Daily Destination: Munich, Germany

Christy Karras

Oktoberfest has begun, filling Bavaria with the sound of music…and the sight of thousands gathering to enjoy Germany’s national beverage. Munich is the center of all the fun, and visitors crowd into elaborately decorated tents large and small to grab a stein and a plate of traditional food that might include anything from sauerkraut to pigs’ knuckles.

Each tent has its own name and traditions, some going back more than 100 years: For poultry dishes, hit the Stiftl-Tent, and for veal, go to Able's Kalbs-Kuchl. For pastries, there’s the Café Kaiserschmarrn.

Some of the 16-day festival’s events have nothing to do with beer or food or music — the annual crossbow competition, for example. Although beer is everywhere, this isn’t an adults-only event, with parades and music and rides for the kids.

Set in southern Germany, not far from the Alps, Munich is one of the world’s favorite cities even when there isn’t a beer festival on. A big city that feels like a small town, it ranks high in livability surveys for its parks, nightlife, markets and overall quality of life.