People in the US love to travel, and the economy is good right now which means that many people have the ability to go on vacation. Europe is always a popular destination, as a lot of folks from America have cultural or ancestral ties to the people and places there. Despite the booming economy, not everyone can afford a tour of all the countries that make up Europe, but they shouldn't worry—there are a lot of places in the US that can give travelers that Old World vibe without even having to whip out a passport.
America is a mix of immigrants from all over the globe. All across the country, groups of immigrants have come and settled in enclaves that have kept their heritage intact across the span of centuries. In other places, architects and city planners were inspired by the cobblestone streets and grandiose buildings of Spain, Germany or Switzerland. The ties between America and Europe are strong and people can easily find a taste of Old Europe in every region—they just need to know where to look. If we want to feel like we're in Europe, we may only be one town or State over from what we're craving. Let's go!
25 A Bit Of Bavaria In Leavenworth, Washington
Although Leavenworth, Washington has been around since 1890, it didn't get its current look until a revitalization effort in the 1960s, according to City Of Leavenworth. At that time the town was struggling, so the community got together to renovate the downtown area and were inspired by the gorgeous mountains in the background, remodeling it on the image of a village in Bavaria. Now, the alpine feel is complemented by a little bit of Bavaria, and festivals draw millions of tourists every year. Autumn and winter are especially popular times, as the changing leaves and snow-covered mountains are truly gorgeous.
24 Back To Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts
Like many towns in Europe, Beacon Hill is best seen and enjoyed on foot, not by car, as its cobblestone-lined streets are narrow. Rows of brick homes and apartments and the famed Louisburg Square lined with Georgian-style homes are a classy blend of the sophistication and elegance of Europe with a distinct, US flavor, as per New England. Much of Beacon Hill was built or rebuilt in the 19th century, and the mix of Federal and Georgian architecture really evokes the past, when our ties to communities in Europe were much stronger and fresher.
23 A Swiss-Style Ski Town In Vail, Colorado
In Vail Village, both would-be skiers and tourists who love the vibe walk around heated streets surrounded by snow, restaurants and shops set against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Architects and business owners didn't miss the alpine connection, and in many cases were influenced heavily by Swiss, Austrian and German chalets and cabins, according to Vail. The effect is strongly reminiscent of the alpine towns of Europe. Vail is a well-loved destination inspired by Europe that nevertheless makes it easy for visitors to transition from the wild mountain slopes to the après-ski activities at the bases.
22 The Denmark Touch In Solvang, California
Solvang doesn't just have a few influences from Denmark here and there, it's a virtual trip back in time. An immersive experience, Solvang is chock-full of Denmark style—everything from shops selling wooden shoes and cuckoo-clocks to bakeries churning out authentic Denmark pastries, as per Santa Barbara CA. The best time to go to get the full Denmark effect in Solvang is during Danish Days in September. Parades meander through the town streets, locals wear their Denmark culture costumes and visitors can see Viking re-enactments. Complete with Old Denmark-style architecture and windmills, Solvang doesn't feel like anywhere else in California.
21 Texas-Style Germany In Fredericksburg
Another Germany-like enclave in Texas, Fredericksburg is a town that has remained small and because of this, it has preserved much of its Germany-based heritage, according to Southern Living. Adult tourists to Fredericksburg will love the “bed and brew” lodgings, and more signs of Germany's hospitality are evident along Main Street, where many shops hang “wilkommen” signs. The Markplatz is the center of it all—goods from Germany, handicrafts and brews are all available for sale. Only in Texas can locals and tourists move from a Tex-Mex to a schnitzel and sauerbraten meal in the same day.
20 Let's Go To Sweden In Lindsborg, Kansas
A little town of less than 4,000 people, Lindsborg bills itself as Little Sweden USA, and was not only founded by Swedish immigrants but continues to be proud of its Sweden-based heritage. Lindsborg doesn't let its small size keep it from hosting a number of Sweden-themed festivals, including the Messiah Festival celebrating Handel and J. S. Bach, and the Svensk Hyllingsfest that pays homage to the pioneers from Sweden who founded Lindsborg, according to Smarter Travel. Lindsborg is a haven of Sweden-based culture and art in the midst of the Kansas prairies.
19 Surf City Meets Germany-like Village In Huntington Beach
Even many who live in Southern California don't know that in the midst of Surf City—Huntington Beach is known for the reliable waves that roll in off the Pacific—there's a section of town with shops, restaurants and bars that transport tourists and locals alike to the Old World, according to Old World. While the shops welcome guests year round and the look is definitely a Germany-inspired departure from the surrounding California chic, the biggest time of year in this block is Oktoberfest. They also host the popular weekly Dachshund races, where locals can enter their Dachshund dog to race against others.
