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Been fantasizing about a European getaway? Daydreaming about walking cobbled streets with gelato in-hand? You don’t need to smash your piggy bank—these closer-to-home North American destinations look like quaint European villages. Another bonus: no 14-hour flight across the ocean required.

Leavenworth Washington Christmas

Experience Bavaria in Leavenworth, WA

You could go to Germany…or you could take a quick day-trip to Leavenworth from Seattle. This adorable town, which is surrounded by mountains, looks exactly like a Bavarian village, down to the half-timbered houses and the hanging pretzel shop signs. From sausage stands and beer gardens to the wooden handicraft stores and Oktoberfest celebrations, Leavenworth is your ticket to Europe in America—complete with a scenic, rushing river and lederhosen-clad men playing the tuba in the streets. Stay at the picturesque Blackbird Lodge in Downtown Leavenworth and send perfect alpine ski lodge-style photographs to everyone you know.

Holland Michigan windmills

Go Dutch in Holland, MI

Founded by Dutch Americans, Holland, MI is, well…exactly what it sounds like. This quaint town near the shores of Lake Michigan boasts its own annual Tulip Time Festival and has a big tulip farm you can visit called Veldheer Tulip Gardens. There’s also a traditional Dutch village and De Zwaan, a 250-year-old original Dutch windmill, as well as a cute, old-fashioned downtown with shopping and a brewery. Oh, and Holland State Park has a beach. A stay at CityFlatsHotel will put you close to Macatawa River, and you can rent bikes at from the front desk. Forget visiting—should we just move to Holland?

Guanajuato Mexico aerial

Enjoy a siesta, Spanish-style, in Guanajuato, Mexico

This World Heritage Site is more than pretty—Guanajuato is unabashedly romantic. Walk through this Mexican city’s beautifully preserved colonial center on narrow, cobblestone streets, and you’ll feel like you’re strolling through Spain. Shaded plazas, 16th-century architecture, and hidden stairways delight visitors, and strains of mariachi music echo in the air. Make sure to check out San Cayetano Church, a testament to this city’s rich silver mining beginning, and lay your head down at Hotel Posada Santa Fe, which has a rooftop terrace and is walking distance to Union Garden, an ornate park.

Solvgang California - what European villages don't have windmills?

Get a taste of Danish culture in Solvang, CA

If you’re looking for cute, head to Solvang. This Danish-styled community with a twee downtown walking area is an excellent place to bring kids—not only does it have themed restaurants and thatched-roof buildings, but there’s also Hans Christian Andersen Park, a big public playground and park with a castle arch stretching over its entrance. Danish windmills and a horse-drawn sightseeing carriage complete the visual spell. Stay at the half-timbered Solvang Innand Cottages and you’ll be strolling distance from Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

New Glarus beer

New Glarus Tasting Courtyard | Flickr CC 2.0: mcfst3

See a quaint slice of Sweden in New Glarus, WI

A town with just 2,000 residents, New Glarus certainly sees plenty of visitors, who come each year for its many celebrations, festivals, and all-around European aesthetic. New Glarus was founded in 1845 by Swedish immigrants, and the town is dedicated to promoting its Swiss heritage. Along with unique, Swiss chalet-style architecture, New Glarus offers Old World meat markets, bakeries, folk museums, and even a yodeling group. Visit for the Swiss Volksfest or Oktoberfest and raise a pint at the town’s local brewery.

This street in Quebec City looks like it's tucked away in the French Alps.

Get your French fix in Quebec City, Canada

Narrow cobblestone streets? Check. A towering chateau hotel (Chateau Frontenac) on a hillside? Check. How about a breezy riverside promenade and a French-speaking population that’s vaguely disdainful of anyone who doesn’t speak French? Oui! There’s no need to leave North America to feel confused when reading a menu—Quebec City is beautiful, overtly European, and closer than you think. Visit the Old Quebec neighborhood to see the only remaining fortified city walls in North America and browse among the boutiques and cafes set out for visitors to discover.

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Tagged: California, Family, Mexico, Tips & advice

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