Your new country has plenty of opportunities for enjoyment of your
leisure time, whether you like shopping, music, good restaurants, or other fun
activities. In fact, some people feel almost overwhelmed by the numbers of choices
that they have when they first move here! At the least, you will be able to
enjoy the wealth of diversions available for recreation as you explore and get
to know your new city.
Most communities will have active sports clubs and teams, and welcome
new members. Baseball, basketball, volleyball, football, and soccer may all be
represented in area city leagues. To join, you will want to contact your city's
recreational department for information. Often local YMCAs and YWCAs will also
have information on sports activities and classes.
Some high schools and colleges have recreational facilities and classes
that are open to the community during certain hours (such as tennis courts).
You may want to call your local community college or high school to find out
about these. And larger parks will usually have an area for baseball and
athletic recreation, and may have community recreation classes that include
dance, tennis, or other sports. They may also have hiking, biking and riding
trails, and other special areas for outdoor enjoyment.
Your interest in sports may be as a spectator, and again most
communities will give you an opportunity to enjoy your favorite sport. Many
cities have their own sports teams. You can attend games by purchasing tickets
ahead of time, or even buying "season tickets" (tickets for the whole
year) by calling the ticket office for your local team.
Local high schools and colleges will have sporting events during
weekends, and will welcome your support during their games.
Most cities will have a mall of some type. This is a group of stores
congregated together, usually under a roof in case of bad weather. Some malls
cover huge areas (such as the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of
the largest indoor malls in the world). Others are smaller, but most will
contain at least a few larger stores such as Sears or J.C. Penny's.
Malls will contain specialty shops, where you can buy items such as
gourmet candies, upscale dresses, men's or women's shoes, cooking wares,
crafts, candles, and more. But the prices at a mall may be more expensive for
certain items since the rent is higher. You may want to try "window
-shopping" at a mall to get ideas, then purchase that item such as a CD
that you like at a lower priced store. But some stores contain items that you
can't find anywhere else, and are worth the price.
Most malls also contain food courts where you can sit and rest your
feet, and enjoy a cup of coffee or fast food. Some malls also contain excellent
restaurants for the shopper who wants to enjoy a good meal with friends between
visiting stores and viewing the specialty items.
Once you become more familiar with the area you are located in, you may
want to start exploring your state or even go out of state during vacation
times. Some of the most beautiful spots in our country are part of our national
and state park system. You can call your local state park office to find out
information about which parks are closest to you, or look up information online
by typing in the name of the park you want to visit into a search engine such
Many parks include recreational areas such as lakes with beaches, picnic
areas, hiking trails, riding trails, and even scenic wonders (such as the Grand
Canyon or Yellowstone Park). They will also have woods and forests that allow
you to "get away" from the city awhile, and enjoy the beauty of being
Many people plan their vacations and trips to include overnight stops at
a state or national park. You can camp overnight at most parks for a small fee.
There will be bathroom facilities and water at most, and many choose to enjoy
"roughing it" in a tent while cooking over a fire (in special pits
provided) or to visit in the comfort of a recreational vehicle. It is important
to make reservations ahead of time during the summer months when there are the
most visitors and camping sites can fill up quickly. You can do this by calling
the local office for your state or national park system.
You may want to take a "day trip"
to explore the sights and sounds within a day's travel of your new home. If you
join organizations such as the American Automobile Association
(http://www.aaa.com) you will have access to online information to areas near
you. They also publish a hand guide, which rates local attractions (four stars
are well worth visiting).
state capital, historical sites, and local beaches are all sites that you will
want to explore. The guidebook also contains information on local restaurants
you enjoy good food, you will want to explore the varieties of restaurants
available in your area. Normally larger cities will have a large choice,
whether you are looking for an ethnic restaurant, or a quality gourmet
experience. Smaller communities may be more limited in their choices.
find out where the best dining experiences are, you will want to talk to
friends and family members. Sometimes at work people go out to lunch together,
or get together for a quick breakfast in the morning. This is an opportunity to
socialize, and to find out what restaurants nearby are good.
You can also consult city guides such as the ones located online at
http://www.citysearch.com/. Here you will find information about local
restaurants, museums, attractions and sights to see, and even "Best
of" categories that show the top-rated choices for an area.
Your local paper will also have an "Entertainment" section in
its Sunday edition. Be sure to check out the reviews and ratings of local
restaurants there. And some local "alternative" publications in large
cities pay writers to write reviews of local restaurants and nightspots.
Whether you play an instrument or enjoy listening to good music, there
is often a wealth of opportunities to indulge your hobby. By looking in the
yellow pages, you can find out where local music stores are. The owners will
usually know who gives lessons in your area, whether for instruments or
singing. Local newspapers will often run short classified ads for music
teachers, and local entertainment magazines will also have information.
