7 Locations within the US That Really feel Like Europe for the Holidays

Airfare costs are excessive this vacation season and anticipated to climb even larger as year-end journey kicks in.

There are numerous small cities within the US that provide a European really feel with out the price of a global flight.

Brady MacDonald/Insider

For a lot of US vacationers, these surges imply a dream trip to Europe to absorb Christmas markets, snowy mountain peaks, and idyllic cities and cities is out of attain.

I grew up in Florida, lived in Washington DC for a number of years, and traveled all around the US for work and leisure. I am now a journey author based mostly close to Orvieto in central Italy, and Europe is my stomping floor. Nonetheless, it is all the time good to find cities and small cities within the US that impart that beautiful European really feel, thanks largely to varied immigrant populations who settled there. 

So should you’re hungry for a European repair throughout the holidays, however quick on disposable earnings or credit card points to get you there, discover it nearer to house. Listed here are seven locations within the US that impart the texture of Europe with out the price of a global journey.

Swap San Francisco’s North Seaside for Southern Italy to get your fill of Italian vacation treats.

San Francisco, CA, USA January 29 Two adults stroll along side Italian bistros and cafes on a busy night in North Beach, San Francisco

Get pleasure from basic Italian eats in San Francisco’s North Seaside.

Shutterstock/James Kirkikis

Following the nice 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires, extra Italian immigrants moved into San Francisco’s North Beach and the neighborhood grew to become generally known as the town’s Little Italy.

Immediately, even because the neighborhood has become more diverse, North Seaside remains to be the town’s conventional Italian quarter, and I feel it is a terrific place to go to for a style of actual Italian delicacies and ambiance. After I’ve visited North Seaside, I’ve all the time been happy to seek out genuine, red-checked-tablecloth type trattorias and comfortable espresso bars, and bakeries recent with the aroma of vacation panettone, pan d’oro, and cannoli. Liguria Bakery is considered one of my favorites for Northern Italian pastries.

And naturally, you’ll be able to’t go away Little Italy with out consuming pasta. For those who’re there at Christmas, do as my Italian household does, and order a basic lasagna as part of your vacation lunch or dinner. You will discover it on the prime of many menus across the neighborhood. 

Listed here are another North Seaside vacation highlights: 

  • Christmas midnight mass at Saints Peters and Paul Church. Generally known as “the Italian Cathedral of the West,” this twin-spired church was rebuilt in 1924 and remains to be the non secular coronary heart of the neighborhood.
  • Columbus Avenue is the primary drag via North Seaside, and you will find it embellished with festive vacation lights and storefront shows.
  • Although it is not in North Seaside, historic Ghirardelli Square is close by and hosts a large Christmas tree and vacation occasions.

Keep on the Hilton San Francisco Financial District for a contemporary 4-star possibility steps from North Seaside. Or keep proper within the coronary heart of the neighborhood at Hotel Bohème, a boutique possibility in a classic constructing constructed by Italian immigrants. 

For cobblestoned streets and structure paying homage to London, go to Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA town skyline.

Exploring Charleston’s swish structure and holidays markets will really feel like a slice of London.


For the reason that earliest days of the 13 colonies, Charleston was an influential seaport and the Atlantic gateway to the American south, together with throughout the eras of slavery and Civil War, based on Smithsonian Journal. Ship site visitors and commerce had been so brisk right here that the town was dubbed “Little London.”

I particularly love visiting Charleston’s previous city, with its cobblestone streets and Colonial-era structure, throughout the holidays when it seems like a little bit slice of Londontown. 

Through the holidays, I feel the town seems to be like one thing proper out of “A Christmas Carol,” with swish mansions decked out with garlands, palmetto timber strung with twinkling lights, and horsedrawn carriages providing excursions of the historic space. 

This is what to observe for in Charleston on the holidays:

For lodging over the vacations, I like to recommend the French Quarter Inn. I do not assume you may discover something extra festive than the Sleigh Bell Suite, which is outfitted with garlands, a vacation tree, and an in-room eggnog bar. The HarbourView Inn is one other festive decide for the top of the 12 months for the gingerbread home duplicate of the resort within the foyer, stay Christmas carolers, and a go to from Santa on Christmas Eve.

Jump over to Oahu, Hawaii, for a tropical escape that feels just like the Portuguese Azores.

A beach on the west coast of Oahu, Hawaii

In Kauai there are enjoyable winter actions just like the Waikiki Vacation Parade and a Christmas trolley gentle tour.

Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

When hundreds of immigrants from the Portuguese Azores arrived to Hawaii on the flip of the twentieth century, they discovered a well-known panorama of lush volcanic terrain and ample marine life. The Portuguese settlers introduced components of their tradition to the Hawaiian islands, most noticeable in malasadas, sugary donuts which might be a Hawaiian staple, and within the acquainted twang of the ukulele, which originated because the Portuguese braguinha.

Regardless of its tropical setting, I’ve discovered Oahu, and particularly the capital of Honolulu, to go all out for the vacations. I like to discover streets and buying areas decked out with Christmas lights on palm timber and attend enjoyable native occasions to mark the season.

Listed here are just a few methods to have fun the season in Oahu:

  • The Waikiki Vacation Parade incorporates a torchlit marching band procession down Kalakaua Avenue alongside Waikiki Seaside, and culminates with a poignant wreath laying at Pearl Harbor. 
  • On the metropolis corridor, the Honolulu Hale Christmas lights are a colourful outside show, with an enormous central tree and festive lanterns adorning buildings and timber.
  • A brightly lit Honolulu Trolley takes visitors on a Christmas gentle tour, with sing-alongs and seasonal tales.

