Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

TripBlog
Sep 22, 2021

International travel remains on hold for most of us. The idea of a grand European vacation remains a distant aspiration. If you’ve long had Europe on your bucket list only to find the continent’s doors shut because of COVID-19, we’re here with some great alternatives. In this article, we’re looking at places in North America that feel very much like Europe. Come discover how to satisfy your longing for the Old World right here in the New World.

Contents

1. Quebec City, Canada
2. Boston, Massachusetts, USA
3. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
4. Queretaro, Mexico
5. Montreal, Canada
6. Leavenworth, Washington, USA
7. Holland, Michigan, USA
8. Montpelier, Vermont, USA
9. Puebla, Mexico
10. Solvang, CA, USA

1. Quebec City, Canada

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

Quebec is a province with a proud heritage and a distinctly French identity. 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. At night, find a quaint restaurant or café to enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine.

2. Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

Birthplace of American Revolution, Boston hues to its quirky traditionalism. One of the best ways to explore 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.

3. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

Known as the "Big Easy," New Orleans is a place where cultures blend. It’s a city world-renowned for its distinct music, Creole heritage, and festival scene. 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. After spending some time in the Quarter, take a streetcar west into the Garden District. 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 aboveground tombs. When the sun goes down, head back to the French Quarter and join the party that stretches late into the night.

4. Queretaro, Mexico

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

Queretaro’s historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you will find lots of European-style architecture. Start your tour 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. 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. Be sure to pass the Querétaro Aqueduct, a Roman style aqueduct originally built in 1738.

5. Montreal, Canada

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

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. Wonder the cobblestone streets and visit Notre-Dame Basilica, a stunning gothic revival cathedral inspired by its namesake in Paris. Afterword head to Chinatown where you’ll find the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MACM), 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.

6. Leavenworth, Washington, USA

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

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. As you might expect, Leavenworth holds an annual Oktoberfest and is also the gateway to some of the excellent nearby ski resorts.

7. Holland, Michigan, USA

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

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. 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. 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.

8. Montpelier, Vermont, USA

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

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, this is a place to venture when you want to experience the best of New England. The Vermont State House 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. Venture down State Street towards the Winooski River. The shops and quaint stores 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.

9. Puebla, Mexico

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

Located a few hours south of Mexico City, Puebla is a renowned destination for mole and boasts some incredible architecture. Unlike other colonial-era cities in Mexico, Puebla was actually founded by the Spanish upon their arrival. 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.

10. Solvang, CA, USA

Can't Go to Europe? Check out These Places Instead

Danish culture flourishes in Solvang. 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 here. 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.

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 truly are the 10 places in North America that feel exactly like Europe.

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