13 places in the U.S. that feel like Europe

Enjoy a European-style vacation without leaving the States.

The town of Helen, Georgia.
A vacation rental overlooking a vineyard in Geyserville, CA.

Globe-trotting may seem glamorous, but time and international airfare can be hard to come by. The average flight to Europe costs between $700-$1,500, and that’s before booking a place to stay. Before you fret, there’s an easy solution to capture that European feel you’re looking for. Dupes (or duplicates) are gaining traction as consumers seek alternative options to well-known brands, products, and of course, travel destinations. Inspired from all corners of the world, the United States has several cities and small towns designed with that particular je ne sais quoi of international flair.

While cultural hot spots like New Orleans and Napa Valley might come to mind, they’re not the only places where you can experience spectacular architecture, traditional festivals, regional music, and authentic dishes. Here is our list of the country’s top destination dupes to help you feel like a jet-setter while leaving your passport at home. You might be surprised what new cities you’ll want to add to your travel bucket list. Ciao!

The streets of Charleston.
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1. Charleston, South Carolina

One look at Charleston’s cobblestone streets and Old World cathedral spires, and it’d be easy to confuse the Holy City for Paris and Marseille. Similar to its European counterpart, Charleston boasts a rich blend of culture, with influences ranging from Spain, the West Indies, France, and West Africa. One of the best ways to explore the city is through its mouthwatering culinary scene, sporting incredible seafood dishes, gumbo, grits, and Lowcountry staples.

You’ll quickly find there is no shortage of things to do, from sightseeing by horse-drawn carriage to imbibing for an evening at a local speakeasy. Head to Rainbow Row and the French Quarter for more pastel-painted homes (and one of the city’s oldest homes, The Pink House), pick up a souvenir at the Historic Charleston City Market, and stop by Joe Riley Waterfront Park to bask in a classic South of France (or South Carolina) view of boats bobbing on the water.

Featured Charleston vacation homes

A man sitting on a bench in a field of tulips
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2. Holland, Michigan

Is your Dutch still needing a little practice? No worries. In the meantime, stop by Michigan’s Holland. Resting just on the coast of Lake Michigan, this small town is known for its centuries-old windmill, the scenic canal-spotted Nelis Dutch Village, cuckoo-clock shops, and an annual Tulip Time Festival every May to boot. Explore the lakeshore with a walk around Holland State Park, spot the Big Red Lighthouse, and learn about the arrival of the Dutch in 1847 on a tour through the Holland Museum.

Your Holland trip won’t be complete without spending some time at the Windmill Island Gardens. De Zwaan (the windmill) is the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States—still grinding wheat into flour today. The gardens make a fantastic family-friendly activity too, where kids can enjoy a carousel, the famous Dutch street organ (gifted by the City of Amsterdam), gift shops that sell delicious Dutch sweets, and of course, the spring and summer’s dazzling display of tulips.

Featured Holland vacation homes

Best winter getaways in the U.S. - Helen, Georgia
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3. Helen, Georgia

Weilkommen to this picturesque Bavarian town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally a central logging hub, the small town of Helen was reborn with the idea of bringing Alpine-style architecture to the Appalachians, offering a taste of German culture on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

Since then, the area has blossomed as a family-friendly mountain resort getaway, as well as a must-see destination for foodies. Relish authentic German dishes, take a warm-weather float down the river, or savor mountain views on a ride down the Georgia Mountain Coaster. Helen is also the focal point for cultural festivals, including sparkling Christmas markets and its Oktoberfest, which is the longest-running festival of its kind—lasting from mid-September through October 30. Don your best lederhosen, grab a foamy stein, and join in on the fun.

Featured Helen vacation homes

5 best ski-in/ski-out resorts
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4. Vail, Colorado

For those who want to enjoy the glamor of an Alps getaway without leaving the country, or who live for the fresh mountain air, you’ll find precisely what you’re looking for in Vail, Colorado. Vail has long been known as one of the most European towns in the U.S., boasting world-renowned skiing, luxurious accommodations, and even European-designer high-end boutiques.

Beyond its celebrity status, Vail’s true charm is in the details: the intricate woodwork adorning ski resorts, mountain view balconies, and cozy fireplaces, the beautiful Swiss-inspired lodges, and the quaint Vail Square Ice Rink, located in the heart of Lionshead Village. For the full snow-blanketed, Swiss-like experience, plan your trip in time for the Vail Winterfest. Come summer, the sky-piercing peaks are just as scenic as you peruse the Vail Farmers Market and explore the mountain trails by foot, bike, or horseback ride.

Featured Vail vacation homes

Oahu, Hawaii vacation condo with ocean views
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5. Oahu, Hawaii

There’s no denying the Azores’ misty, rugged green cliffs have a look-alike in Oahu. The Hawaiian island’s ties with Portugal go way back—in fact, the ukelele was even inspired by the Portuguese braguinha. Given its similar tropical climate, volcanic geography, abundance of fresh seafood dishes, and access to mountain adventure, Oahu is a fantastic alternative to a European vacation.

