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Best Destination “Dupes” To Check Out This Summer

The summer travel season is just around the corner. While popular destinations like Paris, Tuscany and the Maldives are likely to pop up on your Instagram feed, these popular locations also come with big crowds and steep costs. Luckily, the latest travel trend is all about “destination dupes” – more affordable or accessible duplicates of popular travel destinations that offer similar experiences for travelers who are either budget conscious or want to skip the crowds this summer.

Solvang (dupe for Denmark)

Known as the “Danish Capital of America,” Solvang is a little slice of Denmark just a few hours away from Los Angeles. Featuring Danish-style architecture, one-of-a-kind boutiques and cozy tasting rooms, Solvang is the perfect weekend getaway if you’re looking to experience a taste of Europe in our own backyard. In Solvang, you’ll get your fill of Danish pastries and pancakes, without having to cross the pond. Check out Mortensen’s Danish Bakery for delicious Danish butter ring coffee cake before heading to The Elverhoj Museum of History and Art to learn more about the town’s unique Danish heritage. There’s also no shortage of vineyards and wineries in this region, which means it’s wine o’clock.

Photo credit: Susan Moss – Tourisme Montréal

Montreal (dupe for Paris)

There’s no city as iconic as Paris, but it’s also one of the busiest tourist destinations during the summer – especially with all the fanfare surrounding the Olympics. If you’re looking to skip the crowds, look no further than Montréal, Canada. Founded in the 1600’s by French settlers, this charming city has an undeniable European energy. In fact, 70 percent of the population of Montreal speaks French. However, this is a bilingual town making it easy for English speakers to get around. In Montreal, you’ll find cobblestone streets, delicious French-inspired cuisine, cozy patisseries and plenty of Old-World charm, including French architecture dating back to the 17th century and the Notre-Dame Basilica. 

Photo credit: Stéphane Mailion Photography

Bora Bora (dupe for Maldives)

Dreaming of the Maldives and its crystal-clear turquoise waters and overwater bungalows? You’ll find a similar destination dupe in Bora Bora, a closer and more affordable alternative – especially this summer, a rare phenomenon, with July and August hotel dates still available. A flight to the Maldives from the US is nearly a 24-hour journey; whereas a flight to Bora Bora is only eight hours from the West Coast. In Bora Bora (home to the OG over-water bungalows), there is no shortage of incredible overwater bungalows and resorts to choose from, like the Conrad Bora Bora or Four Seasons Bora Bora. Choose from a range of activities, including immersing yourself in Polynesian culture through traditional dance shows and cuisine; snorkeling, scuba diving, and beach hopping; or relaxing at the spa for a truly memorable island vacation.

Note: The unique thing about Bora Bora this summer is that accomodations usually book way in advance. With the summer Olympic surfing competition taking place, people must have thought the place would be packed with tourists and did not book. However, the Olympic competition is closed to the public and bungalows are still available for as low as $350 a night for this July and August – totally unheard of and a great deal for the summer traveler.

Aperture Cellars Sonoma County

Sonoma (dupe for Tuscany)

If you’re all about “la dolce vita” but can’t make the trek to Tuscany this year, look no further than Sonoma, California’s scenic wine country. This region boasts rolling hills, Tuscan-inspired villas, lavender fields and Tuscan-inspired wineries like Azari Vineyards, Ferrari-Carano Winery and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Sonoma is also known for its incredible farm-to-table cuisine, including Trattoria Roma and Canneti Roadhouse Italiana, two authentically Tuscan restaurants headed by founders and chefs who hail from the region. Take things a step further by taking a classic regional Tuscan cooking class at Canneti Roadhouse Italiana, taught by the executive chef himself.  

Albuquerque (dupe for Spain)

An unexpected travel dupe for Spain is Albuquerque, New Mexico – also known as the Flamenco Capital of North America. This rich history of Flamenco dance in the city dates back to the 19th century. From June 21 to June 29, you can celebrate all things flamenco for nine days at Festival Flamenco Albuquerque, the largest flamenco festival outside of Spain. Or, celebrate Albuquerque’s wine scene during Wine Month in August. Many people don’t realize this city is home to the location where Spanish colonists began winemaking over 400 years ago, featuring the oldest wine-making region in the USA, where grapes thrive from the area’s high elevation and sandy soil. Some incredible wineries in the area include Casa Rondeña Winery and Vara Winery. To round out your experience, stay at the Hotel Andaluz with their decor inspired by Spain’s Andalusian region.

Pamela Holt is a travel expert, executive producer and host of the new streaming series, “Me, Myself & The World: The Art of Solo Travel,” now streaming on Amazon Prime and GoTraveler. Born in California and raised in Hawaii, Pamela began solo traveling at the age of 19. Today, she’s journeyed to over 92 countries and territories solo, including Antarctica, Bali, Japan, Singapore, and nearly everywhere in between.

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