Although I love traveling to Europe, I definitely don’t get there as often as I’d like. And, with the poor economy, not to mention weak dollar, I don’t expect to return anytime soon. Although a Euro trip is not on my budget-conscious horizon, there is a way that I can experience a little of Europe close to home. I have traveled enough in the last decade to see many similarities between US/Canadian cities and destinations in Europe. Granted, Europe has more history than the US, but the charm of old world and even modern Europe can be found throughout the US and Canada.
For US travelers who have always longed for a European vacation or for those Americans who miss our neighbors across the pond, these “sister cities” can offer you a taste of Europe right here in US and Canada without breaking your budget.
Top 10 European Destinations and their US/Canadian counterparts.
- Want London? Try New York or Chicago – Like London, New York and Chicago have a variety of architectural influences, world-renown museums, historic monuments, eclectic neighborhoods, as well as a river that runs through the cities. New York and Chicago are also robust cultural centers, with a mix of Italian, Greek, Asian, and Mexican influences, complete with the cuisine to match.
- Want Dublin? Try Boston, MA – Both cities center around major universities, Harvard/MIT in Boston, and Trinity College and University College in Dublin, not to mention authentic neighborhood pubs. And, similar to Dublin, Boston is home to beautiful churches, quaint shopping areas, and passionate sports enthusiasts. To learn more, about Boston’s Irish roots, just visit the Boston Irish Heritage Trail.
- Want Barcelona? Try San Diego, CA– For the Mediterranean/Spanish feel of Barcelona, San Diego is a sure bet. San Diego offers Spanish-style architecture, an ocean border complete with sand and palm trees, and a mix of modern and old world culture. Plus, the drive North on I-5 to Hwy 1 is very similar to the coastal drive from Barcelona to France, also known as the Costa Brava. Both drives lead you through picturesque seaside towns, each with a different personality.
- Want Germany? Try Frankenmuth, MI – Although cheesy and a tad kitcsh, Frankenmuth, MI, is one of the most authentic German/Bavarian cities in the US. Bavarian-themed resorts, restaurants, and shops are plentiful in this very popular Midwest tourist destination. Plus, Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest, held every September, is a scaled back version of the real thing seen in Munich. The festival is so authentic, it is the only Oktoberfest outside of Germany that is officially sanctioned by Munich.
- Want Paris? Try Montreal, Quebec – As one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world, Montreal could be considered a petite Paris. Montreal is known for its authentic French cuisine and wine that you can sample while dining at chic French bistros or street-side cafes. Montreal also boasts European-style shopping along cobblestone streets and an abundance of cultural activities. Montreal is also the home of Notre Dame…Notre-Dame Basilica, known for its Gothic Revival architecture, colorful interior and stained glasses windows.
Want Provence? Try Napa Valley – Nothing can ever top the perfection of Provence in France, but Napa Valley, in California is a solid second. Napa shares with Provence magnificent views of endless vineyards, colorful lavender fields, and temping olive groves. Napa also offers a Mediterranean climate, similar to that in Provence, perfect for nearly year-round, biking, picnics, and, of course, back-to-back wine tastings.
- Want the Swiss Alps? Try Telluride, CO – Both destinations offer majestic views of snow-covered mountains and luscious valleys. Like many communities in Switzerland, Telluride is home to fabulous skiing. The city even has a gondola that connects to Mountain Village, another Colorado community with European-style buildings, homes, and shopping.
- Want the Netherlands? Try Holland, MI – This quaint town in Western Michigan hosts the world-famous Tulip Festival each year in May, with millions of tulips planted in gardens, parks, and along country lanes. The city also boasts a unique European atmosphere, with Dutch style shopping, restaurants, plus bike-friendly tours along waterfront paths.
- Want Madrid? Try San Juan, PR – Although Puerto Rico is not technically a part of the US (it is a US territory) it is still just a short flight from most East Coast cities. As the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan delivers a top notch combination of European culture and Caribbean flair. San Juan has a southern Mediterranean climate (like most of the Caribbean) that easily complements the city’s cobblestone streets lined with al fresco cafes and restaurants. San Juan nightlife also has been compared to that of Spain’s, as locals and tourists party into the wee hours of the night at casinos, bars, and nightclubs.
- Want Milan? Try Beverly Hills, CA – Milan, Italy is often referred to as the fashion capital of the world. So if you’re looking for a US counterpart, look no further than Beverly Hills, CA. Beverly Hills rivals Milan in both fashion and fashionable people. Uber trendy boutiques of top designers can be found up and down Rodeo Drive and celebrities are quite often just a stone’s throw away, lunching at equally posh outdoor cafes. Like Milan, walking through Beverly Hills will not cost you cent, but shopping here could put you in debt.
Have a favorite US destination that reminds you of Europe? Let me hear about it!