You may harbor fantasies about traveling to Europe someday. But if “someday” has been in the cards for years, then it’s time to make those Euro-travel dreams a reality! You can do just that by visiting a few American towns that look European. You might be surprised by their authenticity and charm. Here are five that you should add to your must-visit list.
1. Pella, IA
It’s no wonder that Pella, Iowa, bears such a resemblance to a quaint European town. It was founded in the mid-19th century by 800 Dutch immigrants. Their mission was to escape the religious persecution and famine they suffered in the Netherlands. As they left, they committed to naming the new city “Pella,” a reference to the Jordanian city that was a refuge for Christians during the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The city’s highlight is the Vermeer Windmill, which was built in Holland, dismantled, and brought to America in the early 2000s. It’s now the largest working windmill in the country. Another landmark is the Tulip Tower, another iconic representative of Dutch culture and a key element of the Tulip Time parades that occur in May. Be sure to stop into Jaarsma Bakery, a family-owned area institution that opened in 1898. It’s renowned for its homemade Dutch pastries! There are also compact specialty boutiques carrying everything from gifts to antiques.
2. Leavenworth, WA
Expect magic when you arrive in Leavenworth, Washington. Against the backdrop of the magnificent Cascade Mountains, the city is about 120 miles from Seattle. It offers quintessential mountain living at its very best which is so true to the Bavarian culture that you’ll almost forget for a moment that you’re actually in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a very small town with a population of approximately 2,000 but is packed with curious tourists who want to experience a little taste of Germany in America. The architecture is characteristic of the country, the roads are dusted with snow throughout winter, and wildflowers coat the ground during spring. Festival life is definitely a thing in Leavenworth so you won’t be able to leave without experiencing at least one. There’s Oktoberfest in the fall, of course, along with the Autumn Leaf Festival, the Christmas Lighting Festival, and the Bavarian Bike & Brew during summer.
3. New Glarus, WI
Affectionately known as “America’s Little Switzerland,” New Glarus is among the most beloved small towns in Wisconsin. Founded in 1845 as a Swiss colony, the area became a village in the early 20th century. Since then, it has remained a beacon of Swiss-style heritage and culture in America. You’ll find traditional Alpine architecture at every turn, along with plenty of delicious regional delicacies to whet your appetite. Among the city’s highlights is the delightful Swiss Historical Village & Museum, where you can enjoy a self-guided tour of the area’s most noteworthy Swiss landmarks. Many are replicas, but the 19th-century settler cabin is well worth a glance if you want to get an idea of how the earliest residents lived. Stop into Puempel’s Olde Tavern, founded in 1893, for a pint and a hearty sandwich. Need a place to stay? Pop into the Chalet Landhaus Inn, immediately notable for its traditional, wide, low-pitched roof and classic Swiss décor.
4. Helen, GA
People flock to Helen, Georgia, for its small-town appeal. Home to just a few hundred people, the city enjoys a privileged position in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It replicates a traditional Bavarian village, complete with cobbled pathways and native meals. The city was originally a logging destination for Native Americans before Europeans settled the area during the 19th century. The timber industry dwindled through the years, and as business declined, town leaders decided to transform it into an ersatz German attraction. In 1968, Helen as a Bavarian village was born. Warm colors flooded the streets, dramatic architecture recalled old-world Germany, and imposing towers cast shadows on the cobblestone roads. There are festivals aplenty year-round, from the Bavarian Nights of Summer to the WineFest held every spring.
5. Solvang, CA
Solvang is an actual Danish village founded in 1911. It was during this period that the Danish-American Colony Corporation purchased some 10,000 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley in California. The new owners named the colony Solvang, or “sunny field.” Settlers quickly made their home here and swiftly transformed it into a vibrant farming town. It was so renowned that it even drew members of the Danish royal family over the decades. Authentic foods and beverages are a tourist highlight here and among the many reasons why people consider it one of the most impressive American towns that look European. Be sure to stop into the Hans Christian Andersen Museum to learn more about the beloved author. If you’re visiting in September, prepare for the Danish Heritage Festival and celebrate the holiday in style, complete with dancing, music, food, and parades.
Book Your Domestic Euro Getaway Today
Why book a flight when you can enjoy the creature comforts of Europe in North America? These American towns that look European are easily worth a bus journey! Head to BusTickets.com to book your trip today.