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These 3 Florida Beach Towns Are Oozing European Vibes

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Have you ever wanted to know what Europe is like but don't want to hop on a plane for hours on end?

The good news is you don't have to. While experiencing the real deal is undoubtedly incomparable, there is still a wide variety of places to visit that truly feel like Europe.

Take it from me – one of my favorite hometown events I look forward to every year is the San Diego Greek Festival, well worth a visit to pretend I'm in Crete for a few hours sipping wine, devouring souvlakis, and taking home freshly baked galaktoboureko.

St. Augustine skyline and Bridge of Lions at dusk.jpg

Well, there's more than one place to get your European fix on the opposite coast as well. And you can spend days there, not just hours.

Florida may be best known for sunny beaches, Disney World, and retirees with poor swim attire choices, but trust me, there's more than meets the eye.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine deserves more hype. Home to timeless cobbled streets, breathtaking architecture, and historical sites all reminiscent of Europe, keep your passport at home and open up your imagination.

Clock tower backdropped by palm trees in downtown St. Augustine

While there's not one specific European destination to pinpoint with direct comps to St Augustine, the vibes are immaculate.

If anything, perhaps Spain is the best example, given that Spaniards were the original settlers in the 1500s, leading this vastly underrated beach town to be the longest continuously inhabited European settlement in the U.S.

Sites like the remarkable 17th century Castillo de San Marcos will take you back ages and have you feeling as if you're standing across the pond observing a famous European landmark.

Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine, Florida

Plus, the coastal views are fantastic! The cityscape alone looks like it's straight out of a fairytale, a far cry from America's typical modern skyscrapers, making historic streets more fun to wander.

You'll find charming shops set along cobbled streets and centuries-old Spanish Colonial architecture lining the captivating Historic District, where as a bonus, you can stay at the well-preserved, yet revamped, Villa 1565 under $200 per night.

Tarpon Springs

Greece is a trek to reach, hence all my talk about why Greek festivals are so awesome. Well, Tarpon Springs is like a 24/7 Greek festival without needing to purchase tickets.

Beach in Tarpon Springs

No, you won't see graffiti-lined streets like Athens or postcard-worthy cliffside views like Santorini, but this lesser known beach town's Greek heritage in undeniable.

Greek immigrants settled in Tarpon Springs in the early 1900s and left an indelible mark that more tourists should capitalize on.

In other words – pig out! In addition to authentic Greek restaurants in town, First Friday and Second Saturday events are held each month featuring local cuisine and even live Greek music.

Betcha can't guess which day they're held on! Better yet, there is also the Tarpon Springs Wine Walk being taking place September 21, 2024 for $35.

Greek restaurant sign in Tarpon Springs

What's one of the best wine-producing countries in the world? You guessed it – America! Gotcha There! But also Greece, so expect a mix of both on the menu.

While the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral is undoubtedly the town centerpiece oozing European vibes, Tarpon Springs' real claim to fame is being the “sponge capital of the world”.

Go figure!

Alys Beach

A visit to Alys Beach is almost like a visit to the Mediterranean if only country music wasn't blaring and you actually had to use Google Translate.

Whitewashed buildings of Alys Beach

A little imagination goes a long way, but there's no denying this ritzy beach town's whitewashed architecture is very redolent of the Med, maybe even Santorini if you squint.

With hidden courtyards, marvelous buildings, and nice beaches, you would be forgiven for mistaking this lesser-known beach town as a far-flung Mediterranean escape.

The town is very walkable much like Europe, but tourists love renting a bike to explore even more, like the top-rated Alys Beach Nature Trail.

Keep in mind Alys Beach is definitely on the higher end price-wise as it's considered a luxury community on the Florida Panhandle.

Don't expect European prices unless London, Reykjavik, or Zurich are your idea of European getaways.

Line of cars entering wealthy neighborhood in Alys Beach

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