Top American Cities With European Flavor

No passport is required! Stay in the US and still experience some of Europe instead of taking that drawn-out flight. Let’s check out the list of top American cities with a European flavor.

Helen, GA

You probably know an American who is currently living in Europe. You might experience tingles or even floods of FOMO as you scroll through your social media feed. However, it could be that your wallet isn’t quite prepared for an international trip, you were unable to update your passport in time, or you aren’t physically prepared for such a lengthy flight. With this list of American cities that resemble European ones, we have you covered no matter why you’re staying home. Look at the charming spires, red roofs, half-timbering, windmills, cobblestone walkways, and other features that give the impression that you have crossed international borders. And if your Instagram game is strong, you might even succeed in making people believe you are there.

There are European cities in the US.

Tarpon Springs, FL

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1. Tarpon Springs, Florida

Most reminiscent of Greece

The best alternative might be in Florida if you can’t visit Santorini this year. Three things set this Gulf Coast city apart from others: its Greek heritage; its status as the “sponge capital of the world”; and its 51 miles of immaculate coastline.  Greek restaurants line the main street, Dodecanese Boulevard, as a legacy of the Greek sponge divers who settled here in the early 1900s. Explore the art galleries, antique shops, and specialty stores housed in structures built in the 1800s.

Solvang, CA

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2. Solvang, California

Most reminiscent of: Denmark

You can find genuine old-world architecture, thatched roofs, and windmills here in what is known as the Danish Capital of America. Bonus: Sideways was filmed here, which makes sense given that this region is known for its wine. Come to Danish Days in September for three parades, traditional dancing, music, and even a Viking Encampment. And as Christmas gets closer, Julefest is a huge event in this city.

Helen, GA

Photo credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

 

3. Helen, Georgia

Most reminiscent of: Germany

This town is adorable and has all the balconies, pitched roofs, and red half-timbering of a distant Bavarian village. The Blue Ridge Mountains’ rural atmosphere, the surrounding forest, and a river that winds through all contribute to giving the impression that you are in the Alps. Eat at the three-story Heidelberg (with music hall and pub), the Hofbrauhaus, the Bodensee, and other places for traditional German food. Of course, there are breweries and wineries, and the Bavarian Clockworks sells Black Forest cuckoo clocks as a keepsake to commemorate your trip to “Germany.”

New Glarus, WI

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4. New Glarus, Wisconsin

Most reminiscent of: Switzerland

Some of the best beer, cheese, and farms in the Midwest can be found in New Glarus, a 19th-century Swiss settlement that still takes pride in its chalet-style appearance and old-world charm. Even without visiting the village during one of its yearly events, such as the Swiss Volksfest (Swiss Independence Day), the Oktoberfest celebrations, the Edelweiss bike tour, or the only-in-Wisconsin Spotted Cow, Moon Man, and other New Glarus Brewing brews are worth the trip. 

Holland, MI

Image credit: Dan Irving

 

5. Holland, Michigan

Most reminiscent of: Holland

The town of Holland continues to honor its Dutch heritage because it was founded by Calvinist separatists who immigrated to Michigan from the Netherlands in the middle of the 19th century. Start the day with some traditional pastries from deBoer Bakkerij to go Dutch for the day. After that, travel across town to the Veldheer Tulip Gardens to see the 6 million tulips that bloom there each spring, or take a leisurely stroll through the Windmill Island Gardens, a lovely park built around a still-operational Dutch windmill that residents of Holland bought in the 1960s (you can explore its five floors inside).

Leavenworth, WA

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6. Leavenworth, Washington

Most reminiscent of: Germany

The Cascade Mountains that surround the town served as inspiration for the 1960s renovation of Leavenworth to resemble a German village. And the town didn’t just focus on appearances. Restaurants serving German food and beer now line the main street of the PNW city, which has undergone architectural changes to resemble a Bavarian-style village. The Nutcracker Museum exhibits 9,000 nutcrackers from 50 different countries, some of which date back centuries. The community also hosts a number of activities with a European flair; in the fall and winter, visit Leavenworth for the Autumn Leaf Festival and the Christmastown Festival to see the town all decked out in lights.

