The biggest tourist traps to avoid in major Canadian cities

May 5 2023, 6:00 pm

Every city has tourist traps — hotspots that target visitors with overpriced experiences or souvenirs.

Whether it’s overrated tourist attractions or cash-grabbing establishments, many of these places may not be the best way to experience the true vibe of a destination.

With summer travel season on the horizon, we’ve compiled a list of tourist traps we think you should pass on when visiting these major Canadian cities.

Vancouver – Gastown Steam Clock


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Walk through cobblestoned Gastown on a summer day and you’re sure to see a throng of tourists waiting for this clock to blow steam at the top of the hour. We’re not sure why it’s so fascinating, but it consistently draws crowds.

Although the clock looks antique, it was actually designed by Ray Saunders and built in 1977, according to the City of Vancouver’s website. It incorporates a steam engine and electric motors, and also plays the Westminster Quarters every 15 minutes. Still, we are less than impressed — we’d much rather spend our time in Gastown grabbing lunch on a patio.

– Megan Devlin, Daily Hive Vancouver

Read about more Vancouver tourist traps here.

Edmonton – West Edmonton Mall


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You won’t run out of things to do in West Edmonton Mall, the behemoth of all malls. This shopping mall is North America’s largest, attracting tens of millions of tourists every year. From the incredible World Waterpark, where you can plunge into aquatic adventures, to Galaxyland, an out-of-this-world indoor theme park, this place has it all. And let’s not forget the Fantasyland Hotel which adds a bit of magic to your stay.

However, keep your wallet tight because this mall isn’t cheap! You better be ready to part ways with your hard-earned cash, as nothing here comes for free. This mall is one cash-grabbing extravaganza; even the restaurants will make you cough up your last dime for some Bubba Gump Shrimp.

However, regardless of the fact that it is a tourist trap, the memories made here are priceless. Where else can you find a shooting range, a casino, a pirate ship, and a grocery store all under one roof? It’s a world of excess, where everything is bigger, brighter, and shinier.

– Allison Stephen, Daily Hive Edmonton

Calgary – Cross Iron Mills


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If you are coming to Calgary to take advantage of no sales tax, Cross Iron Mills may look appealing. It is a gigantic mall with plenty of options. But it is conveniently located near absolutely nothing.

If you have any other plans the day you head out there you’ll need to leave yourself an extra hour for travel. Unless you are looking for something extremely specific there are many more malls in Calgary that are close to other fun options in the city.

– Peter Klein, Daily Hive Calgary

Toronto – King West

Tourists hoping to get lit in Toronto usually look no further than King West. To be fair, the bustling strip probably has the heaviest concentration of bars and nightclubs in the city — but it comes at a cost.

Making up a section of the Entertainment District, restaurants are pricy, and clubs are pricier. Expect to drop more than a workday’s pay on a couple of drinks, and good luck getting a reservation.

On top of that, you’ll most likely be dealing with a younger crowd of university students drinking their worries away.

The area is definitely convenient if you want to go club-hopping, but you better have the budget for it.

– Isabelle Docto, Daily Hive Canada

Montreal – Place Jacques-Cartier

Place Jacques-Cartier is one of the most historic squares in Old Montreal. It’s beautiful, sure, but plenty of vendors post up there, offering BeaverTails for almost $20. Restaurants close to the square also overcharge for an underwhelming meal.

Take pictures here, just don’t buy anything.

– Daily Hive Montreal Editor

Read about more Montreal tourist traps you should avoid here.

Isabelle DoctoIsabelle Docto

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