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Experience Europe Without Leaving North America

No need to travel abroad to immerse your family in ethnic foods, languages and customs. These distinctive North American cities will make your next vacation a bon voyage.

By Diane Bair

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German Town: Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg's Main Street area is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its mid-19th-century German-style buildings and church steeples. The neighborhood also features some of the town's legendary "Sunday houses," where pioneers and farmers stayed overnight when they came into town to sell produce and attend church. Visit in the fall for Oktoberfest-a celebration of all things German.


Start here: Visit Pioneer Museum to learn about the lives of early German settlers, then head to Sauer-Beckman Farm, where costumed interpreters perform farm chores, such as milking cows, plowing fields, churning butter and herding cattle.


Ethnic flavor: Try Opa's sausage and bratwurst, served with hot German potato salad, red cabbage, potato pancakes and sauerkraut at Auslander Biergarten and Restaurant. Or stop by the Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in historic downtown for shortbread and kolaches (pastries stuffed with fruit or cheese).


More to explore: Hike trails and climb the 425-foot granite dome at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, then visit Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, home to some 3 million Brazilian free-tailed bats and 3,000 cave myotises (May through October). At Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park take a ranger-guided tour of the President's boyhood home, check out the hefty Hereford cows on the ranch and walk the mile-long circular trail to the Johnson Settlement, where you'll learn about old-time cattle drives and visit the log home of LBJ's grandparents.


Stay here: Quiet Hill Ranch Bed and Breakfast (830-669-2253; quiethillranch.com). A remote peaceful setting 25 minutes outside of town. Cabins offer a lovely view of the valley and are perfect for star gazing at $160 per night. A block from downtown Main Street, the Fredericksburg Inn and Suites (800-446-0202; fredericksburg-inn.com) has two pools, free parking, an outdoor barbecue area and a hot tub. Rooms start at $99.


For more information Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau (888-997-3600; fredericksburg-texas.com)

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