7 Culinary Vacations That Should be on Every Foodie’s Bucket List

These seven culinary capitals attract hungry travelers

The best way to take part in Creole tradition is to attend one of the New Orleans’ food-themed festivals.


Taking in a city’s sights and sounds is first and foremost for many travelers, but sampling a destination’s local cuisine is right up there. Culinary vacations and food festivals have exploded into a popular travel trend, and these seven U.S. cities can help you cover plenty of ground in terms of flavors, fusions and food budgets.

Enjoy a heavy helping of rich culinary history in New Orleans, Louisiana

Gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice—the Cajun and Creole culinary traditions of New Orleans have made a mark on food lovers for centuries. The state’s humid subtropical climate is ideal for an array of produce, and the Gulf of Mexico and other nearby waterways offer a bounty of delectable seafood. In addition to its diverse restaurants and unique local fare, the Big Easy also regularly hosts food-centric festivals. Each fest features a beloved local dish or ingredient, like Creole tomatoes and oysters in the summer and po’boys and mirlitons (a hearty, pear-shaped squash) in the fall.

Relish the classics in Chicago, Illinois, or explore its diverse food culture

The Windy City lays claim to many iconic foods: deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style beef hot dogs, to name a few. Chicagoans’ ardent pride in their cuisine has even led to popular rivalries over who does it better; Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s fight over the belt for best deep dish, for example. But visitors can also feast on a worldwide range of foods; there’s jaw-dropping sushi and omakase (where you leave the choice of sushi up to the chef), and there are fusion concepts such as Latin-Indian and Macanese, a blend of Chinese and Portuguese dishes and flavors.

Sample flavors from around the world without ever leaving New York, New York

From cronuts to rainbow bagels, New York City has one of the country’s most eclectic (and inventive) culinary cultures. Photo Credit: foap.com

It’s no secret that New York City is an international food mecca, with options that include the familiar (Pizza and hot dogs, anyone?), the exotic and the eclectic (rainbow bagels, chocolate pasta and Cronuts, for starters). Visitors can find various pockets of the city where certain cultures have collected over the years, such as Little Italy or Chinatown. Finally, there are massive international food markets like Chelsea Market or Eataly, a veritable amusement park for Italian food and wine fans.

Capitalize on legendary barbecue and Tex-Mex in Austin, Texas

Taste your way through the legendary barbecue scene of Austin, Texas. Photo Credit: foap.com

Regularly voted one of the best barbecue cities in America, Austin is a Texas food landmark. Over the past decade, in particular, the city’s barbecue scene—really, its culinary culture as a whole—has both evolved and exploded, making way for newcomers and classic eateries alike, including local favorites like Franklin Barbecue and La Barbecue. Experts often credit Austin for popularizing Tex-Mex food, too. But Austin also offers a wide range of exciting concepts beyond its staples; check out the Asian-style broths and desserts at Ramen Tatsu-ya, or the Argentinian specialties at Buenos Aires Cafe.

Discover the magic of pizza farms in Springfield, Missouri

While many of Springfield’s most popular restaurants are grills and steakhouses, the city continues to expand its offerings with more farm-to-table and vegetarian-friendly spots. And Springfield has latched onto the pizza farm craze—farmers make and sell pizzas from ingredients grown on-site or nearby—that’s sweeping the country’s breadbasket. Millsap Farms hosts a weekly pizza club between May and October where guests can dine on a buffet of pizzas cooked on-site in a wood-fired earthen oven.

Munch on a heaping plate of hot chicken in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville may be best known as Music City, but its reputation as a food scene is growing. From down-home Southern fare to fine dining, its restaurants cater to all tastes and budgets. But the city may be best known for its specialty, hot chicken—fried chicken coated with cayenne pepper and other spices—that appears on menus citywide. It’s traditionally served with white bread and pickles at hot spots like Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish. Just make sure to have a cold beverage nearby.

Feast on West Coast seafood and more at eco-friendly establishments in Portland, Oregon

This Pacific food stop is the hometown of James Beard, champion of American cuisine. It remains dedicated to a host of American and international dishes, and it’s committed to protecting the environment through citywide eco-friendly practices. Portland capitalizes on its prime location, situated along two major rivers, with an array of fresh seafood and local fish joints. Don’t miss Cajun-Creole seafood at Acadia and yummy ceviche dishes at Paiche. Grab a beer from one of Portland’s many local microbreweries to wash down your meal.

Ready to travel? Find hotels in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Austin, Springfield, Nashville, Portland.




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