You may not think “family affair” when you hear the word Oktoberfest, the German celebration for all things beer. But actually, there are more ways to participate in the merrymaking with your kids than you may imagine. Think live music, good food, a parade, and even a boat ride. (Yes, really!) These local Oktoberfest events will have you saying, “Prost!”
1. Take a Road (or Boat) Trip to the Mountains
Why You Should Go: If you’re into live music from bands like Alpine Squeeze, Fritz’s Polka Band, and the Joe Weber Orchestra, just to name a few, German food, shopping for artisan goods, and of course, beer, then this festival is for you. If you don’t feel like making the drive up, the Circle Line has a special ferry package specifically for Oktoberfest- you can get a picnic lunch for an additional $14.50 per person, spend 3 hours at Bear Mountain enjoying the festivities, then ferry back to the city. It takes about 2 1/2 hours each way, so if you or the kiddos get sea sick, you may want to drive instead. Tickets for the ferry are $50 for adults and $31 for kids up to age 12. Be sure to check the weather even though everything at Bear Mountain goes on rain or shine. Since it lasts until the end of October, you’re sure to find the perfect weekend to go.
When: Weekends, Sept. 14 – Oct. 27 & Columbus Day, Oct. 14; 12:00 – 6:00 pm
How much: Free admission; parking is $8 per car
Where: Bear Mountain Inn, 55 Hessian Drive, Bear Mountain
2. Find Made-for-Families Fun in Astoria
What: Sunday Family Fundays
Why You Should Go: The Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria is a neighborhood institution and their Oktoberfest celebration should be too. We’re talking an entire pig roast, a special menu, plus live entertainment. Go on a Sunday for Sunday Family Fundays where kids can enjoy face painting, cotton candy and a clown, while you partake in some traditional Czech foods or drink.
When: Oktoberfest is Sept. 28 – Oct. 6, Mon. – Thurs., 5:00 pm – 1:00 am; Fri., 3:00 pm – 3:00 am; Sat., 12:00 pm – 3:00 am; Sunday Family Funday runs through Oct. 27, 12:00 pm – 2:00 am.
How much: Free admission.
Where: Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria
3. See a Parade
Why You Should Go: If you’re not into taking your kids to a bar, this one is for. This annual celebration of German-American pride marches down Fifth Avenue in a sea of beautiful colors, eye-catching costumes and traditional music and dancing that’s sure to entertain the wee ones.
When: Sept. 21, 12:00 pm
How much: Free
Where: Fifth Avenue from 68th to 86th Street
4. Celebrate County Fair Style
Why You Should Go: While not specifically for Oktoberfest, but they have a Bavarian garden and on Sunday they have live German music! If you’ve never been, put it on your must-see list. The fair features pie-eating contests (yum!), lumberjack shows, even pig-racing and hayrides – everything you need to experience at a real county fair. Don’t forget the great food, blue ribbon competitions, carnival rides and games, too. It’s definitely worth the trip to Queens!
When: Sept. 21 & 22, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
How much: Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under. Food and rides are extra.
Where: Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park
5. Go Big With Two Days of Oktoberfest Fun in New Jersey
Why You Should Go: This huge annual Oktoberfest festival is a two day event, and with their jam-packed schedule, you’ll see why. Live music, food, beer, and carnival rides, are just some of what you can expect. Want to watch (or compete in) pie-eating contests? They have them, for both kids and adults. Feel like going for a gondola ride? They have that too. Maybe animals are your thing? Well then sit down for one of their special animal shows, which will be featuring bears, eagles, and falcons. Oh and don’t forget about the food, like bratwurst, knockwurst, potato pancakes, and black forest cake. And don’t worry, picky eaters can stick to fries, hamburgers and hot dogs.
When: Sept. 21, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm and Sept. 22, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
How much: 1-Day Admission: $5, 1-Day Preferred Parking: $20
Where: The Red Tail Lodge at Mountain Creek, 200 Route 94, Vernon, NJ
How do you celebrate Oktoberfest?