Travel the World with Trip
Sometimes the allure of a far flung destination is overpowering. Perhaps it’s the romance of Paris, or walking past grand cathedrals in Rome. Maybe you long for Spanish culture in Valencia, or would like nothing more than raising a stein in a German beer hall. Great European cities captivate a traveler’s imagination. For many of us, however, life and responsibilities have an unfortunate tendency to intrude. The realities of traveling to Europe, dealing with flight tickets, language barriers, unfamiliar customs…it can seem too much. Fortunately there is plenty Old World charm available in North America. We’ve searched the continent for those places you could easily mistake as having been transplanted wholesale. Come along on our journey to the 10 places in North America that feel exactly like Europe.
Quebec is a province with a proud heritage and a distinctly French identity. It’s hardly a surprise then that Quebecers are protective of this character. Located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, Quebec City has for centuries been an important trading port. River merchants would stop here on their way to and from the Great Lakes. The Citadelle of Quebec, a colonial-era fort along the river guards the approach into the city. Start your tour in the Old Town. Narrow cobblestone streets meander past classic storefronts. The entire area has a feeling more akin to Marseille than to Canada. Visit the Museum of Civilization and learn about First Nations peoples and the European settlers who colonized the region. Wander through Notre-Dame de Québec, a gorgeous cathedral built in homage to its namesake in Paris. Nearby is the Château Frontenac, a luxurious hotel that oozes European charm. The Quartier Petit Champlain is a small harbor-side commercial street where you can leisurely enjoy the crafts on sale as you hunt for a souvenir or two. After you’ve taken in Old Town, head roughly southeast towards Parliament and Esplanade Park. The park is a lovely place to snap a few photos. At night, find a quaint restaurant or café to enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine. You’ll no doubt agree Quebec City feels exactly like Europe.
Birthplace of American Revolution, Boston makes our list in part because it continues to hue to its quirky traditionalism. As anyone knows, New England is a place where folks are fiercely loyal to their towns and cities. Boston is no different. Given the overflow of sports championships in the past decade, Boston hums with activity and character. Another source of dynamism is the sheer density of top-tier colleges and universities clustered in and around the city. Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Tuffs, Boston College…these are all incredible institutions that bring a vibrancy to the city’s nightlife and supercharge the region’s economy. One of the best ways to see Boston is to follow the Freedom Trail. Laid out across the city, the trail snakes through historic areas where you’ll find lots of European flavor. Begin at Boston Common and walk past Park Street Church and King’s Chapel. Press on to the site of the Boston Massacre and Faneuil Hall. See where Paul Revere lived before walking to the Old North Church. Later wander down the narrow streets on Beacon Hill. At night, cross the Charles River into Cambridge and check out some of the upscale bars and restaurants around the Harvard Campus. Walk in historic Harvard Yard and visit Sanders Theatre. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is in South Boston along the waterfront. Finally, the areas around the New England Aquarium are great for sightseeing and snapping photos of Boston Harbor. There’s a lot going on in Boston any time of year, so come see one of the places in North America that feels exactly like Europe.
Known as the “Big Easy,” New Orleans is a place where cultures blend. The city is world-renowned for its distinct music, Creole heritage, and festival scene. The birthplace of Louis Armstrong, the city swells with a sense of pride. Start your tour in the French Quarter along the river near Jackson Park. Visiting the Quarter during the day is a great way to get a sense for its charms while avoiding the revelry that heats up after sunset. Walk through Jackson Square to Saint Louis Cathedral. The nearby Presbytère is a state museum with exhibits exploring Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the city in 2005. After spending some time in the Quarter, take a streetcar west into the Garden District. This is where you’ll encounter tree-lined boulevards with stately houses once home to aristocratic families. Keep going to Audubon Park, the enormous city park with lots of walking paths near the Loyola University campus. Another great stop is City Park, the sprawling urban green space on the north side of New Orleans. Greenwood Cemetery is nearby and worth a visit for the elaborate above-ground tombs. When the sun goes down, head back to the French Quarter and join the party that stretches late into the night. The unique French and Spanish Creole architecture adds to the ambiance and gives the sense of taking part in some European town celebration.
