30 Food Trails for Exploring American Flavor
One of the best ways to get to know a new place is by sampling its local cuisine. Thankfully, food trails across the country have made it easier to identify a region’s signature dishes and chart a course to the greatest restaurants, bakeries, farms and food stands.
From renowned state staples like Wisconsin cheese, Louisiana's Cajun cooking and New York buffalo wings to routes for chocolate, donuts and ice cream, here are 30 tasty food trails to whet your appetite and plan an unforgettable culinary journey.
30. Tehama Trail
Location: Northern California
Type of food: Olives, fresh meat and produce
What to expect on the Tehama Trail: Created by the local farming community, this trail winds through orchards, specialty shops and vineyards. While Northern California is famous for its wine, it’s also a superb spot for gorgeous olive farms. Sample the classic black and green or try Sicilian olives stuffed with herbs, garlic and cheese at the aptly named Olive Pit. Then, dip some bread in the freshest artisanal olive oil at Lucero Olive Oil. There’s also delicious meats, fresh produce, pies, honey and did we mention the famous wine?
29. Eat Local Trail
Location: Western Massachusetts
Type of food: Farm-to-table meals
What to expect on the Eat Local Trail: Boston may be known for its great cuisine, but this Western Massachusetts food trail encourages you to get out of the city and explore the countryside’s beautiful scenery. The trail’s terrific restaurants partner with local farms for incredibly fresh and delicious farm-to-table dining. Meat lovers can enjoy exquisitely marbled Black Angus beef from locally raised cattle at Delaney’s in Holyoke, while 30Boltwood in Amherst serves roasted eggplant and other delicious entrees next to a cozy fire.
28. Blackhawk Chocolate Trail
Location: Northwest Illinois
Type of food: Chocolate, confections and other sweets
What to expect on the Blackhawk Chocolate Trail: This sweet escape just 90 minutes from the Chicago metro area swirls through candy shops, bakeries, coffee shops and tea rooms, where you can indulge in decadent desserts, rich morsels and other chocolate treats. Highlights include gourmet chocolate doughnuts at Folsom’s in Rock Falls and coffee and truffles at Hazel’s Cafe in Oregon. For added fun, spend the night at Hickory Hideaway Cabins in Shannon and enjoy chocolate fondue, gourmet s'mores and chocolate martinis.
27. Buffalo Wings Trail
Location: Buffalo, New York
Type of food: Chicken wings
What to expect on the Buffalo Wings Trail: Celebrate the birthplace of buffalo-style chicken wings at Anchor Bar, where bartender Teresa Bellissimo supposedly whipped out the first batch in 1964 for her hungry son and his friends. The finger-licking trail’s 14 other stops include neighborhood gems like Duff’s Famous Wings and Glen Park Tavern, which dates back to 1887. You’ll find wings from mildly hot to atomic, complete with plenty of blue cheese on the side. Be sure to pack some extra wet naps!
26. North Dakota's Culinary Trail
Location: North Dakota
Type of food: German, Eastern European and Norwegian cuisine
What to expect on North Dakota's Culinary Trail: A tribute to North Dakota’s early immigrant population, this trail is a place to sample authentic German, Norwegian and Eastern European cooking. Visit Kroll’s Diner in Bismarck for schnitzel, wurst, Knoepfler soup and fleischküchle; The Four Corners Cafe in Fairfield for Ukrainian pierogies and borscht; and the Fargo Kringen Cafe for lefse, a Norwegian-American dish that’s made with potatoes, flour, butter and milk, and often enjoyed as a dessert with butter and sugar.
25. Pepperoni Rolls Trail
Location: West Virginia
Type of food: Pepperoni rolls
What to expect on the Pepperoni Rolls Trail: Get your fill of this simple yet delicious combination of bread and pepperoni on this trail that celebrates West Virginia’s official state food. Pepperoni rolls have been a beloved state snack since the 1900s when Italian immigrants who worked in the coal mines created something they could easily eat on the job. The trail’s highlights include the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, which first started selling pepperoni rolls in 1927 and now makes up to 900 dozen a day!
24. The Tenderloin Trail
Location: Hamilton County, Indiana
Type of food: Pork tenderloin
What to expect on the Tenderloin Trail: Deep-fried pork is so popular in Indiana that “Tenderloin Tuesday” is a real thing (sorry, tacos) during the summer months. This trail features over 50 restaurants serving the state’s famed tenderloin sandwich, a huge slice of golden-fried pork with all the fixings on a ridiculously small bun. According to Hamilton County experts, here are some ways to tackle this monster of a sandwich: edge it (eat the overhanging parts first), stack it (cut the tenderloin in half and eat it double-thick in the bun), halve it (literally cut it in half) or, our personal favorite, just do it.
