Drop in to Helen, Georgia from Highway 17, a winding two-lane road that descends from the Peach State’s famous Blue Ridge Mountains, and you’ll think you’ve arrived on the wrong continent.

Just as you cross the city limits, the understated southern architecture that defines the farms and cabins in Georgia’s northwest corner gives way to something a little more European.

The theme here is decidedly alpine, from the painted wooden facades to the sloping roofs, to the signage — which is in German. If you didn’t know any better, you might think you’re vacationing in Bavaria.

But Helen is real – reallyfaux in an endearing way that sets it apart from most other mountain resorts. But it’s hardly alone.

Solvang, California. (Photo: John Skaly/My Shot)

When it comes to ersatz European villages, Solvang, California is another standout. Our family wasn’t prepared for the jarring juxtaposition between California wine country and Danish town as we exited off “the 101″ – that’s what they call it in California – and drove along Mission Drive toward town.

Unlike Helen, which turned Bavarian as a way to attract visitors, Solvang was founded by real Danes more than a century ago. Today, that heritage and the resulting attractions (bakeries, souvenir shops selling Euro trinkets and a copy of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue) fuel a robust tourism industry.

We weren’t looking for it — Solvang was just the town we passed through enroute to some of the more remote wineries in Santa Barbara County – but we had to stop when we saw it. How could we not?

Our son Aren, who was just a toddler when we visited, enjoyed the European pastries we found at Mortensen’s Danish Bakery for the rest of the day, and the adults tried a bite or two as well before continuing on our journey.

By the way, it’s impossible to tell that Solvang’s roots are more authentic than Helen’s. Both are Americanized for the convenience of the visitors. For example, the public restrooms don’t have pay toilets, as they would in Europe. And there’s way too much fudge – something pretty much unheard of in Europe – for sale around town.

Helen and Solvang aren’t the only faux European villages in America, nor are they the most famous. Leavenworth, Washington, in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains, has its own take on the fake Bavarian theme, and it does it well.

Leavenworth, Washington. (Photo: Corri Brooks/My Shot)

Why Bavarian? Like Helen, the city fell on hard times after the sawmill industry died and the Great Northern Railway Company was re-routed around the city. In the early 1960s, in a last-ditch effort to turn around their fortunes, city leaders decided to change Leavenworth’s look. They thought eye-catching alpine architecture would bring tourism to the area. And they were right.

Each faux European town comes with its own quirks, which make it all the more compelling. Solvang’s Southern California climate is decidedly un-Danish, but Leavenworth gets the winters right, and the snow-covered huts look like something straight out of Southern Germany.

There wasn’t a Teutonic trace to be found in our vacation rental in the mountains of Helen, but the town clearly tried to out-German its competitors, with clichéd street names like Edelweiss Strasse, named after the rare alpine flower and, um, that song in The Sound of Music. You know the one?

There’s also Hansel & Gretel’s Candy Kitchen (they sell fudge, of course) the Black Forest Bear Park (I’ve lived in the Black Forest, nice try) and the Old Bavaria Inn. My favorite street name: Narr Weg, which loosely translates into “crazy path.” Maybe it was an urban planner’s way of saying, “Crazy thing we’re doing here, isn’t it?”

All three of these faux European cities are tourist towns through and through, so they make great places to visit. They also make me want to see the real thing. Alas, kids, a Bavarian ski vacation is not in this year’s budget.

We were hard-pressed to name the best faux European village in the United States, but we think these are the three strongest candidates — at least when it comes to the alpine variety.

Help us round out our list by adding your own candidates in the comments.

Comments

  1. Ed Rios
    Lakewood,California
    July 30, 5:06 pm

    i agree with everyone Solvang,Ca wins and tops the rest.

