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"Europe" I can drive to (from the US)

I can’t go back to Europe anytime soon so am looking to put together some road trips that will include some European feeling/looking places. I’ll be starting in New England but considering anywhere I can drive to. The most obvious is Quebec. But am also looking at trips farther afield and have on my list: New Orleans, San Antonio (the missions), California Missions, San Diego, Slovang, CA.

Looking for other suggestions. Thanks

Posted by
3663 posts

Hmmm, I think only Quebec and colonial cities in Mexico really work as drive-to-Europe destinations. New Orleans and California have their own feel that is not European, and the missions in San Antonio are pretty dilapidated, worth seeing but do not have Europe transporter potential.

Those of us who rent cars in Europe (and don't train from historical center to historical center) already know that a large part of modern Europe looks like the US: shopping malls, freeways, parking lots, housing developments. So we can all pretend our homes are in Europe.

Posted by
2270 posts

Solvang is as much like Denmark as Epcot is like Europe. It's OK, but Disney-fied. I'd shoot for Quebec. There are parts of rural Quebec where English is the second language.

Posted by
2234 posts

My suggestion would be the Gaspe peninsula NE of Quebec. The whole area is utterly gorgeous, the first language is French, and Forillon National Park is one of the prettiest we've seen.
Adding Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island would round out a very nice car trip thru the Canadian Maritimes.

Posted by
20 posts

Catalina Island. The city of Avalon is frequently compared to the Amalfi coast. Although you won't be able to drive there as a ferry is required.

Posted by
4479 posts

If you happen to come out to the Pacific Northwest, Leavenworth, Washington is a charming Bavarian village. And I like Victoria on Vancouver Island - don’t miss the nearby Butchart Gardens!

Posted by
985 posts

St Augustine, FL.

In my opinion, Solvang, CA and Helen, GA are tacky Disney-like places.

Posted by
14919 posts

Yes, Victoria has a definite Londonian (is that a word?) vibe. Have afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens. I've also had tea at the Empress Hotel, posh and overpriced. The very best afternoon tea was at The White Heather Tea Room, just outside Victoria.

There's always Las Vegas - the Bellagio, the Venetian, Caesar's Palace or go to Egypt at the Luxor 😂

Posted by
11262 posts

You want to visit Saint Pierre and Miquelon two French territories off the Newfoundland coast.

They are part of France, fly the French flag and and utilize the euro for money. The people living there are French citizens not Canadians. The official language is French.

https://wikitravel.org/en/Saint-Pierre_and_Miquelon

Posted by
847 posts

Thanks for the replies.

Yes Quebec is definitely someplace I plan to visit, hopefully this summer. I will check into the other suggestions of places to combine with it. It looks like you just need to be vaccinated to drive into Canada - no testing required (or to drive back into the US).

Sorry to hear that people don't like Solvang - it does look a bit tacky and certainly I don't expect to actually think I'm in Denmark when I'm there but it looks kind of interesting. If we do the trip I'm tentatively planning it would be on the way to other places - would you suggest we skip it even if we are close by?

sherriwcline - very glad to hear that about Catalina, it's on my "list" but wasn't sure if it would be as good as it looks in photos. But I take it it would be worth a day trip.

I'd heard about Leavenworth, WA - not sure if we'll have time to go that far but thanks for the suggestions
And I totally agree about St Augustine, FL. I'm hoping to find other places in the US that are similar in look/feel to that.

Posted by
985 posts

f we do the trip I'm tentatively planning it would be on the way to other places - would you suggest we skip it even if we are close by?

Not at all.

Posted by
4479 posts

Isabel, you could always to a quick trip over to Newport, RI. I thought it was humorous that the “do not sit” signs on a few pieces of furniture in the summer home mansions were written in French - a case of holding onto the past vs. giving instructions that their current visitors would understand. ; ). We did really enjoy our time there!

Posted by
9 posts

The wine country around Solvang definitely gives me Tuscany vibes, especially driving Hwy 154 between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos. Butterfly Beach in Montecito reminds me of the Italian Riviera.

Balboa Park in San Diego gives an Andalusian impression. And it's not drivable but Puebla, Mexico also feels like Spain, as it's a city the Spanish designed from the ground up to meet their particular needs. Stay at the Colonial in historic downtown overlooking the square for the maximum European effect.

Posted by
6649 posts

Is your criterion basically the architecture? If you want more cultural aspects, I'd consider searching for ethnic festivals around the country and making a tour of some of those.

Posted by
128 posts

Galena is a lovely little town in western Illinois that has a “European” vibe. It’s more of a day destination, though, but very charming. Leavenworth is a cute town in the mountains in the Pacific NW. Years ago they re-invented themselves as a “Bavarian Village” and it’s quite a popular place. We have a friend from Austria who laughed when they visited as it really has a “Disney like” feel to it, can feel pretty “fake” to some. Still, it’s a beautiful setting with access to good hiking. We always enjoy visiting the area for a few days, any trip to the mountains is a treat for me.

Posted by
5869 posts

There are lots of places that seek to retain some of their old world European heritage, near me we have our Czech village, Amana Colonies (Swiss-German), Pella (Dutch), and a host of other places. But as others have said, they have an odd feel, no native language speakers, and since they are based on the experience of an immigrant group, they are stuck in a weird late 1800's time warp, that, as others have mentioned, a native of that country would find "Disney-like".

I suppose if you squint your eyes a bit, take any place for what it is, you will at least have fun. Don't expect to be wowed, just a healthy dose of Americana with a European flavor.

