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 American towns that feel like dream European destinations. From tulips to genuine cobblestone to classic architecture, these places have all the feels of a European vacation.
Can you check all of these US cities off your travel bucket list?
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans' French Quarter is also known as Vieux CarrÃ© (pronounced 'voo car-ray'), which translates to "Old Square." And, it doesn't get closer to a European vibe than this. Some say it feels more like Europe here than America. In the oldest neighborhoods, you see both Spanish and French architecture. Plus, the overall feel is nothing like what most people think of when it comes to American living.
For example, for a city this size, it's walkable. Many homes are located near the basic amenities like dry cleaners, restaurants, and shops. Public transit is available, but most people do not need to use it on a daily basis -- many would rather ride a bike.
2. Santa Barbara, California
If you're dreaming of the Mediterranean, specifically the French Riviera, you have to check out Santa Barbara. The sunny coastline, the architecture, and the people will take you to that far off land you've been yearning for.
While you're there, you'll want to check out the County Courthouse and Shoreline Park first. Then, hop over to Cold Spring Tavern for a refreshing beverage. Order an Old Fashioned to enhance the European tone -- it's a timeless choice.
3. Charleston, South Carolina
First of all, Charleston has all the charm of a European vacation with the hospitality of the South. The city is known for its many churches and cobblestone streets. Plus, it's full of history and eclectic cafes, boutiques, and galleries.
If you only ever visit one city in South Carolina, this should be it, and you can do it any time of year with such mild weather. It's rare for temps to drop below 50, even in the winter. So, come check out America's "Holy City" when you get the chance.
4. Boston, Massachusetts
A walk through Boston's historic district displays cobblestone pathways and classic architecture that can make you feel as if you've stepped into Great Britain. Many cities in the metro area are even named after cities in England.
The weather in Massachusetts isn't always as forgiving as some states, but snow can be a ton of fun. In the Spring or Summer, take a walk along the north end of the waterfront and people watch, then spend time in the Public Garden
, the first public botanical garden in America.
5. Venice Canals, California
Venice Beach, California looks like...well...Venice, Italy. At least part of the area does. Visit the Venice Canals and it will seem just like Europe in Southern Cali. These canals were placed on purpose by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 to bring a taste of Italian culture to America.
Eventually, most of the original canals were removed, but one remains. From the Boardwalk, head southeast to South Venice Boulevard and Dell Avenue to access the bridges. You may even see a local rowing their gondola on the way to visit a neighbor.
6. Holland, Michigan
Holland, Michigan shares the mood of precisely where you would expect: the Netherlands. Dutch Village is a must-see for anyone who has ever dreamed of a Danish getaway. While you're there, check out the only authentic, working, Dutch windmill in the country: DeZwaan Windmill.
If you're in the area in early May, check out the Tulip Time Festival
, a local annual event that has been happening since 1929. You'll see more than just flowers here. National entertainment, family-friendly activities, and beautiful Lake Michigan sights are worth a trip.
7. St. Augustine, Florida
This place feels like Spain. One of the most stunning aspects of St. Augustine, Florida is The Bridge of Lions. While it is intended for automobiles, you can walk across the mile-long marvel for a fun workout and an up-close view of the water.
It costs nothing to check out the beautiful Spanish architecture the city has to offer. The Lightner Museum
, on the other hand, costs $15 for entry and can show you even more. Then, stop for refreshments at a cafe on historic St. George Street when you're ready to relax.
8. Pella, Iowa
The tagline for this city is, "A Touch of Holland." If you ever have the chance to visit, you'll understand why. Pella, Iowa's culture and architecture are influenced tremendously by that of Western Europe.
Like Holland, Michigan, Pella also holds noteworthy Tulip Time celebrations
in the community. Parades, special museum tours, and displays can keep you busy for a week in early May, which is probably the best time to visit.
9. Portland, Oregon
Travelers to the Pacific Northwest have said over and over that Portland, Oregon feels like Berlin. Perhaps this is because of the cobblestone streets in certain areas. Maybe it's because of the cable car. Either way, Portland and surrounding suburbs can be fantastic places to visit when you're craving some culture.
The people in Portland are as diverse as they come, and the town's unofficial slogan is, "Keep Portland Weird." Find out what's happening at the Portland Theater
before you plan your trip. You might be able to enjoy broadway shows, musicals, plays, or concerts.
10. Tarpon Springs, Florida
The heritage of Tarpon Springs, Florida is predominantly Greek. When you visit, you will definitely feel the vibes of Greece. Take your pick of Greek food, as there are plenty of homestyle restaurants with recipes that taste as if they've been perfected through generations.
If you want more than just traditional eateries, visit while the annual Opa Palooza happens at the Historic Sponge Docks of Tarpon (usually in June). Meet locals and fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
11. Leavenworth, Washington
If you didn't know better, pictures taken of Leavenworth, Washington could pass as the Swiss or Bavarian Alps. This faux-Bavarian village feels as if Northern Europe has come to America with the many confectionary shops and trinket stores. Here, you'll see locals dressed in traditional Bavarian garb.
The delightful town is the result of a community once on the brink of economic collapse. They came together with the idea to recreate their favorite place on earth, which has now become a popular tourist attraction, especially during Oktoberfest
12. Helen, Georgia
Another place that will put you in the mindset of a quaint Bavarian town is Helen, Georgia. This southern town, nestled against the Chattahoochee River, is known as the state's "Little Bavaria." If you like souvenirs, you will love the fact that you have over 200 specialty shops to choose from in the area.
If you're more into outdoors, there's something for you here too. Hop into a hot air balloon, grab an inner tube and float the river, or enjoy a stay in a rustic cabin and roast marshmallows in the evenings. You have to see it for yourself.
13. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This east coast US city has many of the same amenities and charm as others like Boston. Yet, anyone who has visited will tell you that they're not the same. The City of Brotherly Love has its own unique European charm, primarily driven by the details of the architecture.
First of all, The Philadelphia Museum of Art
looks like a Greek temple. If you're an architecture buff, this building alone is worth a cross-country trip. It's plain to see that the renaissance revival of the 19th century had a strong hand in the city's design.
14. Herman, Missouri
Herman, Missouri was known for its German heritage and vineyards (yes, Germans drink wine too). Five city blocks are still dedicated to traditional German architecture. The town is a photographer's paradise.
While you're here, take a stroll through downtown and stop in at Deutschheim State Historic Site to learn more about the area. Then, visit one of the nearby wineries for a glass of centuries-old European tradition.
15. Solvang, California
Solvang, California stands out tremendously from the rest of the state. It feels more like Europe than the rolling hills and beaches of west coast America. The city is known for the Danish buildings and (like other towns in the state) local wineries.
If you've ever wanted to go visit Denmark, there might be a closer solution, especially if you like vintage motorbikes. The city is home to Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum
, which rotates a broad collection of foreign bikes monthly.
So, will you add any of these cities to your perfect travel bucket list? No matter where you decide to visit, you should look for the best deals. You can count on The Parking Spot for savings on parking near 22 major US airports
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