You Can Drink in Public in These American Places

young people drinking 40s and eating ice cream outside public drinking beer

The right to drink in public was not originally included in our Constitution -- probably because our ale-swilling founding fathers never thought it would even be a problem. They thought their descendants would be cool, naturally.

But as time went on, The Man clamped down on our inherent, God-given freedom to drink a 40oz on the street, much to the detriment of America, at large. But some spots are immune to these Draconian open container laws. And these, are them. 

Butte, Montana

You can pop bottles in the streets of Butte, as long as you don't do it between 2AM and 8AM. Which sucks, because that's supposedly when Butte really starts getting fun. 

The Power and Light District of Kansas City, Missouri 

The Power and Light District is not a reservation for Evangelical Christians, it's a shopping/entertainment mega-complex that spans eight blocks -- and you are allowed to get totally blotto there, out in the open, as long you do so in a plastic cup.

Sonoma Plaza, California

As the epicenter of American wine, Sonoma, California features an eight-acre park where you release your inner Giamatti, and drink your favorite Half-Cab with no regards to the po-po. Just don't drink any damn Merlot, obviously. 

Key West, Florida

Key West is the closest you can get to a real life Margaritaville... aside from the restaurant, I guess. At any rate, Key West staples Jimmy Buffet and Ernest Hemingway (who was pretty much the Jimmy Buffet of his time) would certainly approve of the city's lax open container laws. Some people say there's a woman to blame, but I don't really trust people. 

Las Vegas cityscape scene traffic at night
Wikipedia/Marco Verch+

Clark County, Nevada

Clark County includes America's public drinking Mecca, the Las Vegas strip -- where you can gamble your life savings away while crushing your liver publicly, too. Just stay out of bat country, if you value your sanity. The caveat: you can't drink within 1000 feet of the liquor store where you bought your beverage. Which... is kind of a thirsty move anyway. 

Memphis, Tennessee 

Just to be clear: you can't drink everywhere in Memphis, so don't try to smuggle your vodka into Graceland. But on Beale St., you can imbibe out in the open. As much as you please -- it's your legal right to turn Walking In Memphis into Stumbling Incoherently in Memphis. 

Erie, Pennsylvania 

There are no open container laws in the entire city of Erie. If you've ever been to Erie, you'll understand why they desperately need this.

Hood River, Oregon

Though Oregon's open container laws apparently only apply to drinking in motor vehicles (?), we can assure you that in Hood River, at least, you can drink in public.

New Orleans cityscape scene party nightlife
Flickr/Don Pirolo

New Orleans, Lousiana

This might help explain the rampant plastic-beads-for-boobs trade here, because that never made sense to me. One rule: make sure your cup is plastic.

Savannah Historic District of Savannah, Georgia

You know that distinct, southern Savannah drawl that sounds like smooth molasses being poured over a stack of grits and hot-cakes? Yeah, it's because people are always getting publicly pickled. Just make sure you beverage is in a plastic cup, and doesn't exceed 16 ounces.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Sorry, liquor-lovers, you can only publicly drink wine or beer out here. Which is still nice. Stick to the main shopping district though -- it's the only part of town where you definitely won't get busted. 

New York Times Square at night cityscape scene
Flickr/William Warby

Manhattan, NY

To be fair, public drinking still isn't "legal," but it can basically be ignored in most circumstances.

Incidentally, so will public urination. So the NYPD now neither cares where it comes in, or where it comes out. Wait -- was public urination not always legal in New York? Then why does southern Manhattan smell like that? Questions for another day, maybe.

Canton, Ohio

The home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is also the home of being able to chuck 40s in the street. 

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He's drinking right now. Follow him: @wilfulton.