, Florida

Lincoln Road is the ultimate destination for Miami beachcombers looking for some great people watching on their vacation. But there’s nothing worse than strolling down South Beach’s equivalent of Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue than to stop at a tourist-laden restaurant with less than stellar service (and food). Skip the overrated Aura and seek out Mediterranean fare somewhere where the main attraction is the provisions, not the pedestrians.

Bull & Finch Pub — Boston, Massachusetts

Sometimes you really do want to go where everybody knows your name. Unfortunately, the Bull & Finch Pub — better known as Cheers — is not the same locals-only bar immortalized on TV. While it may seem great to meet other Sam and Diane fans when you make your stay in Beantown, head to Boston’s South End to catch a glimpse of where the real locals drink.

Geno's Steaks — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Any visitor to Philadelphia knows that there’s one stop more important than a picture with the Liberty Bell — finding a cheese steak. While the eponymous sandwich is a must when you’re visiting the City of Brotherly Love, something isn’t right about waiting in line with a slew of other vacationers for your wiz-and-works when you could be chowing down at one of Philly locals’ favorite spots. Instead of slumming it with other tourists, say no thanks to Geno’s Steaks and follow the Phillies fans to one of Philadelphia’s many delicious cheese steak spots like Cosmi’s Deli or Campo’s.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.


Top 10 Tourist Trap Tips

Chalk it up to guilty pleasure, but even the savviest, most sophisticated travelers (not to be confused with mere tourists) can find themselves with a soft spot for an out-and-out tourist trap. We’re certainly not immune, and even though our editors concede that each attraction on this list of over-commercialized hot spots is indeed swarming with sightseers, overrun with overpriced shops and services, and infested with bogus sideshow attractions, they are still – somehow – entirely unmissable. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together 10 top tourist trap tips to help you navigate the thick crowds, whittling down the diversions to just what’s worthwhile, with tips and well-vetted picks for less-trodden haunts where you might even encounter an actual local! After all, at their very core, these tourist traps are popular for good reason (far removed from their ploy to part you with your dollars) – and from time to time, it can even be refreshing to put the jaded jet-setter aside, jumping in with the click-crazy crowds to embrace the wide-eyed tourist within. Check out our Tourist Traps Slideshow for a glance of these crowded, commercialized attractions that we just can't resist!

Bateaux-Mouches, Paris

The Bateaux-Mouches (www.bateaux-mouches.fr) cruises along the Seine River have long been a staple of the Paris tourist trap track (operated in the same vein as several like-minded, knockoff cruise lines, like Bateaux Parisien), but the snooze-worthy prerecorded commentary can put jet-lagged travelers to sleep (yawn). Don’t be roped in by their lunch and dinner cruises either – the mediocre food isn’t worth the high price. Instead, splurge on the quality cuisine of the Yachts de Paris (www.yachtsdeparis.fr), which offers a five-course tasting menu nightly in an intimate setting. Alternatively, mingle with the city’s young and fabulous aboard a summer evening dance cruise and marvel in the Paris sights lit up in all their glory as you dance the night away. Last summer, popular radio station RFM hosted its weekly Night Fever party (http://nightfever.rfm.fr) on the River’s King (www.riversking.fr) boat from June to September (a 2010 schedule has yet to be announced). Many river boats – called péniches – are also available for private cruising, including the above-mentioned Yachts de Paris and River’s King (check out www.abcsalles.com for more rental suggestions and bookings).

There are also several vessels that serve as stationary year-round restaurants and dance clubs. In the shadow of Notre-Dame, Six/Huit (www.six-huit.com) offers a French take on tapas, mixed with live music or DJs. Batofar (www.batofar.org), moored at Quai François-Mauriac in the 13th Arrondissement, serves French fare by day then converts to a funky electro club at night. For a truly unique Seine experience, spend a few nights on a luxury houseboat, which come decked out with all the amenities of Paris’s finest hotels and afford some of the best views in the city. The two-bedroom Paris Yacht(www.paris-yacht.com) – located across from Notre-Dame and the Ile St.-Louis – rents nightly for 300 euros ($410), while the three-suite Viking Paris (www.parishouseboat.com) in the Bois de Bologne goes for 500 euros ($680) per night. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Paris Travel Guide.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Nowhere else is it socially acceptable, legal even, to walk around town with an alcoholic drink in hand, expose your boobs and/or nether parts for beads (or, let’s face it, just for the thrill of it), and bounce from one dive bar to another, day or night – perhaps taking a ride on a mechanical bull in one, or downing a Hurricane (a deceivingly lethal local cocktail that masquerades as fruit punch) in another – with reckless abandon. This "girls (and guys) gone wild" stage is debauchery at its finest (or ugliest depending on how you like to party) and all of its uninhibited boozy excess is showcased on the 14-block drag that is Bourbon Street. People come from the world over to partake in the folly and whether or not you choose to, Bourbon Street is a tourist trap spectacle that you simply must see when in New Orleans, even if it means just strolling down the strip to people-watch (daytime or nighttime, Fat Tuesday or any Tuesday, the party-hearty vibe is certain). After staggering up and down the row (more than a few times) ourselves, we’ve earmarked a few places where you can keep your top on and still enjoy a good dose of naughty Nola fun.

