Food Trail Road Trips
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Food trail road trips have become popular in recent years—and for good reason, as they allow you to stop by and sample delicious, local foods and cuisines. Want to spend half a day sampling fresh fruit in Oregon, or embark on a weeklong trip to discover the epic barbecue trail in the South? If so, we have the list for you!
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Eat your way across the country this summer! Whether you’re into seafood, cheese, or foraged finds, there is a mouthwatering food trail road trip waiting for you.
West Coast and Southwest
Coffee, fresh fish, and mushrooms in Seattle
With close proximity to the ocean, forests, and rolling farmlands, you are guaranteed to find delicious eats in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the unique environment, the city of Seattle is the perfect place to taste test some of nature’s finest ingredients.
Your food trail starts in Seattle with something that, while not original to this area, has become synonymous with the Emerald City: Coffee.
Seattle is the home of world-famous Starbucks Coffee. You can visit the OG storefront to buy a cup of coffee or freshly ground beans to kick off your road trip. There’s always a line, so be prepared to wait.
Once you’re fully caffeinated, cross the street and you will arrive at Pike Place Market.
The Pacific Ocean and nearby Puget Sound provide a bounty of incredibly fresh seafood, making Pike Place Market the ultimate seafood stop for your road trip. Pike Place Market is a mecca for seafood lovers, famed for its crowd-pleasing chowders and cheeky fish-slingers. You can also find oysters, salmon, and the highest quality sushi.
Is your palate craving something a little more earthy? Sign up for a guided mushroom tour to get help finding the fungal delicacies that make this region so famous, such as the morel, chanterelle, and lion’s mane.
While most mushroom foragers are loath to give up their best hunting spots, you can find many good parks for shroomin’ in the Seattle area.
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Fruit loop, Oregon
We’re not done with the Pacific Northwest yet, next you’ll want to travel east from Portland for about 45 minutes along the Columbia River until you arrive at the start of Oregon’s “fruit loop” food trail.
Oregon’s fruit loop is a 35-mile route, but you’ll want to stop every other mile or so for a juicy bite.
From apples to cherries, you can walk through tons of U-pick orchards in one of America’s finest agricultural regions before sampling the (ahem) fruits of your labor.
Don’t feel like picking? The farm stands offer baskets to take home with you, along with freshly made products, like lavender bundles and hard cider.
Make sure to stop by Panorama Point to see a lovely view of Mt. Hood. This food trail road trip is perfect for spring, summer, or fall. Pick up a map at the Hood River tourist office or follow the guide listed on Oregon’s official website.
Mount Hood, Oregon
Tehama Trail, California
If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting olive oil while sitting in an olive grove, you need to hit this food trail.
The Tehama trail highlights Tehama County’s best olives, nuts, oils, and other fresh foodstuffs. In between stops you’ll enjoy stunning views along the Sacramento River.
Your tour starts in the town of Corning, which has been associated with olive-growers for generations. Here you can sample some gourmet black and green olives, or mix it up with a block of fresh cheese.
Next, you can head towards Vina to visit the wine-making monks at New Clairvaux Vineyard, or you can stop by a fruit stand for some heirloom tomatoes, plums, peaches, and berries.
This Golden State food trail road trip concludes in the town of Red Bluff, where you can enjoy a riverside meal and browse the shops before heading home with a happy belly.
Tehama County, California
New Mexico’s green chile cheeseburger
A particular specialty of this region is the green chile cheeseburger, a twist on the classic made famous in the state of New Mexico back in the 1940s.
The roasted green chile is much beloved by locals, and has been incorporated into many traditional dishes. The flavor is smoky, spicy, and unique to New Mexico.
Some burgers are smothered with sauce and come with vegetables, but the classic version is a cheeseburger with smoked green chiles on top. You’ll have to compare multiple versions to find the best one, of course.
Start your green chile cheeseburger journey at La Parasol in Espanola, which was originally a teeny takeaway hut, but has since expanded. Blake’s Lotaburger is a chain, but it’s been around since the 1950s, so it deserves a stop on your trip.
Garcia’s Cafe in Albuquerque was featured on Breaking Bad, and serves up a delicious green chile cheeseburger.
Finish off your trip at the Burger Nook in Las Cruces, which offers two sizes of patty in case you’re full from the other stops. Here is a full list of official stops from the New Mexico State website.
Garcia’s Cafe, Albuquerque
Ah, Wisconsin, the land of cheese. Is there anything more decadent—and American—than a bowl of cheese curds? Set aside a full week to sample your favorite dairy products on this food trail road trip.
60 artisan cheese-makers produce more than 600 varieties of gourmet cheese in Wisconsin, so there is no shortage of amazing places to stop.
We recommend you start at Fromagination, a cheesemonger in Madison and a certified member of the Slow Food Movement. They offer lunches, cooking classes, and brie-lliant fondue events so you can immediately dive into cheesy bliss.
Next up is Green County, an hour south. Here you can meet cheesemakers with roots in Switzerland (hello, alpine cheese!). Go to Emmi Roth Kase to watch the cheesemaking process up close.
Head back north to Prairie du Sac and go to the La Valle factory and Carr Valley Cheese Store in Sauk City. Save room for a worthwhile visit to Plain, 30 minutes west, at sustainability-minded Cedar Grove Cheese.
If you can’t get enough, then extend your route to the eastern part of the state, following Wisconsin’s official route for a ton more delicious stops.
Butler County donut trail, Ohio
Ready for the sweetest road trip of all time? “Fried, glazed, filled, and sprinkled” donuts are on the menu in Butler County, Ohio—and you can hit every stop in a single day!
