Worth the Drive
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Oktoberfest Up the Mountain

Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead host their annual stein-foamy shindigs.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Yep, Oktoberfests are going on, from Munich to our own mountains (and beaches; Huntington Beach's Oktoberfest is in full swing at Old World). Want some fall colors with your suds? Go Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

    FOLIAGE AND FOAM: The question isn't, 'round Southern California way, if you want an Oktoberfest. There are many excellent parties with a hefty dose of oompah going down. The question is how do you want your Oktoberfest. There's Old World in Huntington Beach, with its Sunday Dachshund races and beach-close location. There's the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, which is brimming with live bands and DJs and a get-up-and-dance atmosphere. And there are dozens of other parties, hither and thither, that summon the great halls of Munich. All are worth a visit, indeed indeed, but just a couple of the SoCal celebrations are truly foliage-adjacent, or will be, come October. They're the Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfests, a pair of charming, not-too-far-apart raise-a-stein-eries that capitalize upon crisp, higher-elevation air and the goldening of leaves.

    BIG BEAR OKTOBERFEST: The party opened on Saturday, Sept. 14 with a trio of different gartens and the traditional eats and brews. This is interesting, too; two unplugged Fridays -- new this year -- will take revelers back into the roots of Oktoberfest. Spooktaculars, theme weekends, and many bands dot the schedule. It's year 43 and it twirls, every weekend, right through Saturday, Oct. 26.

    LAKE ARROWHEAD OKTOBERFEST: This one is really close to the body of water in the village's name, which lends an Alpine-y feel to the proceedings. So does the Bavarian food, the occasional lederhosen sighting, and to-dos that feel like they've been around since forever. How does one hold a full-of-beer stein, straight out, without spilling it? Hard. Things get celebratory at the end of September, and dance every weekend through the close of October.