Larger cities often have a variety of musically based cultural
experiences such as a local philharmonic orchestra and opera. You can find out
about these organizations by looking them up in the telephone book and getting
the number for their ticket office. They will also be reviewed at intervals in
the local paper in its entertainment section, and contact information will be
listed there as well. Online sites such as the city guide listed above will
also contain information such as music calendars and dates of events such as
Many cities have nightclubs that feature local musicians, such as jazz
bands, singers, country music bands, or rock bands. If you visit the more
popular ones, you will need to get in line early to get a good seat. Concerts
may be sponsored at your city's amphitheatre or civic center, and you can find
out information by calling the ticket office for each.
Most cities have active theaters that put on
plays on a regular basis. These dramatic events can be attended by contacting
the local ticket office for the city theater group, or by looking up
information in your local newspaper's Sunday entertainment section. Many drama
groups have online sites with information about the theater group and its
schedule. To find out about your city's local theater online, just type in the
name of your city, followed by the word "theater" or "theater
groups" into any good search engine and several links should show up.
Many local theater groups also offer some form of drama classes, and
smaller ones will even have "curtain calls" where local people can
try out for a role in a play. These tryouts are often posted at the theater
company's building, and are announced in local papers.
you enjoy seeing dance, whether the classical movement of ballet or modern
interpretative dance, you can find out when local productions are held by
contacting your local metro or civic center for a calendar of events. City
guides online will also have listings that can be checked, and local papers
will announce coming events in their entertainment section. Many
"alternative weeklies" in larger cities will also have information on
local dance groups and listings of performances.
You can find out where dance classes are held by checking the yellow
pages (look under "dance" or "dance instruction"). Some
local community centers have dance classes available, and will give you information
on times and locations if you call.
Art museums are a low cost way of being able to see some of the most
beautiful art treasures and paintings in the world. Most cities will have an
art museum of some sort and the largest metropolitan centers (such as New York
City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.) will have outstanding ones. If your city
only has a small art museum, you can still probably drive a few hours to a larger
city and enjoy hours browsing among great art.
Some cities will have specialty museums dedicated to certain topics,
such as aviation museums, natural history museums, science museums, or others.
These are well worth visiting for a fascinating glimpse of rare collections of
artifacts that illustrate history and/or science. And some museums are created
just for children to explore and learn in and can be a wonderful way to spend a
you want to learn more about art, there are often art classes open to adults
through local community colleges, adult education classes, or recreation
centers. These can range from art appreciation classes to painting and crafts
classes, and can be a wonderful way to meet new people and share a mutual
you live in a medium sized city or larger, you probably will have access to a
zoo. These are special areas where animals are kept to be viewed. Some of the
larger zoos have also tried to create natural habitat- like surroundings for
the animals, and a special type of zoo (known as a wild animal park) may be
available in some states with moderate climates.
Many cities will also have botanical gardens, which are beautiful areas
carefully landscaped with a variety of plants. Some include indoor gardens with
tropical plants, and others in mild climates have outdoor gardens that
emphasize landscaping, different climate zones, and even lush "tropical
gardens" that can be enjoyed by visitors. The San Diego zoo, one of the
largest zoos in the world, has combined its zoo with a large botanical garden
that mimics the natural habitat for many of its animals.
You may also want to visit some of the larger estates open to the
public. These are often beautifully landscaped grounds surrounding a historical
mansion (such as the Hearst estate in northern California) and are well worth
The United States is famous for some of its theme parks, including
Disney Land in Anaheim, California and its sister park, Disney World /Epcot
Center in Orlando, Florida. Many cities have smaller amusement parks that
include roller coaster and amusement rides. Some are water parks, and will have
water slides, swimming, and other attractions for visitors. Tickets can be
expensive, and the food is not cheap, so check whether you can bring in your
own picnic basket to save money while visiting. And be sure to bring a change
of clothes to water parks, since splashing children and dripping swim suits can
soak clothes quickly.
can find out where local theme parks or amusement parks are in your area by
checking the yellow pages, asking family and friends, or by looking in the
entertainment section of your local paper. You can also try calling your
chamber of commerce, or check with your local recreation department for
information on parks.
While traveling, you may want to stay at a hotel. There are a variety of
hotel types that range from budget to luxury. City guides, AAA (American
automobile association) guide books, and local yellow pages will contain
information about local hotels and motels.
most places, you can visit the local hotel or motel and make a reservation at
any one of their other branches around the country. It is a good idea to make
reservations ahead of time, since especially on weekends and during summer
months, the best hotels become busy and may be booked up for days or even weeks
There are a variety of ways to enjoy your leisure
time in your new country, and we've touched on some of the major forms of
entertainment. You will probably find even more things to do and enjoy as you
get to know your community and the fun activities that it contains.