Charming European Cities in America You Need to Visit
If you are like us and miss traveling to Europe, welcome to the club. The good news is that Europe is a lot closer than you think as there are dozens of European cities in America that will help satisfy your travel wanderlust.
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Where to Travel in the US if You Miss Europe
Grab your keys and take a road trip to one of these these towns or cities in the US that have all the appeal and charm of some of the most beautiful European cities. Be immersed in pedestrian villages, Dutch-style windmills, Bavarian architecture, Tuscan countryside views, and stone castles that look eerily similar to the kind you’d find in Italy.
German towns in the USA
Leavenworth, Washington has all the charm of Bavaria thanks to a tourist initiative in the 1960s that turned this quaint mountain town into a German culture wonderland.
When you visit this Bavarian-themed village, you’ll be greeted by Alpine-style architecture, locals wearing lederhosen, Christmas-lighting ceremonies during the holidays, and Germanic food halls like München Haus, which offers German beer, bratwurst, pretzels, and Weisswurst among other dishes.
Of course, no German town would be complete without a fabulous Oktoberfest celebration. There are plenty of Bavarian things to do in Leavenworth, so if you’re looking for some German fun, this is the place to be.
Christmas in Leavenworth shouldn’t be missed. Be sure to see why it is one of our favorite Christmas towns in the USA.
If Washington’s chilly weather isn’t your thing, then visit Fredericksburg in Texas. This picturesque small town is rich in German heritage.
German immigrants settled in this quaint little town in 1846, and ever since they pay homage to their roots. So much so, that many of the storefront signs are in German and the town’s main square is called Marktplatz.
You’ll also find a ton of German restaurants like Old German Bakery and Restaurant and Der Lindenbaum which offer typical German fare like potato pancakes and jager schnitzel.
Of course, no German town would be complete without some German beer. So, visit the Fredericksburg Brewing Company and enjoy a cold beer in one of their beer gardens.
If you are looking for a spectacular German Christmas market in Texas, head to Fredericksburg. There are holiday events all season long, a massive German Christmas pyramid, a tree lighting, and celebrations throughout the season.
Other German towns in the US: Helen, Georgia, Frankenmuth, Michigan, and New Ulm, Minnesota.
Swiss towns in the USA
Vail and Switzerland may be miles apart, but they both offer some dramatic snowy mountain peaks and open fields brimming with flowers and shimmering lakes.
Just like Switzerland, there are plenty of opportunities to go skiing, hiking, snowboarding, or biking with impressive Alpine views as the backdrop.
The Swiss chalet-style architecture in Vail is the spitting image of the beauty you’d expect to find in picturesque towns like Lucerne and Interlaken. But this is no coincidence! Vail was actually modeled after the Swiss town of Zermatt back in the 1960s.
We love Vail in summer, but there is year round fun in this Swiss style town.
Other Swiss towns in the US: Ouray, Colorado (bills itself the Switzerland of America) and New Glarus, Wisconsin.
Swedish towns in the USA
This charming community of 3,306 was founded in 1869 by Swedish settlers, so get ready to feel like you were magically transported to Sweden.
Take a walk through Heritage Square, home to seven historic Swedish structures including a wooden windmill, and the Swedish Pavilion and livery stable, which were brought over from Sweden.
Downtown Lindsborg is also buzzing with art galleries, shops that sell Swedish treats, and boutique shops where you can pick up Swedish-style souvenirs.
Other Swedish towns in the USA include: New Sweden, Maine and Kingsburg, California.
Dutch towns in the USA
Look over the shores of Lake Michigan and you’ll see a Dutch countryside full of charming windmills and fields wrapped in colorful tulips in the town of Holland, Michigan.
Each spring the town celebrates with their Tulip Time festival, bringing visitors from around the world to see thousands of tulips in bloom.
Be sure to visit DeZwaan, a Dutch windmill built in 1761 in the Netherlands and then moved by boat to the US in 1964. Our kids loved running around the grounds and climbing to the top of the windmill for views.
We also enjoyed visiting the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory. Here you can see the process of making wooden shoes and even purchase your own pair. There’s a ton of Dutch souvenirs to bring home from your visit.