  2. Mariele
    Burlington Wi.
    January 29, 11:53 am

    Who ever made up this list must not have ever been to Frankenmuth Mi. I was born and lived in Regensburg Ger. and every time I go to Frankenmuth I get a little homesick. I have lived in US since 1952 Going to Frankenmuth in June 2014 I am 81yrs young

  3. Elliot Hylton
    Pullman
    January 11, 4:10 pm

    Leavenworth is the best experience year around, going bar/wine bar hopping there is awesome, lots of cool shops and there is skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, and hiking very close making it the best.

  4. Aschelle Renee Edwards
    Las Vegas, NV
    December 13, 2013, 2:46 am

    Anyone who says Frankenmuth, MI over Leavenworth, Wa has apparently never been to Leavenworth. I have been to both many times and Frankenmuth doesn’t come close to Leavenworth in this contest. Leavenworth hands down wins.

  5. Greg H.
    Atlanta metro, GA.
    August 28, 2013, 10:49 am

    Helen is just plain tacky and worn out, now. I moved to Georgia in the early 1980s, and back then, it was kind of a neat place to visit – but they actually had a lot of shop keepers dress in Bavarian outfits, had more “authentic” festivals, etc.

    These days the employees seem tired and not happy with their jobs in many of the shops, and most of the products have a “made in China” stamp on the bottom. The “Bavarian” buildings are painted in colors you’d never see in a true village, and I doubt you’d see rebel flags hanging over there, too.

    The concept worked great in the 70s and 80s – but they need to rework and remodel the town completely now and become a bit more authentic in feel. Leavenworth would actually be a good roll model for them.

  6. Chuck Hildebrand
    Des Moines, Iowa
    January 9, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Pella, Iowa gets my vote. I’ve been to several of the towns mentioned, but Pella , especialiy during Tulip Time (in early May this year) is unique..

  7. [...] Where Are America’s Best European Villages? [...]

  8. E.J.
    Lompoc
    September 14, 2012, 5:43 pm

    Solvang is by far the best! Who can beat a morning started with aebleskiver and medisterpølse, a lunch of authentic smörgåsbord and traditional pastries galore! The people are friendly, there is a lot of fun to be had, like horse drawn trolly rides, wine tasting, and amazing scenery. Don’t forget the PCPA plays at the outdoor theatre! Solvang gets my vote and will always have my heart!!

  9. [...] Where are America's Best European Villages?] Keywords: columbus, German, German Village, historic, local food, National Geographic, National [...]

  10. Deborah Ann Dawicki
    USA
    June 23, 2012, 5:50 pm

    Solvang is the best!

  11. Arne
    Santa Ynez
    May 8, 2012, 6:54 pm

    I have been to both Leavenworth and other tourist areas around the world and nothing gives you the feeling of the old world more than Solvang. If you have not tasted aebleskiver you can get all you need at http://www.aebleskiver.com.

  12. Dorothy Brunton
    Santa Ynez CA
    May 6, 2012, 11:42 pm

    A lovely town with Danish charm, great wine, fine hotels and reaturants…Four four diamond hotels and four four diamond resturants and one five diamond resturant. fabalous natural beauty

  13. Lana
    Solvsng
    May 5, 2012, 7:57 pm

    I lived in Washington before moving to Solvang so I’ve been to Leavenworth and while it is a nice tourist town, Solvang has so much more to see and do. Solvang is like stepping back to old world Denmark and is very authentic since I’ve been to Denmark and can verify that Solvang is very much like being in the old city area of Arhus. People can spend the day or weekend in Solvang or a full week and enjoy the shopping, restaurants, theater, bakeries, wine tasting, casino, and horseback riding and more. The best is the Danish chocolates from Ingeborg’s. I go there often for a chocolate fix!

  14. The Martins
    Solvang, CA
    May 3, 2012, 9:34 pm

    Solvang is amazing. Great people and people sti speak Dansih here as many are from Denmark.

    Also, it there is better cycling anywhere in the world…you’ll have to prove it!

