Welcome back to the Preparture blog, where we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to travel responsibly, easily, and as often as possible. For the past few weeks, we’ve been giving you North America’s answers to popular European destinations, so you can book your 2020 staycation without the long-haul flights and worries that flying trans-Atlantic can bring. You can go back and read each post here and here. So far we’ve given you France, Italy, Spain, and Great Britain, and today we’ll be finishing off our mini-series with a few more mainland Europe destinations to give you the staycation you deserve.
Let’s dive back in and find you the perfect vacation spot.
European Destination #1: Germany
Best known for its bratwurst, beer, and, BMWs, Germany is a tourist friendly country that has cities that never sleep as well as those rolling hills and forests, meaning there’s something for everyone.
It’s the place to be if you want to experience a true Christmas market or Oktoberfest, where the festivities can be drawn out for weeks on end. It’s also the home of electronic beats that’ll keep you dancing through the night. Germany is a world in its own right, and a country high on many people’s bucket lists.
American Alternative #1: Frankenmuth, Michigan
First on our alternative’s list is Michigan’s Frankenmuth. You can probably guess from its Germanic name that it’s got some trans-Atlantic roots, and this place won’t disappoint you if you’re looking for an authentic take on Oktoberfest (without the 10-and-a-half-hour flight).
Frankenmuth is a city in Michigan well-known for its Bavarian style architecture, and the locals love for their Germanic roots. When it comes to serving up German style chicken dinners and festivals too, Frankenmuthers sure know how to go all out. In their own words, ‘festival season isn’t really a season in Frankenmuth, it’s all year long’. There are flower festivals, antique fire truck festivals, and of course, their own take on Oktoberfest.
There’s plenty of history thrown into this city too, which is fit for families and couples alike. In fact, you can pay a visit to the Frankenmuth Historical Museum if you want to know all there is about this place. Finally, if you decide to take on Frankenmuth, don’t forget to visit its famous Farmer’s Market, which takes place on Wednesdays. It’s the perfect way to get your hands on some local produce.
American Alternative #2: Leavenworth, Washington
Across the country, nestled in Washington, you’ll find another miniature Bavaria in Leavenworth. Alpine style buildings deck this city, and with its stunning views of the mountains in the distance, you can get a taste of Germany without leaving the states.
Take the taste test to new extremes though, in any of Leavenworth’s bars, cafes, and restaurants that serve up Bavarian style treats to its customers. Get your fill of beer and bratwurst, sauerkraut and pretzels to really seal the deal, and take people watching to new extremes as you find out exactly what they wear in Germany (in the past that is).
There’s nature for the outdoor lovers who fancy hiking or biking, and white water rafting for the extreme sporters. There’s shopping for those of you with an eye for a bargain, and fishing spots for those who fancy a retreat into relaxation. There’s paddle boarding, horseback riding, and even zip-lining through the stunning landscape for those of you looking to see it all at a faster pace. In other words, you won’t find yourself bored when you step foot in Leavenworth.
European destination #2: Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands
Wooden shoes, windmills, waterways that span for miles; Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations ever, with 19 million tourists flying into the city every year. With its red light district, and coffee shops on every corner, it’s bachelor party central and a bustling hub filled with groups and families trying to find their way amongst the maze of streets.
Amsterdam isn’t famed for its cuisine (although its cheese is pretty famous), but its culture reigns supreme, with millions of people taking day trips from its center to discover old fashioned Dutch villages that look like they’re straight from the pages of a story book.
The Dutch are a laid back bunch as well. And why wouldn’t they be when they’ve got the streets of Amsterdam to call home. Let’s take a look at the alternative that’ll have you speaking Double Dutch by the end of your vacation.
American Alternative: Holland, Michigan
An aptly named alternative, Holland is a city that lies adjacent to Lake Macatawa, Michigan. Home to a centuries old windmill, named De Zwaan (Dutch for The Swan), Holland also boasts tulip fields just like its European cousin each May, with its Tulip Festival drawing crowds in from all corners of the US to celebrate their Dutch heritage in all its glory.
Another spot worth knowing about is Nelis’ Dutch Village, which as you might have guessed, is home to a replica Dutch village that you can spend the day exploring fully.
It’s got plenty of outdoor activities that are perfect for kids and adults alike, as well as the famed Dutch houses with their famous orange roofs that help bring the magic to life. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a chance to make your own traditional Dutch stroopwafel, and you can even discover exactly what goes into making the finest Gouda cheese you’ve ever tasted. Take a trip back in time too with Klompen dances and traditionally dressed folk showing you exactly what life was like back in the day.
With so much to see and do, who needs the long-haul flight and overcrowded streets of Amsterdam? Discover everything on your own doorstep, and find out everything you need to know about the Dutch way of life.
So there you have it: a total of 9 destinations that you can add to your staycation bucket list that’ll give you a taste of Europe without leaving the country. Which is your favorite, and which can you not wait to try for yourself? We’d love to know!