Craving a far-flung escape? Dreaming of walking the cobblestone streets of Europe? Who says you have to cross the planet for a taste of the Old World?
Yep, you don’t have to go far at all; in fact, you can stay domestic! There are so many places in the US that look like Europe, you just have to know where to look.
If you’re looking to travel Europe, sans the passport, have I got a list for you. From Michigan to Florida and beyond, you can soak in that European charm anywhere in the good old US of A.
Here are the top European-style cities in America to visit!
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is one of the most charming U.S. cities and it definitely exudes quintessential European vibes.
Spending three days in Charleston, I fell in love with this Southern charmer. While this foodie paradise is famous for its mouthwatering Southern-fried grub and downhome hospitality, I often found myself feeling like I was strolling the English countryside.
Walking amongst the pastel houses and horse-drawn carriages of South Carolina’s charming port city, it’s easy to see the draw of Charleston.
Architecture aficionados will fall in love wandering amongst the Colonial, Georgian Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Art Deco facades. Surfers, fishers, and sun-worshippers will find more than their fair share of shoreline.
Though there isn’t a strong cultural connection, there is something about the aesthetics and atmosphere here that reminded me of the quaint towns spotting the English countryside.
Charleston is a DREAMY place to explore as a solo traveler, on a mother-daughter getaway, for a girls’ trip, or with your love!
St. Augustine, Florida
One of my fave lesser-known weekend getaways in the United States, this historical city is one of the greatest gems of the Sunshine State.
History, beach days, and Southern treats (namely butter pecan milkshakes) are all hallmarks of St. Augustine.
Located on the northeast coast of Florida, St. Augustine is the oldest, continuously occupied European settlement in North America, thus, it dishes up some serious European charm.
You’ll get a healthy dose of Moorish-style architecture mixed with Spanish colonial styles. Founded in 1565 as a Spanish colonial outpost, St. Augustine predates the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth Rock by 55 years.
Wanderer the city’s 144-block Historic District on foot or bike and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Santa Barbara, California
While you’ll find a lot of places in California brimming with Spanish influence, Santa Barbara definitely takes the cake. Located just 100 miles north of Los Angeles, this sun-soaked city is a dream year-round destination.
Whether you want to taste wine and admire the Spanish influence or go for tacos and party the night away, this is the place to be. Plan your dream beach escape in this California dream with my complete Santa Barbara guide.
State Street is a dream to walk down, shop at eclectic boutiques, and explore. You’ll find some fantastic restaurants and breweries here, too!
Santa Barbara is definitely a must. If you’re going on a California coast road trip, it makes an excellent weekend getaway for those based in Southern California or Northern California.
Solvang is one of the top European-style cities in America, and the minute you step foot into town, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Denmark.
Located about 45 minutes from Santa Barbara, Solvang is one of my top recommendations for places to visit on a California coast road trip.
Ever since the Danish immigrants arrived in 1911, Solvang has held onto its love for the motherland. Admire the incredible architecture, snapshots of the windmills, and shop for arsenal European souvenirs.
Fun Fact: Solvang means sunny field!
This little town is famous for its breweries, Danish-inspired architecture, Danish pastries, and Ebelskivers (which are Danish pancakes that pair well with lingonberry jam!).
There are a number of Danish bakeries around, so take your pick from the lot! You can’t go wrong with Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery or Mortensen’s Bakery.
This little town is adorable year-round but if you come during the holidays you’ll be dazzled by their Christmas markets.
While in this area of the Central Coast of California, you’ll definitely want to venture to Los Olivos and Ballard for some olive oil tasting and see all the charm the area has to offer.
New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s no doubt about it: New Orleans is definitely an American city that feels like Europe.
Far more than a party city, New Orleans is one of the most fascinating cities in the country. This southern belle has a true one-of-a-kind culture that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Soak in the stunning mansions and Parisian inspired cafes of the French Quarter. Uncover the history of the Spanish and learn about the rich African-inspired culture, and you’ll feel transported across the Atlantic.
Founded by the French in 1718, New Orleans changed hands between the French and Spanish several times before being acquired by the US in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Fun Fact: Even though it’s called the French Quarter, did you know that it’s actually comprised of almost all Spanish-style buildings?
