10 Southern Destinations that Feel Like Europe

Tarpon Springs Man on Boat
Photo: Chris Rogers

If your sights are set on a European getaway, hold off on heading to the international airport terminal. What if we told you that you can get a taste for some of the most desirable European destinations without ever leaving the South? If France is the wanderlust destination you have in mind, experience beachside luxury like the south of France or exotic hustle and bustle reminiscent of Paris without leaving our favorite Southern states. If you're craving a trip to Spain, Greece, Germany, or Scotland, without the heavy burdens to your wallet and calendar needed for a trip across the Atlantic, head to one of these unique hotspots that sing with European charm on American soil—no passport necessary. Sometimes – just sometimes – the appeal of a foreign getaway can be tempting . Instead, head to one of these Southern destinations that, thanks to historic architecture and cultural influences, make a pseudo-European holiday within easy reach.

01 of 10

St. Augustine, Florida

Panorama view of St. Augustine, Florida at twilight
Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Boasting the title of America's oldest city, it's no wonder that St. Augustine, Florida is flush with old-world charm. Much of the city's allure can be traced back to its Spanish colonial roots, remnants of which persist today through a record-breaking number of houses and landmarks dating back centuries that sing with Spanish charm. Between the graceful Spanish architecture diffused throughout the city's cobblestone streets and the sandy, tranquil beaches at your fingertips, you may as well be vacationing in Majorca.

02 of 10

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Bright Red Streetcar Traveling Amid Palms and Flags
Getty Images / drnadig

The spirited French culture in New Orleans is palpable—you can't miss it. Catch the St. Charles Streetcar, head to the French Quarter, and fancy yourself strolling along the French Riviera. Historic French colonial buildings with embellished archways, balconies with vibrant florals, and lively jazz music floating from nearby venues, which transform into uproarious nightlife, set The Big Easy firmly apart from most places in America. A beignet (or two!) will seal the deal.

03 of 10

Helen, Georgia

Helen, Georgia
Robbie Caponetto

Sure, Georgia may not be known for its snowy climate, but this Alpine-inspired town will transport you to the Alps just the same. Just less than two hours from Atlanta, this northeast Georgia mountain town is unique for its Bavarian-style buildings and wineries that mimic a lively Alpine village. Just like in Europe's famous mountain range, tradition and outdoor adventures await in Helen , from wine country tours to treetop zip-lining, waterfall treks, hiking, and water parks. Don't pass up a chance to experience holiday magic in Helen come Christmastime, either.

04 of 10

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina- The Holy City
Jordan Banks/Getty Images

Walking around Charleston, South Carolina , you'll be struck with the impression that you're somewhere foreign. From the architecture to the history and culture, this is truly a unique place to be. You can chalk some of that je ne sais quoi up to Charleston's European origins: The city gets its name from England's King Charles II, but its aesthetic is distinctly more similar to Spain or France. Brightly colored homes, palm trees, and cobblestone streets are the perfect recipe for transforming this Southern city into an international destination.

05 of 10

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Row of Townhouses in Old Town Alexandria
Grace Cary/Getty

Old Town Alexandria's distinct charm and colonial roots are unmistakable. Walk down the historic district's sweeping cobblestone streets lined by 18th century townhouses and modern boutiques towards the waterfront of the Potomac River. The city's Scottish heritage is apparent in its pleasant worldliness and combination of quaint appeal with first-rate dining and shopping, especially on King Street. While you're there, you may even catch one of the city's Scottish celebrations, including the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend . You'll recognize it by the joyful roar of the bagpipes and rhythmic stomping of hundreds of kilt-clad dancers.

06 of 10

Rosemary Beach, Florida

The Pearl
Photo: Robbie Capponetto

A quaint village by the sea that deserves more attention, Rosemary Beach shines with European charisma. Between serene beaches with blue water and the downtown reminiscent of a French quarter, this Gulf Coast town is a magical place to Eat, Pray, Love . Rejoice in Rosemary Beach's refreshing combination of laid-back lifestyle and polished, coastal scenery that makes this Southern destination similar to the south of France.

07 of 10

Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Estate Exterior
George Rose / Contributor/Getty Images

If you're longing to see Versailles, but without the hefty time commitment and price tag of a trip to France, look no further than North Carolina. Asheville is home to the Biltmore Estate , a luxurious, historic property and tourist attraction. The main house, Biltmore House, is a château that was once home to George Vanderbilt II. It is now the largest privately-owned house in America. Delight in the mansion's Blue Ridge Mountain Gilded Age glamor by exploring the grounds, diving into stellar museum exhibitions, and even attending a soiree.

08 of 10

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Downtown Natchitoches Christmas
Robbie Caponetto

For a domestic yet distinctly French getaway, just follow the fleur-de-lis. Natchitoches is Louisiana's oldest permanent settlement, not to mention, the film location of Steel Magnolias , and its French roots run deep. Natchitoches takes its cues from its European heritage when it comes to architecture and lifestyle. Lavish iron archways line patios throughout town, the site of the world-famous Natchitoches Christmas Festival which has earned the city its nickname, the City of Lights—same as Paris!

09 of 10

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg Texas
Rhiannon Taylor

When German settlers arrived in Texas Hill Country in 1846, they certainly made a long-lasting impression. Today, Fredericksburg, Texas combines Southern culture and its German heritage in brilliant effect. There, you'll find a smorgasbord of German fare to sample, from bratwurst to beer from local breweries, as well as events and museums honoring the town's European roots. Each October, Fredericksburg booms with visitors decked out in German folk costumes to celebrate Oktoberfest, an autumn festival hailing from Munich, Germany.

10 of 10

Tarpon Springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs Man on Boat
Chris Rogers

Whisk yourself off to a pseudo-Mediterranean getaway—no passport necessary. Tarpon Springs, Florida is the perfect site for a Greek holiday without leaving mainland USA. This Gulf Coast city is home to hosts of Greek immigrants, with over 10 percent of residents having Greek heritage. And you know what that means: immaculate Greek food, and even better Mediterranean vibes. Spend your days lounging by the beach, strolling along brick roads in the historic district, and people-watching by the docks where sponge divers and boaters are hard at work. Later, top off the day with authentic dishes filled with feta cheese, grilled meats, and savory dips, from one of the numerous Greek restaurants gracing the waterfront.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles