City Lights Series: Best Culture Cities in the U.S.


Some cities are like people — full of personality and unique qualities that fully captivate you.

Immerse yourself in the unique cultures of these iconic American cities to understand why each one is famous for its distinct sense of place. Check out these recommendations from local concierge staff in these culture-filled U.S. cities to learn about the must-experience attractions their own hometowns.


Seattle is home to some of the most impressive culture and entertainment in the Pacific Northwest. Once known as the home of grunge rock, the music scene in Washington’s largest city is still going strong with a multitude of large and small venues where fans can catch live acts. Music spills out into the streets too, with events like the Capitol Hill Block Party, a three-day music festival that happens each July.

Best known for its fresh produce, Pike Place Market also plays host to art and goods from cultures across the globe. And the open-air market makes for a breathtaking stroll near the beautiful Puget Sound.

Seattle is also known for its rich architectural history, which encompasses a variety of styles — including some that predate the city’s first settlers. A more contemporary example is the Seattle Public Library, which is an impressive display of postmodern architecture.

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Austin may get credit for being a creative hub, but this big state’s biggest city is big on culture and entertainment, too.

First up, no trip to Houston is complete without visiting NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, full of interactive exhibits and stories of NASA’s history. Next, take a trip to Hermann Park, home of the Houston Zoo, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Memorial Park, one of the largest urban parks in the nation. Shannon Lowenstein, Catering and Conventions Coordinator at InterContinental Houston – Medical Center, suggests capping off the day by taking in even more natural wonders at the Houston Arboretum or witnessing a good old-fashioned rodeo at the Houston Livestock Show.

After a day of museums and exploration, head over to the Houston Theater District to unwind or just get the party started. The bustling area is comprised of 17 sprawling blocks in the heart of downtown Houston that play host to an exciting array of restaurants, bars, movie theaters, concerts, and so much more.

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Los Angeles

Best known as the home of Hollywood, Los Angeles offers visitors a surprisingly wide variety of cultural attractions beyond those related to the silver screen. L.A. boasts more museums and theaters than any other U.S. city. Visitors would be remiss to not hit up Museum Row for a taste of the arts, or fill up on history and incredible architecture at Greystone Mansion, a Tudor Revival surrounded by formal English gardens that comes highly recommended by locals. It’s a true hidden gem in the heart of Beverly Hills.

Of course, you can also become fully immersed in a behind-the-scenes look at the film and TV industries with the V.I.P. Experience at Universal Studios. Or, focus on different types of stars by taking in the celestial skies above at Griffith Park Observatory.

Andrew Pangle, Chef Concierge at the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City, shares this local secret with guests who want a break from the city lights: Larchmont Village offers a quaint escape from the L.A. scene with exquisite restaurants, laid-back coffee shops, and a plethora of unique stores to browse.

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Washington, D.C.

There’s no more authentic way to take a cultural exploration of American history than a visit to Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital is home to entertaining and educational museums, more than a dozen of which can be found clustered along the National Mall in the center of the city. There’s the National Gallery of Art, the National Air & Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Of the many more, Robert Watson, Chef Concierge at InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C. loves recommending the Spy Museum to guests.

D.C. is also rich with national landmarks, memorials, and government buildings, including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the National World War II Memorial. Plenty of performing arts centers and music venues also dot the city, inviting visitors to treat themselves to live entertainment after a day of exploring the city’s historic treasures.

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New York City

New York City is known as the cultural capital of the world for good reason — you can visit a dozen times and still not crack the surface of all there is to see and do. The sheer size and ethnic diversity of the Big Apple create a multitude of opportunities to experience arts, culture, and towering landmarks, making it the ultimate cultural playground.

Lovers of classical music flock to the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera House. A variety of other performances are featured at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts — the largest arts institution in the world — as well as on Broadway and in a multitude of smaller venues throughout the five boroughs.

NYC is also home to nearly 400 museums overflowing with history, art, and culture. Some of the most popular museums and landmarks include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the 9/11 Memorial, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the Moving Image. For a unique view of the city, Ryan Malone, Front Office Manager at the InterContinental Times Square, sends guests to High Line Park, a 1.45-mile greenway erected on the site of a former New York railroad spur. One thing is certain: You’re going to need way more than just a New York minute to experience all this city has to offer.

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