Vacationing in the Cultural Capitals of the United States

Planning a vacation doesn’t always mean going away to a tropical escape, theme park, or snowy cabin on a mountain top. Some of the most rewarding types of vacations involve cultural exploration. There are a surprising number of cultural powerhouses scattered throughout the United States, including West Hollywood, Austin, and Brooklyn.

West Hollywood, California

West Hollywood describes itself as The Creative City. It is a welcoming hub of art and culture that is celebrated throughout the city. WeHo Arts is the powerhouse behind the concentrated effort to keep art foremost in the city’s consciousness. They claim the city potentially has more art per square mile than that found in any other city in the United States. The organization promotes film, music, theater, visual arts, and literary arts. Special attention is given to children’s art, the LGBTQ community, and the Russian-speaking community.

For anyone planning to visit West Hollywood, it is certainly worth checking out the local events and exhibits that the WeHo community has available. Two of the most iconic museums in the area include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

There are several large annual events that take place in West Hollywood. The Russian Cultural Festival is a family themed community event designed to spotlight the unique contributions of Russian culture, including food, art, music, and businesses within the local community. Pride Month, also known as One City One Pride is hosted each June. The event celebrates pride in the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community.

Austin, Texas

Austin is often called The Live Music Capital of the World and the propensity for high-quality live music in the city is well established. However, it has far more than just music to offer the world. It has numerous cultural and historic centers and museums for visitors and residents to explore. Some of the not to be missed museums include the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, The Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the LBJ Presidential Library.

Annual festivals are a big part of Austin’s cultural appeal. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is a two-week event held in October of each year. It is a celebration of music, art, and food hosted at Zilker Park. The Annual Austin PRIDE Week is held toward the end of August and includes a fashion show, parade, and festival. Perhaps the most famous event in the city is the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival held in the Austin Convention Center in March of each year. It is devoted to helping creatives achieve their goals and is an explosion of interactive technology, music, and film.

Brooklyn, New York

Most New York City boroughs are difficult to label, and this is even more true for the cultural melting pot of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Cultural District is in the heart of the neighborhoods thriving arts community. It is anchored by the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Brooklyn Public Library and filled with art spaces, music venues, and theaters.

Some of the largest annual cultural celebrations in Brooklyn include the NYCxDesign, BAM Next Wave Festival, and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. NYCxDesign is a celebration of global design hosted each year in May. The event is comprised of talks, exhibitions, open studios, and trade shows. The BAM Next Wave Festival provides a spectacular selection of theater, dance, avant-garde music, and opera performances. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrates the millions of Puerto Ricans living in the city and throughout the United States.

Exploring the cultural frontiers of the United States is easily a series of journeys that could span decades. One of the best things about this type of vacation is the rapidity with which our culture changes. Going to one of these locations now would be remarkably different than a visit of only a decade ago due to the way the cultural landscape changes over time. For those who truly love immersing themselves in the frontiers of current cultural trends and norms, nothing is better than regular immersion into one of the cities that fosters exploration and growth in all areas.