As COVID-19 restrictions to European travel evolve, you're more likely to pack your lederhosen for a weekend trip rather than a long-haul flight this fall.

While Munich's official Oktoberfest was canceled again this year, we're looking forward to many stateside Oktoberfest events with COVID-safety measures in place.

Many of the Oktoberfest events can be found in the delightful German-themed towns scattered across the US. All offer an irresistible look into Old World customs, plus some first-class beers, memorable wines and all sorts of sausage. Far from the wurst, these German towns are the best. 

Skyline of the timbered buildings in Leavenworth, Washington
The Cascade Mountains help give Leavenworth an authentic Bavarian feel © Connie Coleman / Getty Images

Leavenworth, Washington

2021 festival: Leavenworth Oktoberfest Markt, October 1 - 17, 2021

Entering Leavenworth feels like some sort of Germanic hallucination. Blink all you want, but you really are still in Washington. In the 1960s, this former lumber town went for a total Bavarian makeover to restore its crumbling fortunes – and it worked. The city is now a traditional Romantische Strasse village backed by a mountain right out of Sound of Music (OK, that's set in Austria, but you get the picture). Linderhof Inn is a cozy Bavarian-style B&B, and you'll find spaetzle and accordions galore at the lively Andreas Keller restaurant.

Hermann, Missouri

2021 festival: Oktoberfest Hermann, every weekend of October 2021

Perched above the Missouri River, between Kansas City and St Louis, the site of Hermann was hand-picked by German immigrants for its Rhine-like setting and climate. And like the Rhine, this region is known for wines: the Hermann AVA was one of the first designated American Viticultural Areas. This lovely town – one of the best reasons to take scenic Hwy 50 instead of I-70 across the 'Show-Me State' – has plenty of B&B options like Hermann Hill and is home to the oldest operating tavern west of the Mississippi, not to mention a town flag.

Several Bavarian-style timbered buildings line the main street in Helen, Georgia, under blue skies © Sean Pavone Photo / Getty Images
Helen, Georgia's Alpine architecture and location in the Appalachian foothills has generated the nickname of 'Appalachia' © Sean Pavone Photo / Getty Images

Helen, Georgia

2021 festival: 50th annual Oktoberfest Helen, now through November 7, 2021

Like Leavenworth, the town of Helen in the North Georgia mountains reinvented itself as a Bavarian village as a revitalization strategy. In 1969, local businesses and carpenters got to work, with help from a local artist with German roots, transforming this former mill town into the self-proclaimed best little German town in the South. Or in 'Appalachia,' if you will. Today, some 1.5 million visitors per year discover Helen's picturesque downtown, fueled by steins of Dunkelweizens, Doppelbocks and Pils. The region is also home to Georgia's best wines, including German-style Rieslings and Gerwurtztraminers.

Close-up upshot of a wooden Weihnachtspyramide, aka German Christmas pyramid, against a blue sky in Fredericksburg, Texas © Lonna Allen / Getty Images
In Fredericksburg, a giant

Fredericksburg, Texas

2021 festival: 40th Oktoberfest, October 1 - 3, 2021

Settled in 1870 by (you guessed it) German immigrants, Fredericksburg is a frightfully dainty, rewarding destination right between Austin and San Antonio, amidst Texas' lovely hill country. Visitors can shop in boutiques in the collection of Victorian townhouses, take in the area's myriad wineries via the wine-trail map and grab a bite to eat at the Old German Bakery, which serves up standbys like schnitzel and bratwurst. The Pioneer Museum gives a good overview of the lifestyle of the early settlers.

Close up of window with blue-and-white harlequin print shutters and yellow flowers in a windowbox on a beamed, Bavarian-style building in Frankenmuth, Michigan © RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images
Frankenmuth's Bavarian vibe goes down to the details © RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images

Frankenmuth, Michigan

2021 festival: Frankenmuth Oktoberfest has already occurred this year, plan ahead for next year: September 15 - 18, 2022

Some 75 miles north of Detroit, Frankenmuth, Michigan – affectionately dubbed 'the Muth' by locals – hosts two serious German-inspired festivals: a summer music festival in August and an Oktoberfest. It's also Christmas all year long at the 'rah-rah Tannenbaum,' 45-acre, year-round Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, said to be the world's largest Christmas store. As the temperatures drop this fall, head to Zehnder’s Splash Village's enormous 50,000 sq ft indoor waterpark, a popular family destination.

Amana Colonies, Iowa

2021 festival: Amana Colonies Oktoberfest, October 1 - 3, 2021

Just northwest of Iowa City (and off mind-numbingly monotonous I-80), this string of seven Iowa villages occupy a fun-to-drive 17-mile loop. Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana and Homestead were settled by German 'Inspirationists,' a religious group that had been persecuted in Germany, in the years before the Civil War. And unlike Amish or Mennonite religions, these communities embrace modern technology – they even generated a successful line of refrigerators that became the Amana Corporation, now owned by Whirlpool. Aside from learning about local culture at a half-dozen museums, including the insightful Amana Heritage Museum, it's worth coming for truly wonderful German meals and a mug of local Millstream wheat beer. Zuber's Homestead Hotel is a good value B&B in a late 19th-century building.

This article was originally published on August 29, 2018.

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This article was first published Aug 29, 2018 and updated Sep 23, 2021.

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