It's Legal To Drink Alcohol In The Streets In These US Cities

The perfect vacation may exist, but it looks different for everyone. Your travel calling could be a laid-back beach getaway, an exciting cityscape full of adventures, or a bar crawl down a historic district. Chasing that ideal holiday may take a few tries to get it right, but many journeys will be aided and accentuated by the presence of alcohol. If your idea of a good time includes drinks in hand, you may want to focus on a destination where drinkers are given a little more freedom with their vice.

Many states and cities in the United States frown on public debauchery, but some do allow visitors and residents to roam the streets with a little liquid courage. Not every city is created equal when it comes to its liquor laws, so if you plan on enjoying a to-go drink on your explorations, pay close attention to exceptions and stipulations included in a destination's laws.

Whether you're heading to a party city for a long, sleepless weekend or planning a low-key trip involving the casual cocktail, knowing your destination's stance on alcohol could be beneficial. Say goodbye to vodka-filled water bottles, ingeniously hidden flasks, and covert sips from CamelBaks full of beer because these U.S. cities allow drinking in public.

Things to consider before you take your drink to-go

We get it; many people go on vacation to have a good time, and drinking is often a part of that. If you're planning your trip around a destination with lax drinking laws, you'll want to make sure you're as informed as possible. Just because a city has more freedom surrounding alcohol than others does not mean that it's a free-for-all.

Legal wording can be tricky, so when reviewing the laws of your destination city, please take care. For example, New York passed an ordinance that somewhat decriminalized public drinking back in 2016 without legalizing it entirely. Even though you are pretty unlikely to be arrested for drinking in public in NYC, it is still illegal, and you could receive a fine. No one wants their vacation ending in handcuffs or hefty fines, so make sure you're aware of any loopholes or exceptions to laws before you hit the town.

It's also important to note that while you may be able to publicly drink in a city, that does not mean you can drink everywhere within that city. Parks, for one, often have bans or restrictions on alcohol. Certain neighborhoods or districts could also have regulations specific to those areas. Before you change venues, take stock of whether guidelines have changed recently.

Las Vegas, Nevada

What would Vegas be without alcohol and bad decisions? It'd still be a pretty spectacular sight, true, but we can't deny that alcohol lends a large hand in the hospitality industry seen in the Neon City. It probably won't surprise you that Vegas has some of the most relaxed laws around drinking in the United States.

You can drink in Vegas around the clock, as the city has no cutoff times for when alcohol is sold. You can also drink in public in most areas of Vegas, including the Strip. There are a few key exceptions to this rule. Drinkers may not consume alcohol within 1,000 feet of schools, hospitals, places of worship, rehab facilities, or homeless shelters. These exclusions certainly make sense but could prove troublesome for those wandering outside of the tourist hotspots.

Drinking at Vegas establishments can get pricey, so taking advantage of their lax drinking laws could help pinch some pennies. Take a drink to-go or pack your own beverages to cut down on the number of drinks you buy at bars and casinos. That is if you aren't scoring free drinks from fellow patrons, of course. Just make sure to switch to a plastic cup when changing venues, as open glass containers are forbidden on the Strip.

New Orleans, Louisiana

You knew this was coming — New Orleans is probably the first city you think of when you picture an elaborate, booze-fueled celebration. While there is plenty of culture behind each festival that takes place in the historical and diverse city, a whole lot of alcohol gets consumed here as well. Revelers can take their drinks to-go and walk around the French Quarter with open containers, but glass is a huge no-no. No one wants to step on broken glass while walking down the street, so if you are taking the streets by storm, please do so with a plastic cup.

If you're heading to Crescent City for magnificent Mardi Gras or one of its other famous celebrations, please remember that the festivals are as much for locals as visitors. It's their city, and they don't look kindly on outsiders trashing it up with empty beer cups and other litter. Public drunkenness and nudity — despite what you may have heard — are very much frowned upon in NOLA. There are families here that like to enjoy the celebrations, so keep your street drinking as classy as your particular shade of inebriation allows.