Seek out serene, uncrowded beaches during your stay, like Kahuku Beach, Mokule’ia Beach, and Waimea Bay. In between trips to the water, shop through the produce markets, or grab a freshly-caught fish lunch. Embrace lush pastures, sparkling waterfalls, and mountain views with a hike through the Maunawili Falls Trail, the Manoa Falls Trail, and the Diamond Head Trail. Claim your spot on a soft, white-sand beach and let the sounds of crashing waves and ukelele strings transport you to island bliss.

Featured Oahu vacation homes

The vineyards and villas in Kenwood, CA.
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6. Napa Valley, California

Sunned vineyards, gourmet dining, and riposos welcome—one trip to California’s famous wine capital and you can’t help but feel on a Tuscan escape. Let your romantic (almost European) excursion begin by touring any of the area’s 400 wineries or sightseeing local landscapes by foot, bike, horseback, or hot air balloon.

If sampling wines isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Napa Valley, from the Oxbow Public Market farmers market and cheese shops to paddleboarding the Napa River. The landscape and vineyards aren’t the only aspects reminiscent of Italy here—the cuisine is just as phenomenal. Cross fine dining off your bucket list and make reservations at a Michelin-star restaurant, try Sonoma County’s organic farm-to-table culinary scene, or enjoy a true Italian experience with long dinners al fresco on an outdoor patio.

Featured Napa Valley vacation homes

A landscape with trees and hills
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7. Boone, North Carolina

For a similar European-feeling getaway to the Emerald Isle, skip the trip across the pond and head to North Carolina. Believe it or not, the United States Appalachian Mountains were once connected to the Scottish-Irish Highlands in the days of Pangea, so the mountains aren’t only a good dupe, but distant relatives.

It’s easy to see the echoes of Irish and Scottish immigrants that settled in Appalachia from 1820 to 1930, whether in the same mountain farming and homesteading culture, similar folk music, or artistry can be found here today. Experience the area’s history with a hike along the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail and be sure to plan a stop by the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, which recreates homestead life in the 1700s. After a day of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, there are plenty of ways to kick back like the Scots do, with a cold drink at Appalachian Mountain Brewery.

Featured Boone vacation homes

New Orleans Bourbon Street.
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8. New Orleans, Lousiana

A beautiful blend of French, African, and American cultures, New Orleans has a flavor all its own. It’s also one of the most popular places in the U.S. that feels like Europe, boasting a walkable city layout, easy-to-use street cars, and one of the only U.S. cities where you can sip an alcoholic beverage as you walk from place to place. The Big Easy is big in reputation and is best known for its old-fashioned speakeasy bars, historic architecture, a full calendar of vibrant festivals, and live jazz, blues, and soul music around every corner.

Stroll the French Quarter and get a full sample of gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster, and all things fried. The city’s blend of Cajun and Creole cooking means your taste buds are in for the best of bold flavors. Other must-see stops include the New Orleans Jazz Museum, the historic French Market, and cruising the Mississippi River on a classic riverboat tour. When you’re finished admiring the Neoclassical-style architecture at the Longue Vue House and Gardens, end your evening with a fresh beignet in hand—you won’t be disappointed.

Featured New Orleans vacation homes

White sail boat on sea during daytime
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9. St. Augustine, Florida

Founded in 1565 by Ponce de Leon, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the U.S. and isn’t shy when it comes to flaunting its Spanish roots. With 17th-century stone fortresses, Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and the famous mystery of the Fountain of Youth, you might not only feel transported to another country but a different time, too.

Get after your full itinerary of things to do by way of the Old Town Trolley, as you tour through the Mission Nombre de Dios Museum, bring your kids to taste the legendary natural springs at Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, and watch the live cannon firing at Castillo de San Marcos. Laze upon golden sands at St. Augustine Beach and in the evening, treat yourself to a stroll down the pedestrian-only St. George Street in the Historic District, which bustles with live music, tasty bistros, and cute shops.

Featured St. Augustine vacation homes

aerial view of city buildings during daytime
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10. Montpelier, Vermont

In name and architecture, this New England town pays homage to the United States’s bond with France. Though the city has a more subtle international flair than others on this list, with sprawling verdant hills, a walkable downtown, farmers markets, an organic culinary scene, and a thriving artistic community, you’re likely to feel as if you’ve wandered onto the French countryside.

During your stay, be sure to spot the varying European styles of architecture throughout town, such as The Pavillion’s eye-catching French Second Empire style and the gold-domed Greek Revival Vermont State House. For the full countryside experience, shop around the City Capital Farmers Market, visit the old stone tower at Hubbard Park, grab a photo of the Northfield Falls Covered Bridge, and sample the surrounding wineries and maple farms.

