cars parked beside houses during daytime

North American Cities with a European Touch

If you’d love to go to Europe but aren’t quite ready to travel abroad, consider taking a vacation to an American or Canadian city with European flair.

Founded by Spanish explorers in 1565, St. Augustine, on Florida’s northeast coast, is known for its beaches and historic architecture. If you’re a history buff, you’ll find lots of attractions to keep you busy, including the Castillo de San Marcos, a fort built to protect Spain’s claims in the New World. You can learn about the city’s Spanish roots in an exhibit at the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum.

In the 1960s, the struggling community of Leavenworth, in central Washington state, turned around its fortunes by turning into a Bavarian-style village. Today, this charming destination in the Cascade Mountains features Alpine-style specialty shops and restaurants serving German beer and food, a Nutcracker Museum and outdoor theater in the summer. You’ll also find plenty of activities year-round, from hiking and biking to skiing and snowmobiling.

If you’ve looked longingly at pictures from Holland of fields filled with colorful tulips, head to Holland, Michigan, 30 minutes from Grand Rapids. The city celebrates its Dutch heritage with an annual Tulip Festival, which takes place May 7-15. A Tulip Immersion Garden will take you on a journey through the history of the flower, from its origins in Turkey to the Netherlands and, finally, to Michigan. Wherever you go you’ll see tulips blooming — in parks, along city streets and downtown.

Located in Southern California, about 45 minutes from Santa Barbara, the village of Solvang was founded in 1911 by immigrants from Denmark. Today, you can stroll through the village to admire the old-world European architecture and spot Danish icons like the Little Mermaid Fountain, five windmills and a replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower. Save time to indulge in authentic pastry and to browse in Solvang’s shops. Attractions include the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, which tells the story of Danish-American immigrants. Solvang is also a great starting point for exploring the Santa Barbara wine country.

Quebec City is a festive place year-round and a good destination to get a taste of French Canada’s European character. You can walk the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, with its centuries-old buildings, churches and museums, as well as bistros and shops. Towering above the city is the historic and luxurious Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel, which opened in 1893. Be sure to check out the Petit-Champlain district, one of North America’s oldest commercial streets.

For a taste of Italy head to Boston’s North End, famous for its Italian restaurants, bakeries and shops, along with historic buildings like Paul Revere’s House and Old North Church. A walking tour is a great way to soak up all of the neighborhood’s history. In late August, the North End celebrates Saint Anthony’s Feast with parades, entertainment, a religious procession and lots of food.

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