Located along the Mississippi River, New Orleans is an old consolidated city-parish in Louisiana. It is revered and renowned across the globe for its distinctive dialects, Creole cuisine, unique music, and annual festivals and celebrations, most notably Mardi Gras. The French Quarter is the city’s historic navel and is famous for its vibrant nightlife and Spanish Creole and French architecture. Generally, all these features have led to New Orleans being dubbed the “most unique” city in the United States. Are you looking for a place with the same multilingual and cross-cultural influences are New Orleans? Here are 20 Places Similar to New Orleans with similar historic European influences in the architecture and culture.
20. Frankenmuth, Michigan
Michigan’s Frankenmuth has been nicknamed “Little Bavaria” for its irrefutable resemblance to the German town. Founded in 1845 by German immigrants, it features wood-covered architecture and bridges that were commonplace in 1800 Bavaria. Like New Orleans, it also hosts cultural celebrations every year, including the renowned Oktoberfest celebration every fall. You can also look forward to a World Expo of Beer every May.
19. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport has been a destination of choice for the rich and famous for decades. The famous Cliff Walk, sailing culture, and mansions in this town elicit a French Rivera feeling. During your trip to Newport, you can enjoy the summer sun, watch lovely sunsets, charter catamaran rides, and eat enough oysters for a lifetime. You should also try the Champagne, which is delightful, to say the least.
18. Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is actually called the “American Rivera.” This is thanks to its Mediterranean-style and Spanish Colonial architecture and beaches that give coastal France a run for its money. In fact, Santa Barbara is a dead ringer for Colonial Spain. Things to enjoy here include a visit to Old Mission Santa Barbara for a view of the red-tiled and white stucco rooftops; a quick hike to Our Lady of Sorrows Church, which was built in 1920; and a tour of the stunning Mediterranean-like landscapes. You can also shop in the charming pedestrian malls that offer a unique European vibe.
17. Tarpon Springs, Florida
If you didn’t know you were in Florida, you might think you have just walked into Greece. Tarpon Springs tastes, looks, and feels like Greece in all possible ways. This city has the highest concentration of Greek-Americans in the U.S., and it is evident in the food, music, and architecture. During your visit, tour the Greek Orthodox Cathedral and immerse yourself in the local culture. Head over to the sponge docks and enjoy Greek cuisine at the many restaurants even as you shop for keepsakes.
16. Washington, D.C.
The country’s capital was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French architect. L’Enfant wanted to build a city that resembled Paris, complete with monuments, gardens, and tree-lines boulevards, and he did. Today, Washington, D.C., is home to the stunning National Mall, which speaks to L’Enfant’s influences and beautiful obelisks and domes. The low skyline, wide streets, walkable streets, landmark views, and green spaces give the city an Old World vibe. The European diplomatic workers that flood the city every year also lend their culture to Washington, D.C., enhancing its character.
15. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston maintains English influences that make the town feel like it is still an English colony. The gas-lit lanterns, cobblestone streets, and Federal-style row houses give the town a lovely quaint feel. In the North End, Boston takes on a more Italian vibe, with many Italian shops, bakeries, and restaurants. You can also find several Irish pubs in this town as well as Paul Revere’s home.
14. San Francisco, California
San Francisco is home to many world cultures. The distant mountains, hills, occasional palm trees, and temperate climate bring Greece and Mediterranean vibes to mind. These elements blend perfectly with the Spanish culture and Victorian architecture evident throughout the city. Although there is no shortage of things to do here, you must visit San Francisco’s Chinatown. The area has one of the largest Chinese populations outside China and is the country’s oldest Chinatown. While here, you will enjoy Dragon’s Gate and the adjoining avenue filled with temples, shops, bakeries, and restaurants.
13. Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth became a ghost town after the gold rush and was redesigned in the 1960s to resemble a German town. It looks exactly like a Bavarian mountain village and receives millions of tourists every year. While here, you can visit the Nutcracker Museum and enjoy the Bavarian-style restaurants, shops, and breweries. Also, plan to catch the annual Oktoberfest celebrations.
12. St. Augustine, Florida
What is the oldest city in the United States? Did you say Jamestown, Williamsburg, New York, or Boston? It is actually Florida’s St. Augustine. According to lore, Ponce de Leon landed in this Spanish-influenced city to look for the Fountain of Youth and left behind the rich tapestry of Spanish Renaissance architecture found here today. St. Augustine has a colonial Spanish Quarter rivaling New Orleans’ French Quarter. Make sure to visit the Castillo de San Marcos for the ultimate European history experience.
11. Holland, Michigan
Named by Dutch settlers who were feeling a little homesick, Michigan’s Holland lives up to its name. It is quaint and charming, complete with cobblestone streets, windmills, and tulip gardens. Tourists can roam the gardens and windmills in spring, taking in the European vibe all around. Like New Orleans, Holland also hosts an annual festival – the tulip festival every May. In terms of history, the De Zwaan windmill, which is over 250 years old, is the only working Dutch windmill in the country.
