FLICKR/norjam8

FLICKR/norjam8

Want to leave the U.S. but just can't afford it this year?  Maybe we can help. From little Sweden to little Bavaria, here's a list of towns that will transport you to a different place and time.  These 7 towns throughout the States have enough European flare to have you saying I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...

Holland, Michigan - Little Netherlands

Holland's ode to all things Dutch doesn't end at Tulip Time.  This is Midwestern city is a year round destination.  At Windmill Island Gardens, visitors can tour an authentic 250-year-old windmill that was imported from the mother country.  Dutch Village houses wooden shoemaking demonstrations and Dutch cheese tastings.  Head over to the Dutch art galleries at the Holland Museum to check out a collection of 17th-19th century Dutch art and furnishings - described as the best collection of its type in the United States.

Click here to learn more about the complete Dutch experience in Holland, Michigan.

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FLICKR/anthonyturducken

Natchitoches, Louisiana - Little France

If you've spent a few too many lazy Sunday afternoons watching Steel Magnolias, you may already be familiar with Natchitoches, Louisiana.  The setting for the popular 1989 film, Natchitoches is the oldest town in Louisiana, dating back to 1714.  Its picturesque streets are the ideal place to experience the charm of the original French colony in Louisiana.  The Landmark Historic District has charming shops, restaurants, and attractions as well as historic forts and museums.  The town also hosts year round cultural events.

Download the Natchitoches Vacation Guide here to learn about the city and the upcoming events like Summer Heat 2011 on June 18.

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FLICKR/Kathy McGraw

Solvang, California - Little Denmark

Located in the Santa Ynez Valley not far from Santa Barbara, Solvang is internationally recognized for its Old World architecture, variety of hotels, unique boutiques, award-winning restaurants and historic museums like the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art.  The flower-lined streets are full of restaurants and bakeries offering the popular aebleskiver, deliciously light and airy Danish pancake balls dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam. This town is so steeped in its roots that His Royal Highness the Prince Consort of Denmark will be visiting on June 11, 2011 to celebrate his Royal Birthday Party in Solvang Park.

Fill out a few required fields, and you can access Solvang's visitor guide here.

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FLICKR/cupcakes2

New Glarus, Wisconsin - Little Switzerland

New Glarus, Wisconsin likes to brag that every year thousands of visitors - including hundreds of bona fide Swiss tourists - are drawn to the town to enjoy the atmosphere that thrives here and nowhere else outside of Switzerland.  Try some of the town's award winning beer, cheese and sausages, or go for a dip in a pot of fondue.  With chalet-style architecture, two fine museums, famous ethnic festivals, and a host of specialty shops and restaurants serving savory Swiss food, you might just forget you're in the middle of Wisconsin.  

Download the visitor's guide here for more information including a schedule of festivals and events like the Polkafest (June 10-12).

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FLICKR/designatednaphour

Lindsborg, Kansas - Little Sweden

Välkommen!  This Swedish-crazy town is bursting with Nordic pride.  The citizens of Lindsborg Kansas fly two flags - one for the country they're in, and one for the country they love.  Lindsborg was settled in the spring of 1869 by a group of Swedish immigrants from the Värmland province of Sweden led by Pastor Olof Olsson.  They envisioned a community rich in culture, learning, religion, business and farming.  Today, the culture is preserved in the food, crafts, festivals, art exhibits, and heritage sites of this rural Kansas community.

Click here to learn about Lindsborg's up and coming events like the 2011 Svensk Hyllningsfest Smörgåsbord on June 7 or Thor's Roar Motorcycle Rally on June 25.

FLICKR/tgaume

FLICKR/tgaume

St Augustine, Florida - Little Spain

In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon landed along the Florida coast while searching for the fabled isle of Bimini.  Yet, it was Franciso Pizarro who, after conquering the great Incan Empire in Peru and acquiring an unprecedented amount of wealth, established St. Augustine in 1565 along the Florida coast as an outpost to protect the treasure fleets. Castillo de San Marcos is the city's biggest attraction and oldest structure (construction began in 1672).  The fort aside, for the most flare, check out the Colonial Spanish Quarter, St. Augustine's signature living history museum where you can step back in time to the Spanish colony of the 1740's with costumed interpreters and a changing program of events.

Check out www.augustine.com for more information on visiting this historic city.

 

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FLICKR/46137

Frankenmuth, Michigan - Little Bavaria

Willkommen to Franenmuth, Michigan's Little Bavaria where bells from the glockenspiel tower ring across the village as costumed waiters and waitresses in lederhosen and dirndls serve you a hearty meal.  It's a place of horse-drawn carriages and covered bridges.  Of riverboat cruises and world-famous chicken dinners.  Founded in 1844 as a colony for German pioneers in the American Midwest, generations of families have made this a true enclave of Bavarian culture. 

Download the visitor guide here and read up on all the year round events including Frankenmuth's Bavarian Festival (June 9-12).