Vacations typically involve imbibing one way or another. But now, with more than 5,200 breweries in the U.S., there are more and more opportunities to plan your next vacation around craft suds. And what better way to dive into the local culture than in spending it with those who are crafting the suds and helping drive the local economy? Here are some destinations that are perfect for beer enthusiasts looking for a getaway.
Portland, Maine, is one of the most gorgeous destinations in the United States. Add to that the fact that it’s a foodie and beer mecca, and it makes it to the top of our list of awesome beer vacations.
Once in Maine, you can check out Allagash Brewing, Rising Tide Brewing Co., Maine Beer Co., and Shipyard Brewing — quite a plethora of excellent options. For noms head over to Slab, which serves ridiculously delicious Sicilian street food and local drafts. Don’t miss their Sicilian BLT, a griddled pizza bianca square with arugula, spicy tomato grappa mayo, and tasso-smoked coppa as the bacon.
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Portland, Oregon is home to 58 breweries, and more if you count the metro area. It’s estimated that 53 percent of all draft beer consumed in Oregon is brewed in Oregon. With all of these beer lovers and makers concentrated in one area, it’s no wonder there are several beer tour companies.
Brewvana features public tours and also offers private, build-your-own tours. One of the public tours features not only delicious brews, but a total solar eclipse! On August 21, beer drinkers can experience the “Eclipse of the Hops,” starting at the Oregon Sate Fairgrounds for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Eclipse Viewing Party. If you crave malty, slightly spicy beers, then join them for the Rye Beer Fest on June 17. The Rye Beer Fest is an official Portland Beer Week event. Portland Beer Week is from June 9 to 19 and features awesome beer events in one of the greatest beer cities in the world.
Take some time to meander to Edgefield. The village includes a distillery, winery, brewery, spa, movie theater, and outdoor music venue. The largest of McMenamins’ breweries, the Edgefield Brewery, opened in 1991 in the old cannery building of the former Multnomah County Poor Farm.
If you’re up for a road trip, it’s about a 15-hour drive from Edgefiled to the historic little town of Saratoga, Wyoming. After the drive, relax and refresh at the Healing Waters Spa at Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, Wyoming’s premier mineral hot springs and spa. And after spending time in Wyoming’s great outdoors, check out what’s on tap at Snowy Mountain Brewery.
California Wine Country
Speaking of gorgeous views and a slightly slower pace, northern California’s wine country is also home to top-of-the-line craft breweries. Enjoy live music and experimental ales at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma. Or check out some of the best IPAs in the world at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, and delicious newer brews from 101 North Brewing. 101 North Brewing head brewer Joel Johnson was part of the brewing team when Bear Republic Brewery’s Hop Rod Rye was developed. And take a visit to Bear Republic, a family-owned brewery, located in the heart of Sonoma County.
Fort Collins, Colorado
For stunning views, crisp air, and craft beer on nearly every corner, you can’t do better than the Centennial State. Start at Fort Collins, home to Belgian-inspired Funkwerks, Odell Brewing, and New Belgium Brewing. Perfectly nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and home to more than 20 craft breweries, Fort Collins is the largest producer of craft beer in Colorado, making fully 70 percent of Colorado’s craft suds. Summertime in the college town brings great weather and several beer festivals, including the annual Colorado Brewer’s Festival, on June 24-25.
San Diego, California
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention San Diego as a perfect craft beer vacation destination. It’s been called “the Craft Beer Capital of America” and the county is home to more than 130 breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs. That’s more than the entire country had in the ’80s! A tour may be the best bet here, at least once, if it’s your first time. If you want a private tour, check out Brewery Tours of San Diego or Brew Hop. But some must-sees include Modern Times (North Park), Hamilton’s Tavern (South Park), Fall Brewing Company (North Park), Blind Lady Ale House (Normal Heights), and AleSmith Brewing Company (Miramar).
Honorable Mention: Beer and Rafting
Who doesn’t love a cold beer while sitting on a lake or near some crashing waves? Now there are companies that specialize in craft beer tasting on the river. After all, beer tastes even better after a day of whitewater rafting. Try the Tuolumne River Rafting near Yosemite National Park. The “Gourmet” trips start at $649. You can also choose the exciting Class III whitewaters, warm water perfect for swimming with riverside camping on sandy beaches in Idaho. The “Beer Trips” start at $1,294 for four days. Or try the Rogue river rafting trip along Oregon’s wild and scenic Rogue River, featuring adult-only gourmet rafting adventures.
These are just a few spots to get you started. If you want to make sure you take the most logical route to as many breweries as possible, download the “Brewery Map” app. You can search by location or plan a trip. Enter your starting address and your destination, and find all of the craft breweries along your route!