CINCINNATI -- So you love Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, but hate paying $75 for a few beers and street food, and then getting the "hey, what's for dinner" question after you've dropped all that cash?
So we came up with 9 great ways to keep down the cost of Cincinnati's greatest annual street party, while still having a good time and getting something good to eat.
1. Don't try to park close. Parking in a lot or garage near 2nd or 3rd Street will cost $10 in a city owned lot, and $15 in many in private garages.
Instead, park north of 6th street, and take the streetcar (the city will be running 4 of them all weekend), or walk and burn off all those German food calories. The streetcar is $2 for an all day pass.
Remember that downtown business district parking meters are now $2 an hour, and you must pay until 9 p.m. even on weekends (no more free Sunday street parking). So two hours at a meter will run you $4. Use a credit card, unless you have lots of quarters.
Or park in Covington for $5 or less (it's free on some streets), and take the $1 shuttle across the river.
2. Plan your visit to coincide with the World's Largest Chicken Dance: It's 1 p.m. Sunday, on the Main Stage at 2nd and Elm (not Fountain Square anymore). Admission: Free.
3. Plan your visit to be a dinner visit: If you come anytime after 4 p.m., your food will be considered dinner. The worst thing to do is spend $40 on food at 2:30 p.m., then have to take the family to dinner at the Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse at 7 p.m. because everyone is hungry again.
4. Look for the $3 treats: German Roast Almonds, Apple Strudel, and Soft Pretzels are $3 in many food booths, such as Elli's German Pastries, and are your cheapest dining option. For the kids, look for Cinnamon Sticks at the Original Strudel Factory, where you get two for $3 or five sticks for $5.
4. Seek out cheaper Brats and Mets, especially if buying for a whole family. Prices will vary from $5 to $9 here. If you don't have a favorite restaurant, look for a booth selling $5 Brats, such as Kaiser Schloss or Rock Bottom Brewery.
5. Don't waste your time looking for cheap beer: Oktoberfest beer is $6 for a small cup of draft, no matter what brand you buy, or which booth you visit. So buy good beer.
If you are planning to drink multiple beers (please find a designated driver or take Uber if you are), then the $12 large mug is a better deal, because refills are just $8.
6. Bring your own water: Pepsi products, including their bottled water is $3. That's reasonable compared to a football game, but you can do better carrying in your own water in clear plastic bottles (sorry, you can't bring your own beer).
7. Buy a Reds ticket package, starting at $20 a seat. You get a free beer at the Reds game in an Oktoberfest bug, which you can then refill for $8. Stay for just a couple of innings, then enjoy the festivities outside the ballpark.
8. Watch Sunday football games free at the Braxton Fass Bar at 3rd and Walnut streets. A 20-foot LED screen will show Sunday's games, with no cover charge. And yes, that is Fass bar, not "brass bar."
9. Wear last year's Chicken Dance hat: A goofy chicken hat is a goofy chicken hat, so find last year's on that top shelf of your bedroom closet and wear it again.
So a $5 Brat, $6 beer, a $3 strudel, a $3 bag of roast almonds, and $5 parking north of 6th Street will cost you $22, or even less if you bring more people in your car.
You have done Oktoberfest for under $25.
And if you need to spend more don't worry, you will find temporary ATM's all over 2nd and 3rd street, so you don't waste your money.
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