Whether you were planning to take an epic helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, rummage through the vintage stores of Brooklyn, or don your Elvis outfit for a guided tour of Graceland, nothing is going to replicate your dream USAcation.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed that your hard-earned holiday can be rescheduled. Until then, there are a bunch of ways you can experience an American lifestyle at home.
Try these US traditions
1. Bleed red, white and blue
Americans are well known for their complete and unwavering devotion to the US flag. Even iron-jawed sportsmen have been known to blub at the first notes of the national anthem. This heartwarming patriotism is especially unifying in times of national hardship when ordinary Americans put aside their differences for the greater good.
If you’re going to authentically replicate the American lifestyle, you’ll need to swell with national pride at every opportunity. Hang the Star-Spangled Banner from your window. Bake cupcakes with red, white, and blue icing. Shoot waste paper into the trash, basketball style, like you’re the late, great Kobe Bryant. Shout “God bless America!” at regular intervals – you’ll pass for a local in no time.
2. Tip. Always tip.
What you’ve got to understand is, it doesn’t matter if the service was good. That’s not the point. The point of tipping is to avoid the social awkwardness of not tipping, obviously (and to show appreciation for the underpaid heroes of the hospitality industry.)
A friend of mine once forgot to tip. The waitress at Hogs & Heifers proceeded to grab a megaphone, turn the music down, and ask the diners what they thought of this insulting faux pas. Heads shook, and a chorus of boos rang out. Said friend has tipped generously ever since.
Tipping at home is a great way to use those dollars you already exchanged. The next time your partner/child/butler brings you a coffee (over-milking, as they always do) slip some dollar bills under the mug and keep the tipping culture alive.
3. Supersize everything
The average American portion size has increased by around 138% since the 1970s. Of course, there are pros and cons to this. But, food is good. Nay, food is great.
Treat yourself during this difficult time. Pour your cereal for an extra couple of seconds. Have another handful of french fries. The best thing about working from home? Unlimited refills – the American way!
What you mustn’t do is panic-buy food in your quest for supersize. Shop responsibly, guys. In the words of the cast of High School Musical: We’re all in this together.
4. Learn to whoop like a champion
Americans love to voice their satisfaction, with gusto. Whether it’s at a sporting event, after a broadway show, or at the end of a really great day, US citizens (after centuries of practice) have perfected the art of whooping, wooing, hooting, and hollering. Legend has it that the Founding Fathers even joined together in a group whoop after signing the constitution.
Okay, we made that last bit up. But, whooping is an important American tradition. The master of this guttural cry is WWE wrestling legend Ric Flair, and there’s no better person to learn from than the Nature Boy himself.
Watch movies set in iconic US cities
If you’re one of the millions of people currently confined to their home, then chances are you’re leaning on Hollywood classics for support.
Set in famous American locations, these movies will transport you to the cities you should be visiting and stop you from going all Jack-from-The-Shining on your partner/housemate/bathroom door. Snacks at the ready!
Need some more home-cinema inspiration? Check out these travel-inspired documentaries.
1. Movies set in New York City
If your trip to the Big Apple was postponed, there are plenty of silver-screen substitutes you can turn to. Go on the run through the murky backstreets of NYC with The Warriors, watch culture come to life at the American Museum of Natural History in Night at the Museum, or settle in with heartwarming child-neglect comedy Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Top movies set in New York: The Warriors, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Annie Hall, Taxi Driver, Night at The Museum, Saturday Night Fever, Ghostbusters, Midnight Cowboy, West Side Story, Annie Hall.
2. Movies set in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is synonymous with film, but it’s not just because it’s home to the studio sets of Hollywood. Some legendary motion pictures have been shot around the city, too. If we had to pick a winner, it would be La La Land (try taking this one, Moonlight!) but there are loads of fab flicks that show off the best of the City of Stars.
Top movies set in Los Angeles: La La Land, The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, Boyz n the Hood, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Drive, L.A. Confidential, Crash, Clueless.
3. Movies set in Chicago
In the words of Chicago’s most famous truant, Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Wise words that feel all too real right now.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with its iconic Von Steuben Day Parade scene, is the undisputed champion of movies set in Chicago –unless anyone dares dispute it in the comments. There are some notable runners-up. Try a little-known picture called The Blues Brothers, or home-invasion thriller Home Alone. There’s also Candyman, if you’re feeling brave.
Top movies set in Chicago: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Home Alone, The Blues Brothers, Chi-Raq, Hoop Dreams, The Untouchables, The Fugitive, Risky Business, The Breakfast Club, Candyman.
Can’t get enough of Chi-Town? Experience Chicago indoors with our partners Choose Chicago. They’ve put together the complete list of Chicago-themed things to do during quarantine including more movies, virtual museum tours, and more.
4. Movies set in Philadelphia
Alright, it’s mainly Rocky and those steps. You’ll get your opportunity to run up them triumphantly one day. Until then, there are seven (yes, seven) sequels of decidedly mixed quality to get through, as well as other oft-forgotten box-office hits set in Philadelphia, like The Sixth Sense and Trading Places.
