Everywhere It’s Legal to Drink in Public in the US
Whether you prefer to pop a squat on the curb, sip in your back alley like the crew from King of the Hill, or take your beverage on a walk down Main street, public drinking is one of life’s little joys. In many relaxed cultures abroad, public drinking is the norm, but in the U.S. it can be a bit more difficult to dodge open container laws—except in a few glorious towns across the country that have OK’ed boozing in the street. Here’s where you can drink in public in America.
Towns Free of Open Container Laws
(Noted on the map by beer mugs)
A few cities like New Orleans and Las Vegas have become famous for allowing visitors to booze wherever they please, but Sin City and the Big Easy aren’t the only spots where you can sip on the sidewalk. Generally, towns that allow public boozing still prohibit you from drinking in public parks, or close to religious sites or homeless shelters. You’ll also have to find yourself a plastic to-go cup, as no one wants their streets littered with broken glass. But other than a few pesky stipulations, you’re free to drink anywhere in these cities:
Hood River, OR
East Aurora, NY
Fort Worth, TX
New Orleans, LA
Las Vegas, NV
Treasure Island, Florida
Beyond the rules prohibiting consumption in parks or near churches, some of these towns enforce a few extra penalties: Hood River and Erie don’t allow you to take mixed drinks from a bar into the street, and Fredericksburg limits outdoor tippling to wine and beer. Treasure Island is a great spot to enjoy a tiki drink on the sand—but only on weekdays. In Butte, the fun stops at 2 a.m., but you can crack an al fresco brewski starting at 8 a.m.
Party-Ready Entertainment Districts
(Noted on the map by wine glasses)
Nothing revitalizes a downtown arts district like a lax policy on open containers. In an effort to bring new life to urban epicenters, several cities have set up specific zones in which you can drink on the street to your heart’s content, assuming you can keep calm enough to avoid causing a scene. To avoid confusion over areas where you can and cannot get loaded, here are the neighborhoods that know how to party:
The Power and Light District of Kansas City, MO
Sonoma Plaza in Sonoma, CA
Beale Street in Memphis, TN
The Savannah Historic District in Savannah, GA
The Railyard District in Lincoln, NE
Quigley and Meridian Districts in Huntsville, AL
4th Street Live! In Louisville, KY
Uptown in Birmingham, AL
The Alley in Montgomery, AL
Dauphin Street in Mobile, AL
The DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) in Canton, OH
A few of these ordinances come with quirks. In Savannah, you can only carry a beverage that’s 16 ounces or less, while in Huntsville you cannot take a to-go cup back inside the bar where you got it, so be sure you’re ready to go before you step out the door. In Lincoln, the law specifies you can’t carry more than two open beverages at once—not that you would need any more if you’re already double fisting.
States with No Statewide Open Container Ban
(Noted on the map in blue)
As these booze-forward cities show, it’s up to local municipalities to push our society forward into an era of street-legal drinking. They’ve all taken advantage of the fact that their states don’t specifically outlaw the practice, and other states in the same position could soon be home to like-minded cities. While a few states do ban public drinking anywhere within state lines (noted on the map in red), the rest—Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Alaska—don’t have any laws prohibiting the practice. So call your local officials and start demanding some changes. And go ahead and arm yourself with a cool new flask—just in case things happen fast.