U.S. Towns That Look Like They're From Other Countries
If you've always wanted to travel the world but don't have the time or the funds, then it may be possible to find a similar experience much closer to home. The United States has always prided itself on the rich mixture of cultures people have brought to it from all over the world. Here you'll find a list of U.S. towns and cities that look like international destinations, all of which you can check out without ever digging out your passport.
If you're ever driving through the Santa Ynez Valley only to suddenly see what looks like Denmark, don't panic. Odds are you're entering Solvang, a small California town that was established by a group of Danish immigrants back in 1911.
The town looks just like a small Danish village that's been dropped onto the West Coast. It features plenty of Danish restaurants and bakeries. Every year, things get even more authentic when the whole town dresses up for the annual Danish Days festival.
If you can't get away to Germany for vacation, then Leavenworth, Washington is a good alternative. Tucked away in the Cascade Mountains, this little Bavarian-style village is great for nature lovers or those looking to do a bit of skiing in the winter.
Among the town's delightfully kitschy restaurants you'll find plenty of German beers and pretzels, not to mention a next-level annual Oktoberfest. If you want to tap into your cultural side, then be sure to visit the Nutcracker Museum. There you'll find thousands of nutcrackers, some of which are centuries old.
New Orleans, Louisiana
When it comes to a rich cultural heritage, few places in the United States rival New Orleans. The city boasts an eclectic mixture of French, Creole, African and Spanish influences. Together, they’ve been blended into a rich tapestry that makes the city a one-of-a-kind place.
Ironically, most of the architecture in the city's famous French Quarter is actually Spanish. The French were forced to briefly relinquish control of the area to Spain from 1763 to 1803 in order to pay a war debt. These days, the city is packed full of art, music, and history.
Chimayó, New Mexico
If you're looking for more of a spiritual journey rather than a mere vacation, consider a trip to the tiny New Mexico town of Chimayó. There you'll find El Santuario de Chimayó, a national historic landmark and one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in America.
The spot was sacred to the Pueblo tribe even before the Spanish chapel was constructed atop it in the early 1800s. Believed to possess healing properties, the chapel now draws Native Americans, Latinos and people of faith from around the country each year.
New Glarus, Wisconsin
If you're looking to taste the best cheese this side of Switzerland, you may not be surprised to find it in Wisconsin. Green County, which is located less than an hour from Madison, boasts some of the best dairy products in a state renowned for them.
Among the county’s hot spots is the small town of New Glarus, which boasts award-winning cheese from the nearby Edelweiss Creamery. Though the town is made up of only about 2,000 residents, you'll find world-class delicious baked goods at the New Glarus Bakery and beer and cheese at Puempel’s Olde Tavern.
Chinatown, San Francisco, California
While many large cities boast their own Chinatowns, you'll find the oldest in the country in San Francisco. Home to the largest Chinese population outside of Asia, the neighborhood is a treasure trove of Chinese culture. You'll find plenty of authentic restaurants and bakeries to enjoy as well as local shops and marketplaces to explore.
Each year in February, you can even partake in the neighborhood's annual Chinese New Year Festival. There you'll see incredible floats, costumes and performances that alone are worth the trip to San Francisco.
If you've always wanted to see the tulip fields of the Netherlands, then head on over to Michigan. Holland is a small town was founded by the Dutch back in the 1800s. There you'll find the oldest working windmill in the country as well as fields full of beautiful tulips.
Each year, the town's Tulip Time Festival draws in over a million visitors from around the world, and it's easy to see why. Visitors take in over 100,000 colorful tulips and enjoy drinks from the town's two local breweries.
While it may not be quite as swanky as its Italian namesake, Venice, California is worth a visit if you ever find yourself near Los Angeles. Founded in 1905 by a tobacco millionaire, this West Coast beach town has become an attraction for surfers and beach lovers everywhere.
Throughout the town, you'll find California's version of the Venice canals, which are often lined with small boats and kayaks. Closer to the beach, you'll find the Venice Boardwalk, where you can bike along the ocean, check out the local skatepark or just soak up a few rays.
Boston has a culture all its own, and part of that comes from its lingering colonial roots. Originally founded by a group of Puritans, the city evolved over time to include a mixture of modern, colonial and Georgian architecture.
These days, you can still find cobblestone streets, brick houses and plenty of historical monuments from before the American Revolution. Be sure to check out the Paul Revere House during your stay, which was built back in 1680, and the Pierce Hichborn House, which was constructed in 1711.
If you've got a little money to burn but don't want to take the time to fly over to the Alps, then check out Vail, Colorado. The small town is set at the base of Vail Mountain and has become one of the premier ski destinations in the United States.
