Octoberfest and Beyond: Exploring German Culture in LA


Fall is the time to explore German culture in Los Angeles. If you have a child traveling abroad this fall, chances are they’re already scheming to go to an Octoberfest celebration in Germany.  It seems to be a rite of passage for college kids on their Junior Year Abroad. It turns out that there are over 5 million folks of German descent in CA and so you have plenty of opportunities to sample authentic culture through food, events and art this season. We have suggestions for books and movies to round out the experience, and news about two excellent art exhibits, as well.



There are many yummy German eateries around LA but our pick for a must-do for  breakfast, brunch, or lunch is Röckenwagner Bakery. They offer handcrafted breads and pastries made daily as well as homey meals at their 3 locations in Culver City and Venice.

rockenwagner2 But if sitting down at a restaurant is not your style, they also make their way around 8 different Farmer’s Markets in LA. That way you can eat on the go!

We also love European Deluxe Sausage Kitchen for an excellent selection of homemade brats – great for throwing on the grill at home.  (9109 W Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills, 310-276-1331).


If you want the full German restaurant experience, Red Lion Tavern is the place to be. Since 1959, it has been a staple in Los Angeles for German cuisine. Looking like you just hopped on a train to Bavaria, the Red Lion Tavern offers the full atmosphere, cuisine, and culture of Germany. If your kids aren’t big eaters, they have dozens of sides to choose from as well as chicken fingers, hamburgers, and fish and chips.



Oktoberfest festivities start on September 9 and run until October 29, and LA is home to some of the biggest celebrations outside of Germany. The most elaborate Oktoberfest is at the Alpine Village in Torrance.  They even have Family Sundays, not to mention, a great market with European imports, a bakery, and a deli!

Manhattan Beach has a beer-focused LA Oktoberfest on the weekend of October 21. It is definitely not for kids but will introduce you to plenty of beers and you can sample traditional foods and sing some drinking songs.

If large crowds are not your thing, there are plenty of low-key Oktoberfests happening around Los Angeles. One in particular is the German-American Club of Santa Monica’s. It is a smaller event with authentic homemade German cuisine like rotisserie chicken, bratwurst, potato salad, and pretzels!

This Oktoberfest will be on Sunday, September 11 from 1pm-7pm at 1843 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica 90404. Kids under 13 are free and $10 (CASH ONLY) for everyone else! For more information, please call 310-450-6141.



Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of Bernhard von Reesen, 1521, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Inv. Nr. 1871)

Next, you can head on over to Norton Simon Museum. They have an ongoing exhibit of European Art that is brimming with German still lifes in the 17th-18th century section.

Plus, LACMA is opening up a German exhibit in November! Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach will open on November 20 and will explore some of the greatest achievements in the German Renaissance.

Read, Watch & Listen


If you love the German language and literature, Friends of the Goethe Institute have a Book Club that meets at noon every third Thursday of the month. On October 9, they are also having a Kinder Matinee Book Fair where you can buy and sell books, CDs, and DVDs to help fund the Goethe Institute’s Kinder Matinee.


Taste of Cinema also offers this list of 30 Essential German Films You Need to Watch. We recommend M, Wings of Desire, The Lives of Others, and The White Ribbon for parents and older kids. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly classic, The NeverEnding Story is a West German film that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

If you want to experience German culture without leaving your house, the Goethe Institute has a comprehensive Film Archive of German films. The DVDs or BluRays can be shipped for rental right to your door. The films include early to modern German cinema flicks, so there is something for everyone.

There are also lots of videos and music to watch on YouTube. If you’re looking for a kiddie song, you can’t go wrong with Schnappi Das Kleine Krokodil (Snappy The Little Crocodile). If you want to listen to some modern German bands, we recommend Silbermond. If you really want to get into the German spirit, Heino is definitely the way to go.

The best news, however, is that 99 Luftballons singer Nena will be performing on her first ever tour in America at the Regent Theater on October 2.