Today, clothing in the United States is more casual. Jeans and T-shirts are always acceptable as everyday wear, as are shorts in good weather. Trainers are common; flip-flops and sandals are also popular in warm weather. In winter, in the northern states, boots are often worn.
In the workplace, business casual dress (trousers, simple collared shirt without a tie and non-sporty shoes) is now the norm in many companies. More traditional industries (e.g. finance, law and insurance) still require a suit and tie, while others (e.g. computer software) are even more casual and allow jeans and even shorts.
If you are going to an upscale restaurant or entertainment venue, nice trousers, a collared shirt and smart shoes are appropriate almost everywhere. Men’s ties are rarely necessary, but jackets are sometimes required in very upscale restaurants in big cities (these restaurants almost always have jackets for rent).
At the beach or pool, men prefer loose-fitting swimming costumes or board shorts; women wear bikinis or one-piece swimming costumes. Nude bathing is generally unacceptable and usually illegal, except at some private beaches or resorts; topless swimming by women is also generally unacceptable by most people and is also illegal in some states.
In general, Americans accept religious clothing such as yarmulkes, hijabs and burkas without comment.
The percentage of religious adherents in the United States is higher than in many Western countries, and visitors wishing to attend a church service will have no difficulty finding a place of worship, even in small towns. A typical medium-sized city in the US is likely to have one or more Catholic congregations, several Protestant churches (the most common being Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopalian/Anglican) and other places of worship depending on the demographics of the area (such as synagogues or mosques).
Most Christian churches in the United States practice the “open table”, which means that they invite you to participate in worship and some or all of the rituals, even if you are not a member of their faith. Some churches, and some whole denominations, welcome LGBT people.
Some of them also host free or paid lunches after church and you are always welcome to have lunch and meet the locals.
News and media
Print media are no longer as ubiquitous as they were before the internet, but they are not dead yet. Almost every medium-sized city (and many small towns) has a daily newspaper that covers local and often national news. In larger metropolitan areas, there are usually several newspapers, each with its own editorial line and slant, but all generally providing quality coverage. (There are a few exceptions, called “tabloids” after their most common print format; they can be recognised by their exaggerated and sensational headlines).
The national newspaper is the New York Times ($2.50 per day, $6 on Sundays); although ostensibly a local newspaper for New York City, it is read daily throughout most of the country for its coverage of national and international issues. For financial news, the Wall Street Journal (also based in New York, $2) is also highly regarded and widely read. For a more casual but still informative format, USA Today ($2) is published five days a week; it is the largest-circulation print newspaper in the country. Many hotels offer free copies of the local paper or USA Today; ask at reception. Other widely read newspapers include the Los Angeles Times (known for its West Coast coverage) and the Washington Post (whose political coverage of the capital is exemplary). News magazines such as Time are published weekly and offer more in-depth coverage.
Large metropolitan areas also have a full range of television stations; small towns may have only two or three local stations, especially if they are within the broadcast radius of a major city. The major broadcast networks are ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS (taxpayer-funded public broadcasting). You will rarely travel to places where you need an antenna, as almost the entire country is wired. This opens up a whole range of viewing options, from CNN for news to The Weather Channel to ESPN for sports, not to mention the myriad of entertainment channels. The number of channels varies by cable provider and location, so most hotels provide a list of channels. Most cable systems also have a programme guide available through the cable box.
The radio market is much more fragmented than the television market; in large cities there are dozens of stations on both the AM and FM bands. The AM band is mostly used for talk formats because of its lower fidelity; music stations are almost exclusively on the FM band. The most popular music formats are Country Music, Top 40 (current hits) and Adult Contemporary Music (a mix of soft rock, easy listening and the softer side of modern pop). Many rental cars are equipped with SiriusXM satellite radio, which offers hundreds of music, comedy, news and sports channels without the need to find new stations as you drive around the country.