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Old 05-24-2015, 04:05 PM
 
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I live in Seattle and have traveled extensively throughout the west Coast (CA, OR, ID, AZ, NM, MT), and a fair amount to several areas. I just returned from vacation in Monterrey and Big Sur, CA. It was one of many nice vacations I've had, but more and more I'm coming to the realization of how socioculturally homogenized the U.S. is.

It seems all areas, at least on the west coast, that there's a similar assortment of restaurants, stores, and other amenities. It also seems people do most of the same things (go out to eat and drink, watch films, use social media, etc.) no matter where they live.

The U.S. was moving in this direction even before the web become so widespread, but it's emergence and dominance has enhanced this homogenization: Not only do most of us shop at the same stores (both physical and online) and have the same food and cultural options, but internet sites are all the same regardless of where you access them.

A guess I'm writing this because leisure/recreational travel now seems largely pointless. If the local weather is nice during our off time, is there any point to incur the time and expense of traveling a significant distance to do the same things we do locally? During my off time I like to generally 'get away' from civilization to relax in quiet, undeveloped areas, and it's easy just 'wing it', and do it locally (within a couple hundred miles or so). So what do you think? Are things really so homogenized or am I off base?
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Old 05-24-2015, 04:07 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
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Try New Orleans, Detroit, Boston, Key West if you want some places completely different from the West Coast.
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Old 05-24-2015, 04:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nightlysparrow View Post
Try New Orleans, Detroit, Boston, Key West if you want some places completely different from the West Coast.
I think that's probably true of the SE and to a lesser extent NE, but even then it seems mainly to be with older demographics (over 40).
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Old 05-24-2015, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
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I think this is totally true of the West Coast. Travelling from the PNW to LA where there was once a large difference in the culture of the cities there, I can no longer tell the difference. Everything looks and feels the same whereas just a couple of decades ago you knew where you were by the location you were in. These days, only the weather is different depending upon the time of year you are travelling.

But I also feel that a lot of the sameness is spreading throughout the US. Individualism is giving way to sameness and people don't realize it. They believe what is new to them is all original in their area when it's being done everywhere else. I think Social Media and the speedy communication systems we have now is the cause of this phenomenon.
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Old 05-24-2015, 06:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Minervah View Post
I think this is totally true of the West Coast. Travelling from the PNW to LA where there was once a large difference in the culture of the cities there, I can no longer tell the difference. Everything looks and feels the same whereas just a couple of decades ago you knew where you were by the location you were in. These days, only the weather is different depending upon the time of year you are travelling.

But I also feel that a lot of the sameness is spreading throughout the US. Individualism is giving way to sameness and people don't realize it. They believe what is new to them is all original in their area when it's being done everywhere else. I think Social Media and the speedy communication systems we have now is the cause of this phenomenon.
My experience over the last decade has been primarily the west coast and it's consistent with yours. There are still differences in the NE and SE, but I've read even these areas are becoming more homogenized.

I've also noticed it with people as well. In addition to homogenization, there's also so much urban migration that has greatly reduced regional differences. I agree with your assessment of the west coast: When I was in Monterrey the people didn't seem much different from Seattle or other west coast areas.

The only exception seems to be rural areas like the San Juan Islands. Last fall I spent a week on Orcas Island, and the residents definitely had a different social vibe and personality to what I'm used to. This isn't just location, but also because most of the permanent residents are older retirees.
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Old 05-24-2015, 07:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PanapolicRiddle View Post
My experience over the last decade has been primarily the west coast and it's consistent with yours. There are still differences in the NE and SE, but I've read even these areas are becoming more homogenized.

I've also noticed it with people as well. In addition to homogenization, there's also so much urban migration that has greatly reduced regional differences. I agree with your assessment of the west coast: When I was in Monterrey the people didn't seem much different from Seattle or other west coast areas.

The only exception seems to be rural areas like the San Juan Islands. Last fall I spent a week on Orcas Island, and the residents definitely had a different social vibe and personality to what I'm used to. This isn't just location, but also because most of the permanent residents are older retirees.
The problem is you can not gauge the local culture of a place by going to Pikes Place Market, Walking the Freedom trail, or seeing the statue of liberty, because probably upwards of 60% of those people are not locals, local culture is very much alive where locals are, Queens, Hyde Park, Cherry Hill, you will see the differences between cities.
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by btownboss4 View Post
The problem is you can not gauge the local culture of a place by going to Pikes Place Market, Walking the Freedom trail, or seeing the statue of liberty, because probably upwards of 60% of those people are not locals, local culture is very much alive where locals are, Queens, Hyde Park, Cherry Hill, you will see the differences between cities.
When I travel I make a conscious effort to avoid tourist areas. When I went to Monterrey I spent maybe two hours on Cannery Row, and spent most of my time in or around the downtown surrounding neighborhoods. This is the case wherever I go - I avoid the tourist areas.

Again, probably because the east coast has been settled for so long, local differences do persist. But the west coast seems largely homogenized.
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:45 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
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I probably should point out that I lived in the PNW for 36 years so my observations of that region are not as a tourist but as a long time resident. The time I spent in California was lengthy since I have friends and family there. My observations are based on how the locals have come to live in these areas which to me are all pretty much the same. I would agree that just traveling and going to tourist attractions might not be the most accurate way to solely judge a region for visitors not completely familiar with it.

On the other hand it's those very tourists who often like to seek out the unusual features of a place so when they continue to find the same things in city x as in y and z along with a, b, c you know things are getting to be pretty much the same all over. That's why their opinion will count for something when judging places by what they have to offer in the way of tourist spots.

If I were seeking out unique places to visit, I would try to find those that weren't being talked about on the Internet or Face Book or the like. I think it's a waste of money to travel very far to places to where all the other lemmings are flocking thinking they are going to have a unique experience. Other than just going for a change of scenery like a forested area to a desert, a city to the country, etc you can probably find what you are looking for in your own area.
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Old 05-25-2015, 04:45 AM
 
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I agree (the only exception being the eastern seaboard).

Most people throughout the nation live a life of suburban subdivisions, office parks and generic but nice strip malls/outlet malls with the same chain stores.

The COASTAL east coast remains the only region with strong variations. There, you can expect a completely different lifestyle in NYC vs Charleston vs DC vs Atlantic City vs Boston vs Orlando vs Baltimore vs Hamptons vs Lancaster PA, etc, etc.
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:56 AM
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At the end of the day, all these areas in the US visually look the same for the most part...which the OP pointed out. I think there is some cultural difference in different parts of the US, but it's not a very big one.
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