Where Locals Fear to Tread

"Tourist traps" that are definitely worth a visit

Durgin-Park, Boston

Boston is tourist trap central. There'' the Union Oyster House, where John Kerry lunched on Election Day. (He was the first local to step inside in 50 years.) And the Swan Boats in the Public Garden, such an embarrassment for anyone over 6 that fraternities haze pledges by making them take a ride. But Durgin-Park is a trap with credibility. The restaurant has been operating in Faneuil Hall since 1855--well before the area became a stop on the tourist circuit. Tell Rocco, the greeter, you want to sit at a communal table, where you might have a chat with strangers. Then order all the old-fashioned New England favorites (chowder, Yankee pot roast, prime rib), which gruff servers deliver across creaky floors to tables covered in red-and-white-checkered fabric. 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 617/227-2038.

Café du Monde, New Orleans

There's always a line, the menu lists one item of food, and street parking is nonexistent--just three reasons locals are weary of the 143-year-old Café du Monde. Packed with tiny tables and coursing with waiters, the French Quarter institution is no respite from the pandemonium outside. In fact, the majority of the café is outside: With no walls to speak of, there are dozens of front-row seats for viewing the performers, freaks, and horse-drawn carriages of Jackson Square while you sip a coffee with chicory and nibble on a beignet. Oh, those beignets! The deep-fried dough squares, three to an order, come under a snowdrift of powdered sugar. If you so much as sigh dramatically, you'll coat your companions with the stuff. And don't wear black. The slightest tremor while lifting a beignet will leave your clothes gray and sticky. 800 Decatur St., 504/525-4544, always open, except from 6 p.m. on December 24 to 6 a.m. on December 26.

Circle Line, New York City

Nothing gives New Yorkers the hives like a boat tour, for the sole reason that there's no escape. But New Yorkers' neuroses aren't your problem, so check out the Circle Line. As the name suggests, the three-hour cruise circumnavigates Manhattan. It's a relatively hassle-free way to get a look at the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, New Jersey's Palisades, the Little Red Lighthouse at the foot of the George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the heartbreaking post-9/11 gap in the skyline. The guides are known for their corny jokes--bring an iPod if you want to drown them out--but they're also full of great trivia (20 bridges and tunnels "keep Manhattan from floating away"). On weekends, get there at least a half hour early to score one of the best seats--on the port (left) side of the upper deck, near the stern. Pier 83, W. 42nd St., 212/563-3200, circleline42.com, year-round, except some winter weekdays, adults $26, kids $13.

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