  15. JJ
    California
    May 3, 2012, 8:40 pm

    Solvang has my heart. The pastries are to die for. The more recent changes have been the addition of wine & beer tasting rooms. There is more live music than in the past. The air is clean, the town is beautiful and very well maintained and the people are friendly. It has my vote for sure.

  16. LYNDA NEITZ
    Bullhead City AZ
    April 22, 2012, 6:00 pm

    We lived in Solvang area for 25 years! Love the people; love the food; love the ambiance! So did President Reagan; his home was on top of the mountain between Solvang and Santa Barbara! Love to Casey! It’s SOLVANG hands down!!!

  17. Carolyn Reynolds
    United States
    April 19, 2012, 12:36 pm

    When Leavenworth, WA decided to go Bavarian, they used our Danish Solvang as a model. A prominent Solvang “shaper” named Petersen was their consultant. When I visited Leavenworth, I felt right at home.

  18. Gary Berndt
    Cle Elum, Wash.
    April 19, 2012, 9:16 am

    Be sure to think about staying at Snowgrass Lodge. Beautiful view of the “alps” and a great venue for several couples ! WOW !

  19. Sandy
    April 17, 2012, 6:29 pm

    Frankenmuth is Michigan’s Little Bavaria – it should be on the list !

  20. Christopher Elliott
    April 17, 2012, 6:13 pm

    Thanks everyone for suggesting Frankenmuth. We are definitely going to check it out the next time we’re in Michigan.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to send my resume to US Weekly.

  21. Amy Harrivel
    April 17, 2012, 6:07 pm

    I love Frankenmuth!!! You can’t beat it! The Bavarian Inn Lodge, zehnders splash village, Bavarian Restaurant, zehnders restaurant, Bronners Christmas wonderland (the largest Christmas store in the world), Riverplace, raus country store, Cass belle riverboat! So many other things to see and do! I could go on and on! It is my home away from home and I hope to move there one of these days! Love it! Frankenmuth are the keys to our hearts!!!

  22. Honey Bear
    Washington, DC
    April 17, 2012, 5:00 pm

    This article had a west coast bias from the beginning. How can we trust that the writer really did any real research? Obviously, we can’t if “The Muth” isn’t on the list of a whopping three places. Nice job… go work for US Weekly.

  23. Jeff Thomas
    Austin, TX
    April 17, 2012, 4:36 pm

    Frankenmuth Michigan…the best!

  24. Colleen B
    Michigan
    April 17, 2012, 4:07 pm

    Frankenmuth. No question.

  25. Mary Stark
    Michigan
    April 17, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Frankenmuth, Michigan! They even came there from Germany to film a TV show about 10 years ago.

  26. Tina & Jim
    Wyandotte, MI
    April 17, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Frankenmuth, Michigan is totally Awesome.
    Every German Festival imagable, lights, shops, the food & the Auto Fest. The town & it’s people are amazing. Can’t believe it didn’t make the list.

  27. George Hunger
    Almont, MI
    April 17, 2012, 3:51 pm

    You absolutely must add Frankenmuth, MI as a MUST SEE Euro-American destination! Frankenmuth is one of the top tourist attractions in Michigan, and for good reason. Frankenmuth was founded by German missionaries in 1840… how can you get more authentic than that??

  28. Jess Crawford
    Detroit Michigan
    April 17, 2012, 3:48 pm

    Frankinmuth Michigan is magical

  29. Lindsay Moore
    Newport. OR
    April 17, 2012, 3:39 pm

    What about Frankenmuth, MI??

  30. Jamie Furbush
    Frankenmuth, MI
    April 17, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Thank you to all our friends who noted Frankenmuth in their comments! Although I have not been to Leavenworth personally, I hope to some day as the scenery is quite amazing in photos and they get my vote for impressive marketing efforts!

  31. lori glackin
    Now living in Missouri
    April 16, 2012, 5:37 pm

    I vote for Leavenworth! Been to Germany, loved it so a trip to Leavenworth is as near as I can get now. Love the food, the music, the arts and culture.

