Craving Bavarian charm, no passport required? Bavarian villages in the United States deliver fairytale beauty, German fare, delicious beers and fun-filled seasonal events. From the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest to the South, you might be closer to a Bavarian town in the USA than you think.
What is a Bavarian village?
Taking inspiration from Germany’s Bavaria region in the foothills of the Alps, Bavarian villages in the United States offer a little slice of German culture closer to home. While each of the best Bavarian towns offers unique experiences, you’ll commonly find Alpine architecture, Oktoberfest celebrations, locally brewed beers and more bratwurst and pretzels than you can eat in a lifetime.
Top 5 must-visit Bavarian villages in the U.S.
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Framed by the dramatic Cascade Mountains two hours east of Seattle, Leavenworth is a logging town-turned-Bavarian getaway. Every building in town boasts alpine touches, from the countless beer halls to the quirky Nutcracker Museum. The town is best known for its annual Christmastown Village of Lights. During this holiday celebration that spans from Thanksgiving to the end of February, over half a million lights — plus the occasional snowfall — make visitors feel like they’re inside a snow globe. Leavenworth also hosts a fun-filled (and family-friendly) Oktoberfest and year-round recreational opportunities.
2. Frankenmuth, Michigan
Founded in 1845 by German immigrants, Frankenmuth is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” This historic town hosts 18 events and festivals each year, from a Bavarian Easter Celebration to the World Expo of Beer and the Summer Music Fest. Like many other Bavarian villages, Frankenmuth really comes alive during the holiday season, with a Christmas tree lighting and an open-air Christmas market. No visit to Frankenmuth is complete without a stop at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the self-proclaimed world’s largest Christmas store.
3. Helen, Georgia
The alpine town of Helen is an unexpected Bavarian village in the Blue Ridge Mountains, roughly 100 miles northeast from Atlanta. Helen is known as a hub for outdoor recreation, with activities like zip lining, river floating, a mountain coaster and hiking. Cobblestone streets line the two-square-mile town, which offers wine tasting, mini golf, a water park and plenty of German cuisine. September and October are popular times to visit because of the Oktoberfest celebration, but Christkindlmarkt is a holiday must-see.
4. Fredericksburg, Texas
Like Frankemuth, Fredericksburg was founded by German settlers in the mid-1800s. Originally known for the unique German dialect spoken by its early residents, Fredericksburg is now a popular vacation destination in Texas Hill Country. The colorful town features storybook architecture, including a replica of a 19th century German church, and an awesome local wine scene — the region is home to over 100 wineries and vineyards. Close enough for a day trip from Austin or San Antonio, Fredericksburg hosts more than 400 festivals and special events each year. This includes a three-day Oktoberfest, fall Food & Wine Fest, Christmas parade and a bluegrass festival.
5. Vail, Colorado
While the architecture may be a combination of Swiss and German, we’d be remiss to skip over the winter wonderland of Vail. Like the other villages on our list, Vail is big on charm. One of the most popular ski destinations in the United States, Vail is a true winter wonderland. Wander the cobblestone streets, dine on authentic Austrian-Bavarian foods at Alpenrose and stay in one of the warm and friendly Bavarian-inspired lodges. Vail has fewer than 5,000 year-round residents, but it’s a popular second home destination. If a weekend in this alpine escape isn’t enough, consider becoming a regular! Pacaso offers co-ownership of fully managed luxury vacation homes in the heart of Vail, so you can soak up endless European charm while enjoying easy access to world-class skiing and snowboarding.