In Oahu, keep on the stylish, pet-friendly Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, or splash out on the historic Halekulani, an opulent resort that is house to the legendary House Without A Key restaurant and hula present.

Go to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a stateside style of Provence, France.

Charlottesville Virginia Downtown Pedestrian Mall at Holidays_Image credit Visit Virginia.jpg

Charlottesville’s colonial structure feels particularly festive when decked out for the vacations.

Go to Virginia

With its undulating rows of vineyards, sprawling inexperienced hills, and aromatic lavender fields, you’ll be able to’t be blamed for complicated the countryside round Charlottesville, Virginia, with the bucolic landscapes of Provence, France. Right here, you may get a style of France with out getting on a long-haul flight. I have never visited Charlottesville personally but, however it’s on my radar to discover the Colonial-era structure within the previous city, the UNESCO World Heritage Website of Monticello, and the neoclassical design of the College of Virginia, components that can transport guests to France of a number of centuries in the past.

Through the holidays, go for cool, crisp climate and comfortable lodgings, particular vacation excursions of native landmarks, pop-up Christmas markets, and extra. Listed here are just a few highlights:

For an upscale winter spa or golf weekend, keep on the luxurious Keswick Hall. Or within the historic heart, select The Inn at Court Square, which occupies the oldest current home in Charlottesville.

As a substitute of Switzerland, head to Halfway, Utah, for an abundance of snowboarding and snow sports activities.

A Swiss-themed resort in Midway, Utah.

Many buildings in Halfway, Utah, are designed within the Swiss chalet-style of structure.

Monica Humphries/Insider

From snowboarding, sledding, and ice skating, to eating on hearty mountain fare and strolling via a quaint village with fairly squares, what feels like an ideal winter trip within the Swiss Alps might be discovered a lot nearer to house in Midway, Utah

After an influx of Swiss immigrants within the 1860s, Halfway grew to become generally known as “Little Switzerland” due to its architecture, Swiss-German traditions, and placement on the base of the mighty Wasatch Again mountain vary.

I have never been to Halfway but, however I feel when there’s snow on the bottom across the holidays it will be a strong swap for a Swiss Alpine city. Fill your go to with a full of life calendar of Christmas occasions, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice-skating, and preserve an eye fixed out for appearances from Outdated St. Nick.

Listed here are some vacation highlights: 

For stays, ebook Halfway’s Zermatt Resort, which captures among the cachet of Switzerland’s most unique resort city, or the comfortable Blue Boar Inn that appears like one thing straight out of Outdated Europe.

For a Danish vacation expertise proper out of the storybooks, go to Solvang, California.

Solvang Paula's pancakes

Houses and business buildings all through Solvang are constructed within the conventional half-timber type from Denmark.

Anneta Konstantinides/Insider

There isn’t any place fairly like Solvang, California, except you go to Denmark. Developed by Danish immigrants within the early 1900s, Solvang capitalized on its historic roots and structure within the post-war years by remodeling itself to seem like an enthralling village that jogs my memory of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen. I have never visited Solvang but, but when it is something like Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens at Christmas, then it have to be fairly magical certainly.

Within the city heart, there are business and residential buildings, a few of which date to the city’s founding, executed in conventional half-timber type. And naturally, there are Danish windmills. 

12 months after 12 months, Solvang has been dubbed considered one of “the most Christmassy towns in America” and it actually does go all out for the vacations, with beautiful gentle shows and a full calendar of occasions. 

Listed here are some not-to-miss moments: 

  • Solvang Julefest is an prolonged European-style Christmas pageant that runs from late November to the Epiphany (January 6).
  • Additionally a part of Julefest, take a candlelight strolling tour via the village with a costumed information, who will clarify the city’s Danish historical past and traditions. 
  • Store for genuine made-in-Denmark presents and hand-crafted ornaments and different objects in Solvang’s village heart.

Set proper within the village heart, I like to recommend staying within the boutique Mirabelle Inn, which is completed up in full Danish type. The M Solvang is one other candy alternative and is constructed round a stunning courtyard backyard.

Head to St. Augustine, Florida, for winter heat that seems like sunny Spain.

St. Augustine Florida Night of Lights holiday travel courtesy FloridasHistoricCoast.com

St. Augustine embraces the vacation spirit with gentle shows all through city and a Christmas parade.


I grew up in Florida so I have been to St. Augustine a number of occasions. As a child, it was one of many first locations that spurred my fascination with Europe. Visiting there nonetheless seems like a sliver of Spain due to its previous structure and sunny climate. Stroll via the town’s 450-year-old historic district, with its cobblestone streets, quaint Spanish-style stucco houses with terracotta roofs, and a Seventeenth-century seafront fortress.

Cancel out the sounds of recent life — and all of the English being spoken — and you’ll simply consider you are in Spain, albeit Spain of a number of hundred years in the past. Because the oldest continually inhabited city within the US, St. Augustine is wealthy in heritage, historical past, and points of interest that talk to its Spanish colonial previous in addition to its roles within the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement.

St. Augustine is gorgeous each time of 12 months however on the holidays, it takes on a particular ambiance, when its pedestrian-only streets are illuminated with vacation lights and festooned with decorations. Listed here are some key vacation occasions:

The Agustin Inn is considered one of many charming small inns and B&Bs within the previous heart the place I like to remain for a quiet retreat. Or for one thing extra fashionable, I like to recommend the voco St. Augustine – Historic Area, which is conveniently positioned halfway between the historic district and the seashores of Anastasia State Park.

Learn extra from Insider’s information to vacation journey:

How to book holiday travel this year, from the best day to find cheap flights to snagging free hotel upgrades 

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