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Leisure in the US

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The United States is a big country with all kinds of leisure activities and attractions. From the east to the west and in between, you will find plenty of natural parks, hiking trails, theme parks, national monuments, museums, festivals, and lots of art and culture activities. Most states and cities offer multiple choices when it comes to other entertainment such as cinemas and shopping.

National parks

The United States is home to many national parks which are open to the public for day trips and sometimes overnight visits for camping and hiking. In some areas, you can spend the night in a lodge or hut, or camp in a tent or recreational vehicle. These places are highly protected by the authorities and strict regulations have been set up to better preserve their natural beauty. For instance, you are subject to a fine if you litter or pollute the site in any way. Regulations and fees are all clearly posted at park entrances. In parks where camping and overnight stays are permitted, reservations are often necessary.

Some of the most popular National Parks in the U.S. are the Olympic National Park in Washington state, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Yosemite National Park in California, the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Other honourable mentions include: Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Zion National Park in Utah, Grand Teton in Wyoming, Acadia in Maine, Arches National Park in Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Joshua Tree National Park in California, Glaciers National Park in Montana, Everglades in Florida, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado.

Amusement parks

You can choose between various amusement and theme parks in many cities across the United States. California is home to Disneyland, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Florida is known for the massive Disney World and Epcot Center complex, as well as Universal Studios and SeaWorld locations. Six Flags is synonymous with adventurous roller coasters, though they have many family-friendly attractions as well. They have parks in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

Monuments and museums

If you want to discover the historical and cultural heritage of the United States, there are many places to visit. National monuments and museums are located in many states, with some more popular than others. All the big cities have impressive museums as well as many art museums. Other renowned national museums include the Natural History Museum in New York City, the Civil War Museum in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences and the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego. The U.S. is home to iconic sites like the Statue of Liberty in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the National Mall in Washington D.C., the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and Nevada’s Hoover Dam.

Shopping

The U.S. is a very popular destination for shopping opportunities, given the general quality of products and regular holiday deals and seasonal sales. While in most cities you can find department stores and shopping malls, the bigger malls and outlet centers are often located in suburban areas.

 Good to know:  The U.S. does not levy a value-added tax on goods. However, most individual states charge a sales tax on all products, usually between 4-10%. Currently, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not charge sales tax.  

Dining Out

Dining out in the United States is very common, and expats will find many options from fast food to some of the finest restaurants in the world. Along the coasts, delicious regional seafood is readily available. In the northeast especially, states like Maine and Massachusetts are famous for shellfish, and dishes like the lobster sandwich and clam chowder. Those looking for fine dining will want to visit New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco, which are all home to Michelin-starred restaurants. Vegetarians, vegans, and those interested in restaurants featuring locally and ethically sourced products will want to keep Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, and New York City in mind.

Read further on American Cuisine here.

 Useful links:

U.S. tourism webpage
U.S. National Parks webpage
List of national monuments in the U.S.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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