Welcome to the United States! With 48 contiguous states, 2 states located in other parts of the continent, and 1 tropical territory, there are many diverse landscapes to explore in the USA. During your time in the States, you should take advantage of the fast-paced American lifestyle and numerous activities that you can’t do anywhere else in the world (weekend in Vegas, anyone?).
The J-1 visa is a cultural exchange visa meant to enhance your professional experience while also enjoying American culture. With over 3,000 participants on CICD’s programs each year, we often get the question: “What are cultural activities?” Engaging in cultural activities doesn’t just mean learning American history in museums or touring national monuments. Truly immersing and engaging with the American way of life can include so many different and fun things!
CICD is here to help ensure that you have the best experience possible. Our team has compiled a list of the top 30 cultural activities you shouldn’t miss while in the United States.
30 Popular Cultural Activities in the United States:
- Road trip through all 50 states
- Enjoy happy hour at a local restaurant
- New York Fashion Week
- Amusement Parks
- Attend an NFL football game
- Shop the Mall of America in Minnesota
- Disneyland or Disney World
- Eat buffalo wings in Buffalo
- Visit the Grand Canyon
- Paddle boarding
- Catch a live jazz show in New Orleans
- Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite National Park, Rattlesnake Ledge, or Yellowstone National Park
- Drive through Redwood National State Park
- Visit the White House in Washington D.C.
- Go to the movies and eat popcorn
- Renting a bike and touring the local area
- Whale watching
- Walk the freedom trail in Boston
- Watch a Broadway show in New York City
- Attend a baseball game
- Drive over the 7 bridges from Miami to Key West
- Rent an RV or tent at the NASCAR races in Talladega
- Eat exciting, fried foods, at the Iowa State Fair
- Catch the sunset at Cannon Beach
- Grab coffee with a coworker
- Surf Lessons in San Diego
- Take a selfie in front of Mount Rushmore
- Watch the northern lights in Alaska
- Visit an active volcano in Hawaii
- Take a guided tour of a museum
The best way to immerse yourself in a new culture is to practice the everyday habits of locals. This is a great quote from one of our interns who enjoyed the everyday hustle and bustle of New York, where she trained:
“One big hobby for me is discovering many small local restaurants in the city plus start-up stores/brands to see what’s new and what is coming. But since it has been summer in New York it has been too hot to be walking around in the weekends. Therefore I have spent a lot of time in Upstate New York. I love the nature and swimming around waterfalls. Not only have I discovered upstate New York but also Southampton. In Southampton I fell in love with the beaches, they are beautiful and clean and remind me a little bit of home.”
Tips for Planning your Cultural Activities
The first step is to think about where you want to go explore in the USA. Ask your coworkers to recommend nearby cities that you can visit or if there are any attractions in your area. Many cities have events or festivals that occur throughout the year, especially during the holidays. Check if there are any holidays or events coming up that you can celebrate.
If you want to visit a different area of the USA and don’t want to travel alone, CICD recommends that you join our Facebook group to connect with our current participants across the country. This group has created some lifetime friendships! Once you have a group to travel with, start researching car rentals and plane tickets. Ask your supervisor or colleagues to recommend the cheapest airlines or travel sites. There may even be opportunities to take a tour bus or travel by train.
If you’re traveling on a budget, consider going to places with large airports like Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, California, or Seattle, Washington. There are often cheap flight tickets to these cities from all over the United States.
Traveling with others isn’t your only option! Try a solo vacation, rent a beach bungalow and embrace the excitement of exploring a new city on your own. Be sure to do your research beforehand.
Remember, if you plan to travel internationally during your J-1 program you will need travel authorization from CICD. Please email your coordinator 2-3 weeks before your travel plans! It’s important to bring your DS-2019 form and other documents with you while you travel. Please keep these in a safe location.
Share your story!
CICD always has opportunities to win prizes with our photo contests. The most creative photos submitted during your J-1 program are chosen as the winners! Ask your coordinator if there are any contests going on right now!
The best part of an exchange program is sharing your experiences! Join CICD’s expanding network on Instagram or Twitter, using the handles @CICDinterntrainee @CICDworkandtravel depending on which program you are enrolled in. Use the hashtags #CICDParticipants #CICDGo #CICDSwt and keep us part of your experience in the U.S.
We are committed to providing opportunities to expand your global network. Share with CICD, and better reach those in your industry! Want to learn more? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.