Whether you are a European looking for a taste of home in the U.S. or an American who wants to experience a bit of Europe without traveling overseas, here is a list of towns that are as European as they come on North American soil. Of course, there are other towns and cities that could have made the list, but we have tried to keep it simple and down to the few that receive the most reviews for their European atmosphere, whether due to the architecture or the people themselves.
We have to stop first in the town of Newport, Rhode Island, famous for its beautiful mansions that are reminiscent of European country estates. The splendor of these mansions is unequaled in the U.S., and many of them are open for tours. Add to these mansions other homes from the 1600’s, lighthouses, tall ships, cafes and bakeries, folk festivals and the fact that you can walk to just about anywhere in the town, and you’ll understand why Newport makes a great first stop when seeking that European feel in the New World.
No, Seattle does not physically resemble any European city. There are neither Gothic buildings nor quaint villages, but Seattle has a different type of European flair, one that many Europeans are drawn to. The touch of Europe in Seattle lies not in the architecture but in the people themselves. Take football, for instance. Although the folks in Seattle still insist on calling it soccer, their team, the Seattle Sounders, is the best team in the U.S. and boasts the best fans in the country. Seattleites love and support their team so much that they have their own fan organization, much like the clubs in Europe. In addition to the sports’ scene, Seattle is a city that was environmentally conscious before the rest of the nation even realized there was an issue. This resonates with Europeans who, being accustomed to a much smaller land mass than North America, feel strongly about protecting the natural resources they do have. All in all, it is the focus on sustainability, the free-thinking, the liberalism and, of course, the love for football that makes Seattle a city that feels most like Europe despite its appearances.
New Orleans, LA
In the Deep South we find a lovely European mecca: New Orleans’ French Quarter. New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood, Vieux Carre, another name for the French Quarter, dates back to 1718 and the French rule. The area is filled with beautiful architecture, but not all of it is French. In fact, many of the French buildings were burned in the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788. Much of the existing architecture instead dates to the Spanish rule. Regardless of the era from which the buildings hail, architecture in the French Quarter definitely reveals its strong European ties. Many European-styled eating establishments fill the French Quarter, and even some of the music draws upon the neighborhood’s European roots. Better known for its fun and entertainment, the French Quarter roots are firmly planted in Europe.
As we dance across the map, visiting cities that remind us of Europe, we land back on the west coast in a quaint Scandinavian town. Affectionately known as “Little Denmark,” you’ll have to blink twice to remind yourself that you really are in the U.S.A. Windmills, the Hans Christian Anderson Park, tree-lined streets, Danish pastry shops and horse-drawn carts all seek to convince you that you have been transported overseas. Thankfully, the fact that English is still spoken will bring you back to reality. The charming town of Solvang, with its quaint shops full of porcelain, leather and all things European, is definitely a must see. Time it right, and you can experience the annual Danish Days and enjoy the culture of song, dance and celebration in true Danish style.
Even the great west, in Minot, North Dakota, you will find the Dhome of an active Scandinavian Heritage Association. While the town does not boast as much of the Scandinavian flair as Solvang, it does have a beautiful park that highlights the Scandinavian heritage with a charming replica of a Norwegian storehouse that was originally built in Norway before finding its way to Minot. The city also hosts the largest Scandinavian festival in the United States which should not be missed by those who are actively self-educating or home schooling.
Do enjoy the wonderful sampling of European heritage that is found in pockets all across the nation. We are still the Great Melting Pot, where peoples from all over the globe came to find a free land where they could be individuals and a part of something great, as well.