Clichéd USA

Every country has its list of things or places tourists must see and do.  In Asia its eating unidentifiable foods and visiting temples.  In Africa it’s going on Safari to see the Big 5 game animals.  In England it’s visiting Buckingham Palace and attempting to make the guards laugh.  These things have grown to become the clichéd check list of tourists.  Clichéd because they are so popular or because of their representation of normality to the culture and country being visited.

Arriving in America, I had one such list of places I had to visit.  These were not the usual tourist haunts as described in all the online guides or suggested by my American hosts.  These were places that I wasn’t familiar with physically at home, but knew of them through TV and movies.  Fast food, takeaways, shops and restaurants.  The staples of any community anywhere in the world.  Especially America, where the super chain/department store originated and the names associated with these types of stores are famous the world over.

And so my clichéd USA travel list was fulfilled in two short weeks as I shopped and ate my way through American popular culture…

1. WAL-MART

If there is one place you visit whilst in America, make sure it’s Wal-Mart.  The store that caters to everything you could need at super cheap prices.  Go to see the guns and ammunition on sale in the aisle over from the pet food or audio & TV’s.  Stay to watch people being people.

2. In-n-Out Burgers

In-n-out, in-n-out, that’s what a hamburgers all about.  With a catchy little jingle like that it’s no wonder drunk and not so drunk people keep going back to this joint for burgers.  After a few drinks at a bar or over a game of pool, when late night hunger sets in or to curb the effects of  alcohol, it’s the first place you think of because the song gets stuck in your head so easily.

3. J C Penney

Shoes, clothes, make-up, accessories, kitchen ware, perfumes, home wares, it’s all right here at J C Penney.  Although it’s not the only department store chain on the list.  In ascending order of price and exclusivity of brands J C Penney is at the bottom, stepping up a notch is Macy’s, followed by Bloomingdale’s and at the top of the hierarchy is Nordstrom.  These four places contribute greatly to the reason why so many tourists arrive in America with one suit case and leave with two.  The greatest thing about clothes shopping in the States, is that all the clothes on end of season sale in America, are the clothes needed as we come into season in Australia.  So if you are on the opposite hemisphere to the USA there are even more bargains to be had.

Digging into a bucket of crabs at Joe's Crab Shack

4. Joe’s Crab Shack

Where else do they give you a giant bib to wear while eating and it’s socially acceptable to wear a t-shirt with the slogan “Got Crabs?”… Joe’s Crab Shack that’s where.  This American seafood restaurant chain serves up buckets full of crabs for diners to dig apart with special utensils.  Be prepared to make a mess of yourself while eating and to enjoy every bit of it.

Giant cakes at Costco

5. Costco

The supermarket for giants… or just the giant-sized supermarket.  Costco takes grocery shopping to a whole new level, where everything is bought in bulk or in an extra-large size.  Hungry and out of money?  Head to Costco in the middle of the day to try out the samples on offer throughout the store.  Samples equate to normal sized portions in this store of gigantic servings.

6. Hooters

This politically incorrect restaurant is a definite must see.  From the bubbly, fluro orange hot pant clad waitresses to the famous chicken wings it’s a dining experience that must be tried out once while in America. The chicken wings, in your choice of hotness, along with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce are a meal in themselves.  And another excuse to get messy devouring your way through a plate of these.  We went to the Hooters restaurant in Las Vegas, which claimed to have waitresses with the largest Hooters of any of the Hooters franchises.  This claim provided us with plenty to do while waiting for our chicken wings to arrive, as we scanned all the waitresses to assess the validity of the claim.  Regardless of whether your female or male Hooters is the ultimate must see on the clichéd USA tour list.

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