23. The Fruit Loop
Location: Mount Hood and Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Type of food: Pears, apples, cherries, berries, peaches
What to expect on the Fruit Loop: Not to be confused with the sugary breakfast cereal, Oregon’s Fruit Loop is a scenic 35-mile route through fruit orchards and small towns in the state’s largest fruit-growing region. Get deliciously fresh winter pears, apples, berries, peaches and cherries at farms, orchards, fruit stands and country markets, or enjoy your fruit in the form of pies, jams, syrups or even wine!
22. Salsa Trail
Location: Pima, Thatcher, Safford and Solomon, Arizona
Type of food: Salsa and Mexican dishes
What to expect on the Salsa Trail: Follow the Old West Highway (US 70) through the towns of Pima, Thatcher, Safford and Solomon, and you’ll discover 12 family-owned Mexican restaurants serving some of the country’s best salsa. Each establishment uses locally sourced tomatoes, onions and peppers (which grow in abundance in the area) to create a fresh, signature salsa with unique flavors and different levels of heat. Grab a “salsa passport,” and try each variety with some chips before enjoying main dishes like huevos rancheros and fried tacos. El Coronado in Safford and La Paloma in Soloman are among the local favorites.
21. Alaskan Seafood Trail
Location: Homer to Denali, Alaska
Type of food: Fish and chips, salmon, king crab legs
What to expect on the Alaskan Seafood Trail: No-frills restaurants with the freshest seafood around are two big reasons travelers are reeled into this lesser-traveled food trail that stretches from the Kenai Peninsula to Denali National Park. You’ll find outstanding comfort seafood like chowder and fish and chips, along with salmon bakes and, of course, Alaskan king crab legs. Get the Deadliest Catch pie, a pizza topped with a pound and a half of crab legs (plus alfredo sauce, red pepper, provolone and mozzarella) at Prospectors Pizza, or try the inventive king crab pho at Pho Lena in Anchorage.
20. Comfort Food Trail
Location: Alabama (statewide)
Type of food: Fried chicken, ribs, mac and cheese and more comfort classics
What to expect on the Comfort Food Trail: You just might have to walk this 426-mile trail instead of driving it to burn off the calories, but enjoying the best mouthwatering Southern dishes makes it worth it. Highlights of this trail include the classic “meat and three” Downtowner Restaurant in Selma, famous fried chicken at Martin's in Montgomery, finger-licking ribs at Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa and homemade ice cream and cobbler at Peach Park in Clanton. Yum!
19. Great Big Vegan Tour
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Type of food: Pizza, baked goods, sandwiches and other animal-free dishes
What to expect on the Great Big Vegan Tour: Though not an “official” food trial, Minneapolis boasts a number of vegan eateries to fill a vacation; in fact, the city has so many that PETA proclaimed it as the fourth best city in the U.S. for vegan dining. Get a pie stacked with meats and cheeses from local favorite Herbivorous Butcher’s and fresh veggies at Pizza Nea; try Vegan Ethiopian dishes served with injera bread at Faskia; or have cornmeal waffles or a tofu scramble at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe.
18. Hoosier Pie Trail
Location: Indiana (statewide)
Type of food: Lots of pies
What to expect on the Hoosier Pie Trail: Follow your sweet tooth on this food trail celebrating sugar cream pie, aka Hoosier Pie. The state’s unofficial dessert comes from a recipe over 160 years old that includes heavy cream, flour, vanilla and milk, and it became popular during the Great Depression when fruit wasn’t easy to acquire. Today, you can compare slices of famed pie at over 28 bakeshops and restaurants throughout the state on this trail compiled by the Indiana Foodways Alliance. If you get tired of Hoosier Pie, no worries; there are plenty of other varieties on hand.
17. Anthony Bourdain Food Trail
Location: Fort Lee, Atlantic City, Asbury Park and Camden, New Jersey
Type of food: Hot dogs, clams, cheesesteaks and more
What to expect on the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail: Named in honor of the beloved celebrity chef, author and globe-trotter, this food trail pays tribute to Anthony Boudain’s New Jersey roots and includes eateries that were featured on his popular CNN show, "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." Get deep-fried hot dogs (also known as “ripper-style”) at Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee and a classic “Jersey sandwich” (sliced ham, provolone, tomato, onions, shredded lettuce, roasted peppers, oil and vinegar) at Frank's Deli and Restaurant in Asbury Park. Then, wash it down with something sweet from James’ Original Salt Water Taffy in Atlantic City.
