7 American Towns That Feel European - Full-Time Travel

7 American Towns That Feel European

7 American Towns That Feel European

With a second wave of infections sweeping Europe, it might be some time before Americans are able to visit. But a smattering of towns across the country offer the atmosphere and aesthetic of your favorite Euro destinations, right here in the USA. Some were founded by homesick immigrants hoping to recreate a little of what they loved about their own countries, while others were built with the express purpose of attracting tourists. Either way, a visit to one of these villages might just fill the Europe-shaped hole in your heart this year. 

Helen  |  by @leahgermain

If you miss Germany, try Helen (Georgia)

In 1968, local leaders of Helen, Georgia decided to save their flailing logging town by transforming it into a Bavarian-style alpine village. Their plan to entice tourists with gingerbread trim, old world towers, and ornate shuttered windows panned out – despite a teeny population of less than 1000 people, Helen is now the state’s third most visited destination. There’s plenty to do in Helen besides drinking beer and eating schnitzel in Bavarian pubs; the town is situated in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, making it a perfect launchpad for hiking, river rafting, tubing, and even hot air ballooning. 

Tarpon Springs   |  by @photografiakam

 If you miss Greece, try Tarpon Springs (Florida)

Arriving in Tarpon Springs, Florida feels like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean. The coastal town has the largest population of Greeks in the country, and its cobblestone streets are lined with psistarias and tavernas cooking up mouthwatering traditional dishes. After you’ve gorged on your fill of souvlaki, moussaka, and sticky, sweet baklava, head down to the Anclote River docks. This is where ships unload their bounty of natural sponge from the Gulf of Mexico – once Florida’s biggest export and the primary industry in Tarpon Springs. 

Coronado Heights , Lindsborg  |  @noemigoldenphotography

If you miss Sweden, try Lindsborg (Kansas)


The town of Lindsborg in Kansas was settled by a community of Swedes in 1869. As well as religion, education, and farming (Lindsborg is situated amid the Kansas wheat belt), the arts were a pillar of the settler’s new society – a legacy now evident in Lindsborg’s Wild Dala Herd (traditional carved dala horses, painted by local artists and dotted around the town), its thriving local galleries and an annual performance-filled midsummer’s festival. About 2.4 miles northwest of Lindsborg you’ll find the cultural-mishmash landmark of Coronado Heights, a stone building inspired by Sterling Castle in Scotland, but named after the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. It’s a scenic spot for a picnic and one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography.

Solvang  |  by @eme_ere

If you miss Denmark, try Solvang (California)

In 1911, three Danish immigrants teamed up and purchased 10,000 acres in California’s Santa Ynex Valley. They used it to build Solvang, or “sunny field,” a Danish village, complete with architecture and cultural traditions inspired by their homeland. Although only a small fraction of Solvang’s current population has Danish heritage, the town’s origins are still evident everywhere you look, from the replica of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue to the bakeries selling aebleskiver (little balls made from pancake batter, dipped in raspberry jam). Another plus: Solvang is close to Santa Barbara County’s wine country.

St. Augustine

If you miss Spain, try St. Augustine (Florida)

The Floridian town of St. Augustine lays claim to the title: America’s oldest  continuously settled city. In 1513, the explorer Juan Ponce de León seized the territory on behalf of Spain, establishing St. Augustine as a primary northern outpost of the colonial empire. As a result, the entire place is dotted with historical Spanish architecture, including the Castillo de San Marcos fort, cathedral, and a restored 18th-century Spanish Quarter – a dream for hispanophiles. But St. Augustine has tons of modern appeal too, from live music at the St. Augustine Amphitheater to fancy “coffee labs” and artisanal cocktail bars. 


If you miss the Swiss Alps, try Vail (Colorado)

Thanks to its Alps-like terrain, Colorado was a training ground for soldiers practicing survival techniques during WWII. One of the men based there, Pete Siebert, later returned to shape Vail, a ski village modeled after the resort town of Zermatt, Switzerland. Pedestrianized streets wind past boutiques and restaurants housed inside decorative Swiss-style buildings – all with an alpine backdrop of snow-blanketed mountains. Siebert was also inspired by the resorts of St. Anton and Kitzbühel in Austria and Méribel, France, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to European-style après ski options. 