Top movies set in Philadelphia: Rocky, Rocky Balboa, Rocky III, The Sixth Sense, Trading Places, Philadelphia, Creed, Law Abiding Citizen, Invincible.
5. Movies set in Las Vegas
Ah, Las Vegas. Sin City. The City of Lights. A fool’s gold paradise where pensioners go to fritter away their retirement money.
The alluring glitz of Las Vegas spawned masterpieces like Casino, Rain Man, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Cruise the strip and shoot craps in Caesars Palace from the comfort of your living room with these movies set in Las Vegas. It’s cheaper than the real thing.
Top movies set in Las Vegas: The Hangover, Casino, Rain Man, Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s 11 (1960), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas, Diamonds Are Forever, Con Air, Leaving Las Vegas.
Create your own American diner experience with these recipes
America is an immigration nation. Many of its favorite dishes have origins in the old countries of past generations. But, from the famous New York hot dog to the Philadelphia cheesesteak, Americans claim the rights to plenty of world-famous recipes. Make these at home, and turn your kitchen in an authentic American diner.
1. The classic hot dog
Hot dogs, get ya hot dogs! Many a hungry human has salivated over the fluffy bread roll, lined with a flavorful sausage, blanketed in onions, and swimming in a sea of mustard and ketchup. Obviously, you already knew what a hot dog was. But, admit it, you want one now.
2. Corn dogs
Next on the list of edible dogs is the corn dog. They haven’t traveled as far as their cornless cousins, but you’ll struggle to find an American who hasn’t eaten one. These delightfully dippable dogs are sausages, coated in cornmeal batter and then deep-fried. Everything is better deep-fried, according to the US Constitution*. Traditionally they were found at state fairs but over the years their popularity has boomed, and they’re easily made at home.
* Sorry, we’ll stop making edits to the constitution.
Hamburgers are a way of life. Billions of them are eaten every year around the world. One of the largest ever – weighing in at 2,014 pounds – was crafted by a then world-record-setting team at Black Bear Casino Resort, Minnesota, in 2012. It looks… well, let’s just say it’s really big and leave it at that.
You can have them grilled, steamed, or oven-baked. Just make sure you’ve got juicy lettuce, ripe tomatoes, pickles, and relish for the full experience. Don’t forget to add miniature American flags!
4. Buffalo wings
When Teressa Bellissimo had an unwanted crate of chicken wings delivered to her bar in upstate New York back in 1964, she had no idea she would go on to invent one of America’s favorite flavors.
The commonly accepted story states that she was forced to make use of the wings, which at the time were seen as scraps, and often used for soups. Bellissimo decided to deep fry them, cover them in her own special sauce and serve with sides of celery and blue cheese. The rest, as they say, is history.
5. Philly cheesesteak
Apart from the completely unedited US Constitution being signed in Philadelphia, the city is definitely most famous for its cheesesteak. If you can believe it, someone actually got bored of hot dogs.
Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor in South Philadelphia, decided to go rogue and fill a bread roll with succulent grilled beef. A local taxi driver tried this new concoction, spread the word, and soon Olivieri was inundated with requests for this delicious new sandwich. A decade or so later, cheese was added, and a classic was born.
6. California salad
Your arteries are probably choking on cholesterol by this point after all this American lifestyle cooking. That’s why we’ve added a salad to balance things out. Contrary to the views of Bartholomew JoJo Simpson, you can win friends with salad, even if you’re unlikely to find one in a classic American diner.
Around 70% of America’s lettuce is grown in California’s Salinas Valley, aka the Salad Bowl of the World. The bohemian folk of the Golden State love a good plate of the green stuff, so much so that they regularly dish out as much as $15 for a salad. You might not be able to get your hands on authentic, Californian farm-to-table avocados, but you can still conjure up a pretty mean salad in isolation.
Create a playlist of classic American songs
You don’t have to be born in the USA to appreciate American music. America gave us Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, and Afroman. This is the nation that gifted the world rock ‘n’ roll, blues, hip-hop, and the dulcet moans of emo.
Life right now might not be the party in the USA your long-planned vacation had promised to be. But, spend some time crafting your own playlist of classic American songs, and you’ll be hand-on-heart bellowing the Star-Spangled Banner before you can say yee-haw. Here are some anthems to get you started.
1. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
2. American Pie – Don McLean
3. Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
4. Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips
5. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
6. Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
7. New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
8. Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.
9. Miami – Will Smith
10. Homecoming – Kanye West
Munch on some typically American snacks
Nobody needs to read a wall of text about snacks. The whole point is they’re quick and easy to consume.
Without further ado, here are some of the best American snacks, sweet and savory, which you can scoff, gruffle, and feast on in your quest for a homemade American lifestyle.
- Doritos, mighty triangular chips
- Cheetos, finger-coating odes to cheese
- Oreos, delicately crisp chocolate-vanilla sandwiches
- Twinkies, golden, cream-filled sponges of the Gods
- Twix, layered wands of chocolate-caramel crunch
- Poptarts, toasted pockets of sugary, sprinkled sustenance
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, miniature baskets of salty-sweet salvation