Hearty bratwurst, delicious beers, and charming pastoral architecture are just a few things that make the German state of Bavaria beloved around the world. According to a recent survey we conducted, 92% of respondents are ready to travel at this stage in the pandemic—but jetting overseas to experience Bavarian culture just isn’t an option for any of us right now.
Still, you’re in luck: you can find plenty of Bavarian-style villages—and their trademark architecture—spread across the U.S. We’ve rounded up the best stateside Bavarian villages to visit, from the Pacific Northwest to the Appalachian Mountains. Your domestic slice of European heaven awaits.
The only German town in Washington, Leavenworth is among the best reasons to visit the North Central Cascades. The other reasons—stunning mountain peaks, hiking trails through the dense Wenatchee National Forest, and tubing, swimming, and fishing on the Wenatchee River—can be enjoyed right in town or just a short drive north.
Other summertime activities include a performance of the Sound of Music at the Ski Hill Theater or bird-watching at Pine River Ranch. Leavenworth’s autumn Oktoberfest is more than worth the chilly weather that accompanies the changing seasons. Even the winter cold brings fun to Leavenworth, with piping hot German food at München Haus and King Ludwig’s, as well as seasonally appropriate attractions like the Nutcracker Museum and other yuletide festivities.
The stunning views of Mount Baker and gentle flow of the river go well with the architecture of a Bavarian village. When browsing vacation homes in Leavenworth, opt for a cheerful cottage close to downtown, or a secluded cabin with some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest as your backyard. Whether you’re planning a memorable family Christmas or a couples’ nature retreat, there’s a home for every vacation.
Who would’ve known that an Appalachian twist on a village in the Alps would be so charming? Helen’s traditional architecture is accompanied by the same proximity to nature and mountains that make so many authentic Bavarian villages great. The Blue Ridge Mountains are visible right from town, and just a short drive away, Unicoi State Park and Chattahoochee National Forest provide plenty of hiking.
When you’re not thrilling the kids with tubing in the Chattahoochee River, you can wow them with the town’s many festivals. These go beyond the traditional beer-and-brat affairs of Oktoberfest, too. If you don’t believe us, just visit during the hot-air balloon festival in June.
Many vacation rentals in Helen are tucked among the trees in the nearby forests. You’ll find wood cabins with enough space for family reunions, or snug homes perfect for a romantic getaway. Some Helen cabins are even dog-friendly, as are the hiking trails that surround them—be sure to reward your pup after your workout with some bratwurst from the Heidelberg.
It may surprise you that one of our favorite Bavarian villages is located in Texas, despite the state’s own unique sense of culture. Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg places its German heritage front and center. Its Oktoberfest is fantastic—not just because of the high-quality beers, delicious food, and quaint rooftops. The town educates visitors on the fascinating lives of German immigrants at the Pioneer Museum Complex and Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm.
Our Fredericksburg vacation rentals range from cute cottages to gorgeous, historic homes. Pair your Bavarian cultural experience with a renovated 19th-century farmhouse for a truly eclectic getaway. Soak in an antique copper tub or enjoy the warm evening breeze from a rocking chair on your expansive porch.
Maybe it’s not exactly Bavarian, but the Swiss-inspired architecture of Vail has captured travelers’ hearts for decades. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into the cobblestone streets of a Swiss ski village—just as the resort’s designer, Pete Sibert, intended.
Visit Pepi’s for Austrian-German cuisine like schnitzel and baked spaetzle, or admire the beautiful buildings as they light up at night. The stunning snowy slopes make Vail ideal for a winter vacation, though activities like carriage rides, horseback riding, hiking, and fishing give visitors plenty of fun things to do in the summer.
If you’re planning a winter getaway to Vail, book a Swiss-inspired chalet near the village, some of which are even ski-in/ski-out. You’ll also find sprawling estates and gorgeous cabins for your most luxurious getaway yet, no matter what brings you to Vail. Some homes even boast swimming pools for summer visits, while vacation rentals with hot tubs are the perfect way to wind down on crisp Colorado evenings.