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Travels with Larry Olmsted: 10 Touristy Things You Should Do Anyway

A Venetian gondola ride? Of course.
A Venetian gondola ride? Of course.

By Larry Olmsted

The word “tourist” has taken on a negative connotation, especially when used to deride an activity or place as a “tourist-trap,” or suggest that a restaurant or sight is only for tourists.

It is true that there are many commercialized or stereotypical sights and activities in certain destinations that are contrived, artificial, or low quality and can easily be skipped. New York is one of the greatest culinary cities on earth, with great food in every price range, so there is hardly a reason to go to the massive Times Square chain restaurants when visiting – there are Olives Gardens, Red Lobsters and Bubba Gumps in lots of other places. Do you really need to pay to take a photo outside Rome’s Coliseum with someone dressed in cheesy gladiator garb? If it’s a cultural experience and understanding of native culture you are looking for, you can do far better than a luau at a Hawaiian mega-hotel.

But there are some downright touristy activities that have stood the test of time and are not only worth doing, they are absolute musts for first time travelers. Are gondolas in Venice purely for visitors? Absolutely, locals do not use them. Are they a bit hokey? Sure. But nonetheless the experience of riding in a gondola on a Venetian canal is so magical and unique to this spot that it simply cannot be skipped. Here are 10 touristy things you should do …


DSC_0067   Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.


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