Beware of frat-boy-packed bars like Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com) and Cats Meow (http://catskaraoke.com). Instead, head to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar (www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com), the oldest watering hole in the French Quarter, serving up pints, some super-sugary Hurricanes, and an inimitable old-school atmosphere (it’s lit only by candles at night and there’s usually a piano player performing). Or, try the Famous Door or Preservation Hall (just off Bourbon on St. Peter’s St. www.preservationhall.com) each offer regular live music (mostly of the jazz variety). You don’t have to eat greasy pub grub in this nabe either. The Bourbon House Seafood and Oyster Bar (www.bourbonhouse.com), from the same owners as the acclaimed Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com), serves fab oysters in an ideal setting for people-watching, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows facing Bourbon Street. Galatoire’s (www.galatoires.com) is another prime dining choice in the party zone, with an old-world ambience and classic Creole menu. The Royal Sonesta Hotel (www.sonesta.com/neworleans_royal) occupies an entire block on Bourbon yet manages to provide a refined escape from the mayhem the hotel is also home to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which showcases nightly jazz performances and burlesque shows late night on weekends. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s New Orleans Travel Guide.

El Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, a somewhat rough-and-tumble working-class nabe set off to the southeast of the capital, sees tourists make a beeline for the heartbeat of its brightly colored barrio – El Caminito (Little Lane). This short pedestrianized strip, flanked by vividly painted buildings, doubles as an open-air art museum, and as a virtual tourist trap carnival for camera-clicking tourists. Overpriced and overcrowded shops and eateries serve as the backdrop to pushy peddlers and overzealous street performers (blink and you’ll be whirled away for photo-worthy poses with tango dancers who will quickly put their hands out). Commercialized it is, but missable it's not. Historic authenticity defines the quarter, whose corrugated-iron tenement buildings were first painted in polychromatic colors by the 19th-century Genoese immigrants who settled this old port area (eager to brighten up their dismal dwellings, they used whatever leftover paint they could scrounge from the docked boats) La Boca also lays claims to being the cradle of the seductive tango (in fact, El Caminito takes its name from a popular 1920s tango song).

Follow the photogenic street, with its iron-railed balconies and picturesque window frames, east to La Vuelta de Rocha (on the elbow of the Riachuelo River) to take in the arts scene at Fundación Proa (www.proa.org), an excellent modern gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of Latin American art, set in a converted 19th-century Italianate mansion expect a schedule of hip musical and cultural events (don’t miss the second-floor terrace for views of the quarter). Skip the strip’s myriad souvenir shops and seek out local artists’ wares at the alfresco street fair fronting the museum and bordering the café-lined river – it brims with handicrafts, jewelry, and artwork likewise, the nearby Centro Cultural de Los Artistas (www.buenosaires.gov.ar) allows you to peruse local artwork while having a peek inside one of the former tenements. Grab a bite at Patagonia Sur (www.restaurantepatagoniasur.com) – though pricey, the gourmet eatery by celebrity restaurateur Francis Mallman features fine Argentinean dishes (with a predictable focus on meat), and remains one of B.A.’s best-kept secrets. Tip: Get to El Caminito early in the day, before the bus-tour crowds convene, when the natural light is most flattering to the bright hues after nightfall, the area is considered unsafe due to rampant petty crime. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Buenos Aires Travel Guide.