Butte, Montana

If you think drinking on a porch or balcony while taking in a stellar view is good, wait until you enjoy a beer while taking in the incredible landscape views of glorious Montana from pretty much anywhere. They call it Big Sky Country for a reason. The Treasure State allows people of drinking age to carry and consume alcohol outside of the home and its many establishments. Though there are some exceptions to the rule, Butte's natural beauty and mountain landscapes make it the perfect city in which to take advantage of this freedom.

Feel free to walk down the streets of Butte with a beer in your hand all you want, unless it happens to be the wee hours of the morning. It's illegal to drink in public from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. If you're caught sneaking a bevy during this time, you'll be fined up to $500. If you're approaching the 2 a.m. mark, don't take your container to your car for safekeeping. Throw it in the bin because if you are caught with an open alcoholic beverage in your vehicle on the road, you'll be looking at another fine for $100.

Hood River, Oregon

The city of Hood River in Oregon allows people to roam freely with a beverage in hand. They have no open container law in Hood River, and as long as you don't wander the street completely intoxicated or are under the legal age, you can enjoy a lot more drinking freedom here than in most U.S. cities. This comes in handy, as the best places to be in the city are outside, taking in the views of the mountains over the water.

You can even drink in the parks here, although it is illegal to sell alcohol there. This is especially valuable because Hood River is known for its outdoor scene. If you plan to hit the bars, though, be aware that you won't be able to take your drink to go unless you order it that way. If you are served an open container, it must remain within that establishment.

Remember, driving under the influence is illegal and dangerous, no matter where you are. This doesn't only apply to cars, though, and with Hood River being right on the water, we have to talk about boats. Operating a boat while intoxicated has the same ramifications as driving a car drunk. Open containers can be present on a boat, though, and passengers are free to drink. You can have a really great time here; just remember to select a designated driver.

Austin, Texas

Texas, as a whole, is pretty cool with public drinking, but local governments are left to make their own laws and guidelines concerning alcohol. A lot of the major cities in Texas have bans on drinking alcohol in public, but not Austin. True to its brand, Austin loves keeping things weird and doesn't mind adding alcohol into the mix.

With popular nightlife spots like the famous Rainey Street and Sixth Street perfectly designed for bar hopping, you might not be too flabbergasted to learn that Austin is kind to drinkers. Don't get your hopes too high, though, because you can't openly drink in the streets of Downtown, which includes these areas. Most other parts of Austin are free game, though, which could be handy for pre-gaming a bar crawl or night out on the town.

If you're heading to Austin to take advantage of some of its cool bars and nightlife spots in its alcohol-restricted areas, consider staying in a different neighborhood. You can publicly drink in a nearby neighborhood and take an Uber over to Rainey or Sixth Street. Passengers in taxis, limos, Ubers, and motorhomes can legally consume alcohol, so you can party right up to your destination. You are unlikely to ride a motorhome to the bar, but you get the point.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Known for its delectable wineries and German-inspired colonial architecture, Fredericksburg loves its alcohol. While you can't walk around with a mixed drink, beer and wine are totally fine in the Downtown area. The limits on hard liquor take little away from the experience, though, because Fredericksburg is very much a beer city, and the wine industry is also alive and well.

Public drinking in this small Texas town seems to be largely limited to the Downtown area. This is perfect for residents and visitors, as it is the place to be if you are going out for a pint, and you'll find pubs right alongside wine-tasting rooms here. It's worth noting that drinking in public ceases at 2:15 a.m. every day and legally starts again at 7 a.m. every day except Sundays when the prohibited time stretches to noon.

Fredericksburg's Oktoberfest, which takes place Downtown, is a great celebration of beer and German culture that takes its cue from the iconic Bavarian festival of the same name. Taking a walk with a stein in hand is the perfect way to celebrate and experience the town's largest festival.

Savannah, Georgia

Georgia is one of the few states that doesn't explicitly outlaw public drinking. Though cities have implemented their own rules concerning alcohol, you can drink in public spaces in Savannah under the right circumstances. This may be surprising as Savannah is famously a more traditional city and has a long history of alcohol bans. Modern-day, though, sees residents and visitors enjoy a much more relaxed attitude when it comes to alcohol.

