16 Most European Cities in America for your bucket list
Missing cobblestone lanes, Victorian houses, Greek food, or Biergartens? Then head to one of these most European cities in America to quest your wanderlust. From learning about the early colonial settlers, immigration communities who follow traditions to the day to places that were re-created with a European flair, you will have a deja-vu moment when you explore these US cities that look like Europe!
16 Most European Cities in America
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Holland, MI: Bringing in the Dutch tulips and windmills home
Holland is located in Michigan, on the shores of Lake Macatawa. The city traces its lineage to the Dutch immigrants. Here you will find the quintessential windmills – De Zwaan, which is a centuries old windmill.
The city is particularly known for the Windmill Island Gardens, and the Big Red Lighthouse that connects Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan.
Holland State Park is a perfect beach getaway in the city. You can enjoy a day out in the sand, unwind and relax whilst taking in those European vibes. If you prefer to stay active, you can embark on hiking trails for a scenic trek (climb upto Mount Pisgah for scenic views of the lake and the Big Red Lighthouse).
The Holland State Park Pier is also a lovely spot for a romantic walk in the evening.
There are tons of shopping opportunities in downtown Holland, as it’s filled with boutiques and existing stores for retail therapy.
Every May, the city organizes the Tulip Time Festival, which celebrates Dutch roots, with tulips blooming everywhere.
Vail, Colorado: Alpine Bavarian Ski Village
Vail is known for alpine ski resorts in Colorado, but did you know that this village is inspired by Bavarian architecture. In fact, the town takes it a notch higher and celebrates Oktoberfest, annually in September. Vail’s Oktoberfest is celebrated over two weekends in September with live music, food, and activities for the entire family to participate in.
Vail came into the limelight in the 1960’s as a skiing destination. As a non-skier too, you must visit this pretty town to experience classic European architecture with unique Bavarian and Austrian influences.
In the restaurants, you will fall in love with German delicacies. Take time to try strudel-filled pastry, cheese fondue, potato pancakes, schnitzels, or Schnapps.
Leavenworth, Washington: Perfect German Christmas Village
The mountain town of Leavenworth will remind you of Bavaria in a heartbeat. The city was founded in 1885, when the Great Northern Railways were constructed.
Leavenworth’s location is unique in Washington – you can access the mountain, hikes and all with welcoming stunning views. Today, Leavenworth is a popular ski and winter destination, and you must not miss it’s Christmas/festive season with markets, and beautiful decorations.
A lot of the architecture in Leavenworth was re-designed in the mid 1900’s to reflect the Bavaria vibes. This inspiration is evident in the architecture (like the half-timbered houses) and Bavarian-styles murals and paintings.
Hotel and restaurant buildings definitely transport you to Europe; and you will find many places with Germanic and Swiss delicacies from pretzels, to fondue! (I mean, it’s a ski resort, they can’t miss the fondue).
If you are visiting Leavenworth in the summer, you can indulge in outdoor activities, like hiking to picnic by the lakeside – Lake Wenatchee, and of course the Enchantment Park. Winters also welcome you with outdoor activities as you will find a ski area. Know that the best time to visit Leavenworth is during Christmas, as you can enjoy German Christmas Markets here without a flight ticket!
Savannah, Georgia: With nuances from Tallinn Estonia
Contributed by Erin from Savannah First-Timer’s Guide
The beautiful cobblestone streets of Savannah’s Historic District are lined with historic architecture, inviting sidewalk cafes, and charming local shops — much like the capital city of Tallinn, Estonia.
Add in Savannah’s bustling riverfront location, European-inspired homes, and numerous church steeples rising above the rooftops of Historic District businesses, and it’s easy to imagine you’ve been transported to the historic European city.
To recreate a European getaway in the South, begin your trip at the Hamilton-Turner Inn, which was designed in the Second-Empire architectural style. From there, you can easily explore Lafayette Square and take a leisurely morning stroll over to the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
Grab breakfast at Clary’s Café, and then hit the cobblestone streets to explore the many incredible homes within the Historic District. The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters is a good option, as well as the Mercer-Williams House and the childhood home of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.
Next, stop by City Market to enjoy live music while watching local artists at work. As the sun begins to set, head towards the river for a sunset stroll along picturesque River Street. You can’t go wrong with The Olde Pink House for dinner! It’s located in an old Southern mansion, built in 1771.
