Nothing is more envy-inducing than listening to a friend rattle off the list of cities they visited on a whirlwind Eurotrip, especially when your own chances of touring the continent are slim. Sure, you could go to Vegas for the gladiator getups and replica Eiffel Tower, but sauntering up and down the Strip will never feel like the real deal. Planning a trip to Athens, Florence, and Vienna might, though, even if you’re not in Europe at all.
All across the United States are namesake cities that deserve to be destinations in their own right. So put your passport away, gas up for a road trip, and reimagine the classic European itinerary right here in your own backyard. Eurail pass not required.
Ancient Greece gave us the Olympics. Athens, Greece, hosted the first modern Games. But the Bulldogs pride for University of Georgia football in the US’ Athens is something else. Athens is a college town with all the trappings of one: a huge number of bars filled with just-legal drinkers, the Terrapin brewery, epic tailgates at Sanford Stadium, and a university-run art museum and botanical garden. Of particular note is the city’s music scene, which helped launch bands like R.E.M, The B-52s, and Of Montreal. The 40 Watt Club is the most legendary venue in town.
A surprise to no one, Dublin, OH, prides itself on its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The rest of the year, it’s a city of golfers, disc golfers, nature walkers, and cyclists, with over 1,000 acres to explore at Highbanks Metro Park. Hike to Indian Run and other waterfalls, cross the Dublin Link pedestrian bridge, and discover dozens of public artworks. Ice cream is a nice reward back in the historic red-brick downtown: There are enough ice cream shops in Dublin to try a different one every day of the week. One night, fancy it up with cocktails at the VASO Rooftop Lounge.
Italy’s Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Florence, AL, belongs to The Shoals, or Quad Cities, a cluster of four cities on either side of the Tennessee River that fostered a different artistic renaissance: the Southern rock, soul, and R&B sounds of the 1960s. Artists like the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin recorded hits at the legendary FAME Studios, which stands for Florence Alabama Music Enterprises though it’s located across the water in Muscle Shoals, and the Muscle Shoals Sound in nearby Sheffield. Tuscumbia, the fourth Quad City, is also the birthplace of Hellen Keller, whose childhood home is open to visitors.
Geneva, New York
Much like its Swiss namesake, Ge