Tourist trap

Tourist trap is an idiom that has been in use since the mid-1900s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom tourist trap, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A tourist trap is a roadside attraction that caters to travelers. Generally, a tourist trap is a place where one may partake of an activity that is not considered edifying and then may buy cheap trinkets to take home as souvenirs. A tourist trap exists solely for entertainment that is usually lowbrow. For instance an art museum is not considered a tourist trap, but a museum dedicated to the world’s largest ball of string or a go-kart track are considered tourist traps. Most people who stop at tourist traps understand what they are getting into and enjoy the silliness of the attraction. The plural form is tourist traps. Primarily an American phenomenon in the early years, the idiom tourist trap came into use in the 1940s, presumably when the average family began to take vacations on the open road.

Examples

A red Jeep Grand Cherokee abandoned on Myrtle Beach became somewhat of a tourist trap on Thursday as Hurricane Dorian bore down on the Carolinas. (The Washington Examiner)

As a fortress, it was useless, but as an iconic tourist trap destination it’s been priceless. (The Herald Banner)

This weekend’s issue of The New York Times Magazine features the discarded Adickes remnants of a former tourist trap called President’s Park. (Houstonia Magazine)

A tourist trap can be a city (Prague), an attraction (Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco), a purpose-built resort (Cancun) or a cheap tuk-tuk ride that involves a detour to a gem shop. (The South China Morning Post)