9 US Cities That Will Make You Feel Like You're in Europe
While seemingly everyone wants to jet-set off to Europe for a grand adventure, there are a few towns in the US that bring the adventure closer to home. From Germany to Greece, the US has some amazing places that look almost identical to the real thing. Start saving your money — you'll want to check out all of these places for an experience that's anything but domestic.
About two hours from Seattle, Leavenworth was built to look just like a Bavarian village in Germany — even the Starbucks is built to German specifications. The surrounding mountains make this feel like you are in another world and the energy from the visitors milling about is palpable. Visit at Christmastime for a completely magical experience or in the Summer when the weather is warm and the food scene is robust, spilling over onto the sidewalks.
St. Augustine, FL
The oldest city in the US, St. Augustine, was founded in 1565 as a Spanish colony and the influence of the Spanish has not declined throughout the centuries. The Castillo de San Marcos gives visitors an amazing view of the quaint town, while the cobblestone streets are lined with shops, Spanish-style eateries, and picturesque fountains, mentally and emotionally transporting you somewhere that is definitely not Florida.
While Vail is a well-known as a ski destination, the city was actually designed to mimic the look of Zermatt, a Swiss village at the base of the Alps. Detailed woodwork, balconies, murals, and more adorn Vail and allow this Winter getaway village to bring its own interpretation of the Swiss city to life.
Dutch-style architecture, complete with a windmill, lines the streets of Pella, IA. The city also celebrates in Dutch style with its very own tulip festival — there is a countdown clock on the town's website — and serves up plenty of Dutch treats, including Dutch apple bread. Fun fact: Wyatt Earp — you may remember him from the gunfight at O.K. Corral — grew up in the city.
To bring tourists to the area, Helen, GA, was transformed into an alpine village in the 1960s. Just 90 minutes from Atlanta, the Bavarian town is set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stunning hotels and rustic cabins are among the accommodations in the area, while authentic dining — schnitzel, pretzels, sausages, and craft beers — is part of what keeps people coming back.
Also built with German specifications, Frankenmuth once housed a Lutheran mission colony. Now, it's a stunning attraction in the heart of Michigan that boasts the world's biggest Christmas store; the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, which dives into the history of the area's German roots; and the Frankenmuth Brewing Company.
Dubbed "Little Denmark," Solvang, CA, was founded in 1911 when Danish-Americans settled in the area and built schools and churches to preserve and promote Danish heritage. A must see at holiday time, Solvang was named "most Christmasy town in America" by Time in 2011. Check out the Hans Christian Anderson museum, eat Danish pastries, and ride on the Solvang trolley, a historic, wooden, horse-drawn streetcar.
Tarpon Springs, FL
Greek sponge divers settled in this Florida town in the early 1900s. Now, with the highest concentration of Greek-Americans in the US, the town has become a travel destination for those who dream about Greece but don't want to stray too far from home. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is built with a marble altar and stunning stained glass windows. Visitors can also check out the sponge docks, which not only pay homage to what built the city, but which also offer Greek-inspired meals and some chocolate baklava.
If you've been hankering for a trip to the Czech Republic but can't gather up the funds, head to West, TX, instead. Settled by Czech immigrants in the late 1800s, the city still thrives on Czech food, culture, and even polka music.