Love beer, will travel.
That seems to be the motto of many beer lovers across the country, with a recent survey finding people who took a trip in the past year visited 2.1 breweries on average while they were away from home, according to the Brewers Association.
With thousands of breweries across the country, "beercations" (when you travel just for the sake of attending a beer festival or brewery) are becoming increasingly popular. Part of the reason is because many of the United States' breweries are small and either don't distribute (or don't distribute very far), so people have to actually visit the brewery to try the beer, the Brewers Association says.
And they're doing it. It's estimated that more than 10 million people toured a craft brewery in 2014, and more than 7 percent of the craft beer sales in the U.S. happened where the beer is made – at the brewery.
Beer tourism is a boon to the beer industry, Brewers Association says. But when there are so many options, it can be tough to decide on the best city for your beer adventure. That's why the Brewers Association and Travelocity teamed up to create the first-ever Beer Tourism Index.
The index (which will be updated every year, according to Travelocity) highlights the 12 best metropolitan areas that are perfect for a "beercation." The cities were picked based on factors that'll help people make the most of their trip: the availability of ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft, whether there are nonstop flights to that city, how much it costs to stay overnight, and – most importantly – how many craft breweries there are per capita.
Here's the list, broken down by location:
The Pacific Northwest
- Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton in Oregon and Washington.
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington.
- Bend, Oregon.
- Corvallis, Oregon.
- Denver-Aurora, Colorado.
- Colorado Springs, Colorado.
- Boulder, Colorado.
- Ford Collins-Loveland, Colorado.
- Santa Rose-Petaluma, California.
- Missoula, Montana.
- Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine.
- Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont.
If you're planning to visit, Travelocity set up a website where craft beer lovers can search the country's top beer towns for the best travel deals for their "beercation," and also a place to find the best beer-related activities and tours the cities have to offer.
Looking for more resources before you plan your trip? Beer Advocate has several stories that'll give you some ideas of where to go. American Craft Beer also highlights some noteworthy tips from seasoned beer vacationers. Or this Thrillist story that has the best trips for American beer lovers.
But if you're looking to stay local, Minnesota has more than 100 breweries to tour. Check out this Explore Minnesota page for tour suggestions, or this Star Tribune story that names the three best beer road trips.