Get a taste of these famous sights before heading abroad.
Every traveler fantasizes about their day standing atop the Eiffel Tower, looking down and around at the stunning Parisian architecture. They imagine the moment they’ll get to explore the ancient wonders of the Parthenon as they see history before their own eyes. For now, however, this remains a daydream for many.
While you might not be able to pose in Pisa with the famous Leaning Tower, you can still embark on your bucket-list sightseeing tour all while staying local. Throughout the U.S., you’ll find recreations of famous landmarks that, though a bit out of place (as well as smaller and made in the 1900s), will be the perfect travel placeholder you need.
So, fill your gas tank and get ready to embark on your national landmark journey all without ever renewing your passport.
WHERE: Las Vegas, Nevada
While you might not be getting the views of Paris you’d typically associate with the Eiffel Tower, this Las Vegas recreation takes you up and away from the noise of The Strip to give you dazzling views of the city’s most famous casinos, resorts, and (of course) light shows. Though half the size of the tower in France (it’s 46 stories high), this Las Vegas landmark is nothing short of remarkable. Stand atop with a croissant and be *insert your name here* in Paris for a moment or hang out below to view the popular light show inspired by the pretty famous one across the ocean.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
WHERE: Niles, Illinois
After you finish running your errands at the Target across the street, you can stop at this remarkable (and remarkably odd) version of Italy’s own Leaning Tower of Pisa. Just outside of Chicago in Niles, Illinois, is the home of the Leaning Tower of Niles. It’s quite a surprise for the unsuspecting visitor in this suburban town, but it’s something that’s become an architectural staple. This leaning tower was built in 1934 as part of a recreational park for the Ilg Hot Air Electric Ventilating Company of Chicago but is now owned (and has been fixed up) by the town, keeping it in perfect (but still leaning) condition.
WHERE: Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville isn’t typically known for its architecture but in 1897, as a part of the Centennial Exposition, this southern city created a replica of Greece’s famous Parthenon—the example of classic architecture. While this replica’s columns might be made of plaster rather than marble, this piece of history on the hill is a pretty convincing rendition (if you ignore the surrounding urban park it’s located in). And while it might not be the Parthenon, it’s still worth visiting, as this building doubles as an art museum, featuring the work of 19th- and 20th-century American artists. Sure, it doesn’t have the ancient history of the Parthenon, but you’re likely not going to find a delicious plate of Nashville hot chicken to eat just outside the real one in Athens.
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
So, this isn’t actually a recreation of Rome’s Hadrian’s Villa, but visiting the National Capitol Columns located in Washington D.C.’s National Arboretum will have you feeling like you’re stepping back in time to visit the ancient city. Nestled inside the capitol’s Arboretum lies Corinthian columns, a part of the Capitol Building in 1828. Though the columns ultimately had to be removed for structural reasons (pretty but not quite as functional as planned), you can still see them in their towering glory during your visit to the nation’s capital. With a stunning pool in front and nature in all directions, you might forget entirely that you’re in a bustling city, allowing you to imagine (uninterrupted by traffic) the history and events that took place there.
WHERE: Maryhill, Washington
You don’t have to cross the pond to see Stonehenge (unless you’re going for authenticity, of course), because the U.S. has its very own version. In Washington state, you’ll find Maryhill Stonehenge, commonly known as Stonehenge on the Columbia River. This replica was built in 1918 to commemorate those who lost their lives in World War I and, like the original, aligns with the summer solstice’s sunrise—perfect for those wanting to experience the wonders of Stonehenge without the crowds it draws. Though this attraction was originally built as a standalone monument, it’s now a part of the Maryhill Museum of Art, meaning you can do a little more sightseeing before venturing off to the next landmark.
WHERE: Solvang, California
If seeing the windmills of Denmark is on your travel bucket list, this town in California is perfect for giving you a taste of that Danish lifestyle without ever leaving the states. Solvang is “a little slice of Denmark in Southern California” with windmills, bakeries, and the greenery to prove it. Explore the city’s Danish heritage at the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, which should perfectly prepare you for your ultimate, post-COVID Denmark vacation.
WHERE: Williamstown, Kentucky
Though not the traditional “landmark” you might find on your travel bucket list, we’d be remiss to not include this massive ark located in Kentucky. This museum of sorts was built according to the Bible dimensions, meaning that, in the middle of this small Kentucky town stands a boat 510 feet long and 51 feet high. The size of this wooden creation certainly feels other-worldly, and while we might not recommend the evolution-denying museum attached, there’s no reason to not just park below and stand in awe.