Featured Montpelier vacation homes

A little fishing and sponging town in western Florida, Tarpon Springs has a lot of visually interesting things.
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11. Tarpon Springs, Florida

Thanks to its historic sea sponge trade and balmy weather, this waterfront town boasts the highest Greek-American population in the United States. Take a seat by the St. Joseph Sound and watch the boats bob on the waves as the scent of delicious dishes like dolmades, spanakopita, and tzatziki waft over from nearby eateries. With islands resting on the horizon and pristine white-sand beaches reminiscent of the Aegean Sea, Tarpon Springs is no doubt a great dupe for a trip to the Mediterranean.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Tarpon Springs also makes a great European-feeling vacation that’s kid-friendly, too. Spend quality time together at the Tarpon Springs Aquarium and Animal Sanctuary, spot manatees on a kayaking tour, enjoy a sunset by Fred Howard Beach, and then grab an easy dinner along the Sponge Docks. Plan your getaway in time for annual events like the Wine Walk or Sponge Docks Craft Festival, and immerse yourself in traditional Hellenic culture.

Featured Tarpon Springs vacation homes

Best cities in the U.S. to celebrate Oktoberfest
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12. Leavenworth, Washington

The only German town in Washington, Leavenworth is among one of the best reasons to visit the North Central Cascades. The alpine architecture echoes in homage to small-town Bavaria, and the surrounding natural beauty plays the perfect backdrop to weekly ceremonial keg tappings, German-themed parades, and beer gardens. Though you’ll only be two hours from Seattle, you’ll feel worlds away from North America—absorbed in towering mountain peaks, quaint must-sees like The Nutcracker Museum, and Bavarian confectionary delights.

While its authentic German cuisine and endless outdoor activities make it a year-round escape, Oktoberfest and winter holidays are the most popular times to visit. Grab a stein and get on the dance floor, or watch the town square sparkle with over 500,000 lights during the Village of Lights Festival.

Featured Leavenworth vacation homes

Best vacation rental with a view: Wallowa Lake, Oregon
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13. Wallowa Lake, OR

Nicknamed the “Swiss Alps of Oregon,” the grandeur of the Wallowa Mountains is something you’ll have to see to believe. Similar to its European cousin, the area is best enjoyed from the comfort of a cozy cabin rental, where you can savor views of Wallowa Lake’s sapphire glacier waves—or brave a refreshing swim in the summer.

Enjoy standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the majestic mountainside on a ride up the tramway, bringing you 8,200 feet up to savor unsurpassed views. For more breathtaking beauty, hike or horseback ride through the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, as well as Falls Creek Falls, which offers an easy trip for gorgeous waterfall views. In the winter, Wallowa is awash with wintersports enthusiasts for its cross-country ski trails, as well as Ferguson Ski Area’s groomed runs. Joseph and Enterprise are the closest surrounding small towns, with restaurants, shops, and outdoor outfitters for more adventuring.

Featured Wallowa Lake vacation homes

multicolored buntings

Bonus: U.S. getaways that feel like Mexico

Looking for more ways to trot the globe? Experience Mexico’s rich culture, diverse traditions, and festivals, as well as its delicious dishes without a trip through customs. Plan a getaway to San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park, Santa Fe, and San Antonio. Beyond their similarly sunny climates and geographic landscapes, these U.S. cities celebrate their Mexican roots through preserved historical sites, authentic cuisine, annual events, and the arts.

From touring through San Diego’s Old Town Mission to checking out the biggest Día de Muertos celebration in the U.S. in San Antonio, you’ll love savoring the many flavors and stories of Mexico.

What are some more European-like cities in America?

The United States is home to a few European-feeling cities, including New Orleans, St. Augustine, Helen, Tarpon Springs, Leavenworth, and Vail. Savor European-style architecture, cuisine, and regional festivals that will leave you feeling worlds away.

For a getaway that feels like Italy, enjoy a Tuscan-style retreat in California’s Napa Valley or see why Fort Lauderdale is nicknamed the “Venice of America” on a water taxi tour through the city.

Treat yourself to a trip to the Swiss Alps (or as close as you can get in the U.S.) with a vacation to Vail, Telluride, or Wallowa Lake.

You’ll feel as if you’ve booked a trip to Amsterdam and the Netherlands with a vacation to Holland, Michigan, or Washington’s Skagit Valley.

With a blend of Mediterranean-style architecture, international cultures, and warm-weather climate, you’ll find a sunny Mediterranean-feeling vacation in Tarpon Springs, St. Augustine, Napa Valley, Santa Barbara, Charleston, and New Orleans.

For a French-feeling vacation in the United States., book a getaway to New Orleans, Charleston, or Montpelier.

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