The buildings and architecture in New Orleans reflect its multicultural heritage and you’ll find a mix of Creole cottages to historic mansions and gorgeous wrapping balconies reminiscent of styles you’d find in France and Spain.
Plan a long weekend in New Orleans and see just what makes this place so magical.
Everything from the food to the culture to buildings is unique to New Orleans, so if you’re wanting to travel a world away (without actually going international), NOLA is the place.
Newport, Rhode Island
If you’ve been itching for a getaway to the South of France and dreaming of Nice — Newport is a fabulous stateside alternative to the French Riveria.
Known for its Cliff Walk that takes you along the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find a fair share of historic architecture, coastal views, authentic Italian fare, and tons of seafood.
The town instinctively feels special because of the setting: glamorous Gilded Age mansions and colonial homes, epic ocean views, and gorgeous boats. It sounds like it should be pretentious, but the Rhode Island locals are friendly and everything is accessible!
The result is a town with an emphasis on oceanfront activities, outdoor entertainment, and seasonal attractions, ideal for a summer getaway.
On the prowl for a little je ne sais quoi? Jump over to my insider guide to Newport.
Named after Montpellier, France, this small town has a subtle French charm.
Brimming with boutiques, quirky cafes, and rolling green hills, Montpelier has a certain quaintness to it—and feels like you’re in the French countryside, with just a twist of New England flare.
Between the months of September and November, this is one of the most popular destinations for leaf peeping in the United States.
Montpelier transforms into one of the most beautiful places in the world every autumn. Along with nearby Stowe, this lush region is often called the color capital of the world.
While it’s gorgeous in the fall, Montpelier truly is a great destination year-round. Whether you are soaking in the French-inspired charm of summers or snapping colorful fall pics and embracing all the New England vibes, Montpelier should be on your radarr.
Carmel by the Sea, California
In case you missed my 10 places to visit in California that aren’t Los Angeles, you might not have heard of one of California’s best-kept secrets: Carmel by the Sea. This adorable little town is dotted with cottages that look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale.
And let me tell you…it’s love at first sight.
Exploring the picture-perfect coastline, I felt like I was transported to the epic seaside coves and cliffs of Cinque Terre.
The area is known for the iconic 17-Mile Drive, which takes you on an enchanting stretch of dramatic coastal cliffs, snow-white beaches, green golf courses, and beautiful forests. It may just be one of the most scenic drives in the world.
If you’ve been thinking about a coastal California road trip, Carmel by the Sea definitely deserves a spot. While it’s a little sleepy, that’s part of the charm that makes it oh-so-romantic.
Napa Valley, California
Who says that you have to cross the Atlantic to find the best vintages? From chardonnay to Zinfandel, the good ol’ US of A is bottling up some of the top vinos in the world.
Whether you’re a wine lover or looking to escape to nature, a weekend in Napa Valley is a true bucket list item. This picturesque region reminds me of the endless vineyards of Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy.
While in the area, you’ll definitely want to pop over to Sonoma! Though a little smaller, Sonoma packs just as much punch. 🙂
This is one of the top cities in America with European charm!
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed me gushing over the uber magical mountainside town of Leavenworth. Just LOOK at these pics, and you’ll understand why it was love at first sight.
You can cozy up in Leavenworth for a weekend in the winter — it’s a super popular destination during the holidays.
If you can’t make it up during Christmas, they usually keep their holiday décor up until sometime in February. As you stroll through the town, it looks just like a German village.
You’ll definitely want to check out Icicle Brewing Company to sample the local beers while filling up on grilled cheese, soup, and pretzels. Another popular pick for homemade pretzels, schnitzel, and German beer is the Andreas Keller restaurant.
From mulled wine in the Christmas market to long summer evenings in the beer garden, the German-inspired town of Leavenworth is well worth the trip.
Want to see the most beautiful array of fall colors? Sip on a stein of beer at an official Oktoberfest celebration? Get to Michigan!
