Missed it in Munich? Grab a bier stein and read along. Even if you can’t afford the flight to Hofbrauhaus, you can still get into the spirit of Oktoberfest right here in the U.S. From German-American small towns to biergartens in big cities, here are five places to get your oompah on all year long.
The official Oktoberfest celebration runs from mid-September to early November, but this Bavarian village in Northwest Georgia is a perfect place to drink in a little German … culture. Helen is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Chattahoochee River with a downtown area that boasts cobblestone alleys and Bavarian-style buildings with gingerbread trim. There is no shortage of German restaurants and entertainment to transport you back to the Old World, including Helens’ very own Hofbrauhaus Restaurant and Lodge on the banks of the Chattahoochee.
Crystal Brook Resort, Round Top, New York
The proprietors of this family-run resort greet guests with hospitality so warm and German accents so thick you would think you were in the old country. This Mountain Brauhaus Resort in the Catskill region of New York State offers theme weekends celebrating the resort’s German roots. From September through February, the resort is only open on weekends; it is closed March and April and reopens weekends only in May through June and all week long in the summer months. You can make a weekend out of it (rates start at $64 per night including three meals) or just enjoy an evening of live entertainment. Nearby Hunter Mountain has a large Oktoberfest celebration the first two weekends in October.
Stoudt’s Brewing Company – Adamstown, PA
Every Sunday in October, German-Americans and those who just like a good party head to Stoudt’s Brewing Company in Adamstown, PA. The sounds of German music fill the air as a roasted pig is marched though the Gemutlichkeit Bier Garden. Should you find yourself in Adamstown in another season, however, there are many festivals throughout the year that are inspired by the traditions, and of course the beers, of Germany. The brewing company plays host to 17 microbreweries for the Great Eastern Invitational Microbrewery Festival where the featured food is a "Best of the Wurst" buffet. The winter brings the Christkindlesmarkt – a family-friendly holiday event inspired by Nuremberg's famous Christmas Market.
New Braunfels and Fredericksburg, Texas
Settled by German immigrants in the 17th century, New Braunfels is, according to its Web site, "a little bit of old Germany smack dab in the middle of the Texas Hill Country." Though the German influence may not be as evident today as in years past, the pride in this city’s roots is evident and will be interesting all year round to German history enthusiasts. Early November finds New Braunfels preparing for Wurstfest, a 10-day festival featuring enough German sausage to satisfy you until the festival next year. If you miss Wurstfest, be sure to check out the new Friesenhaus Restaurant and Bakery (set to open in November 2005), which promises authentic German cuisine and biergarten. If you find yourself in Texas during the first week in October, head straight to Fredericksburg (about 80 miles from New Braunfels) for oompah music, wurst, waltzes and German bier tents.
Hallo Berlin – New York City, NYThe ultra-casual décor of this indoor/outdoor biergarten on the West Side of Manhattan offers picnic table seating, a great selection of wurst and other German specialties, plus a variety of German beers on tap. The outdoor seating area is only open in the warm weather months, but you can dine and drink inside for very reasonable prices all year long. During September, New York City honors its German-American residents with the Steuben Parade and German-American Friendship week every September.
If you can’t make it to the destinations we highlighted here, be sure to check out your local German society (there are hundreds across the United States) for cultural events and celebrations that take place all year long. The month of October is rich day- and weekend-long Oktoberfest celebrations – we found a great list at Aviso.net – chances are there is one near you. Tell us your favorite place to get into the spirit of Oktoberfest on the Independent Traveler Message Boards.
Photo credits: Photo of Crystal Brook Resort courtesy of Ruder Finn Public Relations. Photo of Wurstfest courtesy of wurstfest.com. Photo of Stoudt’s Brewing Company courtesy of Stoudtsbeer.com.
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