It would be ideal to visit Germany by actually crossing the ocean, right? But as that's a huge trip, and one that costs quite a bit of cash, there's an alternative right here in the United States - and they speak English! As a wonderful melting pot of immigrants, this beautiful country has, over the years, gained several cities built to resemble the fatherland, Germany. Some of these sites were built by immigrants who wanted a taste of home, and some by admirers of the German and Bavarian aesthetic but either way, you get lederhosen, sausage, and strudel. They're all over the place so hop in a car with some buddies and take a road trip around to the United States' best and brightest German towns!
Hermann, MO - As history goes, the German settlers who landed on the shores of the Missouri River, were awestruck at the picture before them as it looked so like their beloved Rhineland. They settled the area and the town was founded by Edward Hermann, one of the leaders of the pilgrimage and the man who bought the land to settle. Not far outside of St. Louis, Hermann is plenty near to the excitement of the big city although it still remains a quaint and authentically German town complete with vineyards, German cuisine at restaurants like the Hermann Wurst Haus, and a collection of brick building shops that sell everything from German nutcrackers to clothes to handmade crafts. There's a festival for nearly every month of the year, starting in March with Wurstfest where the city celebrates sausage of every kind.
Helen, GA - You might not totally expect a southern state like Georgia to have much German heritage...and you might be right. This town wasn't so much founded by homesick immigrants as it was a redesigned logging town that was in decline in the mid-1960s. The effect, though, is charming. Set in the rolling Appalachians, the town set out to resemble a South-German Alpine village and because of their success, the town's main industry is now tourism. Nearly every surface, building, and the brick road were redesigned, including the franchises like Wendy's, to become charming Alpine storefronts, evoking a storybook feel. You can have tons of fun with your friends strolling the Tudor style shop-lined streets, playing Alpine Mini Golf in the village, zip-lining through the mountains, taking a chocolate factory tour at the Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen, panning for gold and gems, or even visiting the place where the once-popular Cabbage Patch Kids were created.
Leavenworth, WA - Like Helen, Georgia, Leavenworth was redesigned to attract tourists after its railroad enterprise began to decline in the 1920s. But with a backdrop like the Cascade Mountains, you'd never know you weren't in Germany. Leavenworth has been listed in our blogs before, and for good reason. It's stunning and charmingly authentic village streets, activities and museums, restaurants and landmarks, elevates the experience to a new level of touring. The city is home to the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, containing over 5,000 international nutcrackers, some of which date back to the prehistoric era. Leavenworth really plays up its German theme, which is fun for you! Come for the Bavarian Icefest in January, stop by the Oktoberfest in the fall, or visit any time of the year to explore the beautiful natural surroundings, tour the wineries, and have fun in the town's many attractions!
Mt. Angel, OR - Mt. Angel, named for the eponymous mountain in whose shadow the town was built, was not originally founded by German immigrants. However, after several years, the area's population was strengthened by groups of Bavarian immigrants as well as a unit of Benedictine monks, traveling from Switzerland, who had come to establish a new monastery. The "new" Mt. Angel Abbey was moved to the city in 1884 and remains a popular destination for religious pilgrimages and history buffs. With its strong population of German immigrants and descendants, Mt. Angel grew to resemble Bavaria in a number of ways, from little details like the city square fountains to largest glockenspiel in the United States, completed in 2006. The city, though, is most widely known as being the host of the largest Oktoberfest in the Pacific Northwest and continues to draw in hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
Frankenmuth, MI - Nicknamed "Little Bavaria," Frankenmuth is a wonderfully vibrant, wholly energetic German town in central Michigan. The area was settled in the mid-19th century by Lutheran immigrants from the Franconia region of Germany, though it didn't become an official city until 1959. Tourism is a huge drive to the town's economy, and it's obvious why. Every year people arrive in droves for Frankenmuth's annual festivals, for their year-round glorious symphony of culinary authenticity, and for their fabulous attractions. The city itself looks like it could have been pictured in a Brothers Grimm storybook, with the little stone cottages with peaked roofs, the Tudor shops, and the intensely magnificent indoor Bronner's Christmas Wonderland which bills itself as the world's largest Christmas store. The city, on the banks of the Cass River, is also a wonderful spot for recreational and scenic activities for the whole group!