Welcome back to our mini-series focusing on North America’s answers to European destinations, where we’re giving you the low down on the best places to explore if Covid-19 messed up your European vacation plans. Last week we focused on alternatives to Italy and Spain – you can read all about them here if you need a little bit of inspiration. This week, we’re moving onto France and Great Britain; two of Europe’s less tropical locations, yet nonetheless popular tourist destinations that are well worth a visit.
So, get ready to discover the hottest spots for a summer getaway that won’t have you battling jet lag or crossing the Atlantic.
European Destination #1: France
Nestled against the Italian border and the Mediterranean Sea is Provence, the pearl of the southwest of France known for its rolling hills, sprawling lavender fields and luscious vineyards.
Bursting with fresh produce at its local markets, visitors can sup and snack on the locals favorite dishes whilst taking in the sights and scents that this extravagant part of France has to offer. Provence also offers sophistication and story book adventure with a side of sunshine thanks to its incredible landscape and tiny fishing villages that will have you getting lost on purpose. It’s truly an astonishing spot for couples and explorers alike.
American Alternative: Sonoma County, California
Whilst we shone a light on Napa last week as an alternative to Tuscany, we’re offering up its neighbor, Sonoma County as your alternative to Provence.
It’s another typical wine region for sure, where you’ll come face to face with the stunning landscape of California, and bask in the luscious sunshine whilst you enjoy a cold, crisp Chardonnay. Heading to Sonoma County is the perfect retreat from the fast paced life of the city though, and with its unspoiled nature and plenty of fresh air for miles in every direction, you’re bound to relax completely in this corner of California.
Visit in June or July though for an added extra: those quintessential French lavender fields full of bees and that lingering fragrance that can be recognised anywhere. A few favorite haunts include Matanzas Creek Winery, a well-loved lavender farm which sells its home grown lavender products for the perfect souvenir, and Lavender Bee Farm, a picture perfect, serene spot that sells not only its own lavender products, but 100% organic honey products too.
The French Alps
If you’re after a change of season and scenery, with adventure and excitement afoot, the French Alps is the perfect destination for you. With plenty of towns, villages, ski resorts, and outdoor hiking locations to choose from too, it’s hard to sit still in the valleys of the French Alps. This is a spot where nature can be caught in all her rugged glory, with so many activities to choose from it’s impossible to kick everything off of your bucket list.
American Alternative: Mount Hood, Oregon
With accolades including ‘the most popular mountain in the Western Hemisphere’, and ‘the second most climbed mountain in the world’ (Japan’s Mt Fuji beats it, if you were wondering), Mount Hood is the stunning and ruthless potentially active volcano situated in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.
Whether you’re planning on heading into the snow and ice, or just want the view, heading to the Mount Hood area is easy, and picture perfect, no matter how you look at it. It’s one of the best spots for adventurous families and countries to take in America’s natural landscape in all its glory, and there are a range of activities to keep everyone entertained.
Hit the ski slopes for hours of fast-paced fun and frolics, rent a mountain bike to fly through the rocks and trees, or head into the forests proper to experience the serenity and beauty of the hiking paths – this is the outdoors in its purest, most natural form.
Accommodation is easily come by at Mount Hood. There are resorts: Mt. Hood Meadows, inns: Huckleberry Inn, and lodges: Timberline Lodges. There’s plenty of hearty food to be had too (although they probably don’t have the best French cuisine going). If you’re looking to head out of the city and shake those cobwebs away, this could be the perfect area for you to explore.
European Destination #2: Great Britain
One of Great Britain’s best loved counties is Cornwall. It’s got rugged coastline, jewel blue waters, and the thickest and creamiest ice creams in the country. It’s full of greenery, cobbled streets and local towns lined with pastel shop fronts. It’s the quintessential British holiday destination where even Brits themselves stand back to marvel at their own country.
Cornwall is a popular destination for tourists from all over the globe too, with visitors returning in their droves every summer to experience the Great British Summertime in all its glory.
American Alternative: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
North America’s answer to Cornwall has to be Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Could it be because it shares some of its towns names with its trans-Atlantic cousin? Perhaps; the closer you get to Cape Cod, the more coastal British the names become. Take Falmouth, Taunton, Truro, and Barnstable for instance: they’re all well-known and well-loved spots close to Cornwall.
Cape Cod has the miles of coastline, the sandy dunes and luscious beaches, the quaint and charming towns and villages, and the succulent seafood to rival its British counterpart.
A well-loved tourist destination in its own right, this is a spot for families or couples alike, where summer vacations can be spent whiling away the hours on the Cape Cod National Seashore, relaxing in the Heritage Museums and Gardens, or taking in the sights of each town and village you come across and learning everything there is to know about the history of this incredible spot. This is a family friendly destination for anyone with curious children or pets that love to roam free, and the perfect compromise to the Southwest of England.
So which destinations are your favorites so far? We’ve got one more instalment of our mini-series on North American alternatives to European destinations coming your way at the beginning of August, where we’ll be focusing on more of mainland Europe, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Until then, stay safe: maybe it’s time to look at booking your 2020 staycation with some of our destination choices.