The Best Fake European Vacation You Never Took

  • 01 of 07

    Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois

    Leaning Tower of Niles, Niles, Illinois
    Ken Lund/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these U.S.-based replicas of iconic European attractions are monuments of adulation. 

    Heading to the Chicago area? A 15-minute drive northeast of O'Hare Airport will bring you to the Leaning Tower of Niles, a replica of the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    At 94 feet tall, the Illinois tower is only half the height of the famous Italian landmark but plenty large enough for a photo op. Be sure to try out some fun forced-perspective vacation photo poses.

    The Leaning Tower of Niles was completed in 1934 to conceal a water tower that serviced two swimming pools in a 22-acre park in Niles, Illinois. The park and tower are now part of a local YMCA.​

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  • 02 of 07

    The Parthenon in Nashville

    Parthenon, Nashville
    Mayur Phadtare/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

    The centerpiece of Nashville's Centennial Park is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, complete with a 42-foot replica statue of Athena. Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, the building mimics what is considered to be the pinnacle of classical architecture. It is such a faithful replica of the Greek temple that its architecture does not include a single straight line, no two columns are the same size, nor are they placed the same distance apart. 

    The Parthenon houses Nashville's Museum of the Goddess Athena, whose collection includes paintings by 19th- and 20th-century American artists.​

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  • 03 of 07

    Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas

    Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas
    Mariamichelle/Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

    Where else would you expect to find a perfect half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower than Las Vegas? To get the most from the Eiffel Tower Experience, go at night for a bird's eye view of the famous Bellagio fountains show from the tower's observation deck at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

    Go inside the hotel. Under a huge glass dome just past the lobby is a botanical garden where 140 horticulturists arrange amazing topiaries using flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs. The botanical garden is open 24 hours a day and is free to enter.​

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  • 04 of 07

    Arc de Triomphe in New York City

    Wasington Square Arch, Washington Square Park, New York City, USA
    Spencer Grant/Getty Images

    Lower Manhattan's Washington Square Park features a marble arch that was modeled on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Built from 1890 to 1892, the New York City arch celebrates the centennial of the first U.S. President's inauguration in 1789 and is adorned with eagles and other patriotic emblems. 

    Fifth Avenue ran through the arch until 1964, when the park was redesigned and closed to traffic at the insistence of local Greenwich Village residents.

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  • 05 of 07

    Stonehenge in Virginia

    Detail of Foamhenge, a sculpture in Natural Bridge, Virginia.
    Ben Schumin/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.5

    About 40 miles northeast of Roanoke on a bluff in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains stands Foamhenge, a life-size replica of Stonehenge that's made entirely from Styrofoam. The brainchild of artist Mark Cline, the foam version is an exact reproduction of the original megalithic monument, with each foam slab carved to correspond to a real stone and placed in correct astronomical alignment.

    See also: America's Stonehenge in Salem, NH.

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  • 06 of 07

    Venice in Vegas

    Woman rowing gondola in replica of Venice canal, Las Vegas.
    Ray Laskowitz/Getty Images

    The Venetian Las Vegas not only takes its architectural inspiration from its namesake Italian city, but it also offers gondola rides on copycat canals and a striking rendition of the Rialto Bridge. Other replicas of Venetian landmarks include the Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Marco, Piazzetta di San Marco, the Lion of Venice Column, the Column of Saint Theodore, and St Mark's Campanile.​

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  • 07 of 07

    London Bridge in Arizona

    London Bridge at night, spanning the waters of Lake Havasu. Reflections in calm water.
    Mint Images/Getty Images

    The 930-foot London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, is the real deal. It actually once spanned the River Thames in the British capital and was relocated to the United States in 1971 in a successful bid to draw tourists to the once off-the-beaten-path destination.