10 Family-Friendly Oktoberfest Celebrations
Oktoberfest takes place in Munich starting in late September, but if you don't have plans to travel to Germany, here are 10 kid-friendly Oktoberfest celebrations across the U.S. worth a go for parades, polka bands, and wiener dog races, even bratwurst eating competitions. Prost!
Photo By: Alpine Helen-White County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo By: Cincinnati USA
Photo By: Explore Minnesota
Photo By: Travel Wisconsin
Photo By: Discover Lehigh Valley
Photo By: Spokane Oktoberfest
Photo By: Snowbird
Photo By: Morey's Piers
Photo By: San Diego Tourism Authority
Photo By: Attitash Mountain Resort
Oktoberfest (Helen, GA)
Oktoberfest in the Bavarian-inspired village of Helen, Georgia comes about as close as you can get to celebrating in Munich. You’ll find German-style bands from across the country wielding accordions, cowbells, and Alphorns, all eager to play at the longest running Oktoberfest in the U.S. Explore the Alpine Village, then settle in at the Festhalle for eats, drinks and music. There’s even a dance floor just for kids and a dog-friendly beer garden. On Sundays, admission is free.
Dubbed "America’s Oktoberfest," Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio is the place to go for the Running of the Wieners (wiener dogs running in hot dog bun costumes) and the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. More than 575,000 are expected to attend this three-day celebration of German beer, brats, and heritage. Watch world champion eater, Joey Chestnut, defend his title in the World Brat Eating Championship, then take a spin on the SkyStar Observation Wheel, which lights up with more than one million colored LED lights.
Oktoberfest (New Ulm, MN)
In Minnesota, New Ulm’s Oktoberfest celebration takes place the first two weekends in October, drawing crowds for horse-drawn trolley rides, evening bonfires, and plenty of German music, beers, and bratwursts. A colorful parade takes place at 11 am on the Saturday of each weekend’s festivities. The first Saturday features the Germanic-American Day Parade, which anyone with Germanic heritage can walk in. On the second Saturday, look for Oktoberfest Kostume on Parade for plenty of lederhosen, dirndl dresses and peasant-style blouses.
In La Crosse, Wisconsin, the place to take the kids is Oktoberfest USA. The annual festival (58 years and counting) is jam-packed with activities, like two parades, a dachshund dash and fashion show ("Viener Vogue"), a medallion hunt, and a cornhole tournament. In between, this festival is all about music. You’ll find everything from the oom-pah-pah of polka bands to guitar riffs of 80s cover bands. More than 150,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival.
Oktoberfest (Bethlehem, PA)
Make a day of Lehigh Valley’s Oktoberfest celebration, which takes place the first two weekends in October. Just an hour from Philadelphia, this free annual festival has everything you’d want from an Oktoberfest celebration, including a wiener dog parade, hobby horse racing, a bratwurst eating competition, and yes, a Hasselhoff-Off. The Germans do love David Hasselhoff, so what better way to celebrate this love than with a costume and impersonation contest (though you may need to explain to your littles exactly who David Hasselhoff is).
For brews, brats, and all things Bavaria celebrate the season at Spokane Oktoberfest in Eastern Washington. The festival includes plenty of fun family activities, like bocce ball, cornhole, face painting, and musical shows. Compete to see how long you can hold a full stein, then learn to play Nagelspielen, a game that dates back to the first Oktoberfest in 1810 with the object being to pound a nail into a piece of wood before your opponent.
Oktoberfest at Snowbird
In Utah, Oktoberfest at Snowbird is a celebration worth enjoying again and again, and you can because this festival runs every weekend between mid-August to late October. Attracting more than 60,000 visitors over the course of the two-month celebration, there’s a lot to do, like listening to Alphorn players, bouncing on inflatables, and cheering on participants in the bratwurst eating competition. There’s even a beard and mustache competition for both adults and kids (for kids, it’s a craft beard contest).
Oktoberfest (Wildwoods, NJ)
Celebrate Oktoberfest at Morey's Piers along the Wildwoods boardwalk in New Jersey with German-themed menus featuring cheddar bratwurst, pierogies, and bacon knockwurst sandwiches. A special "Rootbier Garten" for kids has fun activities, like pumpkin and cooking decorating stations. The rides at Mariner’s Pier, including the Giant Wheel and Wave Swinger, are open throughout the festival, which takes place over three consecutive weekends starting in late September. One- and three-day Oktoberfest passes include a $5 food and beverage credit, unlimited boardwalk rides, and a souvenir root beer cup for kids.
La Mesa Oktoberfest
In Southern California, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend San Diego’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, La Mesa Oktoberfest. The festival features German foods aplenty, like bratwurst, sauerkraut, schnitzel, and massive Bavarian-style pretzels. Kids will love the German Kinder Karneval with a Ferris wheel, rock climbing wall, inflatable slides, face painting, and balloon art. Dachshund races, fashion shows, and howl-deling contests take place all weekend long at the Dackeldorf Dachshund Village. Lovable pups are also available at the village for adoption.
Oktoberfest (Bartlett, NH)
Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett, New Hampshire hosts its 21st annual Oktoberfest celebration in early October. In addition to serving up German fare, brews, and ciders, the family-friendly festival has loads of kids’ activities, like big checkers, a slackline, airbrush tattoos, and cornhole. Kids can even participate in stein hoisting and schnitzel tossing contests. The King Ludwig Bavarian Band entertains all weekend long with all the oom-pah music you and the kids can handle.