10 No-Passport-Required Destinations That Feel Like You’re Abroad 

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Who doesn’t want to go on a fabulous European vacation? The reality is that a long-haul journey across the pond requires a lot of planning and budgeting. If you don’t have the PTO days stashed aside, $1,000 for a plane ticket or hours to spend sorting out international travel logistics, it’s still possible to enjoy a trip full of history, culture and postcard-worthy scenery that’s a bit closer to home. 

Ahead, ten domestic destinations that feel like going abroad without leaving the country or needing to pack your passport.


Street view of Leavenworth, Washington in spring with a red, ole-timey trolley in front of Swiss-inspired buildings.
Connie Coleman/Getty Images

1. Leavenworth, Washington

A charming alpine escape with storybook buildings, beer halls, German restaurants that serve heaping helpings of bratwurst, a quirky nutcracker museum and a renowned Oktoberfest celebration just two hours outside of Seattle, Leavenworth is one of America’s best mountain towns. Though, it doesn’t even look like it’s in the United States at all. To the point that if English wasn’t the primary language spoken and written on the signs, it could easily pass for Bavaria.  

no passport required solvang
HaizhanZheng/Getty Images

2. Solvang, California

  • Why we love it: Danish heritage, wineries, souvenir shops, windmills
  • Where to stay: Hotel Corque (from $170/night), Alisal Ranch (from $750/night)

Solvang appears as though someone dropped a darling Danish village into the heart of sunny southern California's Santa Ynez Valley. Tourists love strolling along the main street, which is dotted with thatched roof buildings and snapping pics in front of the iconic windmill. To learn more about the town’s heritage, head to the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art. And, of course, what’s a trip to Solvang without hitting some local wineries? 

Street view of Vale Square with Swiss-inspired buildings and a woman clad for skiing walking downhill.
Brian Brainerd/Getty Images

3. Vail, Colorado

You don’t have to jet off to the Alps for fresh powder, a European-style aprés scene or enchanting architecture. Inspired by Zermatt (yes, the chic and pricey ski town in Switzerland—is there any other?), Vail corners the market on Swiss and Austrian charm in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with its Tyrolean-style facades, stylish shops and hearty alpine cuisine. Hungry after barreling down the world-class slopes? Alpenrose serves schnitzel and cheese fondue in cozy wood panel-clad space

no passport required holland
Windmill Island Gardens/Facebook

4. Holland, Michigan

If the name wasn’t an obvious enough giveaway, a quick glance at photos of Holland provides instant evidence as to how it landed on this list. Originally settled by Dutch Dutch Calvinist separatists back in 1847, this small city on the shore of Lake Macatawa boasts the oldest real-deal working Dutch windmill in the country. We highly recommend visiting during the annual Tulip Time Festival in early spring to see millions of colorful tulips burst into bloom.  

Misty view of rolling vineyards over the hills.
Timothy S. Allen/Getty Images

5. Kenwood, California

The quaint community of Kenwood will have you second guessing whether it’s Sonoma County or Tuscany. While the correct answer doesn’t require doing any mental gymnastics, you might have a hard time wrapping your head around the fact that expansive vineyards growing traditional old-world Italian varietals such as Sangiovese and Barbera, Tuscan-style villas, Mediterranean ambiance and authentic Italian food exist in a small town in California wine country

no passport required meadows of dan
Primland Resort, Auberge Resorts Collection

6. Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Meadows of Dan gives off English countryside meets Scottish Highlands vibes but in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It’s not just the idyllic landscape but also the outdoor activities that rival those you might find in some of the most pastoral regions in the U.K.. Travelers can go on horseback riding adventures through the Blue Ridge Mountains and even partake in European-style pheasant hunts at Primland Resort, Auberge Resorts Collection

no passport required new orleans
Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

7. New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy is many things, including a place with roots that run deep. It was settled by the French in 1718, then handed over to Spain in the Treaty of Paris before becoming part of the United States. The cuisine (hello, beignets), ornamental architecture in the historic districts and culture draw heavily from the influences of both countries. It’s for these reasons that many people consider New Orleans to be the most European city in America.

A bridge at dusk leading to town, lit up by lights all the way across. An overall, purple, magic hue sets over the water and sky.
John Coletti/Getty Images

8. St. Augustine, Florida

Can’t make it all the way to Spain? The oldest city in the United States provides a wonderful alternative on the northeast coast of Florida that’s filled with sunshine and history. Founded by the Spanish settlers in 1565, St. Augustine is home to must-see landmarks like the 17th-century Spanish stone fortress Castillo de San Marcos and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, and Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, plus sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches. 

no passport required montpelier
SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

9. Montpelier, Vermont

Most people associate Montpelier with fall foliage first and foremost. But if you’re craving a taste of Europe without crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the fact that the smallest state capital in the U.S was named after a city in the south of France (though the spelling is slightly different) and has a handful of well-maintained French-style buildings, rolling green hills and quaint inns with that certain je ne sais quoi should be welcome news. 

no passport required mountain

10. Mountain, North Dakota

Without a doubt, the least known and most off-the-beaten-path destination on our list, Mountain might be the biggest sleeper hit for European splendor in the United States. Icelandic pioneers began arriving in this western Pembina County community in 1879. Generations later, its beautiful Icelandic church remains impressively preserved and as picturesque as ever. The largest Icelandic festival in the country goes down just next door in the town of Gardar. 

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...