8 California Vacation Spots That Feel International

Updated 05/08/19

As tempting as it may be to throw caution to the wind, ignore your bank statement, and book a flight to a foreign country, you might not have to travel as far as you think to take a vacation that feels international. Look no further than the perennially cool West Coast for destinations that offer the sites and experiences of a trip abroad. There, you'll find coastlines that rival the Mediterranean, mountainous slopes that could pass for Switzerland, and vineyards that might as well be in Italy.

You can experience the best of international travel all from the comfort of California. With no passport and no big-budget airfare, the best vacation spots in California have so much to offer. Depending on where you live, you could be a quick road trip or domestic flight away from the vacation of your dreams at a fraction of the cost. Ahead, find out all the cities in California that might as well be abroad, according to the experts at Visit California. Here are eight vacation destinations to transport you far, far away.

Instead of the South of France…

Avalon, California
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Visit: Avalon, CA

If you didn't know any better, upon arriving in the small city of Avalon located on Santa Catalina Island, you'd think you'd traveled to the south of France. It's a quaint beach town perfect for a quick getaway. While not a glamorous as Monte Carlo, Avalon does have its own casino, bay, and colorful properties speckled across the island.

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Instead of Tuscany…

Napa, California
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Visit: Napa, CA

Although it's located in Northern California, Napa looks and feels just like Tuscany, Italy. It's covered in rolling green hills and vineyards and offers some of the best wine you can find stateside. It's also home to the Castello di Amorosa, a 13th-century style castle that could very well pass for an Italian architectural feat.

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Instead of Mexico…

San Diego, California
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Visit: San Diego, CA

San Diego is located at the southern tip of California. Not only is it close to the international border, but the city is also heavily influenced by Mexican culture. From the museums to the food, you can experience much of the country's charm from Southern California. Visit Old Town for the best food and to b peruse through shops that offer goods inspired by Mexico. Not to mention you can lounge on stunning beaches that rival those of Cabo and Puerto Vallarta.

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Instead of Russia…

Fort Ross, California
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Visit: Fort Ross, CA

Hidden away in Sonoma County, known for its wineries, Fort Ross, California, stands as a former Russian establishment that was the hub of Russian settlements in North America in the early 1800s. Since then, the area has become a historical landmark and celebrated Russian culture. Plan your trip around the Fort Ross Festival to experience the best of Russian dancing, culture, and cuisine.

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Instead of the Amalfi Coast…

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Visit: Laguna Beach, CA

While no destination can truly match the natural beauty and allure of the Amalfi Coast, the city of Laguna Beach in southern California comes pretty close. It boasts an impressive rocky coastline lined with striking properties that are walking distance from unique shops and restaurants. Spend your time sunbathing on the sand and going into town for fresh seafood.

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Instead of Greece…

Malibu, California
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Visit: Malibu, CA

It's no secret Malibu is one of California's best vacation spots. The SoCal city offers stretches of private beaches, an unmistakably Mediterranean climate, and equally enticing mountains made for hiking. You can also visit more than one vineyard in the area while you're at it for the full experience.

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Instead of Switzerland…

Lake Arrowhead, California
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Visit: Lake Arrowhead, CA

In the mountains of San Bernardino, you'll come across Lake Arrowhead. The village is hidden away in the wilderness and starkly resembles a Swiss town. In the winters, the area offers some of the best skiing in California. Cozy up in a luxe cabin and pretend you're somewhere in the Swiss Alps.

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Instead of Denmark…

Solvang, California
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Visit: Solvang, CA

Situated on the central coast of California is the city of Solvang. It's a Danish village that looks like something right of a postcard for Denmark. Complete with windmills and that quintessential Danish architecture, the city founded in the early 1900s by Danish Americans is all but international. While you're there, you can visit tasting rooms, boutiques, chocolatiers, and farm-to-table restaurants.

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