Dreaming of taking a European vacation? It’s true that you can find budget-friendly options, but even discounted prices on plane tickets aren’t enough. The fact is, if you’re living in the states, traveling to Europe is expensive, no matter how you do it.
Just because you don’t have the money to jump the pond and get a true European vacation doesn’t mean you can’t find very European vacations right here in the United States!
If you’re looking for that European experience, but your pocketbook won’t let you leave the states, give one of these ideas a try.
Visit the Right Kind of Theme Park
Theme parks are called theme parks for a reason—they have a theme! In some cases, that theme is based on Europe.
Bush Gardens in Williamsburg is a European-style theme park. It contains nine villages that represent six different European countries. Each one is reminiscent of the food, architecture, and landscaping you would find if you were actually vacationing there. They include:
- Banbury Cross that is based on England
- Heatherdowns mimics a Scottish hamlet
- Killarney will make you feel like you’re in Ireland
- San Marco is themed after Italy
- Rhinefield is based on Germany
- Aquitaine will make you feel like you’re in France
- And more!
There are other parks across the country you can visit too. For example, Epcot is always a popular destination for people looking for a taste of Europe right here in the United States!
Know the Best Cities to Visit
Theme parks are a fun way to feel like you’re in Europe, but with all the rides, it’s hard to lose yourself in an authentic European fantasy. If that’s what you’re looking for, you have to know which American towns look like European towns.
There are many great cities to visit that include:
- St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously occupied European city in the U.S.
- Frankenmuth, Michigan is often referred to as Michigan’s Little Bavaria.
- Solvang, California features colorful storefronts and horse-drawn carriages reminiscent of Denmark.
- Holland, Michigan features tulips in the spring and windmills all year round.
Spend a Day at a Festival or Fair
It isn’t always about the location. Sometimes, it’s about what you can experience while you’re there!
Spending a day at a European-themed festival or fair is a great way to feel like you’ve been transported overseas for the day. Renaissance fairs are popular, and they can be found all across the country. Chances are, there’s one happening no more than a few hours away from where you live this fall.
Areas that were settled by the Dutch often have tulip festivals in the spring. Pella, Iowa is one town that has a fun and eventful festival in the Midwest. Octoberfest is also a popular celebration that takes place in many different locations all across the United States.
Eat and Drink like a European
Did you know that Americans eat differently than Europeans? If you’re planning a staycation, but still want that European experience, simply alter how you eat and drink!
For example, portion sizes in the United States are huge. The next time you go to a restaurant, order multiple items from the appetizer menu for a family, European-style meal.
Skip the chain restaurants and look for a locally-owned operation that specializes in European fare, or opt for the fish and chips the next time you go out to eat. And of course, skip the soda and get a glass of wine instead!
Plan Your Accommodations Carefully
Accommodations are often different in Europe than they are here in the United States. Although you can find hotels, small mom-and-pop operations, as well as hostels, are the norm.
Did you know you can find hostels in the United States? You do have to search carefully, but they can be found!
If you want to skip the hostel experience, look for a room to rent in a bed and breakfast or in someone’s home. If you opt to share a bathroom with other guests, not only will you save money, but your experience will feel even more European!
Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have the time or the money to hop on an airplane and spend weeks traveling Europe. As a nation colonized by Europeans, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of fun and convincing European experiences you can have right here in the United States. Just as long as you know where to look!