There are a large number of picturesque villages and interesting landmarks throughout Europe and there are many cities in the United States that resemble beautiful and historic locations in Europe. Before tourists spend hundreds, or more likely thousands, flying across the ocean, they might want to consider looking closer to home.
You can get a taste of European culture here in the United States, and thankfully, you don’t need a passport to do so. The following 10 cities have the ability to make visitors feel like they’ve traveled all the way to Europe without actually leaving the country.
10 St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida, has an achievement that no other city or municipality in the United States with Spanish ancestry can claim: Among European settlements, it is the oldest continuously inhabited. It was not until 1565 that Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, a Spanish admiral, made it from Spain to the coast.
Many buildings in the city have been around since its founding, such as the Catholic Mission of the Nombre de Dios and the oldest masonry fort in the United States, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Tourists who plan a trip to St. Augustine to experience this will not be disappointed.
9 West, Texas
West, located between Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, is known as the “Czech Heritage Capital of Texas” because it is home to the largest concentration of Czech immigrants in the state.
While most people driving along I-35 probably don’t give the West a second thought, savvy tourists recognize it as kolache paradise.
The state of Texas recognizes the West as the “home of the official kolache of the Texas Legislature” because of the many bakeries in the area that specialize in these Czech pastries filled with fruits like cherries or apricots.
8 Natchitoches, Louisiana
While many would choose New Orleans as the cultural center of French influence in the United States, another contender lies just 300 miles from the northwest corner of the country. The French adventurer Louis Juchereau of St. Denis Natchitoches, the earliest European colony in the Louisiana Purchase area, in 1714.
The 33-block Historic Landmark District houses the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the original parish church of the area, and is a good place to get a feel for the town’s French flair any time of year, not just around Mardi Gras.
7 Lindsborg, Kansas
Lindsborg is a haven for Swedish handicrafts such as the dala horses painted on the town’s streets and earning the town the nickname “Little Sweden”. Traditional Swedish baked goods such as lingonberry bars and pancakes can be found at bakeries.
Svensk Hyllningsfest is a biennial celebration that celebrates the Swedish pioneers who founded the town in 1868. During the event, residents dress in traditional Swedish clothing to honor their ancestors.
6 New Glarus, Wisconsin
There are many things that travelers can only see in Wisconsin. The Swiss canton of Glarus, located in eastern Switzerland, is where New Glarus got its name. In 1845, residents of the region first established a settlement in Wisconsin.
The town pays homage to its Swiss ancestry by building structures in the style of Swiss chalets and by hosting events such as the Heidi Folk Festival. New Glarus is the only city in the United States with a chapter of the Swiss Heritage Society, and its businesses sell cheese and chocolate brought all the way from Europe.
5 New Orleans, Louisiana
The French Quarter is the oldest area in New Orleans, but most of the buildings in the area are Spanish in style. As a result of a fire in the late 1700s, most of it had to be rebuilt at that time, while the city was still controlled by Spain.
Spain is not the only European influence that can be seen in New Orleans today, however. The city is a synthesis of European cultures, especially French, Irish and Italian. People can visit New Orleans without a car because there are many transportation options.
4 Tarpon Springs, Florida
Put Santorini on the back burner; This Gulf Coast city has all the charm of a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean and lots of things to do in Florida. At the beginning of the 20th century, large numbers of Greeks immigrated here, and the city boasts that its Greek-American population is the largest in the United States.
Visitors to the Sponge Docks will feel like they’ve landed on a Greek island in the middle of the Mediterranean rather than the Gulf Coast, thanks to the abundance of traditional wooden boats. And one won’t find it difficult to find delicious Greek cuisine here as well.
3 Venice, California
A bustling coastal town with pockets of upmarket business and residential areas, Venice is known for its bohemian vibe. It’s hard to deny the similarities between this town in California and the famous town located in Italy.
Both sites include an abundance of canals and bridges, but humans built the waterways at the site in the United States. The beautiful canal enclave is flanked by residences designed in a modern style. However, it is a great site to see.
2 Pella, Iowa
Visitors to this Midwestern city will feel like they’re in the Netherlands due, in part, to the city’s buildings, which are designed in the Dutch style, and to the huge windmill that can be seen in the center of town.
The Tulip Time Festival is an annual event held in Pella, Iowa, one of many notable things to do in Iowa, that takes place during the month of May. Attendees can enjoy viewing the spectacular blooms while eating traditional Dutch food and watching parades of people dressed in Dutch clothing.
1 Vail, Colorado
The town’s excellent ski resorts are probably why most people are familiar with it. Zermatt, Switzerland, was the inspiration for the development of Vail, located at the foot of the Matterhorn, much like Vail, Colorado, located at the foot of Vail Mountain.
The wonderful woodwork that is typical of the Swiss chalets can be found in many of the hotels and restaurants that are scattered throughout the opulent resort town.