A Brief List of America’s Best Oktoberfest Celebrations

Munich's Oktoberfest is canceled this year. But America's versions are ready to rock.

Festival goers gather in a large crowd at Oktoberfest USA in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Festival goers gather at Oktoberfest USA in La Crosse, Wisconsin. This year's festival just kicked off on Sep. 28, 2021.
Oktoberfest USA

Upset that you can’t make it to Munich this year following the cancellation of Germany’s 2021 Oktoberfest? Don’t sweat it. German roots run strong all over the U.S., and accordingly, you can find a solid Oktoberfest within driving distance of just about anywhere. Here are five of the best (along with some places to rest your head at night — you will not be driving home).

A man performs at La Crosse's annual Oktoberfest in Wisconsin.
La Crosse’s annual Oktoberfest in Wisconsin kicked off on Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 1.
Oktoberfest USA

Oktoberfest USA
(Sept. 30 – Oct. 3) La Crosse, WI

There’s a massive array of activities at “Oktoberfest USA,” including but not limited to Stein races, a barrel roll, a Lederhosen Lunch with pulled pork and brats, breakfast at Morrie’s Heritage Hofbräu Haus, and of course parades, bands and sausage. Accommodations-wise, prices blow up over the weekend, but given the options, our choice is the Charmant Hotel, which is well decorated and located smack in the middle of town. Expect nightly rates from $120 – $330.

The Georgia town of Helen features charming traditional Germanic structures and cobblestones.
The Georgia town of Helen features charming traditional Germanic structures and cobblestones, all on display during its annual Oktoberfest.
Helen Oktoberfest

(Sept. 30 – Nov. 7) Helen, GA

Welcome to Georgia’s Little Bavaria, Helen, which is modeled in the charming style of German Alpine villages, complete with cobblestone streets, merchants ranging from glass blowing to cuckoo clocks and quilts, and dining options that run the gamut from German fare to Southern specialties. The 50th Annual Oktoberfest in Helen, as seen on a weird, memorable episode of Donald Glover’s Atlanta, features German music, food, drinks and dancing, including waltzes, polkas and the chicken dance — hell yeah. Lodging-wise, your options range from cabin rentals and campgrounds to resorts, but we recommend The Riverbend Hotel and Cabins. Rooms start at $400 due to demand.

Men hold sausages at Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas.
Why, yes, you too can sing folk songs whilst holding sausages at Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas.

(Nov. 5 – 14) New Braunfels, TX

Nearly 20 percent of Texans have German ancestry, which might be why the state has the biggest, best collection of Oktoberfests in the country. Our pick? Head out to the super-Germanic Hill Country for a fuller experience at Wurstfest, in New Braunfels, which offers 10 dirndl-filled days of German bands, a biergarten and the wursthalle.

Festival goers gather at Oktoberfest By the Bay in San Francisco.
Festival goers gather at Oktoberfest By the Bay in San Francisco, featuring events all October long.
Oktoberfest By the Bay

(Ongoing throughout Oct.) San Francisco, CA

Overlooking the San Francisco Bay, this might be the best-sited set of Oktoberfests in the country: water views plus “nonstop music, singing, dancing and the very best in German food and drink.” Catch any one of a number of Oktoberfest events across the Bay including Redwood City at Alameda’s Spiesekammer, Teske’s Germania in San Jose and The Peninsula Oktoberfest on the Hiller Aviation Museum grounds (Oct. 2). You’ll probably want to stay at a hotel closer to Market Street in SoMa; our pick is the new Hotel Zetta, part of the Viceroy collection.

A couple drinks beer in front of Schell's Beer at Oktoberfest in New Ulm.
Imagine yourself drinking beer in front of Schell’s Beer at Oktoberfest in New Ulm this year.
New Ulm Oktoberfest

(Oct. 1 – 2 and 8 – 9) New Ulm, MN

Home of Schell’s Brewery, New Ulm (about a two-hour drive southwest of Minneapolis) trades on its German identity all year round — Oktoberfest is just the apex, with tours (and tastings) at Schell’s, bands galore and a Wonderful Parade of German Things (originally the “Wunderbare Parade Deutscher Dinge”). Also of note: New Ulm is home to a vineyard — Morgan Creek — which’ll make for a change of pace when you’ve had all the bier you can stomach. There are only three hotels in New Ulm; the Best Western, the fest’s HQ, still has some vacancies, so grab your best friends and snag a room for $200 per night.


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