Also known as Little Bavaria, this magical little town has far more schnitzel, lederhosen, and polka than you’ve ever expected to see in the Midwest. And, fun fact: this was the first place outside of Munich to get the city’s official Oktoberfest seal of approval (which apparently is a thing!).
Forget what you think you know about Texas! The German-influenced town of Fredericksburg is filled to the brim with German charm.
At the Pioneer Museum, you can learn more about the city’s German heritage with the displays of settlers’ homesteads and artifacts.
In the town square, also known as Marktplatz, the Vereins Kirche is a replica of a 19th-century German church that once stood in the heart of the city.
One of the top wine getaways in the United States, and one of the best flower destinations on the planet, this lovely town will steal your heart.
While it’s home to only 430 people, Helen is actually the third most visited city in Georgia. As soon as you set foot in this quaint town, you’ll know why.
The mountain town in northeast Georgia is known for its Bavarian-style buildings and bountiful vineyards.
Helen looks exactly like a Bavarian Alpine village, complete with cobblestone streets. It has more than 200 specialty and import shops and you’ll find everything here from traditional German fare to Southern, along with novelties such as candle making, glass blowing, cuckoo clocks, and quilts.
For those wanting to embrace all the German heritage, celebrate Oktoberfest in Helen with a parade, live music, German-style food and drinks, and an extremely festive atmosphere.
As an epic destination on the perfect Southern USA Road Trip, this is a dream destination to admire Bavarian-style and sample the incredible vintages from the local wineries.
Tarpon Springs, Florida
This unusual Greek village has a fascinating backstory. While it was a resort town for years, things changed in 1887 when a Greek businessman discovered an incredible number of sponges in the Gulf of Mexico.
The winter resort suddenly became the Sponge Capital of the World. Greek divers and merchants came to the city and made it their own. While the excitement over sponges has quieted, the Greek vibe remains.
Can’t make it to the Greek Islands? If you’re looking for a little seaside escape, consider stopping in Tarpon Springs!
If the name doesn’t give it away, Holland, Michigan serves up all the Dutch charm and you’ll feel like you’re in the Netherlands.
Set on the shore of Lake Macatawa, Holland is a natural beauty with a Dutch flair. The sandy beaches and postcard-perfect windmills make this a prime summer destination.
Looking for a spring sojourn? Take in the explosion of color at the May Tulip Time Festival. If you can brave the cold of a Michigan winter, you’ll find one of the best European-style Christmas markets in the United States.
Just over half an hour from Des Moines, you can step across the world and experience a piece of the Netherlands. Famous as America’s Dutch treasure, this gorgeous little town has all of the best of the Old World tucked into a tiny package.
Shop specialty Dutch imports and sample homemade pastries. AS you wander amongst the tulips circling the windmill, you definitely won’t believe you’re still in the Midwest.
Because it’s such an old city, the old brick architecture and cobblestone streets may feel a bit like Europe.
This historic city has held onto its English and Irish roots generation after generation. As one of the oldest cities in the US, you can relive the history at every turn.
Boston’s irregular street grid, Federalist architecture, along with mix of old and new may remind you of London, while other parts (like Blackstone Block) are reminiscent of Dublin in appearance.
One of the reasons I especially love Boston is because it’s just so easy to get around. Not too big, not too small, and ultra walkable, this city is just so easy to explore.
Inspired to explore Beantown? Grab this local’s guide to Boston for inspiration.
Known as Little Norway, this small town maintains a Scandinavian style as an homage to the city’s early immigrants. Poulsbo was named after a Norweigan village…hello, charming European city in America!
Fun Fact: Until World War II, most of the residents actually spoke Norweigan as their primary language.
Overlooking Liberty Bay, you can find a little piece of Norway on the Kitsap Peninsula. This pedestrian-friendly little town is great for kids and fur babies alike.
With an impressive lineup of galleries, boutiques, and waterfront restaurants, this place was made for refreshing weekends away.
And, beer lovers: Be sure to plan ample time to explore the award-winning line of craft brewers.
Leave a comment
Georgetown, Washington, DC….how could you leave out one of the most obvious areas in the country?
Hi Deborah! Those certainly are good ones. The list was becoming quite cumbersome, so maybe I’ll have to do a second one 🙂