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A Tipsy Tour: 10 American Destinations With Lax Open Container Laws

Because every vacation is better with a drink in your hand—even after you leave the bar.

When it’s time to unwind, nothing helps quite as quickly as a cold beer or craft cocktail. But who has time to sit and sip when you’ve got a whole destination to explore? Take heart (and a hearty sip), convivial travelers. In these U.S. cities, you can enjoy your adult beverage to go.

1 OF 10

New Orleans

WHERE: Louisiana

As the capital of carnival, New Orleans’ reputation for merrymaking precedes it. And rightly so: it’s not called “Bourbon Street” for nothing. So long as you sip from a plastic, rather than glass, container, you can enjoy the eponymous libation as you wander the heart of this 24-hour bacchanalia–and with a bar every seven feet or so, you won’t have to go too long between refills. Of course, any local will tell you the main drag is for amateurs. To experience the latest in this Southern city’s long legacy of musical innovation, head a bit further east to Frenchmen Street.

INSIDER TIPIf you get tired of debauchery (yes, it’s possible), turn to the great outdoors for a reprieve. From hiking or biking the 30-mile Tammany Trace trail to paddling Lake Pontchartrain, there are plenty of ways to balance out your nightlife with some sunshine in the Big Easy.

 

2 OF 10

Savannah

WHERE: Georgia

Take your sweet tea with a little tipple? Within the parameters of Savannah’s Historic District, 16-ounce to-go cups are perfectly legal. Talk about southern charm. The rule is especially salient—and well-exploited—during the city’s annual events and festivals, like its legendary St. Patrick’s Day celebration. But even if you have nothing more planned than a quiet stroll through the squares, it’s nice to have the option.

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PHOTO: Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock
3 OF 10

Las Vegas

WHERE: Nevada

Everyone knows Sin City’s got open-minded legislation. And it’s true: provided you don’t get too rowdy, you’ll run into no trouble with the law walking down the Strip with a sip. But if you wander further afield, be careful; within a 1,000 feet of a church, synagogue, school, hospital, or homeless shelter, drinking is prohibited. (You should also know that prostitution is still illegal in Vegas, despite abundant opportunities. To partake legitimately, you’d need to ride to neighboring Nye county. Just in case you’re interested.)

INSIDER TIPVegas may be replete with fine dining options, but at post-revelry mealtime—say 3 a.m. or so—nothing’s quite as comforting as a decked-out breakfast sandwich at Eggslut. It’s classic drunk food elevated to the next level, and it’s so good you may go back for seconds when you’re nursing that hangover at noon.

 

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PHOTO: f11 photo /Shutterstock
4 OF 10

Memphis

WHERE: Tennessee

Barbecue, blues—and, yes, booze out in the open, at least along historic Beale Street, where much of the action is. Thanks to an exemption from both statewide and local open container bans, you won’t have to wait to finish your drink (or worse, leave it on the table) when you’re ready to shuffle onward. Good thing, too; with well over a dozen Beale Street bars and restaurants to experience, you’ll want to keep moving.

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PHOTO: Stephen B. Goodwin / Shutterstock
5 OF 10

Tampa

WHERE: Florida

The attractions of Florida’s gulf coast are many: bright sunshine, gorgeous beaches, and the best damn Cuban sandwich you can get outside the island. Sorry, Miami. Along Tampa’s famed and scenic Riverwalk district, you can add a breezy booze policy to that list—though you do have to purchase your beverage from a local establishment. No BYOB allowed. The ordinance also specifies that “only” two drinks can be carried at a time… which sounds very much like city-sanctioned double-fisting.

INSIDER TIPAlthough the lenient open container law doesn’t extend to the historic Ybor neighborhood, you don’t want to miss it. Sample authentic, handcrafted cigars at Tabanero before heading to Florida’s most iconic goth nightclub, The Castle.

 

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PHOTO: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
6 OF 10

Mobile

WHERE: Alabama

Whether it’s historical tourism or bayside camping that draws you to Alabama’s oldest city, you’ll be glad to know that drinking in the street is legal in its downtown entertainment district—so long as you do so from a to-go cup sourced at a local licensed business. As in, the cup needs to state the establishment’s name. (It’s also got to be paper or plastic and hold a maximum of 16 ounces.) Don’t dismiss those caveats as mere formalities, either; the Mobile police force has stated that it will “strictly enforce” the ordinance.

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PHOTO: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
7 OF 10

Austin

WHERE: Texas

Turns out part of what’s keeping Austin weird is an indulgent attitude toward public drinking—but not everywhere in the city. Although open containers are allowed in many of Austin’s residential neighborhoods, they’re expressly forbidden in other areas, including, unfortunately, its happening downtown. But with the number of bars, clubs, and music venues along its famed Sixth Street, you probably won’t even notice.

INSIDER TIPIf you like your beer with a side of eccentric entertainment, head to the Little Longhorn Saloon for the Sunday tradition that is Chicken Shit Bingo. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. And yes, Austin is doing well in its quest to stay weird.

 

8 OF 10

Erie

WHERE: Pennsylvania

Although it might not share the touristic draw of Pennsylvania’s larger cities, there’s a lot to do in this lakeside destination—including drinking in its public parks. Which is a little bit funny, given that the state as a whole has some of the most convoluted and restrictive alcohol laws in the country. Packaged liquors are only available from state-owned Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores, and alcohol has only recently been okayed for sale on holidays.

INSIDER TIPEven if you’re not big on maritime history, the U.S. Brig Niagara is worth seeing. Although she’s a replica, she’s an excellent one, and is still sailed by a hearty crew of professional and trainee sea-folk each summer.

 

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PHOTO: tusharkoley / Shutterstock
9 OF 10

Hood River

WHERE: Oregon

Portland’s lovely, of course. But if you follow I-84 east for an hour, you’ll be rewarded. And we’re not just talking about the stunning Columbia River Gorge views. The small community of Hood River, Oregon has some of the laxest alcohol laws in the country. And with one licensed establishment for every 62 people in town, you’ll have ample opportunity to take advantage.

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PHOTO: Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock
10 OF 10

Butte

WHERE: Montana

If you’re on the road from Bozeman to Missoula, this mid-sized mountain town is worth a detour. Though there might not be much gold left in Butte’s hills, there’s still plenty of liquid courage, and you can sip it on the street with impunity. Besides, you’ve got to get a picture with the Continental Divide sign, right?

INSIDER TIPYou can’t miss the opportunity to get outside while you’re in Montana. So put down the beer—just for a while!—and head to nearby Deerlodge National Forest. Beaver Ponds trail is scenic, gentle, and a favorite grazing area for both mule and white-tailed deer.

 

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