18 Seeing Windmills In Pella, Iowa
In a nod to the Dutch immigrants who founded Pella, residents have embraced the small town's Dutch roots and celebrate its culture. “America's Dutch Treasure” boasts the Frisian Farms Cheese House, a Klokkenspel, and the Molengracht, as per Pella. The Vermeer Mill is the star of Pella Historical Village as the tallest in the United States, and the surrounding Dutch village replicates in miniature buildings from villages in Holland, as well as showcasing architecture from Pella's founding up to today. More Dutch history is reflected in the names of the buildings and businesses that make Pella a tourist destination.
17 Spain-Like St. Augustine, Florida
The natives from Spain arrived in what is now St. Augustine in 1565, and the mark they made persists in the culture and architecture of St. Augustine to this day. The Castillo de San Marcos, as well as the city gates and the many cobblestone streets, gives St. Augustine an Old World feel that most cities in the US lack, according to Old City. The downtown district has a markedly Spain-like Mission feel, but with strong influences from France and uniquely Florida tones. Many of the Spain-style hotels and houses have been restored to their former glory. Statues and monuments document the skirmishes between those from Spain and France.
16 The Canals Of Venice, California
Tourists are often distracted by the quirky antics of Venice Beach and surprised to find that the city of Venice in California was actually modeled on Venice, Italy. Abbot Kinney was seen as an eccentric when he conceived of constructing canals in Southern California and stocking them with gondoliers, and while there are no gondolas drifting along the canals now, they are still maintained and give an Italian charm to a very California-esque city, according to the LA Times. Small bridges criss-cross the canals and the entire area is pedestrian-friendly. Parks, shops and gardens add to the scenic beauty.
15 Old Europe In Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia
Georgian and Federal-style homes crowd in on narrow cobbled streets in the oldest part of Philadelphia. Starting out as a cart path as early as 1706, the architecture isn't straight from Europe, but it echoes Old World styles, as per Elfreth's Alley. Buildings crowd close together, but the effect isn't stuffy; rather, it’s reminiscent of older parts of the established capitols of Europe. Elfreth's Alley wasn't part of the original plans for Philadelphia, and is a testament to the importance of the working class in the foundation and establishment of the city and the United States.
14 New Orleans, Old Spain Down In Louisiana
A debate rages whether downtown New Orleans is more so like France or Spain in architecture and culture, but the fact that the debate exists is proof of the Europe connection in New Orleans. In the French Quarter, the open cafes, lacy metal decorations, open balconies and archways are a mishmash of Old World styles, as per French Quarter. Natives from France had arrived first in New Orleans, and when those from Spain came after, they left indelible marks despite the stubborn populace clinging to their France-like heritage. New Orleans will transport visitors with its Euro-style vibe.
13 Old World Charm In New Ulm, Minnesota
Unlike many other towns akin to Germany in the US, New Ulm has a strong sense of Germany's heritage all year round. More than 60% of the town's 13,000 residents claim ancestral ties to Germany, and many of the populace speak the language as well, as per Minnesota Monthly. This pride of heritage combined with the look and feel of the town combine to make all of New Ulm a very Europe-inspired experience. It's not just the restaurants and shops that give everything a Bavarian vibe—a huge Glockenspiel, carved statues, and a huge monument called Hermann the German all mark New Ulm as Old Germany.
12 Frankly Fun In Frankenmuth, Michigan
Our love for our Germany's roots and Bavaria's culture is evident in the many small towns that encapsulate Bavaria's architectural style, fun, food and celebration. Frankenmuth, Michigan is another hotspot of Bavaria's beauty that offers many of the creature comforts and tastes of the Old World, according to Michigan. Millions of visitors yearly are treated to locals in traditional costumes, year-round festivals and a quaint but lovely town filled with Germany-themed everything. The town strives for Bavaria-esque flavor in all seasons. Frankenmuth bills itself as Michigan's Little Bavaria, and tourists agree.
11 Going Greek In Tarpon Springs, Florida
Real sponges come from the sea, and that matters because in the early 1900s, when sponge beds were discovered off the coast of Florida, Greek sponge divers came in droves and settled to the north of Clearwater, as per St. Pete & Clearwater. A strong presence of the natives from Greece remains today in Tarpon Springs, with incredible restaurants boasting dishes from Greece lining Dodecanese Boulevard. The riverfront boasts shops full of natural sea sponges and olive oil products, and many of descent from Greece still live in this small Florida town that is a curious blend of their heritage and Florida architecture.
10 Italy Vibes In Calistoga, California
Much of Calistoga has that uniquely California-like vibe, but a natural side effect of being in the heart of Napa Valley is the association to Italy via the vineyards and their age-old product. In Calistoga, tourists who can't make it to northern Italy can stop by a 13th century style castle called Castello di Amorosa, according to Castello di Amorosa. Rising up amongst the twisted grape vines, the castle is a nod to the strong influence of Italy. Dario Sattui, the mastermind behind Castello di Amorosa, wanted to honor his heritage by constructing the castle using medieval architecture methods.
