From Little Bavaria in Michigan to East Africa in Maryland, here are five more US cities that feel international for your holiday trip this year. Check out Danish Solvang, Boston’s Little Italy, and more in part 1 of Holiday Travel: Best Cities in the US that feel international.
63% of Americans say they’ll travel during the holidays in 2021 – reports a recent survey by The Vacationer. Although international borders are mostly open to US citizens, road trips and family vacations continue to be favorites as the pandemic still lurks around. The recent spike in Europe’s COVID stats is reason enough to be cautious of international travel. Besides, why go abroad when you are spoilt for choice at home with these US cities that feel international.
Lock away your passport and hit the road during these holidays to explore these quaint little towns and vibrant pockets of culture in the big cities.
Frankenmuth, Michigan – Germany
From its name to the architecture, food, and even festivals, Frankenmuth leaves no stone unturned when it comes to showcasing German heritage. Dubbed ‘Michigan’s Little Bavaria,’ the vacation destination in Saginaw County gets its name from Franconia province of the Bavarian Kingdom. Bronner’s Christmas Market is open all year and is a must-visit.
Christmas in Frankenmuth is beyond exciting. The lights, musical tree, reindeer farm, Bavarian Blacksmith Christmas, brewery tours, and more to explore!
How to Get There – Flint Bishop International Airport is the closest to Frankenmuth. You can also take a bus from Detroit to Saginaw, which will take roughly 5 hours. Taking the same route by car is more convenient. Follow the trail through Cass & Michigan – Rosa Parks Transit Center to Lafayette & Fifth before reaching Saginaw.
Pella, Iowa – Netherlands
“A touch of Holland” is the official motto for this small city in the Marion County of Iowa. History books suggest Dutch immigrants settled here way back in 1847 and named their newfound home ‘Pella’ to pay homage to the biblical city in Decapolis. Today, you can still visit the 220-year-old fully-functional Vermeer Windmill in this beautiful Dutch city. The gorgeous tulip gardens and Dutch architecture are not to be missed either.
Kerstmarkt – Pella’s Dutch Christmas market festival is scheduled for December 2 – 4.
How to Get There – The closest airport is at the Des Moines International Airport. Des Moines is roughly 50 miles from Pella, but the traffic is smooth, and you can expect to reach within an hour by Iowa Highway – 5 (IA-5) or the Marion County Highway T17.
Silver Spring, Maryland – Ethiopia
Nothing can match up to the vast wilderness, diversity, and topography of Africa. However, Silver Spring in Maryland comes close to the East African country of Ethiopia. The authentic Ethiopian dishes lead the experience, with several eateries in and around the city center serving the unique cuisine. Also, catch street performances and public art exhibitions showcasing the culture and heritage.
There’s more to see and do in Silver Springs in Montgomery County. Find out more about the city here.
How to Get There – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is 10 miles from Silver Spring, and Dulles International Airport (IAD) is a 50-minute drive away. By road, take the US Route 29 or the Maryland Route 384.
Tarpon Springs, Florida – Greece
Grab a glass of 0uzo and a bite of gyro in a sleepy Greek town on Florida’s Gulf Coast! Tarpon Springs in Pinellas County is just 45-minutes north of St. Petersburg. The historic Sponge Docks on the waterfront must be first on your list of places to visit. With the largest percentage of Greek American population, you’ll find the Mediterranean culture in every corner.
Check out what to do and see in Tarpon Springs this holiday season here.
How to Get There – Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport are the closest to Tarpon Springs. It’s an hour’s drive from both Tampa and St. Petersburg. If you are planning a road trip from Miami, expect to drive for almost 5 hours. There are plenty of places to see along the way, so you can plan an all-day drive. Don’t forget to pre-book parking on way.com.
New Glarus, Wisconsin – Switzerland
With a population of only 2200, New Glarus in Green County of Wisconsin is miniature Switzerland and a perfect getaway for the holidays. Established about 150 years ago, the town’s roots in Europe are still evident among its residents. From scrumptious dishes to festivals, museums, architecture, and folklore, the swiss spirit floats high in the New Glarus region. The weather is pretty warm throughout the year, so expect meadows instead of snow slopes.
The New Glarus Christkindli Market kicks off on December 10, and the decorated mini chalets are stocked with locally-made goodies.
How to Get There – Chicago Ohare, Chicago Midway, Milwaukee, and Cedar Rapids Airport offer equal access to New Glarus. However, the best option is to land at the Madison Dane County Regional Airport (MSN). Vangalder Buses to New Glarus run at regular intervals of three hours, on all days. From Chicago, it is a two-and-half-hour drive via I-90 W or I-88 W.