Destinations 5 US Escapes That Will Make You Feel Like You’re in Europe

by Megan Wood | May 31, 2023

Skiing the snow-capped Alps or strolling historic neighborhoods in France are dreamy vacation activities, but sometimes you don’t have the vacation days or budget to swing a European escape.

That doesn’t mean you have to settle for a different type of trip; with so many American locales steeped in European influence, from architecture to cuisine, you can have an equally culture-filled trip without traveling far.

To plan your perfect getaway, check out these no-passport-required, European-leaning U.S. spots offering Medieval-inspired castles, Parisian-style pastries and more. Then explore your travel options by visiting the Citi TravelSM with portal.

If you’re interested in: Paris, France
Visit this U.S. spot instead: New Orleans, L.A.

Early French settlers founded New Orleans, and that’s evident in the local French Creole language, intricate ironwork balconies in the French Quarter and soaring St. Louis Cathedral dedicated to King Louis IX. Instead of the Seine River you have the Mississippi, along with mule-drawn carriage tours to give you a sense of the city’s historic French Quarter. And the indulgent dining scene is what really sets Francophile hearts aflutter, especially when you start your morning with freshly made beignets. For something more au courant but just as Parisian, try the almond tarts at Beth Biundo Sweets. (The chef is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute.)

If you’re interested in: Munich, Germany
Visit this U.S. spot instead: Milwaukee, WI

Nicknamed Brew City, thanks to the German immigrants who brought their beer-making skills here in the 1840s, Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city and a melting pot of cultures. The German influence has remained strong, right down to the industrial vibe on the Milwaukee River. Every October, the city hosts an authentic Oktoberfest with polka bands, a bratwurst-eating contest and other cultural festivities. Year-round German offerings include brewery tours at Lakefront Brewery and authentic specialties from spaetzle to strudel served by lederhosen-clad staff at the iconic Mader’s restaurant.

If you’re interested in: Barcelona, Spain
Visit this U.S. spot instead: St. Augustine, FL

This steeped-in-history destination is not only the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States but also one of the most heavily influenced by Spanish architecture. Check out the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress — complete with a drawbridge — that rivals Barcelona’s Montjuïc Castle. St. Augustine’s beaches also give Barcelona’s a run for their euros with 42 miles of sand and surf.

st augustine florida with palm tree

If you’re interested in: Semmering, Austria
Visit this U.S. spot instead: Stowe, VT

The Austrian Alps are a powder-packed playground for serious skiers, and while Vermont may not match those majestic peaks in elevation, it does offer plenty of snow-capped fun for every level of skier and snow boarder with 116 alpine trails, 13 lifts and two gondolas. In downtown Stowe you’ll find a charming main street with century-old inns, but for a true taste of Austria, book a room at the Trapp Family Lodge. The 2,600-acre, Alpine-style resort was built by the Trapp Family singers after they finished a musical tour of the United States in 1942. Today the resort offers miles of cross-country skiing, snowshoe trails and a traditional maple sugar mill. Refuel after a day on the slopes with Tyrolean-inspired favorites including locally made, Austrian-style beers at Von Trapp Brewing, as well as German sausage like knackwurst and pasta-like spaetzle.

If you’re interested in: the Greek Islands in Greece
Visit this U.S. spot instead: Tarpon Springs, FL

Home to the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the United States, this central Florida Gulf Coast town is full of Greek flavors, sights and sounds. Skilled divers first arrived from the islands of Kalymnos, Hydra and Halki in the 1890s to work in the sponge industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the Greektown historic district houses vintage wooden sponge boats docked in the sparkling Anclote River. Acclimate to the area by downloading “The Florida Stories Walking Tour of Tarpon Springs,” a mile-long, narrated and self-guided tour set to Greek music. You can also sample flaky baklava and rich Greek custard pie from the family-owned Hellas Bakery on Dodecanese Boulevard.

Explore your travel options at the Citi Travel with portal.


— With additional reporting from Life and Money by Citi editors.

tarpon springs at night water view
Megan Wood

had pages added to her passport last year to keep up with her wanderlust. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Refinery29 and Travel + Leisure.