  32. lori glackin
    Missouri
    April 16, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Leavenworth!
    Been to Germany, love to go to Leavenworth and enjoy so much of the Bavarian ‘flavor’ !

  33. Allen Fitzpatrick
    North Seattle, WA
    April 16, 2012, 12:13 pm

    LEAVENWORTH, hands down! Besides, it’s also the home of the ICICLE CREEK CENTER FOR THE ARTS, which produces some of the finest chamber music, innovative new theatre, film festivals, etc. in the state. (As well as extraordinary educational arts programs.)

  34. Clau
    Los Alamos, CA
    April 16, 2012, 12:11 pm

    Solvang by far! We’ve all seen the fudge and bakeries, but it also has great Restaurants of all kinds (California fusion, Mexican, German, and Japanese, to name a few), The wonderful Solvang Trolley with friendly and resourceful staff, as well as hand-made McConnell’s ice cream, and many museums, cute shops, and many, many great wineries. In the middle of San Francisco and LA, one could be so lucky to have this hidden gem.

    Come to Solvang!

  35. john
    Durango Colorado
    April 16, 2012, 12:09 pm

    Leavenworth Rocks! I lived there for years, and will most likely return one day. The festivals are really done well, and the Leavenworth Summer Theater is even better! The live music scene is evolving thanks mostly to the efforts of Steve Demarest at the Hinterhof. The Nutcracker Museum is cool too. They have the largest nutcracker collectioin in the world. And the now-famous Nutcracker Lady, Arlene Wagner, almost certainly knows more about nutcrackers than anyone else in the world … knowledge she is eager and happy to share!
    That said, Ouray Colorado would almost get my vote. They don’t have all the festivals and activities of Leavenworth, but the buildings are authentic … as in OLD buildings instead of facades. And the setting is even more beautiful than Leavenworth (if that’s possible).

  36. Lana
    Liberty, WA
    April 15, 2012, 2:53 pm

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC, this is out door theatre at it’s best. You have to see it to believe it. The Cascade Alps are beautiful and the play envelopes all this beauty. The whole town is Bavarian, not just the shops.

  37. Vi
    Southern CA
    April 14, 2012, 9:01 pm

    As someone who has taken many day trips to Solvang, I have to say that it wins in my opinion. The fudge shops aren’t nearly as big as the Danish bakeries and the various restaurants that serve abelskiviers. I LOVE the abelskiviers! My aunt married a Dane and when ever he’s visiting us, he convinces us to all take a trip to Solvang. It’s a great town with great people. The authenticity of it really makes it shine.

  38. Marjie
    Natick, MA
    April 14, 2012, 8:45 pm

    Leavenworth, gets my vote its a delightful Bavarian village and
    the closest I will get to Germany. Love the German food, music and the shops. It makes me proud of my German
    ancestry through my paternal grandmother. I plan to return again this year and visit the nutcracker museum. The nutcracker lady there is my friend.

  39. Sherri
    Leavenworth, WA
    April 14, 2012, 6:52 pm

    http://youtu.be/0iVAd1UztCU Leavenworth at Christmas.

    Of course, living in Leavenworth, I love the place. It has something for everyone, from holiday lights in December to white water rafting in the summer. Tree ripened pears, cherries and apples that can’t be beat. There is great German food, fun shopping, summer theater, a thriving arts community, nearby Stevens Pass for skiing, Maifest, Oktoberfest, the International Dance Festival, the stunningly beautiful mountains and rivers, and so much more.

    I have also visited Frankenmuth, MI and am a little surpised it didn’t make the list.

    Of course, my vote goes to Leavenworth.

  40. natalie stewart
    San Francisco
    April 14, 2012, 6:38 pm

    Leavenworth has so much charm to this town it really is a wonderful place to enjoy and relax…..