Throughout the surrounding White River National Forest, you'll find beautiful, alpine slopes that are perfect for any winter sport. The town is also a popular destination for summer getaways due to its cultural festivals and prime fishing and hiking opportunities.
If you're up for some authentic Brazilian cuisine, then the Boston suburb of Farmingham has your name written all over it. Since the 1980s, the neighborhood has become the home of one of the largest Brazilian populations in the United States.
Many of the new arrivals set up their own restaurants and now offer some of the best Brazilian cuisine in the country. If you're looking for ways to stay entertained during your trip, check out the Garden in the Woods, a local botanical garden that features the largest collection of landscaped wildflowers in New England.
St. Augustine, Florida
Ever wonder where the oldest city in the U.S. is located? It turns out that it's been hiding not in Virginia or Maryland, but Florida. St. Augustine was first settled in 1513 when Florida was discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon.
While he may not have found the Fountain of Youth that he'd come looking for, he did found a city that remains really beautiful to this day. The town features plenty of Spanish colonial architecture, some of which dates all the way back to the 1500s.
While Kansas might be the last place you'd expect to find a vibrant Swedish community, the small town of Lindsborg is here to deliver. The largely Swedish population isn't shy about celebrating their heritage and regularly lines the streets with wild Dala horses — traditional wood-carved horses from Dalarna, Sweden.
In the local bibliotek (library), you'll find more wooden carvings, ironwork and a whole collection of works by Swedish painters. If you're lucky enough to be in town for the Svensk Hyllningsfest festival, you'll enjoy plenty of Swedish food, dancing, costumes, activities and culture.
Holling Hocks, Ohio
Want to get in touch with your Scottish roots? Then ironically, Ohio may be a great place to do it. While it's not exactly the Highlands, the town of Holling Hocks does have a unique Scottish-themed resort called Glenlaurel Inn. There you can book a cozy croft named after your favorite Scottish figure or clan.
The inn features a weekly bagpiper, plenty of plaids and a Scottish golf course on-site. Nearby, you can explore Hocking Hills State Park, which is full of beautiful waterfalls, caves, trails and even a local archery range.
Washington Island, Wisconsin
A visit to the tiny town of Washington Island is a great chance to immerse yourself in the Nordic and especially Icelandic culture of the 700 inhabitants who call the place home. The town embraces both their international and pioneer history with a museum and an old-fashioned pub.
You'll also find a fascinating replica of a 12th-century Norwegian stave church tucked into the surrounding forest. The town's local "stavkirke" is a great place to brush up on your historical knowledge or even a moment of meditation.
Rest assured that you'll find not just plenty of modern cowboy culture in the small Texas town of Fredericksburg, but also its original Bavarian heritage. Fredericksburg's downtown historic district still features plenty of old Bavarian architecture along with historic homes and landmarks.
Amid the cluster of authentic German restaurants, you'll also find the White Elephant Saloon, a local gem that was constructed in 1888. Additionally, the town features a killer Oktoberfest each year, complete with enough drinks, food, music and dancing to make the town's original German settlers proud.
Is Texas if too far of a drive, then you can also find plenty of Bavarian culture in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Since its founding in 1845 by German immigrants, the town has come to be known by locals as Little Bavaria. Today you'll still find Bavarian architecture and bridges in the city, some of which date back to the 1800s.
You'll also find the Figurinespiel, where you can learn about the history of cheesemaking in Europe, as well as the Bavarian Inn Castle shops. One of the shops even contains a bakery where you can make your own pretzels.
Little Haiti, Miami, Florida
If you ever find yourself in Miami, then be sure to pay a visit to Little Haiti. The neighborhood offers incredible music and a vibrant art scene. Check out the itinerary at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, which often hosts a variety of cool cultural events.
You'll also find plenty of sights to take in at the Caribbean Marketplace and the local art gallery. Make sure you come hungry, because Little Haiti is packed with great places to take in favorites like jerk chicken, chickpea stew and fried plantains.
Often mistaken for Islam, Hinduism or a mixture of the two, the Sikh religion is a faith all its own. If you ever find yourself near Fremont, California, be sure to stop by the Gurdwara Sahib, a gorgeous Sikh temple that serves the surrounding communities.
Whether you are a member of the Sikh faith or not, you're welcome to tour the temple's campus or check out one of their religious services. The fourth-largest religion in India, Sikhism is a monotheistic faith that upholds the values of equality and service towards others.
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Located less than 30 miles from Tampa, Florida is a small Greek-American village called Tarpon Springs. This fishing village spreads out along the picturesque waterfront and is packed with examples of Greek culture. You'll find plenty of authentic restaurants to choose from as well as marketplaces where you can pick up Greek goods.