St. Augustine, FL

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7. St. Augustine, Florida

Most reminiscent of: Spain

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and is comparable to any city in Spain for a beach vacation. It was founded on Florida’s Atlantic coast by Spanish colonizers in 1565. The oldest wooden schoolhouse, the imposing Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish stone fortress from the 17th century with views of the St. Augustine Inlet, and The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, where you can learn about the Spanish founders and the Native Americans they drove out, are some of its oldest treasures. Visit the Lightner Museum, a Spanish Renaissance Revival architectural marvel, to see more artifacts. 

New Orleans, LA

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8. New Orleans, Louisiana

Most reminiscent of: France and Spain

This city beautifully combines French and Spanish culture. Although the gorgeous French Quarter’s architecture is Spanish, the first inhabitants after Native Americans were French. This is due to early fires destroying the original structures. The name of the city is a reference to the French city of Orleans, which Joan of Arc, whose statue is now located in the Vieux Carré, saved from siege. People of mixed European and Black descent formed the Creole population in this city, which once housed slave markets. Try beignets for breakfast (or late at night) and the incredible and varied gumbos to get a taste of the delicious food of that Creole heritage, which also has Native American roots. Dishes like jambalaya contain cajun food, which was brought to New Orleans by French-Canadian settlers. We adore the Gumbo Shop and its hand-painted interior murals; it is definitely worth the wait for a table.

Pella, IA

Image: Courtesy of Visit Pella

 

9. Pella, Iowa

Most reminiscent of: Holland

This settlement was established by Dutch immigrants, who turned a plain into a town by adding a stake and a sign that read “Pella.” A lot of the Dutch influence can still be seen there. Visit the 1848 Scholte House, the Historical Village with its 22 historical structures and Vermeer Windmill, another windmill close by at the Sunken Gardens, and a variety of traditional restaurants and shops. In the spring, thousands of locals dress in formal attire for the three-day Tulip Time Festival, which honors their heritage. Even craftspeople can be seen creating wooden clogs.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Image: Courtesy of Visit Carmel

 

10. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Most reminiscent of: England

There are many examples of half-timbered buildings in this city’s downtown, and they all give the impression that Shakespeare once rented one of them. You can spend the day exploring the shire in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is known for its architecture straight out of a storybook, before making your way a few blocks down to the beach. In this dog-friendly town, you can buy candy at the British-style Cottage of Sweets and stay at the charming Lamp Lighter Inn while keeping your dependable dog by your side.

Frankenmuth, MI

Image: T-I/Shutterstock

 

11. A. Frankenmuth, Michigan

Most reminiscent of: Germany

15 colonists who swore allegiance to Bavaria and vowed to continue speaking German founded the town that is now known as Little Bavaria. Visit the Castle Museum, cross the Holz Brücke covered wooden bridge, partake in the Bavarian Blacksmith Experience, attend the annual Volksläufe (people’s race), and take in the city’s traditional architecture and signage. Make sure to go during the holidays when the place is decked out in traditional German garb.

Lindsborg, KS

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12. Lindsborg, Kansas

Most reminiscent of: Sweden

This town, founded in 1868 by Swedish immigrants, celebrates its heritage, from the traditional red Swedish Dala horse painted on the water tower to a “herd” of the same cast in fiberglass and decorated by local artists—each foal’s birth is marked with a public unveiling. Since there are so many festivals in “Little Sweden USA,” even though the architecture doesn’t really have much of a Swedish flair, you can still see people wearing traditional clothing when there is a festival. Come to the semi-annual October Svensk Hyllningsfest with traditional food, folk dancing, music, and smörgsbord, the March 25 Vffeldagen waffle festival, and the annual Jenny Lind concert honoring the “Swedish Nightingale” soprano, to name a few.

We hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, and be sure to let us know in the comments which place you’re most excited to visit.

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