Not only are open containers allowed on the streets of Savannah, but bargoers can order their drink to-go. In the Historic District, bars are considered in the "to-go zone," which allows patrons to carry a 16-ounce plastic cup filled with their drink of choice while exploring the district. In a naturally beautiful city like Savannah, taking a walk-and-sip is a top-tier pastime and the perfect way to enjoy the waterfront, historic architecture, and wisteria-draped trees that are so renowned here. It's only one cup per person, though, so no double-parking drinks for longer strolls.

Decatur, Georgia

Sticking with The Peach State, although Georgia allows public drinking by default, some towns and cities have ordinances prohibiting alcohol in public spaces. Decatur is one city that has become more open about its alcohol policies since the pandemic. You can take drinks to-go in some of the city's business districts, where bars and restaurants are in good supply.

Decatur, however, does have some stipulations to this rule that other cities do not have. To-go drinks must be in a green 7 or 12-ounce plastic cup adorned with the city crest. These cups are supplied by the city to businesses that are participating in the system. The distinct cups allow for easier monitoring of alcohol coming from bars and being imbibed on the streets.

There are limitations on when you can take drinks to-go in these areas of Decatur as well. The system is not in place Monday through Wednesday and runs from 11 a.m. to midnight through the rest of the week. Though the city does it a little differently than other destinations, the clear-cut rules and heavy city involvement in the system allow for a better understanding of what is legal here for citizens and travelers.

Memphis, Tennessee

Elvis Presley may not have been a big drinker, but his home city of Memphis enjoys a good cocktail from time to time and has one of the country's liveliest nightlife scenes. Beale Street is the place to be if you want a good time. Music, dancing, food, and alcohol are staples here, and the area is actually the only place in the state of Tennessee where you can have an open container.

You can take your drink to-go in this Memphis district, but it must be in an open, plastic cup. Even if you aren't actively drinking on Beale Street, you have to be at least drinking age to be here after 11 p.m. After 8 p.m., anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a guardian. Bar crawls, celebrations, and festivals can get wild on this beloved street, but the crowds are worth it to explore this historic area while sipping on a Tennessee whiskey.

Sonoma, California

There are a few cities whose names are synonymous with alcohol production, and Sonoma is undoubtedly one of them. The Californian city has over 400 wineries and has had a significant impact on the industry, especially within the continental United States, and it is one of the best wine-tasting spots in the country. It makes total sense that public areas within the city would be open to a glass of wine or two (or three).

While you can't drink everywhere in this Californian wine city, you can in the popular Sonoma Plaza from 11:30 a.m. until sundown. Sonoma is a quiet, refined town, and you won't find any wild nightlife here. Instead, wine drinkers flocking to Sonoma tend to find a day drinking schedule better fits their lifestyle, making this midday to evening window more than accommodating.

Though public drinking is mainly limited to Sonoma Plaza, you won't feel as though you are missing out. The large central park has everything a person may need, including but not limited to areas for kids, restaurants, shopping, and plenty of places to kick back and taste the many variations of Sonoma wine.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana is an open container state, though localities can and, in some cases, do impose restrictions or bans. In the case of the state capital, Indianapolis, locals and visitors are free to walk the street with their drink of choice. Oddly enough, the lack of laws surrounding public drinking does not make Indiana an alcohol-forward state. In fact, there are some key restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol that drinkers should be aware of if they're planning a fun, alcohol-accentuated trip to The Hoosier State.

For one thing, happy hours are illegal in Indiana. That's right, you may be able to make any hour happy on the streets of Indianapolis, but you won't see any of the bars or restaurants advertising an hourly special. You also won't find a cold beer for sale at a corner store, although you're welcome to buy a room-temperature one to consume once you're out on the sidewalk. If your day or night will consist of publicly sipping on your favorite alcoholic beverage, you may want to pack some ice.