  41. Kathy Wilson
    New York
    April 14, 2012, 5:09 pm

    Leavenworth is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. There is so many things to do and see. The Christmas lighting is a breath taking site. We stay at Snowgrass Lodge when we are there. I just can not say enough about The scenery you get at the lodge and it is right on the river.

  42. JDR
    Seattle
    April 14, 2012, 3:33 pm

    What about Frankenmuth, Michigan?

  43. rita schaub range
    seattle wa
    April 14, 2012, 3:32 pm

    Leavenworth is so realistic to my memories of Garmish and other Bavarian towns of the 1950s. Good restaurants at Leavenworth also.

  44. natalie stewart
    San Francisco
    April 14, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Leavenworth has a beautiful B&B called Wenatchee River Lodge……A Must Stay

  45. Deborah
    Seattle/Santa Barbara
    April 14, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Tough choice between Leavenworth and Solvang — they’re both great. I visit them often — a favorite destination for the entire family.. Solvang is more authentic in food and Danish imports — being Danish, i can say it’s where I get my home-away-from-home food fix. Having lived in Bavaria several years, I can say Leavenworth’s locale makes it feel like the real deal. Worth a visit!

  46. Alberthia Tabor
    Portlalnd, OR
    April 14, 2012, 11:53 am

    Leavenworth by far. I have been to both Solvang and Leavenworth. The authenticity, the beautiful country, the many festivals and/or activities year-round, the quality quaint shops, German restaurants (with excellent truly German food), and the happy, welcoming residents simply leave all others in the dust…there is no comparison and Leavenworth is TOP OF THE LIST. You will have a memorable visit any time of the year. Once you visit, you will want to return again and again. Each season brings new activities and memories. Pack your bags and don’t forget your cameras…the Leavenworth experience is waiting to welcome you. Wish I could move there myself. It’s wonderful there!

  47. Marilyn
    Santa Barbara
    April 14, 2012, 11:46 am

    It’s not all fudge in Solvang . . . it’s the abelskiviers too. If you haven’t ever had them you’ve missed a great treat. Then there’s the huge dutch shoe that sits on the sidewalk outside the shoe store that the kids love to sit in. Great little almost hidden shops down alleys and the real windmill in a prominent part of town. The people are friendly & you’ll want to come back.

  48. Alberthia Tabor
    Portland, OR
    April 14, 2012, 11:42 am

    Leavenworth is my choice by far!!!!! I have been to both Solvang and Leavenworth many times. the authenticity of Leavenworth, the beautiful country, many festivals and/or activities year-round, quality quaint shops, wonderful German restaurants (with excellent truly German food), and the always welcoming and happy residents of Leavenworth simply leave all others in the dust……there is no comparison and Leavenworth is truly number one!!!! You can visit Leavenworth anytime of the year and you will have a very memorable visit. The people of Leavenworth truly go out of their way all year long to welcome you and make sure you have a wonderful time. Once you visit, you will want to return again and again. Every season brings new activities and memories. Pack your bags and don’t forget your cameras… the LEAVENWORTH experience is waiting to welcome you. Wish I could move there myself. It’s wonderful.

  49. Ken Kohnhorst
    Leavenworth
    April 14, 2012, 3:26 am

    What makes Leavenworth so great is that we have Design Review Board and certain Bavarian elements must be included if you build a business or even design a sign.

    It is their task to make sure as much of Leavenworth is a close as to what you might see in Bavaria. You will not see any neon lights in Leavenworth. Certain types of signs are not permitted. You will also find many buildings that have paintings as homes & businesses in Germany due. The majority of the mural swere done by a German gentlemen who came to Leavenworth simply to do his art. He still lives here today.

    There are also many added features such as fountains, a Maibaum(Maypole), and much more. You will fine many festivals that are found in Bavaria…such as Maifest, Oktoberfest, Kinderfest, Chrsitkindlmarkt. Leavenworth also has its own choral group, Musikkapelle(Town Band) and German Folk Dance group.