Posted by
5479 posts

I know it's not really what you meant, but I want to mention an unusual exhibition at a small, little-known NYC museum. The NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (steps from the Metropolitan Museum) has had some important loans from Pompeii in the last few years. It's only open for another month, but "Pompeii In Color" is a rare opportunity to stand 12" from many superb frescoes, with no display case, rope, or Naples crowds impeding your view. The lighting is good, too.

I went on a Friday, and it was well-attended, but I was usually alone in front of each piece.

https://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/pompeii-in-color

Posted by
287 posts

So this is circuitous, but technically, you CAN drive to Europe from New England! If you drive to North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and take the ferry to Newfoundland, you could then drive to Fortune, NL and take the ferry to Saint Pierre et Miquelon, where you would then be in France!

That being said, I don't think it'll have that traditional look you're going for - it just struck me as kind of incredible that it actually is possible!

Posted by
427 posts

You might try a rural experience. I am originally from Somerset county in Pennsylvania which has one of the largest concentrations of Amish people in the US. There are are number of sects including the still "plain" Old-Order Beachy Amish and also more modern Mennonites. Their tidy farms cling to the slopes of gentle mountains and hills and can be seen from drives on winding and curving roads. My family often purchases maple syrup from Amishman Brenneman's farm in Salisbury-Elk Lick township near the Mason Dixon. Many of them speak English but the old order still speaks a form of German often called Pennsylvania Dutch. It's easier form me as my ancestors spoke it fluently with their neighbors. They are often quite friendly and welcoming if you approach them in the right manner. And, no, they do not practice "rumspringa" as shown on popular television program "Amish in the City". Most of the Amish are of Swiss origin and the "English" nearby are mostly of Palatinate descent with a small number of Irish. The area often reminded people of Alpine areas of Europe and one of the few restaurants across the Mason Dixon in nearby western Maryland is named "Penn Alps" due to that resemblance. The Penn Alps Craft Shop and Spruce Forest Artisan Village has got some cultural cache as it was developed by educator and native Dr. Alta E. Schrock.

Michigan's Frankenmuth is a more popular and accessible location. It doesn't exactly "look" European but has definite German presence. It might be fun especially during a cold snowy period when less people visit. Years ago my frozen friends and I stopped into a near empty wine shop on main street where they defrosted us with warm pear wine. I'm not sure if the cuckoo clock shop is till open but they once fixed our touchy intricate beast for us. My sister really liked the doll house shop but again I'm not at all certain what survived the pandemic. I know that my cousin has had chicken dinners at Zehnders during the past year. Zehnder's attracts crowds much too large for me. The huge Bronner's Christmas Wonderland store is marketed as the largest Christmas store in the world. We've found a few interesting rare items there over the years. The surrounding area still has numerous farms and German descendants.

Posted by
3663 posts

There are European possessions in Africa and North and South America, but that doesn’t make them “in Europe.” French Guiana and Ceuta are not in Europe, although Ceuta despite being in Africa is part of the Schengen zone (but French Guiana is not).

Posted by
5200 posts

I am going to offer a radical idea. Why not just visit parts of the United States that you haven't been to and enjoy them for what they are?

Posted by
745 posts

@ Carol now retired

And that's exactly what I'm going to do later this year - been in DC, NYC, and Boston countless times on business BUT never as a tourist.

Posted by
287 posts

Haha, true, as it turns out, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon is part of France but not Europe. I was banking on the hopes that they were technically part of the European Union but upon further research, the overseas territories are not. However, interesting development - the overseas departments ARE part of the European Union - so we might still have an argument for Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana, among others. They are not a part of the Schengen area, of course.

All that being said, it'd be a pretty cool adventure!

Posted by
847 posts

jean - totally agree with you about Newport. I was actually there for a few days exactly one year ago. Loved it even though hardly any of the mansions were open. It was still April and I think a few were going to open in May for the season, and maybe this year more are open. But from the outside they certainly looked like France or England.

jasmin - glad to hear that, I will definitely check out Butterfly Beach in Montecito

Silas Marner - I hadn't thought about Amish country but we will probably be going right by there so will check it out, I have been to the region but it was decades ago.

Carol - that is of course essentially what I'm doing. But I like to have a 'theme' to my travels. Last year we went as far west as Arizona and we concentrated on National Parks. This time I was thinking we'd do more towns/cities (but still a few National Parks) and as I'm missing Europe I'm drawn to places that will remind me of it. I just love 'being in' Europe so figured places in the US that have that look to them we be interesting.

Amy - that's interesting about Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Not exactly what I was thinking of but could be interesting.

periscope - definitely visit those places as a 'tourist'. I'm from NYC (and visited relatives who lived in Boston many times) but to go to those places just as a tourist is a whole different thing and very worthwhile.

Posted by
7 posts

Not driveable but... Oaxaca, Mexico - colonial town with lots of day-trip opportunities. Don't forget to set aside time to hang out at the Zocalo with your favorite drink and people watch!

Posted by
136 posts

Yes, Quebec. Yes, Victoria/Butchart Gardens (very walkable with good buses for whole island). Downtown Santa Barbara, CA (very Spanish-y by law. The mission is the best of the bunch). If Santa Barbara, then Solvang, Pea Soup Andersen's, Coast Hwy 1 and Hearst Castle, Monterey Bay, then SanFran Chinatown. Remember, you live in/near probably the oldest "North European" areas in the US. Happy travels.