Located about 210 kilometers northwest of Mexico City is Queretaro. The city’s historic core is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains a lovely range of European-style architecture. Queretaro is a colonial-era city gaining in popularity as it attracts the eye of travel aficionados. Start in the central city at Alameda Hidalgo. The small park is a meeting point for locals and a good place to get your bearings before heading off to explore the sites. To the north are Spanish colonial-era buildings dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Wander the brick streets and look for a small store to catch your fancy. Snap plenty of photos and take a moment to enjoy yourself at a café or bar. The city center is where you will find a plethora of interesting museums such as the Queretaro Regional Museum, Museo de Arte de Querétaro, and the Museo del Calendario. The latter is a thoroughly unique venue displaying a wide range of artifacts depicted in or used for the creation of calendars. The large replica of an Aztec wooden calendar is a real treat to see. Be sure to pass the Querétaro Aqueduct, a Roman style aqueduct originally built in 1738. The civic engineering achievement was for centuries the city’s lifeline and primary source for water. With its preserved architectural heritage, Queretaro has plenty of Spanish vibe. It’s certainly a place in North American that feels like Europe.
Montreal has long been a hub for musicians and artists who go on to great international careers. Like Quebec City, Montreal has an unmistakable French character. Start with a visit to Old Montreal, which was first settled by traders in the mid-16th century. Wonder the cobblestone streets and visit Notre-Dame Basilica, a stunning gothic revival cathedral inspired by its namesake in Paris. Pay a visit to the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History then explore the Centre d'histoire de Montréal, a nice local history museum housed in a historic former fire station. Afterword head to Chinatown where you’ll find the MAC Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, a wonderful contemporary arts museum highlighting local and international artists. Not far away is Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, a stunning 19th century cathedral with a baroque alter modeled on the one at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. For some scenic time, head up to Mont Royal where you can enjoy the many tree-covered paths and overlooks providing excellent vantage points for photos of the Montreal skyline. At night, return to Old Montreal and explore the diverse selection of restaurants and cafes. The music and entertainment here are some of the best around. Like the Beatles at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, this is where you can get in on that next big musical act before they take the world by storm. Montreal has a lot to offer, not least because it’s one of the places in North American that feels exactly like Europe.
Far from the heartlands in Pennsylvania where generations of German immigrants put down roots, Leavenworth, Washington, located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, has all the trappings of an authentic Bavarian village. Constructed specifically to resemble a quaint Alpine town, the natural topography of the Cascade Range adds to the illusion. You could easily think you’d been transported to Berchtesgaden. Your best bet is to travel in from either Seattle or Spokane. Several picturesque towns along the Wenatchee River lead in to Leavenworth. The town is quite small, comprising maybe two dozen roads. Spend time along the waterfront where you might see ospreys and eagles. Explore the shops along the main streets and find an optimal angle for some picture-taking. Manage to find the right location and you might even trick your friends and family into thinking you’ve run off to Germany. Visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum and see the extensive collection of the wooden ornaments. When you’ve worked up an appetite, make for one of the local lodges where you will find authentic German fare on offer. Raise a stein and give an enthusiastic “prost!” As you might expect, Leavenworth holds an annual Oktoberfest and is also the gateway to some of the excellent nearby ski resorts. This is one North American town clearly aiming to provide a true European feel.
Like its namesake, this lovely little town is intimately associated with a tulip festival. Drawing visitors from around the Great Lakes region, Holland is a quintessential Midwestern American city with a dash of European flair. The best time to visit is, of course, when the tulips are in bloom. The annual Tulip Time Festival normally runs during first weeks in May. Ranked as one of the best small-town festivals in the United States, this is a lively affair. Holland is a good day trip from Chicago, or more easily reachable from nearby Grand Rapids. Start in town around Centennial Park and then explore the campus at Hope College. Peak into the Kruizenga Art Museum before heading downtown. Central Holland is basically three streets where you will find all the shops, cafes, and restaurants. Walk the town and consider stopping into Butch’s Dry Dock or the Alpenrose Restaurant. The latter has a Bavarian motif and feels like an authentic German bakery. North of town is Windmill Island Gardens, a must-see during Tulip season. Visit the 250-year-old windmill and explore around with the Dutch-costumed guides. Make some time to head out to Holland State Park and Ottawa Beach. Michiganders will tell you, Lake Michigan is the best of the Great Lakes so you don’t want to miss the opportunity for some fun in the sun and the chance to see a wonderful sunset. Come explore Holland, Michigan, a town with all the charm and tulips you’d expect to find in the Netherlands.
