Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.
Your passport may be screaming, “Stamp me,” but for the time being it will need to remain shut. You on the other hand, need not surrender your desire to see faraway places. The United States is a nation of immigrants and their presence can be felt everywhere, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. Here are 8 spots that will make you feel like you’re in another country.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? You don’t actually have to speak German in this Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascade Mountains, but its German architecture is so authentic that you may want to bring a passport just in case. Like its European counterpart, Leavenworth is famous for its Christmas lights and holiday market so go when it’s snowy!
Distance from Seattle: 2 hrs, 12 mins
Las Vegas, NV
We know that Strip resorts like the Luxor and the Venetian are meant to resemble far off places, but we’re here to point you in the direction of Chinatown, a sprawling nabe full of pagoda-style architecture and easily the best-kept secret in Vegas. This other strip is home to amazing Asian cuisine (not just Chinese) and locals hope you never find out about it. Oops!
New Glarus, WI
Don’t think you can come here and open a Swiss bank account, even though you might be tempted. This Midwest village is so proud of its Swiss heritage it dares to call itself Little Switzerland and is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. Admire New Glarus‘ Swiss architecture and see if you can spot the 16 cow sculptures placed around town (and manufactured in Zurich, of course). Be sure to stop by beloved New Glarus Brewery to pick up a six-pack of its famed Spotted Cow ale on the way out of town, and check to see if its beer garden (pictured) is open.
Distance from Milwaukee: 1 hr, 45 mins
Big Sur, CA
The woodsy cabins dotting Pacific Coast Highway are pure Americana, but the coastline screams Portugal’s Algarve Coast. Although the waters here are much cooler and the beaches less crowded than its famed European counterpart, what both places have in common are a rugged coastline punctuated by craggy rock formations.
Distance from San Francisco: 2 hrs, 35 mins
St. Augustine, FL
America’s first city was founded by the Spanish, but that doesn’t mean dinner service at restaurants begins at 11 pm here (trust us, it definitely doesn’t!). Nevertheless, enjoy St. Augustine‘s Spanish Renaissance architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks. Another thing the city has in common with Spain? Fabulous beaches, of course.
Distance from Jacksonville: 45 mins
Bonneville Salt Flats, UT
Is your Insta feed feeling jealous of all those otherworldly photos of Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia, try juicing up the Prius and trekking on out west for a photoshoot at Bonneville, a densely packed salt pan in northwestern Utah. As with Uyuni, visiting after a rainstorm provides an irresistible mirroring effect. Your followers will love it!
Distance from Salt Lake City: 1 hr, 30 mins
Little Copenhagen? New Denmark? All are titles befitting this Danish-inspired hamlet located a stone’s throw from HWY 101 as its twists through California’s Central Coast. Solvang‘s Danish-style architecture and pastry shops are legit although we’re guessing the windmills are just for show. Check out nearby wineries and Ostrichland USA!
Distance from Los Angeles: 2 hrs, 20 mins
Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
Even when there’s no pandemic sweeping the globe, you can’t exactly whisk away to a vacation on the moon. Nevertheless, we had to include this one for its breathtaking lunar-like landscapes—but with oxygen! If you think Idaho is merely the land of potatoes, Craters of the Moon will take your breath away.
Driving distance from Boise: 2 hrs, 45 mins