It’s fun to dream about vacationing in Europe, but transatlantic flights are not always particularly affordable. If you’re looking to experience a taste of European culture, however, there are many places in the U.S. with a rich heritage and general continental vibe. After all, the U.S. is a nation of immigrants.
Below, find a list of travel destinations in the U.S. that have a European feel ― from strong immigrant communities to traditional architecture to authentic (and delicious) food.
Of course, nothing can replace a trip of a lifetime abroad, and most major cities offer a plethora of diverse cultural experiences. But if your budget is more limited and you want to explore different European cultures in a new and interesting way, these may be the places for you.
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Located near Santa Barbara, Solvang is a charming California city with Danish roots. A group of immigrants from Denmark founded Solvang just over 100 years ago to create a Danish home away from home. As such, the city is full of Danish architecture, restaurants, bakeries, shops and even a copy of Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue.
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Founded by Spanish settlers in 1565, St. Augustine is full of Spanish-inspired architecture, historical sites and other attractions that pay homage to its heritage. The Colonial Quarter is a popular tourist area, and there are many places to grab traditional Spanish food and fusion cuisine.
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Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style village in the Cascade mountains of Washington state. Even the local Starbucks conforms to the city’s traditional look. Tourists flock to Leavenworth during Oktoberfest and around Christmastime to get the feel of a festive Alpine town.
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In the mid-19th century, Dutch Calvinist immigrants settled Holland, Michigan, in the pursuit of religious freedom and economic opportunities. Much of the original architecture was destroyed in an 1871 fire, but the city still has many tributes to its Dutch heritage, like windmills, eateries, art and even an annual tulip festival and holiday market.
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Known as “Little Sweden,” Lindsborg was settled by Swedish immigrants in the late 19th century. Painted Dala horses line the streets, and there’s a biennial Swedish heritage festival featuring traditional dancing, art, food and more. Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf even visited Lindsborg in 1976.
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New Glarus’ Swiss immigrant roots are proudly on display with its Alpine architecture, Swiss Historical Village Museum and Yodel Club. The Wisconsin village also puts on cultural events like the Heidi Folk Festival and Swiss Volksfest.
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New Orleans has a famously unique culture drawing from many influences, including French and Spanish. Visitors flock to “La Nouvelle-Orléans” to take in its famous architecture, taste the delicious cuisine, ride the iconic streetcars and celebrate cultural events like Mardi Gras. As New Orleanians say, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”
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Frankenmuth, aka “Little Bavaria,” was founded by German Lutheran settlers. The city pays tribute to its German heritage with traditional architecture, food, shops and festivals like Oktoberfest and the World Expo of Beer.
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The so-called “Czech Heritage Capital of Texas” pays homage its Czech immigrant roots with traditional bakeries, restaurants, antique shops and an annual heritage celebration called West Fest, which of course features polka music.
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Fredericksburg maintains much of its German heritage ― from the city square called Marktplatz to the historic Vereins Kirche Museum. Willkommen, y’all!
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Nicknamed “America’s Dutch Treasure,” Pella features Netherlands-style architecture, a working windmill, traditional Dutch bakeries and even a canal. The city hosts an annual Tulip Time festival celebrating beautiful flowers and Dutch culture.
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Both Helen, Georgia, and Leavenworth, Washington, introduced Bavarian design themes in the 1960s to boost tourism after suffering economic decline. Beyond its architecture, Helen also hosts Oktoberfest, Alpenlights and Volksmarch events.
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New Ulm is another U.S. city with a notable German influence. Standout features include the glockenspiel, gift shops with German goods, Hermann Heights Monument, Turner Hall and August Schell Brewing Company.