Places in the USA you just won’t believe are actually in the USA
Americans looking to travel somewhere but unable or unwilling to leave the USA can find some satisfaction in their own backyards. There are many places in the USA that have a foreign feel to them. Here are some distinct USA destinations that fit the bill.
1. Holland, Michigan
This city will whisk you away to the Netherlands. Here travelers can take in tulips, windmills, and Dutch architecture. This is thanks to the Dutch settlers who arrived here in the 1800s. Highlights here include the Windmill Island Gardens and take a pic of you and yours by the popular DeZwaan Windmill and the Dutch carousel. Be sure to check out the memorable De Klomp Wooden Shoe and the Delftware Factory where you can purchase Dutch pottery and even traditional Dutch wooden shoes.
2. Fredericksburg, Texas
This place deep in the heart of Texas has the heart of the Lone Star state with the soul of Germany. Founded by German settlers during the 1840s. Here you will see well-preserved German architecture, engaging exhibitions at the popular Pioneer Museum, and annual events such as Oktoberfest. Explore the Historic District and see the popular 19th-century Fredericksburg Memorial Library, German-style eateries, bakeries, and biergartens too. Oh, and don’t forget this place is located within Texas Wine Country as well.
3. St Augustine, Florida
This is the oldest city in the USA. It was founded by the Spanish in the 1500s. Both the architecture and food remain indicative of this. The most famous historic site here is the Castillo de San Marcos.
This rugged Spanish fort is the oldest of its kind in the entire continental USA. It harkens back to 1695. The balmy weather, brilliant beach, and unusually narrow lanes provide an extra Mediterranean feel.
4. Lindsborg, Kansas
Promoted as “Little Sweden USA,” this tiny town in Kansas’ Smoky Valley was settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1800s. The most popular attraction here is the town’s herd of decorated Dala horses. Dala Horses are a Swedish tradition. They are model horses that are intricately painted.
They can be statutes or even gifts. Be sure to see these multi-colored, fiberglass horses, and other worthy artworks to see here. There’s also the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, which is focused on the Swedish-American artist. It’s a must-see.
5. Venice, Los Angeles, California
Ignore the palm trees and forget the overpriced, multimillion-dollar homes. This particular portion of Los Angeles has a lot in common with Venice, Italy. Indeed, that was what the developer Abbot Kinney specifically intended when he built the man-made canals. Today, they are actually protected because they are an official part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Walk along the canals, see the bridges and homes reflected in the water almost like a painting by the artist Monet. It’s a nice respite from the more active beach and boardwalk. Don’t forget to check out Abbot Kinney Boulevard either to enjoy some of the area’s best shopping.
6. Vail, Colorado
This ski resort town is nestled at the foot of the mountain for which it is named. Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert, the city founders, modeled this place after such places as Switzerland’s Zermatt. Seibert even reportedly measured the width of the streets of Zermatt in order to duplicate them here in Vail.
Today this hot spot is still popular with winter sports lovers. Much like its sources of inspiration, it has also become a popular all-year destination. In the summer, it’s a great place for nature walks and hiking.
7. Helen, Georgia
Helen is a bit of Bavaria amidst the famed Blue Ridge Mountains. This tiny town of under 600 residents comes complete with half-timbered, gabled buildings and natural beauty galore. Just like Bavaria, this place offers travelers a lot to experience right outside its limits.
Go hiking through the numerous nearby mountain and woodland trails. Need more? Visit the exciting Nacoochee Adventures adventure park where you can enjoy giant swings, high ropes, and zip lines.
8. Tarpon Springs, Florida
You will find this lesser-known city located a good 45 minutes out of the more well-known city of St Petersburg. The sign might read “Welcome To Tarpon Springs” but you will be thinking about Greece. During the early 1900s, they discovered a number of natural sponge beds here in the surrounding waters.
Soon a lot of Greek sponge divers arrived and a community was born. Over a century later, a major Mediterranean is still quite obvious. The city’s main attraction today is the local sponge docks.
Shopaholics will also enjoy a stop on Dodecanese Boulevard where they can find several shops selling the popular natural sponges. Be sure to dine at the different restaurants here too and sample the fresh Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. If you’re into history or simply want to take a nice walk after your meal, head for the quaint Tarpon Springs Historic District.
9. Chimayó, New Mexico
This is reported to be “a sacred destination. Every year thousands of believers make the pilgrimage here. It is located 48 kilometers north of popular Santa Fe. This town was originally settled by Spanish immigrants during the 1600s. Today you will still see many impressive examples of the early architecture.
The El Santuario de Chimayó is arguably the most popular example. It is an exceptional adobe church that reportedly includes holy earth believed by some to have mysterious healing powers. It is also famous for its tradition of weaving which goes back to the days of the first Spanish settlers. Be sure to sample the local orange-red Chimayó chili too.
10. Frankenmuth, Michigan
Also known as the state’s Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth is roughly a one-and-a-half-hour drive north out of Detroit. It was founded by German settlers originally from the Franconia area in 1845.
It features Bavarian inns and German-style timbered homes. Book your visit to coincide with the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival or, better yet, Oktoberfest. Enjoy the cold beer and hot bratwurst.
If you can’t make those celebrations, try to make it to their yearly World Expo of Beer in May. You can even celebrate the winter holidays all year long when you visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. It’s the largest seasonal store on the planet.
11. Santa Barbara, California
The Spanish settled in Santa Barbara too. Note the various traditional festivals held there. More importantly, check out the architecture. Notice the numerous whitewashed buildings topped with orange-tiled roofs.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is perhaps the best example with its lush grounds and striking clock tower. The most famous building here would be the Old Mission Santa Barbara which was erected by some Spanish Franciscans in the late 18th century. See the sacred gardens and a museum too.
12. Little Havana, Miami, Florida
This is the city’s storied Cuban neighborhood highlighted by hip bars, Cuban restaurants, and colorful street art. Check out the popular Calle Ocho stretch is the best place for smoke shops that specialize in hand-rolled cigars and the traditional Cuban cafés. Be sure to see the cool Calle Ocho Walk of Fame that features tributary plaques to Cuban movie stars, musicians, and other celebrities.
Visit Máximo Gómez Park, also known to many as Domino Park, where seniors meet to play dominoes and drink coffee. Be sure to sample the Cuban cuisine as well. Try some sandwiches or traditional meat dishes and wash it all down with a couple of Cuban cocktails.
13. The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Venetian hotel is a destination all by itself. Modeled on the northern Italian city, it still lacks some of the elegance and rich history of the real city, of course. Nevertheless, the people behind this hot Sin City property have paid quite a lot of attention to detail in recreating from Rialto Bridge to St Mark’s Square.
Travel writers confirm that the most popular attraction here is a ride on one of the hotel’s gondolas. It comes complete with a professional gondolier who whisks you down the gorgeous Grand Canal, singing a song, as you go. Naturally, for those who like to do a bit of gambling, unlike the real Venice, when your gondola docks, the bright and shiny lights, and seductive slots will be welcomingly waiting for you.
14. Solvang, California
Last but certainly not least, is the city of Solvang. It is situated under an hour away from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. Solvang is unlike any other Golden State destination.
Travel pundits frequently refer to it as “a Danish village.” It is what it is today thanks to the work of early Danish immigrants. Here you will see windmills, bakeries, and half-timbered buildings that bespeak the city’s heritage.
Learn about this unique place at the popular Elverhøj Museum of History and Art. The town also celebrates its Danish heritage with the annual Danish Days festival each September. It has been a tradition since 1936 and features traditional dance performances, as well as Scandinavian arts and crafts, food, and beverage.