Take a stroll along the historic Sponge Docks or enjoy a little deep-sea fishing through one of the local boating companies. You'll also find several beautiful Greek Orthodox churches as well as the local Stafford House Museum.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland has a notable Ethiopian population that strives to keep their culture alive and vibrant. You'll find plenty of traditional Ethiopian foods to choose from as well as a flourishing arts community. The city's downtown area is full of local murals, sculptures and sometimes even performing arts exhibitions.
The town prides itself on its vast array of festivals and conventions, so be sure to check out what's happening during your visit. From folk music and dancing to arts and crafts shows, you never know what event will pop up next.
If you love snow-capped mountains, then a trip to the small town of Ouray, Colorado may be right up your alley. Like Vail, the town offers all the outdoor fun of the Alps without the international flight. In the summer, you'll find plenty of rafting, hiking, climbing and biking opportunities.
When winter descends, the town becomes a snow-lover’s paradise complete with alpine mountaineering and ice climbing routes. Afterward, you can even warm up in one of the town's local hot springs or take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Helen, Georgia is so whimsical that it looks like something right out of Disneyland. This cool little village is tucked away in the mountains of Georgia and requires every building in town to maintain a traditional Bavarian design. The result makes for a great destination for entire families.
During your stay, you can enjoy a little tubing (either in the river or at the local waterpark), arts and crafts festivals or a ride through the streets in a traditional horse and carriage. You'll also find plenty of great food as well as a local winery.
Who would have thought that a little piece of the Netherlands was tucked away in Iowa? The town of Pella was founded by Dutch immigrants, and it shows its heritage in the designs of many of its buildings. Among the most notable is the Vermeer Windmill, the tallest working grain windmill in the country.
Be sure to visit Molengracht Plaza, where you'll find a replica of a Dutch canal complete with a working drawbridge. There's also a historical village, which features a puppet theater, bakery, shoemaker shop, blacksmith and even the childhood home of Wyatt Earp.
Charleston, South Carolina
If there's one town that takes historic preservation seriously, it's Charleston, South Carolina. The famous city was founded all the way back in 1670 and still bears many of the European influences of America's early immigrants.
You'll find plenty of original antebellum architecture that's been perfectly preserved throughout the centuries as well as cobblestone streets and old-fashioned carriage rides. With over 20 historic sites and 14 museums, Charleston is a great destination if you're looking to learn more about the history of America and the people who lived it.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
As it turns out, you don't have to go all the way across the world to traipse across sand dunes. Colorado's Great Sand Dune National Park makes for an incredible camping destination amid the tallest sand dunes in North America.
You can enjoy everything from sand boarding and sledding to hiking or camping out beneath the stars. The cool thing about the park is that it features not just dunes, but a variety of landscapes. You'll also find grasslands, forests and wetlands that will provide enough photo ops to fake your way through a trip around the world!
Key West, Florida
The island city of Key West, Florida brings together a collection of influences ranging from Spanish and Cuban to West African and Native American. Truly a one of a kind city, it's famous for its conch-style houses.
If you're looking to do some diving, then you'll find plenty of opportunities. Key West has become famous for its diving and snorkeling spots as well as a host of other outdoor adventure activities. You'll also find plenty of museums, live music and art galleries, not to mention a vibrant nightlife.
You can take in the beauty of Polynesian culture without ever leaving the U.S. when you plan a trip to the island of Kauai. Hawaii's fourth-largest island, Kauai is known as the Garden Island, and it certainly lives up to its name.
Full of tropical rainforests, beautiful waterfalls, and winding rivers, it's a great destination if you're looking for an outdoor adventure. From snorkeling on Poipu Beach to kayaking down a winding river, you'll find plenty of choices without all the crowds of tourists that other islands tend to attract.
Napa Valley, California
While France and Italy are world-renowned for their vineyards, the Napa Valley can give them a run for their money . Napa is the heart of California’s wine country and features miles of gorgeous scenery and plenty of tasting opportunities for wine lovers.
If you're looking for a relaxing trip, then you won't be disappointed, as the town offers everything from spas to hot air balloons. Whether you're looking for a place to take in some great art and culture or just to sit around and drink wine all day, Napa is the perfect vacation destination.
Old Town, San Diego, California
Just 20 miles from the southern border, it may be no surprise that San Diego continues to boast a wealth of Mexican culture. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in Old Town, the heart of the city's historic district. Founded in 1769, it was the first settlement in what would become the state of California.
Throughout the neighborhood, you'll find plenty of authentic Mexican restaurants, street markets and even strolling mariachis. You'll also find living history programs that depict the city’s history when it was part of Mexico prior to the Mexican-American War, including blacksmith and woodworking shops.