Photo Credit: Photo credit: Soly Moses
These US Towns Will Make You Feel Like You're in Europe
Traveling to Europe may not always be feasible. Things, like high flight prices and limited PTO, can pose a barrier to trans-Atlantic travel. The United States is home to several towns and cities that exude a distinct European charm. These hidden gems allow visitors to immerse themselves in cobblestone streets, Old World architecture and enchanting landscapes reminiscent of European destinations. Here are five US towns that make you feel like you’ve stepped into Europe.
Solvang, California – Danish Delight on the West Coast
Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara County, Solvang, California, is a quaint town that showcases Danish-inspired architecture and traditions. Known as the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang offers visitors a glimpse into the culture of Denmark through its half-timbered buildings, windmills and traditional bakeries. Take a stroll down Copenhagen Drive, lined with boutique shops and authentic restaurants and indulge in traditional Danish pastries. To further immerse yourself in the European atmosphere, visit the Elverhoj Museum to explore Danish history and art.
Leavenworth, Washington – A Bavarian Escape in the Pacific Northwest
Leavenworth is located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The village stands as a testament to the power of transformation and now looks much different than it did several decades ago. Once a declining logging town, it underwent a remarkable makeover in the 1960s, adopting a Bavarian-themed aesthetic.
Today, Leavenworth boasts picturesque buildings adorned with facades designed in the Southern German style. Flower-filled window boxes and charming specialty shops help complete the delightful aesthetic. Visit during the annual Oktoberfest celebration to experience the lively atmosphere with traditional music, beer gardens and the one-of-a-kind Nutcracker Museum. Don’t forget to explore the nearby mountains and enjoy outdoor activities, like hiking and skiing.
St. Augustine, Florida – A Taste of Spain in the Sunshine State
St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the United States. Steeped in history, this coastal Florida town exudes the ambiance of Spain with its narrow streets, historic architecture and fortresses. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the Old City, where you’ll find Spanish colonial-style buildings, such as the stunning Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fort. Immerse yourself in the town’s Spanish heritage by visiting the Lightner Museum, housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, which showcases art and artifacts from this era. For a touch of European elegance, explore the Gilded-Age splendor of the Flagler College campus, once a grand hotel built by industrialist Henry Flagler.
Holland, Michigan – A Dutch Dream on the Shores of Lake Michigan
Set upon the shores of Lake Michigan, Holland, Michigan, captures the essence of the Netherlands and transports visitors to a European wonderland. Known for its colorful tulip fields and authentic windmill replicas, this adorable town celebrates its Dutch heritage with pride. Walking through the city’s downtown area, you’ll find quaint buildings adorned with delightful Dutch architectural details. The best time to visit is undoubtedly during the annual Tulip Time Festival. This celebration is a spectacle of blooming tulips, traditional music, dancing and vibrant parades. Explore the Windmill Island Gardens and witness an operational Dutch windmill, picturesque canals and beautiful gardens. Don’t forget to savor treats like stroopwafels and Dutch cheese at local bakeries and shops.
New Glarus, Wisconsin – Swiss Charm in the Midwest
Known as “America’s Little Switzerland,” New Glarus, Wisconsin, is a small town that pays homage to its Swiss roots. The town’s architectural style, adorned with chalet-style buildings and colorful facades, instantly transports visitors to the Swiss Alps. Take a stroll through the village, stopping at quaint shops to discover unique souvenirs and sample Swiss cheese and chocolates. To fully embrace the spirit of Switzerland, after exploring the town, head out to the New Glarus Woods State Park and embark on a hike to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding this charming destination.