Costume contests, Bavarian pretzels and the Polka Chicken Dance make these German beer festivals fun for the whole family. If you enjoy a Märzen-style lager or you just like an excuse to dress in a dirndl, head to one of these breweries in and around the DMV for a celebration that offers food and fun beyond the beers. Be sure to get there early and enjoy some oom-pah-pahs before the crowds show up with their beirsteins.
Leave the hustle-and-bustle of all-things-metro behind at this rustic, barn-like brewery off Route 28 near Manassas. Tucked away behind a small, suburban strip mall, Eavesdrop offers plenty of space for kids (and adults) to run and play outdoors. You'll find the usual beer-garden staples, like cornhole, on the property. The patio area is expansive with numerous picnic tables; outside food is welcome and encouraged. Weather permitting, there is an outdoor fire pit for roasting marshmallows. The indoor space is small, but does feature board games and a popcorn machine. Stop by a kid-friendly Oktoberfest on Sept. 28 from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Märzen, a traditional Oktoberfest beer, will be on tap.
7223 Centreville Rd., Ste. 115
Port City Brewing Company
This tasting room has all the beer hall gaming classics for an entertaining afternoon: giant Jenga, ladderball, darts, cornhole and more. It's the old school arcade games -- which don't cost a penny -- that are sure to please the 6 and up crowd. Picnics are allowed; there are plenty of tables to enjoy a meal and a beer, but only a handful with shade. Stop by Sept. 28 when Port City's parking lot is transformed into a fun-filled Oktoberfest experience. Don't forget to dress the kids in lederhosen or a dirndl for the costume contest. There is also a photo booth to capture the cuteness.
3950 Wheeler Ave.
Dirt Farm Brewing
If you're headed to Loudoun County for a pick-your-own pumpkin experience, a stop at Dirt Farm is a must. Nestled on the side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dirt Farm not only serves exceptional beers but it offers outstanding views. Kids will enjoy grabbing a meal here: Dirt Farm offers house-made flatbreads. You’ll find plenty of toys and attractions on-hand to entertain the little ones, like tubs of bubbles, monster-sized trucks and more. On Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6, stop by for German-fare and a Märzen-style lager at this Oktoberfest.
18701 Foggy Bottom Rd.
Peabody Heights Brewery
The largest brewery in Baltimore City is also the most kid-friendly; Peabody, located in the Abell Neighborhood, offers tours and tastings every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. In addition to the industrial-style tasting room, you’ll also find outdoor seating. The real draw is the dedicated kid play space, that includes two bookcases filled with children’s books, a train table, ride-on toys and more. On Sept. 28, raise a Märzen for the 29th Street Community Center at this fundraising Oktoberfest. From 6-9 p.m. enjoy craft beer, German food and live music for a good cause. A portion of proceeds go to help youths and families in Baltimore. Tickets must be reserved in advance.
401 E 30th St.
Dacha Beer Garden
Every day feels like Oktoberfest at this German-themed bar. Kiddos can hang at the picnic tables flanked by a giant mural, while the grown-ups pop over to the walk up bar and try to figure out whether they want mead, cider, or an impressive selection of Deutschland authentic beers to drink from “Das Boot.” We’re not lying, they really do come in a boot glass, so make sure the kids have their favorite sippy cups so they don’t get jealous. There’s no formal kitchen here, but you’re welcome to bring outside food. Note: The toilets here are of the portable variety, but regulars swear they are the cleanest outdoor bathrooms ever.
1600 7th St. NW
If you want to give your pint-sized world traveler an authentic Oktoberfest experience, without the cost of airfare, then check out Biergarten Haus. Little ones will chow down on traditional German food like Spatzle mit Ziegenkaese (mac and cheese), Kartoffelsalat (warm potato salad) and Wurstplatten (sausages). Adults can sample some of the top German beers (Spaten, Eggenberg, Hofbrau). Everyone gets to jive to the surprise appearances by polka bands.
1355 H St. NE
H Street Corridor
Westover Beer Garden and Haus
Locals swear that Westover Beer Garden and Haus is the best place to hang with kids and enjoy a brew on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Hidden within the Westover Market, the Beer Haus is super fam-friendly with lots of other parents grabbing some shade and testing out one of the 16 micro brews they have on tap. With a giant volcano mural and twinkling lights outside, little ones will feel like they’ve stepped into a fairy tale oasis. Stop by Sept. 27-28 for the Westover's annual Oktoberfest. Have fun playing dress up: costumes are encouraged!
5863 Washington Blvd.
Tucked away on 14th street is a marriage of American and Bavarian culture. Garden District is a fun, kid-friendly BBQ joint that pays homage to the biergartens of southern Germany with rows of picnic tables anchored by Hofbrau Munchen umbrellas, which help keep little melons from roasting in the sun. Kiddos can tuck into some homemade cider donuts, while Mom and Dad sip an ice cold draft of Weihenstephaner hefe-weissbier or Kostritzer Schwarzbier (both are top German beers). For extra good little girls and boys, Garden District offers Coca-Cola Classic with real sugar, or Boylan’s orange cream soda.
1801 14th St. NW
—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Hilary Riedemann