A small village with cobblestone streets, a tall white clock tower, mountain lodges, and gasthofs: Vail, Colorado, may sit in the heart of the Rockies, but it was built to evoke a ski town in the Alps. Indeed, city founders drew architectural inspiration from throughout the Alps. Cynics call the style "Shake-and-Bake Bavaria," but over the years, this mix has taken on its own charm.
Though Vail has grown (sprawled, some say) beyond that original concept, it returns to its Alpine roots each fall with Oktoberfest. For two weekends this month, the city's core streets fill with brats, beer drinkers, dancers, and oompah-pah bands. It's one sure time of year when you can freely yodel, slosh beer in stein-clinking toasts, or stroll the streets in lederhosen without drawing a stare. But even if you miss Oktoberfest, the weather is great in early fall, the aspens are turning, and you can still tap into a touch of the Tirol here.