From Central Pastry Shop in Middletown to the Donut Dude in Liberty Township, you can follow the donut trail to 13 locations within an 80 mile (or two-hour) drive. They’re all independent shops, so you can feel good about supporting the local economy on this road trip.
Keep in mind that some donut shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and many sell out around midday. Ideally, you’d take a Friday off of work to get a lead on the other donut devotees.
Key Takeaway Can’t fit everything into one road trip? Plan a series of short road trips over the summer.
MORE: Road trip essentials
Barbecue, North Carolina, Northern Alabama, Coastal Texas
It’s all about barbecue in the South.
If you’re near North Carolina, go to the Skylight Inn in Ayden. It is well-reviewed and only an hour and a half from Raleigh. This state has primarily pork-based BBQ with a vinegar-based sauce and tomatoes.
Northern Alabama, with the Appalachian Mountains nearby, has its own distinct style of BBQ. You can even download the official Alabama BBQ app to check off your stops and learn more about the dishes.
The Ole Hickory BBQ in New Market is hidden in plain sight, but it’s the perfect place to slather some sauce on your meat and whet your appetite.
In Texas, head to the coast if you want to try some novel flavors. Aunt Jo’s BBQ in Victoria is only 30 minutes from the coast and offers delicious eats alongside a powerful story, as Aunt Jo’s property is located on land that was purchased more than a century ago by Tom Joshua, a freed slave who became a successful businessman.
Just 10 minutes away is Mumphord’s, run by pitmaster Ricky. If you still have room, drive 20 minutes west to McMillan’s to sample “low and slow” meats cooked over fruitwoods.
Seafood, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana’s Bayou County
The Lowcountry oyster trail in South Carolina celebrates the cultural role of oysters, with plenty of good eats and oyster-inspired art. Ready for a “sea-to-fork” experience?
Hilton Head Island is a great place to start your journey. Here you can down a craft beer while throwing back some wild harvest oysters.
In Mississippi, it’s all about the crab. Follow this seafood trail from Jacks by the Tracks in Pascagoula to The Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis—and get ready for some buttery fingers. This is a pleasant one-hour drive from end-to-end along the Gulf Coast.
Cajun and Creole flavors take center stage in Louisiana, especially on the two-hour trail from Lafayette to Houma. Try pork and crawfish boudin at Legnon’s Boucherie, or go to Cafe Vermilionville for alligator tenderloin. This is an opportunity to sample the Gulf’s most incredible seafood, straight from the source.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Tacos, San Antonio
San Antonio is home to incredible Tex-Mex food, and your taco trail starts at the authentic Carnitas Don Raul. Next is El Remedio, where your tacos come with consomme. Three minutes away is Henry’s Puffy Tacos, which offers a totally different culinary experience with inflated fried corn tortillas.
Mariscos del Puerto is 30 minutes west on the edge of town, but it offers incredible seafood tacos and creative styling that are well worth the trip. Finish your gut-busting tour at Taquitos West Ave, where you can get small taquitos and hot sauce for minimal coin.
Ice cream, New Hampshire
The Granite State’s #EatLikeACow food trail boasts 48 ice cream shops where you can sample fresh, sweet scoops in a variety of flavors and preparation methods.
This road trip is perfect for a slow summer weekend and will have you weaving through the backroads of New Hampshire, from Nashua all the way up to Haverhill.
Of course, there’s only so much ice cream a person can eat in a single weekend. If you live on the east coast, consider completing this trail in small chunks over multiple weekends.
New Hampshire Ice Cream
Seafood and farm-to-table, Maine
The rustic food community in Maine spans the length of the state, from lobsters on the coast to farm-fresh vegetables inland. You can also nibble on fiddleheads and wild blueberries if you know where to look.
Here’s a one-two-day itinerary. Start at the Clam Shack in Kennebunk and make your way 30 minutes north to the Big Sky Bread Company in Portland. Next, enjoy the hour drive to Red’s Eats in Wiscasset and choose between a lobster roll or fried clams (or get both).
One more hour north will get you to Lost Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant run by Chef Erin French. Lost Kitchen has a notoriously selective reservation process, so if you can’t snag a table there (and you have another three hours to spare), head east toward Aragosta on Deer Isle, where you can enjoy a 10-course tasting menu inspired by the Penobscot landscape.
Prepare to be astounded by the stunning, natural beauty of this food trail road trip—and leave plenty of time for hiking in between nomming.
Lobster Dinner, Maine
Cheese and apples, Vermont
Follow the cheese trail and take your pick from 53 official stops, studded throughout the state of Vermont, from Jacksonville all the way up to Westfield. Vermont is famous for dairy products, but its most popular cheese is smoked cheddar.
Complement the cheddar with a crisp bite of one of Vermont’s best apples (the official state fruit). Alternate between cheese shops and apple orchards, and you’re in for a mouthwatering road trip. You can do this drive (without stops) in four hours, but you should plan to set aside an entire weekend to enjoy the Vermont food trail to its fullest extent.
Key Takeaway Pay attention to the landscape as you drive, and you might discover the food tastes better.
Roadside assistance on long road trips
What if you could bring a superhero along on your next road trip? Now you can, with Jerry’s roadside assistance membership. Jerry offers emergency roadside assistance. So if you blow out a tire, your engine spontaneously combusts, or your battery gives up on you, Jerry’s got you covered.
It’s the smart way to road trip this summer. Don’t leave home without making sure your car insurance is up-to-date, too.
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What is a food trail?
A food trail is a route for recreational food travel. For example, a cheese trail will follow the creameries and farms where cheese is produced in a certain region. The intention is to stay local and explore an area’s famous ingredients.
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