9 Doing It Dutch Style In Holland, Michigan
With a name like Holland, it's little wonder that tourists and residents come there to celebrate and enjoy Dutch heritage. The biggest draw to Holland every year is the Tulip Time Festival, taking place every spring, as per Michigan. The town of Holland also boasts the only authentic Dutch windmill in the US that still grinds locally-grown wheat. In the nearby Dutch Village, visitors can have a blast at the theme park, and shoppers can stop by the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory for handmade Dutch crafts. The Holland Museum ties the history of the town and residents together.
8 Many Microcosms In New York City
Finding influences of cultures from all across Europe is easy in New York City, which has seen and welcomed vast numbers of immigrants over the last several centuries. Interspersed amongst the uniquely New York accents, sights and smells are enclaves wherein visitors can hear languages from just about any country in Europe, as well as restaurants and shops that reflect the incredible diversity of the city, according to United States History. The architecture reflects this cultural mashup. Museums tell the story of the establishment of New York first as a Dutch colony in 1626.
7 Cheery Walks In Charleston, South Carolina
Despite the original intent of open, straight and orderly streets to avoid the tight and winding alleys common in older cities in Europe, Charleston still maintains a lot of Old World charm in the antebellum architecture, the embellishments, and the rich collection of styles, as per Charleston CVB. It was once a haven and hub for religious groups from all over Europe, and the influences of Scotland, Britain, France, Huguenots, Lutherans and others can all be seen in the oldest parts of Charleston. Even hurricanes haven't erased the city's 300 year history—residents are proud to preserve Charleston's cultural complexity.
6 Old Germany In New Braunfels, Texas
Many people don't realize that settlers from Germany didn't just immigrate to the eastern and mid-western parts of the country. New Braunfels in Texas was founded by immigrants from Germany in the 1840s, according to Play in New Braunfels. The Germany origins are evident in the lovely architecture along the confluence of two rivers, and residents revel in their Bavaria Based history when they celebrate Wurstfest, a ten-day homage to sausage. Kids love visiting the Schlitterbahn, a Germany-themed waterpark near New Braunfels. Visitors see a unique vision of the Old World interpreted Texas-style in New Braunfels.
5 History And Heritage In Hermann, Missouri
Not all of the immigrants who came to the US were happy about the melting pot that occurred in many cities. One group of immigrants from Germany who wished to settle and maintain Old World culture traveled to what is now Hermann, Missouri in the 1830s. Germany's settlers planted grape vines along the steep hills and within ten years, Hermann was an important river port, according to Visit Hermann. WWI and WWII hit the town hard, but the upshot was that the city couldn't afford to upgrade its older buildings, so much of the architecture was preserved rather than modernized.
4 Francey Fun In Gallipolis, Ohio
Modern day Gallipolis loves its heritage that pays homage to France. In 1790, a group of natives to France were persuaded to immigrate to southern Ohio, as per Ohio Humanities. The City of the Gauls, Gallipolis struggled to survive, but the settlers from France hung on and dug in. While the city itself doesn't retain much of France's architecture or culture in the vistas and buildings, residents celebrate their France-flaired beginnings and heritage at Our House Museum, and in yearly celebrations. Despite the small population of Gallipolis—less than 4,000—the people are proud to display the city's France-based roots.
3 Can't-Miss Swiss In New Glarus, Wisconsin
Known as “America's Little Switzerland,” New Glarus is a tiny town that has long been a destination for Swiss settlers, and now interested tourists flock there for Swiss culture in the US. The Switzerland-meets-Germany language, music and folk traditions have been kept alive in New Glarus amongst the Swiss chalet-style architecture, according to New Glarus. The little Swiss hamlet in the hills of Wisconsin hosts numerous Swiss-themed festivals, and visitors can shop for Swiss treats and enjoy genuine Swiss cuisine in the restaurants in the center of town. New Glarus is modeled on Glarus, Switzerland.
2 Helen, Georgia, A Hideaway Akin To Germany
Visitors to Helen, Georgia would be shocked if they knew that the tiny town is home to only 543 residents. A lot of Bavaria-like style is packed into the little town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Reinvented to be an alpine attraction, tiny but mighty Helen is a walkable beauty or Bavaria with an alpine feel, as per Alpine Helen. Despite the small local population, Helen is the third most-visited city in the state of Georgia. Quaint little shops and eateries showcase alpine Germany-like fare and goods in the walkable town.
1 Like Seville In Kansas City, Missouri
In one of the last places we'd ever expect to see a style architecture native to Spain, Kansas City, Missouri boasts the Country Club Plaza, which was developed in the early 1900s, according to Active Rain. It's surprising to turn the corner and encounter the dazzling downtown plaza, which features classic Spanish motifs that developer J. C. Nichols brought back from his trip to Europe over a century ago. While the shops and businesses in Country Club Plaza are definitely modern US, the buildings are each different from each other but fit into the Spain-like theme.
References: City Of Leavenworth, Old World, Minnesota Monthly, United States History, Pella, Old City, Charleston CVB, LA Times, Play In New Braunfels, Visit Hermann, Southern Living, Smarter Travel, French Quarter, Ohio Humanities, Active Rain