    Check out the Internet and You Tube and you will see a huge amount of videos.

  50. Andrea Anderson
    April 13, 2012, 11:48 pm

    u also forgot to mention the Nutcracker Musuem, its amazing, there are every type of Nutcracker. and by the way
    LM – Leavenworth has awesome fudge and its just amazing in itself

  51. Andrea Anderson
    Fort Hood, TX
    April 13, 2012, 11:44 pm

    I am from Leavenworth so i of course am going to vote for Leavenworth,
    however when u write something make sure u make the content go with each other
    u wrote right under the end of the leavenworth piece about hansel and gretel and black forest and the street. Leavenworth doesnt have a hansel and gretel anymore or a black forest so make sure when u write about those things make sure it goes in the right place, just saying
    i am from Leavenworth and i loved it and i would hate to see it misrepresented.
    thanks

  52. Ron Barnard
    west kelowna B.C.
    April 13, 2012, 10:45 pm

    i started going to leavenworth in 1973 and it grew on me like a second home town, Leavenworth at that time was being being built and a few things I did there gave me a feeling that a small partof me stays there. We love Leavenworth and return each year to keep that feeling alive.

  53. Don Kuttler
    Spokane Wa
    April 13, 2012, 10:14 pm

    We try to get over to Leavenworth at least once a year. It is a wonderful to go and enjoy some good German food their Xmas Store on the Easr Part of town. The October Fest is something you have to go to. Good food and good German music.

  54. Mindy
    Leavenworth
    April 13, 2012, 9:47 pm

    Its a neat little town that exhibits Barvarian quality! The mountains that surround are beautiful with their snow caps and they have a wonderful Christmas lighting every year that is lots of fun to attend….In the spring & summer

  55. Charlene
    Tacoma
    April 13, 2012, 8:51 pm

    Leavenworth is by far the winner. We love it there, drive over just to go to the new Bakery- Bakery Creations- twice baked almond croissants are the best!

  56. Gail Dullenkopf
    Clark Fork, Idaho
    April 13, 2012, 8:43 pm

    I am particularly partial to Solvang as my grandfather was one of its founders and family members have lived there since 1911. Growing up in Solvang we were steeped in Danish pride and traditions. My grandfather designed and built the Luthuran church based on those in Denmark. The church has carried on many Danish traditions including services in Danish along with English services. Where else can you find 5 Danish bakeries in a town of 2,000?

  57. Jim Collison
    April 13, 2012, 8:23 pm

    Agree with others… I can’t believe Frankenmuth, MI (Michigan’s Little Bavaria) isn’t on the list. It’s a HUGE tourism draw in Michigan, and solidly Bavarian throughout. It’s got my vote.

  58. Gary Swart
    Yakima, WA
    April 13, 2012, 7:20 pm

    As a member of the Leavenworth town band, (Musikkapelle Leavenworth) I am obviously bias. I have been to Helen and while they try, it just doesn’t have the physical attributes as Leavenworth. I think the thing that really turned me off was the shop with dope pipes and etc.. I would not be allowed in Leavenworth. I know there are other fine German villages around the country, and I hope to visit some one day.

  59. Beckie Bonnell
    Gold Bar, WA.
    April 13, 2012, 6:01 pm

    We are just an hour from Leavenworth and go up all the time, winter, spring and fall. So many things going on year around. We never get tired of taking visiting company up, and even though we are only an hour away, we stay the night quite often. The rivers and the moutains are so beautiful!

  60. Karl Spencer
    Boise, Idaho
    April 13, 2012, 5:42 pm

    I’ve been to Leavenworth 4 times now. Next October will be our first Oktoberfest. It’s such a great town with wonderful shops and restaurants. If you haven’t been I highly recommend it. Christmas is another great time to go.