Spring is the most popular time of year to visit Savannah, particularly the month of March. Visitors can enjoy the city’s massive St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which coincides perfectly with the peak blooming season for azaleas.
Frankenmuth Michigan: Of Bavarian Heritage and the world’s largest Christmas Store
Frankenmuth is a small town in Michigan, located about 90 miles north of Detroit. If you are looking for a German town in the USA, Frankenmuth is your answer.
The entire town feels like it’s steeped in Bavarian-style architecture, pale-blue-and-white Bavarian and symbols reflecting their heritage.
The German influence of Frankenmuth dates back to the mid 1800, when generations of Franconian Lutherans immigrated here. The best time to visit the town is during the Bavarian Festival in mid June. This is when the entire town is decked up with Germany/Bavaria related paraphernalia with live music, food and insignia.
The next best time to visit Frankenmuth is during Christmas. Here you will find Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, named the ‘world’s largest Christmas store’. You can easily spend a few hours there looking for Christmas ornaments and goodies to take back home.
New Glarus Village, Wisconsin: Little Switzerland of North America
New Glarus is a village located in Green County, Wisconsin. The village is named after the canton of Glarus in Switzerland, and hence the nickname ; ‘Little Switzerland’.
New Glarus was founded by Swiss immigrants in 1845, and today after 160 the village is a popular tourist destination, often visited to explore old world architecture, ethnic Swiss dining, including the famous New Glarus craft brewery.
Inside the town, you will find Swiss-style chalets and flower boxes adorning the streets and Swiss flags welcoming you.
New Orleans, LA: French Quarter and old world European Charm
Located in Louisiana, New Orleans needs no introduction. Known for its annual Mardi Gras festival, NOLA invites you to their French Quarter, Jackson Square, and the cemetery and transports you to European, and African vibes.
If you didn’t know New Orleans is popular for its nightlife, live music and is considered to be one of the best culinary destinations in the USA.
The French influence in New Orleans can be traced back to 1718, when the French explorer came and took over (for the crown). The city was named after the Duke of Orleans.
As you wander through the main street in NOLA, you will love the French and Spanish architectural details everywhere. This is where festivities take place, and is also home to amazing restaurants, lodges and tourist sites.
Spanish colonial influences are evident from the Jackson Square, which was previously known as Place d’Armes (or Plaza de Armas in Spanish). The famed St Louis Cathedral is also visible from here.
From the French to the Spanish influence in food and outlook, NOLA will not disappoint you!
Santa Barbara, California: European vibes
Contributed by Daria from The Discovery Nut
For travelers who want to get a European experience without leaving the United States, there are a few places better than the iconic Santa Barbara in California.
The city has a rich colonial heritage and many historic landmarks where visitors can learn about how this area was established by the Spanish colonists and later evolved into one of the most vibrant cities along Central California’s Coast.
The history of Santa Barbara is best seen in El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, a former military outpost that was built by the Spanish settlers to protect their territory. Today, El Presidio is an open-air museum that boasts the second oldest building in California called El Cuartel.
The city is also home to the most beautiful courthouse in the United States, the historic Mission Santa Barbara and Casa Del La Guerra – the architectural masterpieces that give you a glimpse into the history without having to fly overseas.
Aside from that, visitors can also enjoy great recreational opportunities such as hiking, kayaking and surfing. Santa Barbara provides quick access to some of the most beautiful beaches in California such as East Beach or Butterfly Beach.
One of the best hotels in Santa Barbara is Hotel Californian located close to the beach and things to do.
Tarpon Springs, Florida: Of Greek heritage & prettiest waterfront
Tarpon Springs in Florida has the largest population of citizens with the Greek heritage of any city in the United States. And is fondly called the ‘Greek town’.
Historic downtown Tarpon Springs is the place to be, to learn about its history and culture and visit museums. Downtown is also known as the Antique District and is a great shopping destination for vintage lovers. Here you will find antique jewelry, clothing, furniture, and collectibles.
Being steeped in Greek history, it’s no surprise the city is filled with Greek restaurants, and coffee shops, and they all look cute with white and blue colors.
When you visit Tarpon Springs, you must explore Sunset Beach (maybe go on a cruise), which is another popular hang out place in the city.
