Bucket List Idea: Visit 10 US Towns Named After Cities in Europe
With non-essential travel off the table right now, vacation wish lists are mostly on hiatus. For the time being, people have been advised to stay at home when they can, but this doesn’t mean you can’t plan for the future.
If international travel isn’t in the cards for you (or if it’s a long-term aspiration), try visiting these small American towns named after your dream European destinations. You’ll discover hidden gems of small-town America, and get to say you visited Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, or all of the destinations on this list!
1. Amsterdam, Pennsylvania
Have you ever wanted to visit the Netherlands? Did you know there’s a closer Amsterdam, and it’s only an hour drive from the Pittsburgh International Airport? That’s right. The majority of the town’s early settlers were from Holland, which might explain how this place got its name.
While you won’t experience the famous canals or Red Light District, you can stop for a beer at Big Rail Brewing. Then, buy a souvenir at Hardisky’s Wooden Wishes inside Prairie Daze Schoolhouse. After all, you’ll need to prove that you were there.
Nearest Airport: Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Now, you could create another bucket list of cities named Amsterdam alone. There’s one in Georgia, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Have you ever seen a Twitter bio that says, “I’ve visited eleven Amsterdams without leaving the United States?” It could be fun.
2. Athens, Ohio
Nestled in southeastern Ohio, this city is not quite the Greek capital. Despite its lack of Mediterranean climate, the Appalachian charm of Athens, Ohio is not to be missed. Athens has a vibrant food and music scene and is home to Ohio University, which adds to its youthful culture.
If you’re a history buff visit the Southeast Ohio History Center, one of its numerous museums. Be sure to check out the Kennedy Museum of Art as well, which is located in an old asylum for an interesting vibe. Love the outdoors? Athens offers the state’s best mountain biking, so bring your bicycle.
Nearest Airport: Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport (PKB)
In case you’re interested, there’s an Athens in Georgia as well.
3. Berlin, Wisconsin
You might not make it to Germany any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see Berlin. This Wisconsin town in Green Lake County was named after the capital of Prussia (now the capital of Germany) in the 1800s.
This little town has two cemeteries, Oakwood and St Stanislaus. An afternoon of stone rubbing, anyone? If that’s too creepy, you could always visit the Berlin Museum of Local History or The Berlin Tannery instead. Be prepared for a paranormal experience if you make this trip.
Nearest Airport: Austin Strobel International Airport (GRB)
If you want to stay closer to a city, there’s a New Berlin just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
4. Budapest, Georgia
As you might expect, the founders of this now unincorporated community were from Hungary. What was once a landscape of vineyards is now basically just a cemetery and a 6,000 square foot mansion built by one of the town’s first residents, Father Janishek. Prohibition and poor soil conditions ultimately proved to be detrimental to this once booming winery town.
If you are willing to take this journey, check the weather in advance, bring a camera, and wear comfortable and durable shoes. The flora is probably overgrown as there are no groundskeepers for miles. If you have time for another stop, visit the neighboring town of Nitra (named after Nitra, Slovakia), which was originally settled by Slovakian immigrants.
Nearest Airport: Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
5. Copenhagen, New York
Maybe you’ve always wanted to see Denmark. If so, you might want to put this Lewis County, New York village at the top of your list. In all fairness, your experience will be nothing like a visit to the original Copenhagen in Europe. That doesn’t mean you won’t have an enjoyable time.
The population here is tiny… under 1,000 tiny. Still, the Old Mill Ice Cream Shop might have the best strawberry milkshake you’ve ever had. As you can imagine, The Amish Connection has remarkable-quality furniture, decor, and gifts.
Nearest Airport: Watertown International Airport (ART)
Craving more U.S.-based/international-themed travel? Check out the neighboring towns of Rome, Florence, and Antwerp — all within an hour away.
6. Dublin, California
This bucket list idea won’t lead you to the green, rugged hills of Ireland. But, it will take you to the suburbs. Dublin, California is the “crossroads of the Bay Area,” according to the official city website. Alamilla Springs is a historical landmark where travelers used to change horses and freshen up on long journeys.
Dublin’s ten-acre park, with historic buildings and an Irish cemetery, shows some of the pre-suburbia history of the town when it was settled in the mid 1850s. On a nice day you can enjoy the lawns or have lunch at one of the picnic tables in the park.
Nearest Airport: Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (OAK)
For extra credit, after you check Paris, Texas off your list, make the three and a half-hour drive to Dublin, Texas as well.
7. Florence, Alabama
Built next to the Tennessee River, Florence, Alabama is a sight to see. Experience southern living at its finest — a drive downtown will reveal stunning historical homes. Don’t pass through town without visiting Harrison Plaza at the University of North Alabama.
Other notable sights are the Pope’s Tavern Museum and the Florence Indian Mound and Museum, both kid-friendly. A short walk from the Florence Indian Mound is the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in Alabama. The Rosenbaum House, open six days a week for tours, is known as one of the purest examples of Wright’s “Usonian” style.
Nearest Airport: Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL)
If you prefer the western U.S. coastline, take this city off your list and replace it with Florence, Oregon.
8. Paris, Texas
They say everything is bigger in Texas...except Paris. Texas’s second-edition Eiffel Tower stands at only 65 feet tall. Wearing a cowboy hat, this structure marries the iconic facade of the original Paris landmark with a classic Texas oil-drilling tower.
Need another reason to visit? Kevin Heubusch named Paris the “Best Small Town in Texas” in his book The New Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities. Before you visit the Paris of the southwest, be sure to watch the eponymous art-house western, named after the city itself.
Nearest Airport: Dallas Love Field (DAL)
There are towns called Paris in Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, and Missouri as well.
9. Warsaw, Illinois
Just downstream the Mississippi River from Mark Twain’s childhood home, this town is known for its brewery and historic downtown. While much smaller than it’s Polish namesake, you can find unusual things to do in Warsaw. For example, the Muddy Hog Fest boasts country-style fun and mud pits.
Originally open for a century starting in the mid-1800s, the Warsaw Brewery reopened in 2006 as a bar and microbrewery. Stop in for a drink when you’re in the neighborhood.
Nearest Airport: Southeast Iowa Regional Airport (BRL)
Alternatively, you could check out Warsaw in Indiana or Missouri instead.
10. Zurich, Kansas
It’s no Switzerland, but this small American community (with a population of just under 100) is worth checking out. In the late 1800s, the Union Pacific Railroad was routed just south of town, which was named Zurich by a Swiss couple who settled on the plains in the mid 1800s.
In 1918, most of the township’s business district was destroyed in a fire. While commerce never fully recouped, there are still things to see. Landscape photographers and Instagrammers could have a hay day. Bring a drone for one-of-a-kind aerial farm photography.
Nearest Airport: Salina Municipal Airport (SLN)
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