Sonoma County |  By Trent Erwin

If you miss Provence, France, try Sonoma County (California)

Though Sonoma has no historical ties to France, those familiar with the Provence wine region can’t help but draw parallels between the two. Like Provence, Sonoma’s rolling hills are filled with vineyards, orchards, vegetable farms and lavender gardens. Windy pathways are edged with herbs and giant oak trees, and you don’t have to cycle far to find restaurants serving coq au vin, garlicky escargots, and delicate pastries. Come golden hour, when the light is just right, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the French countryside. 

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There's more to Greece than the white and blue buildings and the surrounding Mediterranean Sea. If you're planning a visit, check out these places below!

📍Kokkinopilos. Preveza
📍Verliga Dragon lake, Thessaly
📍Ithaca island, lonian Sea
📍Aoos springs lake, Epirus
📍Lake Prespes, Macedonia
📍Balda di Stringa waterfalls, Epirus
📍Meteora, Thessaly
📍Pelion, Thessaly
📍Lake Zorika, Epirus
📍Mt Lakmos
📍Crete island, Aegean Sea
📍Gistova Dragon lake, Macedonia

Reel: @farawayfarers

Swim or kayak through the limestone cliffs of the Twin Lagoon, a must-visit destination for those traveling to Coron, Palawan, Philippines. It is called "twin" lagoon because it consists of two lagoons separated by a limestone cliff, with one lagoon on top of the other. The water in the inner lagoon is warm and clear, with a stunning turquoise color that makes it popular for swimming and snorkeling.

Reel: @travelifejournal

Take a dip in a series of seven saltwater lagoons located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The Lagoons of Baltinache are known for their beautiful turquoise waters and unique geological formations. The high concentration of minerals in the water gives it a unique buoyancy that makes swimming in the lagoons a unique experience.

Reel: @everchanginghorizon

Watching the sun rise above the clouds at Haleakalā National Park is one of the most memorable experiences you could have. Haleakalā is a Hawaiian name that means “House of the Sun” and is an awesome place to watch the clear night sky and stars fade away as the sun lights up the sky and the earth.

Reel: @girlchill_sunset

Just 1 hour from Shanghai by train, Cherry Blossom Valley is a popular tourist destination, particularly in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The valley is named after the thousands of cherry blossom trees that cover the area and create a stunning display of pink and white flowers. The trees were originally planted in the 1980s by a group of Japanese experts who were invited to China to help with reforestation efforts. The best time to visit is typically in late March or early April. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Reel: @cyncynti

New Zealand is unbelievable. See it for yourself:

1. Fiordland National Park
2. A classic backcountry hut trip
3. Blue Pools walk
4. Hooker Lake
5. Milford Sound
6. Lake Pukaki

Reel: @kylekotajarvi

Surrounded by lush greenery, towering karst mountains, and the river flowing through, the Detian Waterfall is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the close relationship between China and Vietnam. It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest cross-border waterfall in the world.

Reel: @sophoebelous

Escape to a serene and peaceful oasis away from the bustling city of Marrakech at Le Jardin Secret—a beautiful and historic garden where visitors can escape the noise and chaos and enjoy the beauty of nature. The garden was originally built in the 16th century and is home to many different species of plants, including exotic flowers, citrus trees, and palm trees.

Reel: @hypermiggzz

For a magical moment and bucket list travel experience, visit the end point of the annual monarch butterfly migration. Starting in August, the monarchs travel 2,800 miles south from Canada, making a temporary home amid the towering trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where the two most popular sanctuaries to view them are el Rosario in the state of Michoacan and Piedra Herrada in Estado de México. Standing in silence while thousands of delicate wings beat in unison is something you'll never forget.

Reel: @juliiathompson

There's just something beautiful about snow covered landscapes like this popular attraction in southwestern Utah. Known for its unique geology, @brycecanyonnps_gov consists of a series of natural amphitheaters, called "hoodoos," formed by erosion of the rock layers.

Photo: @nathanleeallen

As we experience a couple more weeks of winter, we can't help but dream of tropical destinations like Hawaii. The warm water, sunny skies, and consistent waves make it an ideal destination for surfers. Hawaii has a vibrant surf culture and community and is also a beautiful place to explore outside of the water, with lush green mountains, stunning beaches, and unique cultural experiences.

Reel: @christopherballadarez

1. @sequoiakingsnps, California
2. @canyonlandsnps, Utah
3. @olympic_nps, Washington
4. @whitesandsnps, New Mexico
5. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
6. Knik Glacier, Alaska

Reel: @nathanleeallen

Imagine getting caught in the rain while kayaking at one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Known for its stunning turquoise-colored lake, surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise is home to diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, and moose.

Reel: @reneeroaming