In terms of festivals, if you are heading to the city in June, do check out the Opa! Palooza Greek Festival. In mid-November, you can participate in the Sponge Docks Seafood Festival, which is a culinary celebration popular with seafood lovers.
Belgium, WI: City’s Luxembourgish culture awaits you
Contributed by Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Belgium is a small city located in Wisconsin that is popularly known as America’s new Luxembourg. It is Ozaukee County’s international destination as most of its population consists of people of Luxembourg. Belgium is also home to the International Luxembourg American Cultural Center.
The city’s Luxembourgish culture comes back from the 1840s when immigrants from Luxembourg started to settle here. The town was created in the year 1848 and you can still witness reminders of immigrant stone houses in the city.
If you want to explore the city’s historical heritages, you must make a visit to Belgium’s historic downtown, the old stone St. Mary’s Church and the International Luxembourg American Cultural Center. The city also offers a lot of other things to do that include visiting its popular Harrington Beach State Park and Ozaukee Interurban Trail.
Despite its remarkable history and popular heritages, Belgium is a small destination to travel to. If you want to spend a nice and relaxing vacation, you can visit this popular city of Wisconsin. Other popular things that you can enjoy on your visit include water skiing and trail running, visiting the Silent Wake, having lunch at Kyote’s Bar & Grill and more.
Some pet-friendly cabins in Wisconsin also allow you to enjoy a stay with your pets. Though, one of the popular preferences of travelers is The Belgium Inn and Suites.
The city has a convenient distance from popular places like Milwaukee, Port Washington, and Chicago offering year-round activities for visitors.
Belfast, Maine: Of European settlers and seafood
Belfast is a coastal city located in Maine, and it is one of the places to hit in New England during fall. The city has a ton of history from indigeous tribes to the arrival of the European settlers.
The area was home to Abenaki Native Americans, and in 1630, it became part of the Muscongus Patent, which granted rights for English trading posts for conducting fur trade. Later in 1720, General Samuel Waldo of Boston bought the Patent, and took over the ownership of the land.
The city was named Belfast after Belfast, in Northern Ireland and you can easily see nuances of the 18th century settlers from the architecture, food and museums. During your visit you must check out the 1818 First Church and the 1857 Custom House and Post Office.
For food, try out seafood like lobsters, scallops, herrings and mackerel. It is interesting to note that when the city was re-building in the late 19th century, it was providing seafood to Boston and New York markets.
Charleston, SC: Of historic churches and European vibes
Contributed by Rachel & Clark from Seeking Our Someday
Charleston, South Carolina’s cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and historic churches make this city feel like a European town in the middle of the American South. Like most European cities, Charleston has a rich cultural past.
Originally founded in 1670, and named in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston has transformed from a city of plantations and agriculture to be one of the top tourist destinations in the world. This small, walkable city is a great destination for couples seeking a romantic weekend getaway, as well as families looking for a kid-friendly vacation.
Walking through the French Quarter neighborhood, stopping into the local shops, and watching sunset along the waterfront gives a great view into Charleston’s historic past.
The French Quarter Inn is a beautiful place to stay in the heart of Charleston with walking access to almost everything in the city. Just outside of Charleston, the Magnolia Plantation and Boone Hall Plantation offer tours of their grounds and gardens.
On a warm summer day, visiting the beaches at nearby Sullivan’s Island or Folly Island is a great way to cool down and take a break from city life. Charleston has so much to offer making it a great destination for anyone traveling through the Carolinas. This coastal city with sailboats and towering palm trees feels like it’s straight out of the French Riviera.
Boston, Massachusetts: For Irish vibes
Contributed by Lara from The Best Travel Gifts
Some people may think of Boston as a classic American city. A city with high skyscrapers and wide and straight streets. However, if you take a random side turn to the older part of town you may find yourself in small cobbled street alleys, with English-style brown brick houses. And without boarding a plane you found yourself in an Irish town.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Irish immigrants settled in Boston and founded a large part of the city. From the streets and houses, the old-fashioned Irish pubs (of which you will find many in Boston), and the Old South Church, you will feel the Irish vibe.
Some of the best things to do in Boston to feel as if you are wandering in Ireland include visits to Beacon Hill Historic District, The Gibson House, The King’s Chapel, and Old State House.
