Prost! Check out the Best U.S. Oktoberfests

 

We love Oktoberfest in Germany and we've told you about other Oktoberfest celebrations around the world.This harvest season, we'll take a look at Oktoberfest celebrations across the U.S. that pull out all the stops to produce Oktoberfest celebrations with lots of oomph.

You don't need to fly to Munich this year - there may be a fabulous Oktoberfest right in your neck of the woods. Here are our top picks for nationwide gatherings devoted to the food, music, games and, of course, brews associated with the great harvest festival annually undertaken in Germany. 

 

1. Big Bear Lake, California - Weekends from September 17 through October 29

Big Bear Lake, a lovely scenic area most of the year, puts on its lederhosen and turns into a German village for six weekends. The convention center becomes the heartbeat of food and drink, with bratwurst, knockwurst, dumplings and, of course, lots of German specialty beers. The lively crowd celebrates with many events including beer-drinking competitions, log sawing and stein holding contests and lots of other games. If you're bringing the kiddies, there are children's contests on Sunday afternoons and Halloween costume contests on Saturday October 30th. There will be dancers and cloggers and German bands galore - enough concerts and music to ensure that everyone has a great time. Big Bear Oktoberfest

 

2. Frankenmuth, Michigan - September 15 through September 18

Nothing says Oktoberfest like Wiener Dog Races! And, as luck would have it, the town of Frankenmuth Michigan has them! Not only that, but the Lord Mayor Christian Ude of Germany has sanctioned this celebration, making it the only one outside of Munich to be so honored. Hofbrauhaus, the Munich-based brewer is the festival's official sponsor, so if you're looking for authentic Bavarian brew, this fest has it all. And not only that, but there's a cuckoo clock store and a pavilion transformed into a German beer hall that holds 5,000 revelers. But, of course, the don't miss event here occurs when 50 to 100 dachshunds hit the pavilion floor in what may be a race to the finish or a meandering visit with the happy spectators.  Frankenmuth Oktoberfest

 

3. Tulsa, Oklahoma - October 20 through 23

If you're mostly interested in the great German delicacies you'll find at Oktoberfest, then this is the one for you. Bon Appetit magazine dubbed Tulsa's Oktoberfest one of the best German food festivals in the U.S. and USA Today has put it in its Top 10 Oktoberfests in the world - yes, the World! So, skip a few meals and prepare for meeting up with Landjaeger (beef jerky), Schnitzel, Kassler Rippchen (pork chop), giant bavarian soft pretzels, even German style pizza among the many food options and specialty items offered. If you want to have some beer to accompany all that great food, you won't be disappointed either. From Spaten to Stiegel to Franziskaner, Wersteiner, Franconia and more, you'll find plenty of authentic brew to enjoy. There is a wide range of entertainment, arts, crafts, kid-friendly activities, bands and even a Bier barrel Race with a keg rolling relay. If you stick around long enough, you might catch their own verson of the "Running of the Wieners" Dog Race on Sunday October 23. Who knew wiener dog races were so popular? Tulsa Oktoberfest

 

4. New York, New York - Saturday September 24

While many of the Oktoberfests around the U.S. are steeped in history, running for decades, Manhattanites often had to leave their environs to find such a celebration. So now in its second year, the Big Apple will transform itself for an afternoon into a Bavarian playground complete with Beer Garden on the water at World Yacht's Pier 81. Other activities on the shore include live music and German-American dancers and plenty of Paulaner beer - a favorite Munich brew. Of course, there will be bratwurst  and pretzels to munch on as well. But the thing that makes this Oktoberfest most unique is that there will also be an optional 1-hour Beer Cruise. If you're feeling a desire to put your sea legs on, you can catch the cruise and go up the Hudson River, viewing George Washington Bridge, Riverside Park and other highlights. Best of all, you pre-purchase your admission and food & drink tickets so you don't need to worry about hauling your cash around while floating on and off the river!  New York's Oktoberfest on the Hudson

 

