As the foliage turns the colors of ales and lagers, many towns welcome fall with steins full of beer and lots of live entertainment (polka, anyone?). From mid-September to the end of October, hit the road to experience one of America’s Oktoberfests.
Harpoon Oktoberfest, Windsor
Held on one Sunday a year, this Oktoberfest includes the annual 3.6-mile Harpoon Road Race. Participants (who must be 21 or older) receive a bratwurst and two Harpoon brews at the finish line—and, of course, are encouraged to wear their best lederhosen or dirndls. After the race, the Bavarian party continues, with all proceeds going to charity. harpoonoctoberfestrace.com
Bear Mountain Oktoberfest
Sample the flavors of Bavaria at Bear Mountain State Park, in the Hudson River Valley 50 miles north of New York City. For 7 straight weekends, the Bear Mountain Inn invites guests to taste authentic German foods in a beautiful setting while listening to a different live band every night. visitbearmountain.com
Enjoy a cold German brew on the banks of the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa’s modern Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. And if you like competition, know that this festival hosts a vast array of Bavarian drinking games. oktoberfesttampa.com
Berghoff Oktoberfest, Chicago
Having survived Prohibition to be granted the city’s first liquor license thereafter, the Berghoff Restaurant has a tradition few places can match. What you’ll find at its Oktoberfest: classic German-American dishes and lots of live music—in the heart of Chicago’s Loop. September 11–13; theberghoff.com; free admission
Bavaria comes to Oklahoma. It's no wonder Tulsa’s Oktoberfest is ranked one of the best and largest of its kind: It has great local and regional oompah bands, barrel-rolling races, chicken dances, wine and beer gardens, fantastic cuisine and an effervescent, carnival-like atmosphere. tulsaoktoberfest.org
More than 70,000 fans of Paulaner beer, polka dancing and German food flock to Addison for one of the largest Oktoberfests in the United States. If you’re feeling daring, sign up for the yodeling contest or German-spelling bee. This 4-day event is held in beautiful Addison Circle Park, just 20 minutes north of Dallas. addisontexas.net
Over two weekends in early fall, Vail shows its German side. Located in one of the most scenic mountain destinations in the country, Vail Oktoberfest is a great place to bring the family. Live music, traditional dances, outdoor activities and costume and eating contests make this much more than a beer-drinking event. vail-oktoberfest.com
Since its inaugural festival in 1998, this Oktoberfest in the foothills of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest has consistently grown. Its traditional Bavarian village provides an ideal backdrop for the town’s 4 venues, which have live entertainment every night. Make sure not to miss Leavenworth’s mayor taking part in a keg-tapping ceremony every Saturday at 1 p.m. leavenworthoktoberfest.com
NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.