  61. Sheryll Ziemer
    Seattle
    April 13, 2012, 5:25 pm

    I’ve lived in Germany and Belgium and feel very blessed to be so close to Leavenworth. It’s a great destination all year. We love Oktoberfest. Shopping there is great. One of my favorite places there is Pension Anna.

  62. mygfcp
    Eugene OR
    April 13, 2012, 5:25 pm

    Went to Leavenworth as part of our honeymoon trip(hubby’s from Germany, so I said fine). Loved it! Been back twice. Loved the restaurant Andreas Keller. Great food, and music!(hubby was in tears when they played some of the songs he remembered from childhood)

  63. DEBBY GOTHRO
    United States
    April 13, 2012, 4:39 pm

    FRANKENMUTH MICHIGAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  64. Laura
    Oregon
    April 13, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Leavenworth has the authenticity of being in the Cascade ALPs, which really look like the Alps and the village and mountains are snow covered all winter. Its gorgeous! In the summer the alpine valleys are covered in flowers and it is beautiful. They also have the only authentic german food I have had in the states!

  65. Horace and Jeannette Lazzari
    Walla Walla, Wash 99362
    April 13, 2012, 3:44 pm

    Leavenworth is a lovely little city within the mountains
    colorful, exciting and fun. Very German in atmosphere, good
    music of all kinds, good food. One could easily imagine
    being in the German Alps while in Leavenworth. It is also
    very close to Seattle giving anyone an exquisite drive by
    Mount Rainier, providing the road is open. Jeannette Lazzari,

  66. chrissycottrell
    chumstick hwy leavenworth
    April 13, 2012, 3:30 pm

    oh yeah shout out to ducks and drakes they have the best southwest chicken salad.

  67. chrissycottrell
    leavenworth chumstick
    April 13, 2012, 3:27 pm

    Well without a doubt Leavenworth. We love its so much we just bought a house up the chumstick.

  68. rachel
    eugene or
    April 13, 2012, 3:14 pm

    I love leavenworth! It’s the sweetest little bavarian style town nestled in super tall mountains and they do a play outside every year, the sound of music. They have an awesome christmas season with tonsof lights and horse and carriages, it looks like a snow globe. I don’t want to give away leavenworths secrets but it’s one of the coolest little towns I’ve stayed in!

  69. Sonnet Gothro
    United States
    April 13, 2012, 3:02 pm

    FRANKENMUTH, MI!!!

  70. Marlene
    Vancouver, WA
    April 13, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I Love Leavenworth for the mountains surrounding it. In the winter its great for cross country skiing. down hill if you love it. and they have ski mobling. They have it all for the winters. then I discovered the summer time. Absolutely beautiful.If KOA-ing is your thing they have a great park and very friendly people and lots of celebrating, a festival.

  71. Kim Staack Read
    United States
    April 13, 2012, 2:10 pm

    I grew up in Solvang…I am 1st Generation American, my parents having immigrated from Denmark. Lots of changes since I grew up there…it is still home. I live in Oregon now, but many of my classmates still live and own businesses in the Santa Ynez Valley. I was among those that continued to speak Danish as well.
    Stem på Solvang!

  72. Carol Renn
    Magalia, CA
    April 13, 2012, 12:34 am

    Leavenworth, WA also has festivals celebrating Autumn, Spring, and Christmas. Like something out of “Heidi”. It’s the BEST!!

  73. Corey McKenna
    Leavenworth, WA
    April 12, 2012, 5:21 pm

    Easy, Leavenworth is the closest to a traditional Bavarian town in the alps. Just check out the photos at http://www.facebook.com/LeavenworthWa and tell me that isn’t the best faux European town.

  74. Zlecenia budowlane
    April 12, 2012, 3:29 am

    better solution is a trip to europe;-)

  75. Catie Anderson
    leavenworth wa
    April 11, 2012, 4:13 pm

    We go there every year for our anniversary. The best hiking and wildflowers in the spring. Great food – it’s always hard to choose which restaurants we’ll go to. Shopping is fun. It’s always a nice relaxing time!

