Who’s ready for a road trip? Here are 10 of America’s tastiest food trails, ideal for mapping out an adventurous culinary journey. Keep the gas tank full, your tummy empty, and nosh on a variety of eats across the country. They range from Buffalo wings to tacos and donuts to Hoosier Pie.
Western North Carolina Cheese Trail
Enjoy a trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains to visit the farms and stands of eight cheesemakers along the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail. Taste and purchase some of their creamy creations made from cow and goat milks. Many cheeses are made in small batches. Some of the flavors include cave-aged, smoked, wine-soaked, and jalapeno. If you cannot make it to one of the cheesemakers, dozens of shops and eateries in the Asheville area sell and serve Western North Carolina’s finest cheeses. Save the date, April 26, 2020, is the Carolina Mountain annual Cheese Fest, a gathering of cheesemakers and the public participating in workshops, family-friendly activities, demonstrations, and cheese tastings. (www.wnccheesetrail.org)
Virginia Oyster Trail
Virginia is for lovers of oysters. Explore the commonwealth by hopping on the Virginia Oyster Trail for a mouthwatering journey embracing history, culture, and culinary creations. The trail is divided into eight categories. They are, Agri-Artisans; Artists, Art Venues; Cultural; Lodging; Oysters & Tours; Resources; and Restaurants. Tour an oyster farm to learn how oysters are raised and harvested. Or, visit a gallery to see and/or purchase artwork featuring Virginia oysters or a museum to learn about the history of the oyster industry. Of course, dine on oysters at one of the dozens of independently-owned restaurants. (www.virginiaoystertrail.com)
South Carolina Pecan Trail in Florence, S.C.
Not sure if pecan is pronounced peh-KAHN or PEE-can? It’s the latter, at least that’s how the folks in South Carolina pronounce it. Florence is home of the SC Pecan Trail and features more than 20 stops along the trail. Pick up a passport at either the Florence Convention & Visitors Bureau or one of the participating spots and have it stamped wherever you stop. Fill up your passport to receive a drawstring bag, mini pecan pie, nutcracker, and T-shirt. Receive a drawstring bag and nutcracker with eight stamps and nutcracker with four stamps. Look for recipe cards featuring delicious ways to enjoy South Carolina pecans, ranging from White Russian pecan pie to a pecan pie martini. (www.visitflo.com/sc-pecan-trail)
San Antonio’s Taco Trail
San Antonio is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy because of the city’s culinary heritage and how it shares to preserve it for the next generation. Savor Tex-Mex flavors for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a midday or latenight snack, along the San Antonio Taco Trail. Try San Antonio’s famous puffy tacos. The best tacos in America, according to Bon Appetit on the Food Network, cooked up at Taco Taco Cafe. San Antonio is also home to BBQ and margarita trails. (www.culinariasa.org/trailslist)
North Alabama Barbecue Trail
Whether you spell it BBQ, Bar-B-Que, barbecue, or barbeque, find luscious dishes along the North Alabama Barbecue Trail. Enjoy a finger-licking slab of ribs, or pork served either chopped, pulled, or sliced, or a chicken quarter. No matter your preference, find something tantalizing for your taste buds in any of the 25 locally-owned restaurants. Add in a dash of history, culture, nature, or recreation during your journey by following various itineraries, such as one exploring canyons, caves and waterfalls or one celebrating Alabama’s heroes and heroines, as Helen Keller, Jesse Owens, and Alabama’s role in the U.S. space program. (www.northalabama.org/trails/barbecue-trail)
Mississippi Seafood Trail
To paraphrase the Forrest Gump character, Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, there is pineapple shrimp, coconut shrimp, fried shrimp, steamed shrimp, shrimp and grits, and sautéed shrimp. No matter how you like your shrimp, it will be fresh from the Gulf of Mexico when dining at one, or more, of the more than 80 restaurants on the Mississippi Seafood Trail. The state’s best eateries serving wild-caught, fresh Gulf seafood are along the 360-mile trail. Developed by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association in 2014, the trail makes it easier for seafood-seeking visitors to find Gulf seafood. In addition to the website, there’s a smartphone application in the Apple and Google Play stores. (www.mississippiseafoodtrail.com)
Hoosier Pie Trail in Indiana
A state pie is not a flaky idea. Florida has key lime. Texas has pecan. And Indiana has sugar cream, also called Hoosier Pie. The best guess about when this custard pie was first baked dates to the 1800s and probably made by the Amish, Quakers, and Shakers. Ingredients are basic and typically on hand (the filling is made with sugar, milk, butter, and spices) and could be made during the winter when fresh fruit was scarce. Sugar cream pie officially became Indian’s state pie in 2009. To celebrate, Indiana has the Hoosier Pie Trail with 28 stops. Indianans, and most everyone, loves pie. Find other flavors, like apple, coconut, or lemon, along the Hoosier Pie Trail. (www.indianafoodways.com/Trail/6/Hoosier-Pie)
Butler County Donut Trail in Ohio
The Butler County Donut Trail is 80-miles with 12 participating donut shops serving up sweet deliciousness. For each of the 17,000 residents of Butler County, there is a donut shop. This makes this part of Ohio one of the country’s highest concentrations per capita of donut shops. Grab a passport, visit each donut shop, have your passport stamped, complete it, then return it to the Butler County Visitors Bureau for a T-shirt. No purchase is necessary, but it is hard to resist the glazed yeast donuts. (www.GetToTheBC.com/donut-trail)
Buffalo Wing Trail in Erie County, N.Y.
It was a matter of time before the birthplace of America’s favorite game day snack food compiled a wing trail. The Buffalo Wing Trail launched in 2018 by Visit Buffalo Niagara Tourism with input from Drew Cerza, the Wing King and founder of the Buffalo National Wing Festival. “America’s Tastiest Drive” consists of a dozen pubs and restaurants serving up the zestiest, spiciest, and most delicious wings on Earth. (www.buffalowingtrail.com)
A to Z Foodie Trail in Pella, Iowa
Find apple pie to zucchini and foods and beverages representing the other 24 letters of the alphabet along the A to Z Foodie Trail in South Central Iowa. The Pella Convention and Visitors Bureau debuted the trail in 2018 to highlight the area’s unique flavors and culture of Marion and Mahaska counties. Visit coffee shops, breweries, eateries, shops, and wineries to taste your way through the Iowan alphabet. Edible elements include bigfoot tenderloins, chocolate wooden shoes, and Oskyfizzante wine. (www.pellanow.com/a-to-z-foodie-trail)
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