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Here, Not There: 14 U.S. Destinations That Feel Like Europe

Not quite ready to travel abroad yet? There are a handful of places in the U.S. that will make you feel like you took an expensive vacation to Europe. Every one of these towns is full of history, charm, and—most important—delicious treats. Keep reading to find out where these cool places are. 

Leavenworth, Washington (Instead of Bavaria, Germany)

Leavenworth, WashingtonBavaria, Germany
Leavenworth, Washington (left) and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany (right)

With the Cascade Mountains set in the background, you could swear you’re in an alpine village when you visit Leavenworth. You can try cheeses from the local cheesemonger, drink imported German beer, attend some wine tastings, or explore the outdoors. German festivals throughout the year attract tourists looking for fun during Oktoberfest, Maifest, Accordion Celebration, and Christkindlmarkt. 

Midway, Utah (Instead of Switzerland)

Guardsman Pass, UtahEmmental, Berner Mittelland, Schweiz
Guardsman Pass near Midway, Utah (left) and Emmental, Bernese Mittelland, Switzerland (right)

A large number of Swiss immigrants helped settle a fort in the mountains of Utah in the late 1800s. Much of the architecture resembles the Germanic heritage of the people, and subsequent builders have also copied the look, including several upscale resorts. The towering Mount Timpanogos adds to the Switzerland feel. There are several natural hot springs you can visit, and nearby Olympic venues offer a variety of adventurous activities. In the winter, ice castles are constructed here.

Pella, Iowa (Instead of Holland)

Pella, IowaLisse, Holland, Netherlands.
Pella, Iowa (left) and Lisse, Holland, Netherlands (right)

If you’re aching for a visit to the Netherlands, you may want to check out Pella, Iowa, which touts itself as America’s Dutch Treasure. The towering Vermeer Windmill and historic buildings of Pella are reminiscent of Amsterdam. A working canal and drawbridge only add to the charm. In the spring, thousands of tulips grace the city and you’ll find amazing Dutch treats in bakeries across town.

Solvang, California (Instead of Denmark)

Solvang, CaliforniaDragør, Denmark
Solvang, California (left) and Dragør, Denmark (right)

Founded in 1911 by Danish-American immigrants from the midwest, Solvang calls itself “a little slice of Denmark in Southern California”. Solvang’s architecture has a quaint, European feel. Strolling through town, you’ll pass boutique shops, yummy bakeries, and historical sites. 

Fredericksburg, Texas (Instead of Bavaria, Germany)

Main Street of Fredericksburg, TexasRothenburg, Germany
Fredericksburg, Texas (left) and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany (right)

Fredericksburg has been called the prettiest town in Texas by Architectural Digest. The Bavarian roots of the city play a major role in the look and feel of the town. During the summer, you can see rows of lavender outside town and can experience the delicious culinary scene that Texas Hill Country has to offer. And if you’ve ever wanted to visit the magnificent Christmas markets of Europe, Fredericksburg will give you a taste of that without leaving the U.S. 

Holland, Michigan (Instead of Holland)

Holland, MichiganKeukenhof, Holland
Holland, Michigan (left) and Keukenhof, Holland (right)

Holland, Michigan will give you a glimpse of the Netherlands right here in the United States. Travelers who visit during the annual Tulip Time Festival will be treated to a fantastic display of millions of colorful tulip blooms. The Windmill Island Gardens feature an authentic Dutch windmill called DeZwaan. You can also visit Nelis’ Dutch Village, a theme park with fun and unique Dutch heritage activities.

Vail, Colorado (Instead of Bavaria, Germany)

Vail, ColoradoBerchtesgaden, Upper Bavaria, Germany
Vail Colorado (left) and Berchtesgaden, Upper Bavaria (right)

Vail is a gorgeous ski town whose European influences are clear. The upscale resorts, restaurants, shops, city streets, and mountain setting are all designed to feel like you’re in the Alps. Walking the town’s cobblestone streets can be as fun as a pass down the slopes. Take a scenic gondola ride for stellar views of the beautiful mountainside. 

St. Augustine, Florida (Instead of Spain)

St. Augustine, FloridaSeville, Spain
St. Augustine, Florida (left) and Seville, Spain (right)

Much of St. Augustine’s charm lies in the historic district where the signature Spanish colonial and Moorish architectural styles define the city. Strolling the cobblestone paths is a wonderful way to pass an afternoon. Travelers can also tour The Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest fortress in the United States. 

Alpine Helen, Georgia (Instead of Bavaria, Germany)

Alpine Helen, GeorgiaRothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Alpine Helen, Georgia (left) and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany (right)

The buildings of downtown Helen take inspiration from the building style of Germany, making for a quaint square and a very pretty town. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and gentle rivers add to the ambiance. While the town is best known for Oktoberfest, activities like tubing, ziplining, and indulging in culinary treats are popular as well. 

Poulsbo, Washington (Instead of Norway)

Poulsbo, WashingtonA small town in front of the mountains of Norway
Poulsbo, Washington (left) and a mountainous region of Norway (right)

The wide bay and majestic Olympic Mountains in the background of the area surrounding Poulsbo, Washington reminded Scandinavian settlers of the fjords of Norway. Little Norway, or “Viking City”, was born when they settled the area. The town is very pedestrian-friendly and has a thriving downtown with boutique shops, bakeries, art galleries, and an attractive marina. The annual Viking Days in May celebrates Norway’s Constitution Day and includes a parade, carnival, food, and more. 

Frankenmuth, Michigan (Instead of Bavaria, Germany)

Frankenmuth, MichiganAltstadt von Nürnberg, Deutschland
Frankenmuth, Michigan (left) and Altstadt von Nürnberg, Germany (right)

Frankenmuth bills itself as Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Their German heritage is evident in every detail of the city, from the architecture to the lively festivals. Visitors can learn how to make pretzels, take a cruise on a riverboat, or shop the charming boutiques. 

Telluride, Colorado (Instead of Switzerland)

Telluride, ColoradoZermatt, Switzerland
Telluride, Colorado (left) and Zermatt, Switzerland (right)

While downtown Telluride will feel like the old mining town remade into the upscale ski resort town that it is, it’s the dramatic mountainside that will remind you of the Swiss Alps. Skiers rave about it during the winter, while summers bring waterfalls and wildflowers that will have you singing songs from “The Sound of Music.” 

Ouray, Colorado (Instead of Switzerland)

Ouray, Colorado in winterZermatt, Switzerland
Ouray, Colorado (left) and Zermatt, Switzerland (right)

Just over the mountains from Telluride lies another town situated among the imposing, granite cliffs of the San Juan Mountains. Ouray even calls itself “The Switzerland of America.” Powerful waterfalls anchor the city in two corners and natural mineral hot springs draw visitors year-round. 

Lindsborg, Kansas (Instead of Bavaria, Germany)

Rosberg House in Lindsborg, KansasRothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Rosberg House in Lindsborg, Kansas (left) and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany (right)

Lindsborg, Kansas was settled in 1869 by Swedish immigrants from the Värmland province of Sweden. Svensk Hyllningsfest is the festival honoring the town’s Swedish heritage with dance, music, games, food, arts, and crafts. You also might want to visit during Våffeldagen (International Waffle Day). There are many delicious iterations of the treat, but what you’ll remember most are the townspeople dressed as waffles.

Photos via Lindsborg CVB, Rhiannon Taylor, and Adobe Stock

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