The Vermont state capital is a charming New England town. It manages to find a way to be youthful and vigorous, distinctly American, and subtly European all at the same time. Centrally located in the northern part of Vermont, Montpelier is blessed with beautiful natural scenery. This is a place to venture when you want to experience the best of New England. Getting here means driving up from either Boston or Albany or down from Montreal. Once you arrive, make for the Vermont State House. Built in 1859, this Greek Revival building is a great place to start your tour. The golden dome is impressive when lit in the sun. Wander through the visitor areas where you will find various exhibits and artwork depicting important moments in state history. Next head for the Vermont Historical Society Museum located nearby. This popular museum is another great place to learn about the region. Venture down State Street towards the Winooski River. The shops and quaint stores here are great places to do some shopping or enjoy a coffee, tea, or cocktail. If you have more time to spend, we highly recommend exploring the surrounding natural areas. Camel’s Hump State Park is a short drive and has scenic hiking trails through undeveloped state forests. A visit to Montpelier is a great way to see Vermont, a state with deep roots and important connections to Europe.
Located a few hours south of Mexico City, Puebla is a wonderful town with strong colonial-era ties. In addition to being a renowned destination for mole, Puebla boasts incredible architecture and beautiful scenery. Puebla’s ties to Spain run strong. Unlike other colonial-era cities in Mexico, Puebla was actually founded by the Spanish upon their arrival. In other places, colonial authorities built upon existing structures and urban developments. This was not the case in Puebla. As a result, the connections to Europe are stronger and more evident than in other cities. Start in the Zócalo de Puebla. This vibrant public square has fountains and benches and is surrounded by delicious restaurants. Visit the Catedral de Puebla just opposite the Zócalo. This Roman Catholic cathedral contains a fascinating octagonal alter. From here you have easy access to Puebla’s commercial district where you can browse for bargains or hunt for a souvenir. The Museo Amparo has an impressive collection of Mexican art set in a unique gallery space. Architecture fans will want to snap a few pictures. Biblioteca Palafoxiana is arguably one of Mexico’s finest libraries and well-worth a visit for its tasteful interior design. Finally, the nearby town of Cholula boasts an ancient Mesoamerican archaeological site known for its enormous pyramid. With strong connection to Spain, it’s easy to see how Puebla is one of those places in North America that feel exactly like Europe.
Settled in 1911 by a group of Dutch emigres seeking a better life in America, Solvang, California hues closely to these origins. Danish culture flourishes and the town sports a number of windmills that seem plucked from the fields outside Amsterdam or The Hague. Visitors to nearby Santa Barbara can easily make a day trip out to Solvang. A fitting place to start your exploration is at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. The small exhibition details the famous author’s life and works. Take a ride in town with Solvang Trolley & Carriage Tours. Sitting in a horse-drawn carriage adds to the sense one is really in a historic Danish town. Depending on when you visit, consider booking a ticket to the Solvang Festival Theater, an outdoor venue that hosts a range of concerts and performances. To learn more about Danish culture and Solvang’s history, wander over to the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art. Don’t pass up the opportunity to explore the more than 150 one-of-a-kind shops offering all manner of goods. This boutique shopping experience is one of Solvang’s best attractions. Finally, make some time to visit the numerous vineyards and wineries in the area. California has long established itself as a world-class wine producing region. Explore a wine culture with a Danish touch in Solvang. Come visit today and see why Solvang is one of those places in North America with a distinctly European feel.
The cities and towns profiled here offer visitors a wealth of experiences. All of these places let you feel as though you’re on some grand European adventure. Come find out why they are so special and see the magic on offer every single day. Once you visit, we know you’ll agree these are fabulous destinations. They are the 10 places in North America that feel exactly like Europe.