10. Solvang, California
Solvang is located 35 miles from Santa Barbara and is a Danish town. The area was initially settled by the Spanish before they gave way to a flood of Danish-Americans at the turn of the 20th century who wanted to establish a Danish colony away from the rest of the country. When they got to Solvang, the settlers built a Lutheran church and other Danish architecture. The town is now considered California’s Little Denmark thanks to the windmills, half-timber architecture, and visits from Danish royals. It looks and feels like a quaint fairy-tale village, complete with Danish shops, restaurants, and bakeries. Solvang is also great for a family vacation, thanks to the many family activities.
9. New Ulm, Minnesota
Minnesota is known for its high concentration of Scandinavian-Americans. Similarly, New Ulm is home to many German-Americans, who make up 50 percent of the city’s population. It is also home to the August Schell Brewing Company, which was founded by a German immigrant in 1860 and is one of the oldest in the country. The brewery hosts several cultural celebrations and festivals, complete with German-style brews. In this German-influenced city, you will also find a genuine Turner Hall, the breathtaking Hermann Monument, and a glockenspiel. It may not have the multicultural background of New Orleans, but New Ulm has European architecture and great celebrations.
8. Montpelier, Vermont
Montpelier was named as a nod to the strong friendship between France and early America. The Vermont capital impressively manages to be groovy, subtly European, somewhat western, and distinctly New England all at once. Also the smallest state capital in the U.S., Montpelier feels and looks like a French village. Its streets are dotted with buildings resembling dusty Denver saloons, quaint shops, traditional European architecture, and farmers’ markets. The landscape is beautifully ensconced in green rolling hills and dense foliage covers in the fall. Even better is the literary crowd and locally sourced restaurants that serve amazing local cuisines.
7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The old city of Philadelphia resembles New Orleans in its historic architecture. It is home to Elfreth’s Alley – the oldest continuously inhabited street in the U.S. In addition to British colonial history, you can look forward to French, Greek, and Italian influences in architecture and food. The Philadelphia Museum of Art looks like a Greek temple, and Magnificent City Hall is a French Second Empire marvel. The famous Philly cheesesteak was born of the town’s heavy Italian presence. Generally, earlier structures in Philadelphia bring to mind Federal and Georgian themes, while later buildings feature Renaissance Revival and Victorian influences.
6. Tinghir, Morocco
If you love New Orleans for the mix of cultures, you will feel right at home in Tinghir, Morocco. Morocco is a breathtaking melting pot for European, Arabian, and Berber cultures. Its maze-like medinas are exotic and colorful and a wonderful place to experience traditional architecture at its best. One of its cities, Tinghir, is located between the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains in the Todra Valley. It is an old French town with a relaxed vibe, charming narrow streets, lovely Kasbahs, and breathtaking flower gardens. While visiting Tinghir, you can hike up to 18th Century Glaoui Palace and take in some of Morocco’s history.
5. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is located further up the Mississippi and looks like a futuristic replica of New Orleans. Also colonized by the French, this city shares remarkable similarities with New Orleans, including a French Quarter. You will not find Creole and Cajun cultural influences here, but you can look forward to historic French architecture and speakeasies that blast live jazz and blues all night. There are also parties on Broadway and Downtown that you do not want to miss. When hungry, head over to a St. Louis restaurant and enjoy a Gerber sandwich, toasted ravioli, or the famed St. Louis-style barbecue.
4. Soufrière, St. Lucia
Located on the West Coast of St. Lucia, Soufrière is a charming town that was the island’s original capital. It was colonized by the French, who built large estates in the city and left many of their descendants who remain there today. Today, this beautiful town is a tourist hub thanks to the many structures and old estates that remain, including the Rabot Estate, Fond Doux Estate, and Soufrière Estate. The latter, also called Diamond Estate, is an old colonial estate housing Diamond Falls, Sulphur baths, and a botanical garden. Overall, the city is a great place to unwind amid history and culture.
3. Paris, France
Like New Orleans, Paris was also colonized by the French, so it is the best place to enjoy the New Orleans vibe outside North America. The architecture and cuisines are blown-out versions of what you would find in New Orleans as being the jazz bars. Also, like our unique city, Paris hosts one of the world’s most iconic Mardi Gras celebrations. You cannot leave this city without sampling the famed local cuisine, including the foie gras, bœuf bourguignon, and gougère.
2. Montreal, Brunswick, and Quebec City, French Canada
From Quebec City to Montreal, French Canada is a hub of European history, language, and culture. Here, you will experience the same Cajun influences evident in New Orleans because the French colonists, or Cajuns, that founded these cities also helped develop Louisiana. The Cajuns were forced to flee Canada in the 1700s during the British conquest and settled in Louisiana. They then grew the cities in this state, including New Orleans as we know it today. Essentially, Montreal, Quebec, and Brunswick give a New Orleans away-from-home experience. While in Montreal, enjoy the celebrations at Crescent street. You should also enjoy local cuisines like doughboys, French pea soup, and pudding au chomeur.
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil’s Carnival is the only Mardis Gras party that can give New Orleans a run for its money. Celebration and hedonism are the order of the day when the Carnival is in full swing, and thousands of tourists travel every year to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to catch it. Like in New Orleans, the party is the most anticipated event of the year and is filled with music, culture, and love. Other activities to enjoy while in Rio include swimming, kayaking, boating, and surfing at Copacabana beach. You should also not leave without sampling the local cuisine, especially the feijoada, churrasco, and pão de queijo.
Written by Liz Flynn
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