  76. Lisa Bishop
    Riverside, CA
    April 11, 2012, 3:12 pm

    Leavenworth, WA has my vote! Stayed there last May for 2 nights and didn’t want to leave. Snow still on the surrounding Cascade mountains, while the village was lavished with blooming spring flowers everywhere. The flavor of Bavaria was present not only in the architecture and food, but also in the entertainment. I was not a fan of the accordion, but now I am!
    The seasonal festivals are fabulous, so says my sister, who lives only 3 hrs. away. LOVE LEAVENWORTH!!!

  77. Accidental Bavarian
    Spokane, WA
    April 11, 2012, 2:37 pm

    Before you vote, check out Leavenworth for yourself at http://www.AccidentalBavarian.com. You can find out all about the town, see pictures, including live cams, and look at all the festivals they have.

    Also, here is a blog that shows side-by-side pictures of Leavenworth and Bavaria in a fun little quiz. http://www.accidentalbavarian.com/wordpress/2010/01/is-it-live-or-is-it-memorex/

  78. Eric Christianson
    Solvang, CA
    April 10, 2012, 11:05 pm

    Solvang is celebrating it’s 100th anniversay.
    Having been founder and settled by Danish
    families. Solvang is a friendly and hospital
    Community. Solvang deserves your vote!

  79. Alexander
    April 10, 2012, 4:09 pm

    Interesting article! To be alike to any of Euro cultures will enrich any city. Those three ones seems to be a cozy towns. I remember, recently i saw Willemstad Curacao, a Dutch architecture, which looks especially interesting in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. Some more euro style at http://travel-europe-eu.blogspot.com/

  80. cheap Vietnam Visa
    Vietnam
    April 10, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Leavenworth, Washington. Thanks for sharing.

  81. William Etling
    Solvang, Ca.
    April 10, 2012, 1:08 pm

    Nice article, thanks Christopher. Readers might also enjoy On the Viking Trail: Travels in Scandinavian America, by Don Lago.

  82. LM
    Santa Barbara, Calif.
    April 10, 2012, 12:11 pm

    Chris, you missed the boat a bit with your comment about the fudge. Solvang is home to three authentic Danish bakeries, all founded by Danish bakers who have trained their staff in the art of Danish pastry. It is home to native Danish speakers who carry on the traditions of their homeland both privately and in the community. And it’s home to the Elverhoj Museum, a wonderful collection of art and artifacts from Solvang’s early days as a Danish settlement. Hands down, it’s the best “faux” Euro village in the U.S., and I really believe that calling it “faux” is a bit of an insult to the early Danish settlers who founded and built the community.

  83. Joan Newcomb
    Washington, DC
    April 10, 2012, 9:15 am

    Leavenworth wins for the mountains, Solvang would for it’s roots (but gets demerits for the fudge)!

  84. [...] California is another standout. Our family wasn't prepared for the … Read more on Intelligent Travel from National Geographic Traveler Magazine (blog)Share and [...]

  85. Hawaii Vacation Homes
    http://www.vacationhomes.net/vacation-rentals/hawaii/a14537.htm
    April 10, 2012, 7:00 am

    It seems that Europe has find its place in the USA in those gorgeous villages, I am really impressed and willing to visit them!

  86. Lee ward
    Australia
    April 9, 2012, 9:46 pm

    I think it’s great the people had the gumption to try somthing completely different

  87. Alex Bourne
    London, England
    April 9, 2012, 9:33 pm

    Helen is a great town. Faux authentic Bavarian trip.

  88. Stephanie Wang
    United States
    April 9, 2012, 6:46 pm

    You forgot Pella, Iowa where parts of the buildings were imported from Holland and therefore completely authentic.

  89. Brian Ek
    Norwalk, CT
    April 9, 2012, 4:41 pm

    My vote is for Frankenmuth, Michigan.