Ameropean Vacation?

With the dollar at an all-time low, Europe is out of reach for all but the wealthiest vacationers. But you can find European flavor on more affordable home turf.

Instead of heading to Spain, find bright colors, uncommon architecture and plenty of lingual overlap in Miami.

It might not have an Olympic Villa or museums dedicated to Miro and Picasso, but Miami's colorful art deco buildings can satisfy your hankering to see Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.

Swap the Costa Brava and the artist barrio of Barceloneta for a roller-blade ride down South Beach and its chorus line of swanky nightclubs, like Mansion or the Opium Garden.

And though Spanish is not the official language of either city (Barcelona has long been a crusader to "normalize" its native language of Catalan, once outlawed under Franco's dictatorship), you'll hear it sprinkled into speech everywhere in both cities.


Surfing and water culture? Check. Mecca for foodies and wine connoisseurs? Yes. Hilly streets too steep to drive on? Exactly.

Though actually learning to surf is probably easier outside of Lisbon, San Fransisco ranks with Hawaii as home to some of the best breaks in the world -- like Maverick's, just north of the city.

But the water culture isn't limited to wave-riding. Replace a day cruise along Lisbon's Tagus River with a ferry ride to Sausalito or legendary Alcatraz Island. Both afford amazing water views of the cityscape, though the art galleries and shopping of the former couldn't contrast more with the Alcatraz's grisly prison tour.

Both cities have been rebuilt after massive earthquakes and boast a lively gay and lesbian community, as well as a smattering of religious architecture: San Francisco's original inception as a Catholic conversion outpost for the Spanish has left behind some breathtaking ruins, like Mission Dolores on 16th Street. Or if you head up to Napa or Sonoma wine country, check out Mission Solano as well.

Plus, you'll taste all the foodie culture of Lisbon in SF's neighborhoods -- Mission District and Polk Street are good starts.

It may be calling, but at the current dollar-to-sterling rate, you can't afford it. So head to New York.

The arsenal of standard sight-sees is comparable: climb the Empire State Building instead of St. Paul's; take in the Statue of Liberty rather than Big Ben.

You'll still find good shopping, underground transport, unusual accents, Chinatown and a SoHo, and even Londoners would be hard-pressed to claim that Hyde Park tops Manhattan's Central Park.

Daytrips may seem a bit of a sacrifice, but isn't the chance to visit the homes of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac and Langston Hughes all worth missing Stratford-upon-Avon?

Monte Carlo
Look, even the Europeans come to Vegas to gamble. And if you're really jonesing for a vacation on the Continent, at least you'll find Venice and Paris conveniently located on the Strip.

Both cities are overflowing with celebrity sightings, beautiful people and obscene amounts of money, but at least in Vegas it's not considered tacky to take advantage of the free drinks.

Not gambling? Instead of the Alps, hike the Rockies; ogle Paris Hilton instead of Zsa Zsa Gabor; and relive scenes from "Ocean's 11" instead of "Goldeneye."

And a distinct advantage: Vegas has found much success in the last decade redesigning itself as a family destination. Monte Carlo may be chic, but can the kids ride a roller coaster on top of the hotel (The Stratosphere: while you double down in the lobby?

When it comes to skiing or snowboarding, it's all about the powder. And you don't have to go to Switzerland for that.

In fact, you can find all the luxury (such as Hotel Jerome, a five-star palatial landmark built in 1889), charm and part-time celeb residences in Aspen. Choose among three mountains – Red to the north, Smuggler to the east, and Aspen to the south – or spend the day exploring the national park surrounding the city.

Don't plan on hitting up the HBO Comedy Fest, though. Long considered the top industry showcase in the country, the fest ran for 13 years in Aspen, but HBO has yet to announce a new location for 2008.

We're certainly not the first to trumpet Montreal as the Paris of North America. Obviously, you can whip out your high school French – and probably your high school sense of romance as well.

While there's no Eiffel Tower to blush under, Old Montreal and the Latin Quarter offer hundreds of places to find wine bars, international cuisine and live music, and the St. Lawrence waterfront has all the charm of the River Seine.

Stroll along the cafes and art vendors on Rue Jacques-Cartier instead of the Champs-Elysees, but save your gold card for the high-end shopping on Rue Ste-Catherine.

Summer visitors can hit the Jazz Festival, which attracts more than 2 million spectators and 3,000 performers every July. And even winter tourists won't be disappointed exploring the Underground City, a sprawling, multi-level colony of shops, restaurants, art and fashion shows.

It rains a lot, but people are nice and don't seem to care since the surroundings are so lovely. Good beer comes to mind, and a well-defined music scene. But instead of U2 and Thin Lizzy, think Pearl Jam and Death Cab for Cutie.

That's right: the stateside answer to the Emerald Isle is the Emerald City, as Seattle is fond of calling itself. You can still find beautiful golf courses (with views of Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound), but in Seattle you can play nine holes in the morning and water ski in the afternoon. Or snow ski, if the weather's right.

Check out the Space Needle and wetsuit-required beaches, and talk to strangers in craft beer breweries, like the Elysian in Capitol Hill or the Big Time Ale House, which touts itself as Seattle's original.