We totally get it. Not being able to travel overseas lately has certainly put a damper on an already difficult year. By default, 2020 became the time of domestic trips, but did you know that you don't really have to leave the United States to "see" Europe? We have put together a list below of wonderful cities you can visit within the states that will make you feel like you've crossed international lines until you can get back to the real thing.
Dreaming of France? Try New Orleans, Louisiana
Picture yourself sitting in a Parisian open-air cafe, sipping coffee, eating freshly-made beignets, and people watching. Who says you need to head to France for that? Just take a trip on down to NOLA! The city was founded by the French in 1718, and their influence has saturated the city ever since. Check out the famous Café du Monde and explore the streets of the French Quarter, where colorful buildings with ironwork balconies will visually transport you to Paris.
Dreaming of Hogwarts? Try Cambridge, Massachusetts
Walking through the streets of Boston's neighbor to the north can feel like both a trip back through time and a trip to Europe. A visit to Harvard University could easily be mistaken for an afternoon in Oxford (or Hogwarts), from distinguished buildings and courtyards to students row-racing down the river. If you're lucky, you can even catch Harvard's quidditch team playing a match.
Dreaming of Denmark? Try Solvang, California
You've probably seen us talk about the quaint city of Solvang on our blog before. This California destination was founded in 1911 by immigrants from Denmark—the name is Danish for "sunny field." It was converted to its current storybook form starting in the mid-20th century, and has since become a significant tourist attraction. The Danish royal family has even paid a few visits! Sights include several windmills, a replica of Copenhagen's famous Little Mermaid statue and a museum dedicated to fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Dreaming of The Alps? Try Leavenworth, Washington
No, that's not a picture of Germany, although we understand why you might be fooled. Leavenworth's Bavarian charm was actually inspired by none other than the previous entry on this list, Solvang. With its snowy mountain backdrop and fairytale main street, the town is a perfect setting for celebrating holidays—from Christmas to an authentic Oktoberfest. It is also home to the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, which has a collection of over 6,000 nutcrackers!
Dreaming of Spain? Try St. Augustine, Florida
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the continental US. The architecture of the city heavily reflects its Spanish origins, and it's easy to forget that you're not walking the streets of Barcelona. Ironically, in this monument to the Old World, legends say that you can drink from Fountain of Youth—the fabled spring that brought so many Europeans to America in the first place.
Dreaming of Jane Austen Mansions? Try Hudson Valley, New York
It turns out you don't have to head all the way across the pond to see how the aristocracy lived. New York's Hudson Valley was once the place where Manhattan's upper class built summer mansions. While (for the most part) no one lives in these massive manors today, they are almost all open for touring. You can visit the Vanderbilt Mansion (pictured below), the Franklin D. Roosevelt estate, the Boscobel House and many more. It's very easy to imagine that you're wandering through the idyllic hills of England's Lake District.
Dreaming of Greek Ruins? Try Nashville, Tennessee
It's hard to believe this is not in Greece, but what you are looking at is the Nashville Parthenon, constructed back in 1897 (in much better condition than the original in Athens). The builders created the famous temple as it would have looked back in ancient Greece, complete with a gilded statue of the goddess Athena. The building is often used as an art museum and a theater—especially for Greek dramas.