They're towns and enclaves that offer a taste of Europe in USA. Who knew, for example, that California boasts a town known as “The Danish capital of America,” or that Michigan has its own Little Bavaria? Here are a few cities across the US that offer a distintcly European flair.
1 America’s Little Switzerland, New Glarus, WI
Travelers who’ve always fantasized about visiting Switzerland can get a taste of the country -- literally and figuratively -- in New Glarus, WI, home of Swiss Center of America, the only Swiss heritage organization in the US, and its many museums, festivals and shops. In addition to chocolate boutiques, it’s only natural that there be a string of Swiss cheese shops in America’s cheese state.
2 Michigan’s Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth, MI
For a taste of Germany’s famous Christmas markets, consider heading to Frankenmuth, MI, a picturesque town -- population 5,000 -- that honors its German heritage with “storybook style buildings and covered bridges.” In addition to free-flowing hot chocolate, carolers and candlelit walks, the town also hosts its own Oktoberfest and Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival.
3 The Nation’s Oldest City, St. Augustine, FL
St. Augustine boasts the title of the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America, after being founded by Spanish settlers in 1565. Relics of its Spanish heritage are everywhere with its colonial architecture, narrow, cobblestone streets, forts and lookout points.
4 German Heritage, Texan Hospitality, Fredericksburg, TX
Settled by German immigrants, Fredericksburg is a German enclave in the Lone Star State that, like its Michigan counterpart, keeps its European heritage alive by throwing yearly Oktoberfest parties, and operating specialty shops, beer gardens and Bavarian-inspired bed and breakfasts. Southern Living magazine named Fredericksburg one of their “Small Towns We Love,” for its old-world charm in Texas Hill country. Be sure to keep an ear open for a native who speaks “Texas German,” the magazine suggests -- a distinctive but dying dialect.
5 Little Sweden USA, Lindsborg, KS
Built by mostly Swedish immigrants in the late 19th century, the city of Lindsborg has preserved its Swedish history and heritage, with a string of gift shops and boutiques specializing in Swedish products like lingonberry bars and souvenirs, while a herd of Dala horse sculptures -- a traditional Swedish folk art -- inhabit various parts of the city. Every two years, the city also hosts a Swedish festival, the Svensk Hyllningsfest to fete its Swedish heritage. The next edition takes place in October, 2015.
6 Solvang, Danish Capital of America
In Danish, ‘solvang’ means ‘sunny fields,’ fitting for the Californian town that’s home to its own Hans Christian Andersen Park and fairy tale windmill. For more than 75 years, the town has also been hosting a ‘Danish Days’ festival that fetes their heritage. Visitors are also reminded of the town’s European heritage with its Danish boutiques and bakeries. Other activities include horseback riding and wine tastings.