Summer Travel in the US: 10 Cities with European Flair

If you’re anything like me you are intrepid by nature. When I think about travel I want to go somewhere and immerse myself in that culture. I want to see something new and I usually tend to want to travel to Europe. My first thought isn’t to travel within my own country. I can do that anytime. Why use my summer vacation to go to Boston when I could be in London in 6 hours?

Travel has changed dramatically over the past three months. Europe is considering banning Americans from traveling until this pandemic is under control. Even before this last year, the European Union decided to require visas for all Americans traveling to a European country in the Schengen Zone starting in 2022. The Schengen Area is made up of 22 European Union countries like France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and Spain, as well as 4 non-EU countries: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. (cited from ETIAS for Americans) Now instead of being able to book a flight to Madrid on a whim, Americans will have to plan out their travel in advance. So what do we do in the meantime? Why not explore travel within your own country? I’m in the US so I plan on taking my summer travels and exploring my backyard.

The US is more spread out than any European country. However, there are cities throughout the US that were settled by Europeans and retain that European charm. Helen, GA is a replica of a Bavarian town. New Orleans, LA has a decidedly French feel and St. Augustine, FL transports you to Spain. Here are ten cities in the US that will make you feel like you feel like you’re in Europe.

10. New Glarus, Wisconsin = Switzerland

I bet you never considered going to Wisconsin for anything besides cheese. However, Wisconsin is so much more. New Glarus is known as “America’s Little Switzerland”. The town architecture is done in the style of Swiss chalets and the businesses in the town have adopted a Swiss theme. Many restaurants offer traditional swiss fare and baked goods. 2020 marks it’s 175 year anniversary and hosting events to celebrate the milestone.

9. Lindsborg, Kansas = Sweden

Do you love Swedish meatballs as much as I do? Head to Lindsborg, Kansas. The town hosts a Swedish heritage celebration every October and you can take home all the Swedish souvenirs you could ever want without having to take a trans-Atlantic flight to pick them up.

8. Hood River, Oregon = French Alps

If you’re a big skier head to Hood, Oregon for this ski season. It’s some of the best skiing you’ll find in the US that is comparable to skiing in the French Alps. When you’re done skiing for the day relax and unwind in the Timberline Lodge, which was built to resemble the French and Austrian ski lodges.

7. Napa Valley, California = Tuscany

Love wine? Want to stay on a vineyard? Do you wish you could travel to Tuscany this summer? Look no further than the Napa Valley. Many of the working vineyards in this region host cooking classes and wine tastings. They really do help guests experience “fare niente” which is the art of doing nothing.

6. Holland, Michigan = Holland

Photo by Culture trip. Read their article here about the 10 best restaurants in Holland, MI.

Holland, Michigan is a little replica of its namesake. The first week of May every year hosts the Tulip Time Festival, which is a celebration of Dutch heritage. The town itself looks like a typical dutch town with windmills galore!

5. Leavenworth, Washington = Bavaria

There are two towns on this list that will transport you to Bavaria and this is the first. Leavenworth hosts one of the best Oktoberfests in the US. Don’t worry if you can’t make it for Oktoberfest, head to Leavenworth around the Christmas season. The Bavarian chalets are dusted in snow and every home is decorated for the season. It’s quite magical.

4. Solvang, California = Denmark

Ever wondered what Denmark would be like with beautiful weather all year long? Look no further than Solvang. The area was settled by Danish looking for warmer climates. The town oozes Hygge. Head there in September to celebrate Danish Days, a celebration of all things Danish! This year’s festivities are occurring from September 18-20, 2020.

3. Helen, Georgia = Bavaria

Our second location for all things German. Helen is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Georgia and is worth the trip to get there. If you’re looking for great German food among Bavarian chalets you’ve come to the right place. Due to its location, there are many Alpine adventures you can take part in such as White water rafting and a traditional Alpine Coaster!

2. New Orleans, LA = France

The French Quarter Photo by Desire Treski

New Orleans was settled by the French so it makes sense that the architecture oozes French design. This city has so much culture and character. Wander through the French Quarter for some authentic wrought iron worked balconies and explore voodoo culture on one of the many walking tours being offered.

1. St. Augustine, Florida = Spain

It’s rumored that the fountain of youth resides in St. Augustine, hence why Ponce De Leon, a Spaniard, settled this beautiful part of Florida. Wandering through St. Augustine you feel as though you’re wandering through a typical Spanish village with amazing cuisine and shops offering Spanish influenced souvenirs. This coastal town of Florida is a must for anyone who wanted to go to Spain but couldn’t leave America.

Pick a Spot and Go

No matter where you chose to head this summer if you pick one of these European alternates you’ll have a great time. From authentic food to the culture and traditions it seems you don’t have to travel far to get that European flair. What are some European inspired destinations that you’ve found? Let me know in the comments. Until next time!

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