And one way to explore all these sites in one day is by following the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a free walking trail marked by bricks on the road which takes you along the history of the American revolution. There is a free app that will teach about all the places the Freedom Trail takes you.
Apart from experiencing the Irish vibe there are quite a few cool things to do in Boston, such as checking out the harbor, visiting the Boston Tea Party Museum, or admiring the city from the top of the Skywalk Observatory.
If you would also like to stay in an Irish-style hotel, we recommend checking out Hotel No. 284.
Solvang, California: Danish heritage and vibes
Contributed by Dhara from Roadtripping California
If you are looking for a little piece of Europe in California, head to the village of Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley! Perfect as a day trip from Santa Barbara (or LA) or for a longer relaxed getaway, Solvang will charm you with its cute architecture.
Established in the early 1900s by a group of Danes who came west to escape the winters in the Midwest, Solvang was meant to be a Danish-American Colony with a Lutheran church and school. The Lutheran Church was the first building to be built in a Danish architectural style.
The first of Solvang’s five large windmills, a distinctive feature of the village, was constructed soon after. Later, a local architect added Danish facades (with half-timbers) to many of the existing buildings, creating the Danish look and feel we see today.
When you visit Solvang, wander around the quaint village and look for buildings and landmarks that remind you of Copenhagen, from Tivoli Square to the Round Tower and the copy of the Little Mermaid Statue.
Step into one (or three!) of the Danish bakeries in town, to sample Danish pastries and aebleskivers, traditional Danish desserts that are made in special pans and look like doughnut holes. They taste like sweet pancake balls and are served with jam or powdered sugar or syrup.
There are lots of souvenir shops to browse for Danish-themed keepsakes as you wander the streets of the village. And since the Santa Ynez Valley is one of California’s renowned wine regions, you can sample local wines at one of several tasting rooms (Santa Barbara County Wine Country).
If you enjoy museums, there are several museums in Solvang from which to pick: some explore Danish history and culture and art, while others are focused on American culture.
King Frederik Inn is located in the heart of the village and is a great place to stay in Solvang.
Kansas City, Missouri: Spanish architecture & reminisces of Seville
Contributed by Camp Coffee from Mapsovercoffee.com
Most people who fall in love with a city dream of someday living there. Some adventurous souls actually take the plunge and move. Others just build their own version closer to home.
At least, that’s what J.C. Nichols decided to do so after visiting Seville, Spain in 1921.
As seen by replicas of both Plaza de Los Reyes and Giralda Tower, The Country Club Plaza is more than a mere tip of the hat toward Moorish architecture.
Beyond the Spanish architecture, there are many eclectic mixes of European influences – from fountains to murals to statues, the inspiration is unmistakable.
Designed as a shopping district with the automotive crowd in mind, The Country Club Plaza was the first of its kind. Wide parking spaces, drive-in banking and hidden parking structures made it the first to cater to shoppers traveling by car.
Lacking beaches and mountains, midwesterners fill much of their leisure time eating and shopping. And The Plaza offers a tremendous variety of opportunities for both.
Of course, you would expect barbecue in Kansas City and Jack Stack Barbecue is not a bad ambassador of the style. However, it was primarily designed as a high-end shopping area. That tradition continues with shops like Burberry and West Elm.
But don’t miss local shops like Made in KC Marketplace where you can find a variety of creations from local artists and artisans. Summer nights are filled with street musicians while winter nights are lit by seasonal lights.
Get a good night’s sleep within walking distance of the shops and restaurants, including the beautiful The Embassy Suites. The Embassy Suites reflect the Spanish Revival style with interior balconies overlooking the central atrium. With top-notch service and amenities, you will be refreshed for one more day of exploring Kansas City.
Las Vegas, Nevada: A little bit of everything European
If you want to experience a little bit of everything European then Las Vegas is the answer. From staying at Paris Las Vegas hotel and admiring the Eiffel tower, checking out Caesars Palace to going on a Gondola ride through Venetian canals, Vegas is a perfect destination to have fun, shop for French and Italian labels, food, and wine.
We hope this round-up of Europe like destinations in the USA inspired you to learn a little more about the history and culture of these popular and offbeat places in the Americas, and maybe add them to your bucket list!
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