Take in the rich Dutch heritage of Holland, Michigan by visiting Nelis’ Dutch Village, a Dutch themed park where you can enjoy rides, a petting farm, and slide through a gigantic wooden shoe slide. During the holidays, Sinterklaas will magically appear at the park and read children’s stories. So make sure to stay up to date and plan ahead. You don’t want to miss that!
Settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847, the city of Pella pays tribute to the Netherlands with its Dutch-themed restaurants, Vermeer Windmill, and an architectural style that will make you feel like you’re not in the US anymore.
Make a stop at the Jaarsma Bakery and try their Dutch apple bread, Dutch letters, and stroopwafels.
Take a scavenger hunt through downtown Pella and learn about the area history. Don’t forget to check out the Carillon clock, which has eight mechanical figures and 147 bell chimes that perform at odd hours on a daily basis at the the Klokkenspel Plaza.
Spanish towns in the US
St. Augustine, Florida
“Wait, am I in Florida or did I travel to Spain?” That’s exactly what you’ll be asking yourself when you pay St. Augustine a visit. That’s not surprising at all since this gorgeous colonial town was founded by Spaniards in 1565. It’s one of the oldest cities in America.
As you walk through the brick-paved streets of the downtown districts, you’ll be enchanted by the Spanish colonial architecture of the buildings, many of which are centuries old. Make sure to set some time apart to stop for a few hours and kick back in one of the city’s many cafes.
Before you leave, don’t forget to climb around the walls of Castillo de San Marcos, a masonry fort built by Spaniards to protect the city against pirates.
Other places that feel like Spain in the US: Kansas City, Missouri (Country Club Plaza neighborhood)
Danish towns in the USA
Denmark is known for its straw-roofed buildings with wooden shoes displayed in the storefront and cuckoo clocks decorating the walls, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in Solvang, California.
Aside from its replica of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid sculpture and Round Tower, which is a scaled copy of Copenhagen’s Rundetaarn, you’ll also get to see Viking style reenactments in the beer gardens’ courtyards.
And when you’re hungry, make sure to stop by one of the bakeries and order yourself some Danish waffles, kouign-amann (a buttery pastry,) and aebleskiver, a Danish snack that’s sort of like a cross between a pancake and a donut hole.
Don’t miss the town’s Danish Days every September and Julefest during the holiday season.
Italian towns in the USA
Napa Valley, California
Medieval-style castles and historical monuments might be one of the reasons you want to visit Italy. Or maybe it’s the charm of a provincial town, and acres of dreamy vineyards and wine tasting tours.
You will definitely find some of Italy’s charm in Napa Valley, California, with over 500 wineries similar to those found in Italy. They come complete with fountains, stone courtyards, and dramatic castles.
Be sure to visit Castello di Amorosa, a 13th century-styled castle nestled in the heart of Napa Valley. It appears to be the spitting image of Castel Nuovo in Naples, or Gradara Castle in the region of Marche.
Try the Neapolitan pizza and handcrafted pastas at Bistro Don Giovanni. Enjoy an unforgettable dining experience at the Bottega Napa Valley restaurant which offers Italian dishes from every region of the country.
There are also several olive oil producers in Napa (just like Italy), so check out Napa Valley Olive Oil Company and The Olive Press, and take home a bottle or two.
Other European cities in America that feel like Italy: Little Italy neighborhoods in Boston, San Diego, and Chicago.
Icelandic towns in the USA
Mountain, North Dakota
Mountain is not a large town by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have strong ties to Iceland. With just under 100 residents, the town located in the Pembina region hosts the largest Icelandic event in the US with its Deuce of August celebration. It is also home to Vikur Lutheran Church, the oldest Icelandic church in North America.
Visit Icelandic State Park and learn about the early Icelandic settlers. There are restored historic buildings on-site including Akra Community Hall and Hallson Church. If you head to the park at night you might even be able to see the Northern Lights, just like in Iceland.
Another one of our favorite towns settled by Icelandic people? Washington Island, Wisconsin has charm in spades.
Looking for other charming places to visit in the US? Don’t miss French Lick, Indiana, Beaufort, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.