See the World—Without Leaving the U.S

family road tripfamily road tripBy Laura Colarusso

Global Yet Local

Summer is approaching, and that means it's time to start planning the family vacation. But many of us don't have the big bucks-or even the time it would take-to travel internationally. Don't despair. There are still plenty of fun and frugal trips to take in the U.S. to find the old-world charm of Europe or the rich cultures of Asia. For a break from the everyday that doesn't break the bank, we've compiled a list of first-class spots that are dead ringers for amazing international destinations. And you don't need a passport to visit. Photo credit: Thinkstock

Pella, IA-The Netherlands

Pella has been called "Little Holland," and it's easy to see why. Between the tulips, the traditional windmills and the canal that runs through the historic downtown area, this Midwestern spot evokes a sense of old Amsterdam. To find the perfect souvenir, check out the wooden shoes and hand-painted Dutch pottery at De Pelikaan. Looking for a snack? Stop by the Jaarsma Bakery and nosh on some authentic treats like spice cookies, almond cake and Bokkepootjes (chocolate-covered, cream-filled biscuits). Photo credit: iStock
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Santa Fe, NM-Merida, Mexico

If visiting Mexico is on your short list of ultimate vacations, give Santa Fe, NM, a try. The city has just about everything: beautiful mountain vistas, old outposts and terra cotta buildings reminiscent of smaller Mexican towns like Merida. You can find traditional saloons and Mexican fare at a variety of restaurants, but be sure to try Amaya, where you can dine on Mexican-Native American cuisine in a teepee. To pass the time between meals, trek to the St. Francis Cathedral, a structure that mimics the cathedral in Merida. Another must-see: the New Mexico History Museum for its indigenous artifacts and Mexican artwork. Photo credit: Thinkstock

German Village in Columbus, OH-Frankfurt, Germany

If it's a taste of Bavaria you seek, head to the German Village in Columbus, OH. Like Frankfurt, this 233-acre community is known for its brats and beer. Fill up at Schmidt's Restaurant and Sausage Haus-a fixture since 1886-and then soak up German culture with a trip to the Germania Society for one of its choral concerts or folk-dance performances. And consider taking a $12 walking tour with the German Village Society to learn more about the history of the town. Photo credit: Schmidt's
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Japantown in San Francisco, CA-Kyoto, Japan

A trip to Kyoto could take 12 hours on a plane-and that's from the West Coast. Or you could just head to Japantown in San Francisco, where traditional Japanese buildings filled with Eastern fashion and food line Osaka Way. Boutique Harajuku features the latest from designers of the Asian archipelago. Want a kimono? Check out the finds at Shige Kimono near Webster Bridge. Hungry from all that shopping? There are several sushi restaurants to satisfy your Japanese-cuisine craving, but the well-priced eats at Maki on Post Street win locals' hearts. Photo credit: Thinkstock

Cambridge, MA-Cambridge, England

Cambridge, MA, was named after its older cousin, Cambridge, England, and both are home to two of the world's most prestigious universities (Harvard University in Massachusetts and Cambridge University in England)-but the similarities don't end there. Like its English counterpart, Cambridge, MA, boasts grassy parks (called commons) and is arranged around a series of town squares. Nestled in the topsy-turvy streets in both towns, visitors can find vintage book stores, proper tailor shops and traditional pubs that serve the best bit of English food in the United States: fish and chips. Try Cambridge Common or John Harvard's for a plate of the real thing. Photo credit: iStock
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St. Augustine, FL-Seville, Spain

Settled by the Spanish in the mid-16th century, St. Augustine has held onto its cultural roots over the last 450 years. The red-tile roofs, ornamental columns and horseshoe arches of the city offer visitors an unrivaled glimpse of old-world Seville. Don't miss the Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort that dates back to 1672. The Spanish Bakery, in the downtown historic district, offers a wide variety of authentic treats, including sausage-filled empanadas. If you're looking for tapas, check out The Tasting Room, which was voted by Wine Spectator as the best spot for wine in St. Augustine in 2011. Photo credit: Thinkstock

Poulsbo, WA-Norway

Known as "Little Norway," Poulsbo was settled by Scandinavians in the late 1800s. This quaint Pacific Northwest town, which sits on Liberty Bay, oozes Nordic charm. Stroll through the historic downtown area and take in the sloped roofs and wooden beams of classic Norwegian architecture. If you're looking for more background, try a walking tour through the Poulsbo Historical Society for just $5. When you're hungry, head to the Marina Market, which offers traditional Norwegian treats like imported Jarlsberg cheese and chocolate shortbreads. Round out your trip by picking up a door harp or other Viking- themed trinket at The Nordic Maid gift shop. Photo credit: iStock
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