The Most European City in America (+ A Few Runners Up)

Summary: There are a few cities in the USA that look and feel like they should be in Europe. It’s so fun to feel like you’re on another continent, especially one as beautiful as Europe, without traveling too far. Keep reading to find out what is, in my opinion, the most European city in America. We’ll talk about a few others as well!

Alley in Carmel, California

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Europe is obviously filled with a lot of different cultures, nationalities, languages, etc. It’s an entire continent, after all, with very unique countries throughout.

However, there are certain architecture styles that make me think of Europe. These can include white-washed stone (Greece), lots of exposed stone and natural materials (think Italian countryside), exposed beams (Germany and France), and more. In addition to building materials, there are certain types of restaurants or cafes that make me think of Europe. Anytime I have to walk through a narrow alley that’s lined with flowers or string lights, or enter a cafe with people sitting outside chatting, I think of Europe.

There are a few cities within the USA that lean heavily into this European style, but there’s one that stands out among the rest:

The Most European City in America: Carmel, California

I had heard about Carmel (also known as Carmel by the Sea) years ago and recently had the chance to visit this charming city on the coast of California. The draw for me to visit was that it looked and felt like so many countries in Europe and it genuinely did not disappoint. In my opinion, Carmel is the most European city in America.

Downtown Carmel by the Sea

Walking down the streets of Carmel, you’ll see Greek restaurants, Irish pubs, German and Swiss-style architecture, Italian and French cuisine, and at the end of the day, you can watch a Santorini-like sunset at Carmel Sunset Beach.

I particularly loved this town because it wasn’t overrun with tourists. Being on the coast, the weather is pretty temperate all year. I visited in October and the weather was perfect. I was staying right downtown in Pine Inn, but I never felt like there were too many people around. It might be because this town is somewhat difficult to get to unless you rent a car, but I loved the quaint feel and seeing so many locals enjoy their own town.

I also loved that there were so many different types of European inspiration throughout Carmel. The rest of the cities on this list take inspiration from one (maybe two) areas in Europe, but Carmel by the Sea looks and feels like a new place with each corner you turn.

German and Bavarian Style Town: Leavenworth, Washington

Living in Northwest Washington, Leavenworth is the closest town to me on this list, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see this Bavarian-style town when I got the chance. Leavenworth is a small town lined with exposed-beam architecture, giving you the feeling that you’ve just stepped into Germany.

It doesn’t stop there. You can also eat your way through Germany as well with bratwurst, pretzels, sauerkraut, and of course, beer!

Leavenworth does an excellent Christmas light display, so I’d recommend visiting in early or mid-December. The other time of year to visit would be Oktoberfest when Leavenworth is full of celebration.

This area is also great for outdoor activities. There are a ton of hiking trails nearby and if you decide to visit in the winter, try snowshoeing, skiing, or any number of winter activities. Then, come back to town for a cozy dinner and refreshing beer!

French Style City: New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is likely a city that you’ve heard a lot about. It’s known for the infamous Mardi Gras celebrations, jazz music, and vibrant night life. My favorite part of the city is the French Quarter where you’ll find beautiful architecture, horse carriages, French markets, restaurants, and bars.

You’ll absolutely have to try a beignet and spend a night on Bourbon Street while you’re here. As for other tips, my friend, Helene, has a ton of them on her blog after visiting New Orleans countless times over the years.

English Style City: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is the only city on this list that I surprisingly haven’t visited yet! However, I knew I needed to include it because it’s widely known as a European-style city in America.

There are parts of Boston that can make you feel like you’re standing right in England with cobblestone streets, brick buildings, and beautiful lampposts. Aside from the aesthetics, Boston is a bustling city with a ton of American and European history. It’s at the top of my list of American cities to visit soon!

Where have you been that felt like Europe?

Did I miss a city? If you have a town or city that you think is the most European city in America, let me know in the comments! I’d love to add to my never ending bucket list of new destinations to visit.

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