Oktoberfest always brings certain things to mind: lederhosen, pretzels, and, of course, beer. Lots and lots of beer. It’s held every year in Munich, Germany and people come from all over the world to participate in this week’s long celebration. If you can’t make it to Germany, though, don’t worry! Here are the 10 best places to celebrate Oktoberfest in the U.S.
1. Cincinnati, Ohio
Reputedly the largest Oktoberfest held in the U.S., (and one of the most fun places to celebrate Oktoberfest) Oktoberfest Zinzinnati has been around since 1976. The fest takes up six blocks on Downtown Cincinnati and draws over 500,000 people. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati holds records for food, beer, and – strangely enough – biggest organized chicken dance. Despite what the name would suggest, actually takes place in late September. This year’s dates are September 21st through the 23rd.
2. Helen, Georgia
Want to feel like you’re in the Bavarian mountainside instead of the U.S.? Visit Helen, Georgia. The south-German architecture makes it seem like this tiny village is tucked away in the Alps instead of the Appalachians. And since German-themed tourism is their bread and butter, they throw a pretty authentic Oktoberfest. Festival dates are September 6th through October 28th.
3. Reading, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, famously home to the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish communities, also boasts a large German-American population. Reading Liederkranz is the largest and oldest Oktoberfest in PA. In addition to the traditional food and beer, there’s also lots of live music and other entertainment acts on the schedule for this year’s fest – October 3rd through 7th.
4. National Harbor, Maryland
Das Best Oktoberfest is definitely the best if you’re looking to get boozy! They have 150 different options of beer, wine, and Schnapps, that German favorite, to choose from. Admission to this smorgasbord is about $30 per person which includes all-you-can-sample alcohol and a souvenir tasting glass. You’re also encouraged to come in traditional garb if you have it; best group costume wins a prize. So, if you want to get dressed up and boozed up, be in National Harbor on October 13th. This is one of the best places to celebrate Oktoberfest!
5. Chicago, Illinois
There are plenty of Oktoberfest celebrations to choose from in the Windy City, but there’s only one Hofbräuhaus. Originally founded in Munich, this is the brewery responsible for crafting the world-famous Oktoberfestbier. Yeah. They’re basically synonymous with Oktoberfest. If you want authenticity – and really good beer – the Hofbräuhaus is the place to be. They’ve been perfecting their brews for over 400 years. That’s longer than America’s been a nation. The dates for this year’s fest haven’t been released yet, so keep an eye out.
6. New Ulm, Minnesota
Minnesota might not scream Oktoberfest to you, but New Ulm is reportedly the most German town in America. Almost three-fourths of the population claim German heritage, so you know they do Oktoberfest right. Live music and dancing, traditional German food, as much beer as you can drink, and a charming musical glockenspiel that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. New Ulm hosts their Oktoberfest the first two weekends of October.
7. Huntington Beach, California
Old World Oktoberfest in Huntington Beach serves up a healthy dose of family-friendly entertainment alongside the adults-only fun we expect from a good Oktoberfest. Weekdays and Sundays cater to the little ones tagging along with mom and dad while Friday and Saturday are for the 21 and up the crowd. If Oktoberfest brings to mind a busty blonde in a short dirndl (those traditional Bavarian dresses) carrying an insane number of sloshing steins, then Old World Oktoberfest should live up to your expectations. Their Shot Girls are famous for being cute, quick, and careful never to spill a drop. Festival dates for this year are September 9th through October 28th.
8. Miami, Florida
You probably don’t hear Miami and think German beer and lederhosen, but Oktoberfest Miami is actually the longest-running Oktoberfest in the U.S. This year is their 61st anniversary. Hosted by the German American Social Club of Miami, it’s a great time with live music, dancing, traditional German food, and, of course, beer. And thank goodness for that. Mid-October in Miami is still pretty hot, so a nice, cold beer is perfect to cool you down. The festival is held during the second and third weekend of October.
9. Nashville, Tennessee
Covering 10 city blocks and drawing in almost half a million visitors every year, Nashville Oktoberfest is one hell of a party. Since it’s Music City, there’s plenty of live music as well as the traditional food and drinks: sausage, schnitzel, pretzels, and lots and lots of beer. But Nashville Oktoberfest also has unique handicraft and artwork vendors, a 5k, and the Dachshund Derby. So, grab a pint and watch a bunch of adorable Weiner dogs run pell-mell down their pint-sized race track. This year’s festival dates are October 11th through 14th.
10. New York City, New York
While there are many Oktoberfest celebrations throughout all five NYC boroughs, if you want to celebrate in true New York fashion, Oktoberfest in Central Park is the place to be. The Stueben Parade is the main event and tickets sell out fast, but there’s also plenty else to eat, drink, see, and do. Like the Masskrugstemmen National Championship. It’s the ultimate stein hoisting competition in the U.S. Join the crowds on September 15th to experience Oktoberfest in Central Park. This is easily one of the best places to celebrate Oktoberfest!