5. & 6. Cincinnati & Columbus, Ohio - September 16 through 18 (Cincinnati) and 23 through 25 (Columbus)

If you're in or near or planning to visit Ohio for Oktoberfest, boy are you in luck! Two of the biggest and best Oktoberfests in the nation are happening right there. The first in Cincinnati (dubbed Zinzinnati for the event) is full of everything you can imagine at an Oktoberfest - and even some things you may not! There's, of course, the Running of the Wieners (are you noticing a common theme to Oktoberfests in the U.S. here?), then there are the Gemeutlichkeit Games. There's an Opening Ceremony and keg tapping. All great, Oktoberfest fun. But then, you may just have to set aside some time to view or participate in the world's larest chicken dance, including Chicken Dance with the Stars. You'll not only get to eat great German specialties and drink great beer, but you'll also get a chance to shake a tail feather. Where else could you do that?   Cincinnati

Oktoberfest

 

Not to be outdone, the folks in Columbus are planning a huge celebration of their own - one they're holding for the 46th year! Bier Halls, entertainment, food, music, shopping and activities will be happening from morning till night at this big daddy of a party. Brats and schnitzel, German potato salad, sauerkraut and potato cakes will all be available in three 100-year old historic covered pavilions (over 100, 000 square feet!) that will play host to entertainment stages and dance flooors. Brass bands, dance troups, strolling accordians and more will light up the stages and mingle with the crowds. There's also lots of arts and crafts vendors with fun items available from sculpture and jewelry to handmade mustards and gourmet dips. The 3rd annual Vier Meiler/Brat Trot rounds out the fun activity offerings and makes this another great stop for celebrating in Ohio.  Columbus Oktoberfest

 

7. Chicago, Illinois  September 23 through 25 (among others)

We'd be remiss if we left out the Oktoberfest celebrations that will be happening in our home city of Chicago. A city of many cultural highlights, Chicago is not one to be without a great party when there's a reason for celebrating (and sometimes even when there's not). With a large German population, the city lights up with Oktoberfest Celebrations, including the German-American Festival (September 9 - 11) hosted by the United German-American Societies of Greater Chicago, which includes a parade, German beer and foods. There's also The Berghoff Oktoberfest (September 14-16), featuring Bavarian-style classic German food, beer, live entertainment, and most intriguingly - the Midwest's Longest Brat - a 45 footer, that will be sold in bites for charity. The Berghoff Brat will also be wandering around town and if you snap a pic and share it on Twitter or Facebook you can win a chance for fantastic prizes. And to round out the Oktoberfest happenings in the Windy City, check out St. Alphonsus's Oktoberfest, which includes plenty of bratwurst, beer and bands. There's a kinderfest on Sunday for the kiddies, and for the extra-hardy among you, there's a special "Brewmaster" package that includes the three-day passes, an official Oktoberfest Glass stein, an official Oktoberfest felt hat, brats, beers and a whole lot of fun. Oktoberfest Chicago. In addition, Chicago is host to numerous German restaurants where you can enjoy the Oktoberfest celebration. Here are a just a few: Laschet's Inn Restaurant, The Berghoff, Edelweiss, Chicago Brauhaus, and Mirabell.

And if for some reason, you're in the Oktoberfest mood but want to celebrate at home, click here and take a look at our all-in-one Oktoberfest guide for making the best homespun Oktoberfest ever. Let the festivities begin!

 

For more on Oktoberfest be sure to check out:

 

Oktoberfest last year was our first visit to the original Oktoberfest in Munich. Get some great insider tips and find out what to expect if you're planning on attending.

 

Best of the Wurst our look at German sausages. You've only had a bratwurst? Then my friend you haven't lived. Find out all you need to know on how to pick out the right wurst for you.

 

Germany More than just Beer & Brats lots more to Germany than you would imagine.

 

A Munich State of Mind learn a little more about the town that hosts the original Oktoberfest. 

 

Beer Me! not sure which beer to order. Our helpful guide will provide some tips on how to choose which beer you might enjoy the most.