Where would you travel to in the world for a European flare, without actually traveling to Europe? Ambiance, lifestyle, cuisine, culture, expense all factors in a decision of where our family might travel to next year. Daughters, son in law, two children (6 & 3 yo), and myself.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I'm not sure you'll find anyplace enough like "the real thing" to satisfy you, but one candidate might be Quebec City, where French is the main language and the old city has a European feel. Another could be Victoria B.C., close to home but reminding many people of England (except that you don't have to look right stepping off the curb). Curacao in the Caribbean has some streets that look very Dutch. I understand that Buenos Aires is thought to have a "European flair," but I've never been there. But if you go to the trouble and expense of flying there, why not fly to Europe instead?
My daughter and her husband made a pact before getting married that they would travel internationally (from Seattle) every other year and they have managed to live up to the agreement even with two young children in tow. Now, we want to have a trip as a family but can't go overboard on costs. Thinking Canada, Mexico, Central America or elsewhere. While Mexico and Central America may not be very Europeanish (made up that one), I think we could do a trip there affordably. Don't want to spend thousands of dollars. Montreal immediately came to mind as being very European and I am pleased that you both have suggested the area.
Victoria is a beautiful little city; we have all been there, albeit, on separate trips. I have been to Germany, Italy and France but my daughters have not been to Europe YET. We are just now formulating a general plan to trip to Spain and Portugal together in late 2015, but in the meantime want a short trip to satisfy our love of travel and being with the family.
How is Mexico not European-ish? The Spanish influence is everywhere in the colonial towns and major cities - it feels like a nice mix of different cultures, including European. I loved Merida, off the west coast of the Yucatan (very affordable and nice). In South America: Argentina, Chile, and Brazil should hit the spot as well. NYC feels like the most European US city to me - it has the density, the sites, the multiculturalism, the public transit that actually works efficiently, the great food, etc. Everything in one package. Montreal and Quebec/Charlevoix region to the north are lovely too. Don't limit yourself just to Quebec City, its very small - rent a car and drive north along the St. Lawrence, lovely little towns there (Sainte Anne de Beupre, Baie St. Paul, etc). Also, you may also try some of the Caribbean islands which were colonized by the Dutch or British.
This might be a stretch, but with the young kids I would say Epcot at DisneyWorld. The World showcase on the other side of Epcot has a few European countries represented.
Norma & Dick beat me to it. I think Quebec City is beautiful, and in a great setting. I bet some of the small towns & villages of Quebec would be worth checking out. Not France but definitely not the US. Also San Juan Puerto Rico. I was really taken with the old spanish charm of the old city.
New Orleans, LA St. Augustine, FL
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I second Puerto Rico, especially San Juan, for the Spanish influence. If you're planning a trip to Spain in the future you can get a start on practicing your spanish. I loved all of PR and hope I get a chance to go back again.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico felt more European to me than any other place I have been outside of Europe. I loved it.
Leavenworth, Washington. Alps-like Bavarian town. Wear thy lederhosen.
St. Augustine, FL; you will feel as though you are in Spain. Puerto Rico is also a good suggestion. But between the two, I prefer St. Augustine. Historic buildings, old Spanish fort, and some have found old Spanish coins on the nearby beach.
Agree with all the suggestions above, but for some place even more reasonable and definitely exotic with an indigenous people look at Guatemala. Antigua is a great place to visit and feels European enough for me at about 1/5 the cost. I know a great little guest house that includes meals, etc. for a very reasonable price.
Agnes: you are probably correct about Mexico. We have also made trips ( separately) to different areas of Mexico, and I would not be adverse to going back. Monte: funny you suggest Leavenworth; we are all going in October to cheer my daughter and son-in-law who will run in a half marathon there. Always a fun place. Emily: I just came back from a great trip to Charleston , Savannah and St. Augustine. I absolutely loved St. Augustine and would go back in a heartbeat. Alas, the trip is supposed to be International. Terry Katherine: youngest daughter spent some time in Guatemala and I have always thought about venturing there. Good suggestion. Stan, Leigh & Rebecca: I love the idea of Puerto Rico. Will have to look into the area. Although, technically isn't Puerto Rico a U.S. territory? I might be wrong on that one. Thank you all ever so much for these great ideas. As I posted earlier this month, if I am not on an actual trip, I am planning one. Drives my family nuts. I'm okay with that though!
Buenos Aires without a doubt! Such a wonderful place! It has a European flair, but it's worth going there because it is also a different experience than Europe. You can watch Tango dancers performing in the street! Such fun! And their beef if your a meat eater is the best! I would love to go back to Buenos Aires again someday!
Yes Puerto Rico is a US territory but other than using the US dollar as currency it's very different from other US cities/states. Also, if you go don't just go to San Juan (although it's the main attraction), there are lots of interesting small towns and the other 'big' city of Ponce has a nice historical area too. It's a beautiful place that's compact enough to visit the cities and the wonderful beach resorts too in a fairly short amount of time.
Two nice things about EPCOT: 1) It can whet the appetite of the kids to see the real thing. When I was 11, it lit a fire in me to see Norway in real life. And "Impressions du France" is still one of the most beautiful travelogue films I've ever seen. 2) For the parents... um...you can try what is variously known as "The World Showcase Challenge" or more bluntly, "The EPCOT Drunken Mile". Basically, in the course of strolling around the lagoon, buy a drink at every national pavillion. Moving clockwise a few years ago, I only made it to France...
Tom: thanks for the idea of Epcot Center. I think it sounds fun, not sure the rest of the fam would agree.
Hi Linda, of all the places recommended, some would decidedly not be cheaper than Europe: NYC, Quebec (unless you stay outside the old city walls), Buenos Aires (food/wine is very affordable especially given the quality, lodging varies, but the flight itself and intra-country flights were quite expensive, at least on my trip). If you're thinking just in terms of budget, then central America and Mexico seem most affordable. From where I am, a flight to Puerto Rico is relatively inexpensive, but not sure if this is true of Seattle.
I have been told that Mexico City has a very European feel to it (by a dental hygienist to whom I was explaining my Eurocentric travel habits). Quebec City or Montreal would probably tick the right boxes for you due to the strong French influence. However, this is all speculation on my part, since I have been to neither place. Victoria is a good "budget" option, I suppose, although I am not sure how much there is to do there with kids. Take that with a grain of salt, because my experience comes from being there as a kid, a.k.a. many years ago, and things may have changed. Just go somewhere with tons of Australians hanging around, and you will instantly feel like you're in Europe :)