Gondola Rides, Venice

It may be cliché, but it’s still a travel sin to visit Venice and not paddle quietly along its winding canals in an iconic long black boat. Yes, gondola rides are expensive . . . but even though official rates start at 80 euro ($110) for 40 minutes (rising to 100 euro, or $140, after dusk), you don’t always have to pay the full tourist trap price – or opt in for the generic treatment. As rates and ride length are almost always open to negotiation, it pays to haggle with a few different gondelieri before settling on a final fare. To avoid the hassle, you can opt to book online in advance – Viator (www.viator.com) offers 35-minute evening tours for $60 a person and includes romantic perks like an accordion player and serenader – but be prepared to share your ride with up to five strangers, while sitting on rickety stools (as all gondolas can hold up to six passengers, you’d probably be better off just finding some friendly passersby willing to share on the spot and splitting the 80 euro tariff). Or, for a true taste of the 1,000-year-old profession, grab an oar and give gondolier-ing a go on your own! Row Venice (www.rowvenice.com) offers intensive 2-hour sessions in a traditional sandolo – a type of long wooden rowboat that’s a cross between a gondola and kayak.

If you want to impress your friends back home sans the workout (and have some money to blow), the Hotel Cipriani (www.hotelcipriani.com) offers a splurge-worthy Casanova massage aboard a modified gondola. You’ll be lathered in a sumptuous concoction made with SPF, coffee oil, and peach milk during this 40-minute treatment in a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon (a private area off the Grand Canal). But for ultimate bragging rights, shack up at the Locanda Art Deco hotel (www.locandaartdeco.com) and book the exclusive service of one of Venice’s two female gondolieri, Alexandra Hai (the hour-long ride costs 90 euro/$120 and includes a bottle of champagne). Just looking to see the sights? Vaporettos (www.actv.it), local public water buses, are much less costly and provide a great way to hop between Venice's six sestiere (neighborhoods). The cheapest, most basic bet is a traghetto crossing on the Grand Canal these no-frills public gondolas will whisk as many as 20 people at a time (usually standing) across Venice’s main thoroughfare for just 50 euro cents ($.70). For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Venice Travel Guide.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Many come to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (www.grandbazaaristanbul.org) with dreams of precious curios, buttery leather, and intricate hand-woven carpets (all on the cheap, of course), yet leave bewildered, exhausted, and even empty-handed. Indeed, the Grand Bazaar is a battleground, a maze, a teeming stockpile of treasures protected by iron-willed shopkeepers – and if not approached in the right mindset and navigated properly, it can be a disappointing endeavor. Regardless of how you feel about this shopping mecca (or shopping in general), the massive covered market (which spans some 76 acres and contains over 4,000 vendors and over 50 stall-lined alleyways) is a must-see for any visitor in Istanbul – aside from stellar shopping, sights include the Old Bedesten at the Bazaar's center its huge iron doors and domed ceilings date back to the mid-1400s.

If you plan on strolling through and browsing casually – think again. One, crowds prevent lazy wandering (between 250,000 and 400,000 locals and tourists alike visit daily), and, two, if you show the slightest interest in an item you will likely be approached by the shopkeeper with a sales pitch and a starting price for negotiation, and most likely some follow-up pressure to purchase. But, there are ways to handle the surly sellers and avoid being swindled: Do your research beforehand to get a sense of what items should cost (note, if you quote a price that the seller agrees to, you will be expected to purchase the item – that’s considered a deal) and stray off the main tourist trap drag, Kalpakçilar Caddesi, which stretches from the entrance at Nuruosmaniye Gate to the Beyazit Gate, for better-priced shops and less-stressful sales. Expect to get a little lost – there are 21 entrances/exits to the market but the two most obvious are Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit – and go early (we’re talking 9am) and not on Saturday (note the market is closed on Sunday) for fewer crowds and possibly better prices (the first sale of the day, called the siftah, is considered sacred by the Turks). Street signs are confusing so pick up a map at Havuzlu (www.havuzlurestaurant.com), the Ottoman restaurant just outside the Beyazit entrance. Seek out shops like EthniCon (rugs made of recycled kilim www.ethnicon.com) Sait Koç (amazing jewelry www.saitkocjewellery.com) and Abdulla (towels, linens, and soaps www.abdulla.com) – and for a smart splurge that will offer you your best bet on avoiding tourist trap prices, consider hiring a personal shopper (www.istanbulpersonalshopper.com).

For food, forego the busy Bazaar vendors and instead head to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta (www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com), just steps outside of the marketplace, with a small menu that focuses on izgara köfte (delightfully spiced and grilled meatballs), or try Boukoleon Fish Restaurant (www.boukoleon.com) for excellent seafood and mezes. For more trip-planning information, check out ShermansTravel.com’s Istanbul Travel Guide.

Hollywood Boulevard, LA

In Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard takes center stage for throngs of visitors searching for a true taste of Tinseltown history. Despite a seedy past riddled with botched facelifts and half-hearted reinventions, the famed thoroughfare’s latest rebirth seems decidedly more permanent.