16. Cajun Bayou Food Trail
Location: Lafourche Parish, Louisiana
Type of food: Po’boys, gumbo, jambalaya and other favorites
What to expect on the Cajun Bayou Food Trail: After partying it up in New Orleans, head an hour south to Lafourche Parish, a community that’s been preparing delicious and authentic Cajun food for generations. Sample overstuffed po’boys, seafood platters, oysters, gumbo and more favorites at 15 participating eateries, from gourmet restaurants to casual food trucks. Local favorites include Spahr’s at the Station, which has been in the same truck plaza since 1968, and Bourgeois Meat Market. Don’t forget to grab some Cajun beef jerky to snack on for your trip back.
15. Donut Trail
Location: Butler County, Ohio
Type of food: Donuts (or doughnuts, if you prefer)
What to expect on the Donut Trail: You may be channeling your inner Homer Simpson on this holey trail just north of Cincinnati. Established in 2018, it features over a dozen family-owned donut shops like Central Pastry Shop in Middletown, which has been in business since 1949, and Jupiter Coffee and Donuts in Fairfield. Go for the classics or try inventive flavors like fruity pebbles, s’mores, key lime pie and maple bacon. Try one from each shop, and you can win a free T-shirt. Mmmmm, donuts!
14. The Hot Tamale Trail
Location: The Mississippi Delta
Type of food: Tamales
What to expect on the Hot Tamale Trail: While Mississippi may be better known for biscuits and catfish, tamales have played a key role in the state’s food culture for generations. This hot tamale trail, created by The Southern Foodways Alliance and the state’s tourism board, features over 40 eateries across the Mississippi Delta that highlights the tamale’s history and importance in the area. Greenville, especially, is a hotbed of tamale action, with favorites like Doe’s Eat Place and Scott's Hot Tamales serving some of the best in town.
13. New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail
Location: Throughout the state
Type of food: Ice cream
What to expect on the New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail: A whole trail dedicated to ice cream? Sounds like a dream come true! This statewide trail featuring over 50 creameries and dairy farms will provide scoops of enjoyment for children and adults alike. Stop at Blake’s Restaurant & Ice Cream in Manchester, which has been family-owned and making ice cream since 1900, for their famous hopscotch (butter-toffee ice cream with ribbons of butterscotch and butterscotch chips) or Sanctuary Dairy Farm in Sunapee for inventive flavors like lemon cookie and eggnog. Will it be a cup or cone, chocolate or rainbow sprinkles, hot fudge and whipped cream? The choices are endless.
12. Country Ham Trail
Location: Kentucky (statewide)
Type of food: Ham
What to expect on the Country Ham Trail: It’s impossible not to pig out on this trail featuring delicious hams that have been finely salt-cured and aged (for up to two years) by experts with more than 100 years in the business. You can order it in a variety of ways, including sliced, shaved, bourbon-based, hickory-smoked on a breakfast biscuit or as the main course of a fancy dinner. Or ham it up at festivals and shows devoted to this celebrated culinary tradition. Featured stops include Newsom's Old Country Store in Princeton, Father's Country Hams in Sacramento and Broadbent's B and B Foods in Kuttawa. Hog heaven, indeed.
11. A to Z Foodie Trail
Location: Marion and Mahaska Counties, Iowa
Type of food: A little bit of everything
What to expect on the A to Z Foodie Trail: As its name implies, this unique trail offers a little bit of everything. Based in and around the quaint town of Pella (which is also known for its Netherlands-inspired atmosphere, so save some time to admire the tulips and windmills), the A to Z Foodie Trail pays tribute to Iowa’s rich farming and agriculture. You’re encouraged to try all 26 regional delights that include unique regional foods and drinks like Almond Dutch Letters, English Toffee Coffee, Ulrich’s Beef Sticks and Van Veen Dutch Chocolates.
10. Crab & Oyster Trail
Type of food: Crabs and oysters
What to expect on the Crab and Oyster Trail: Maryland prides itself on having some of the freshest seafood around, and you’ll only find the freshest catch on this statewide trail. The state’s famous Chesapeake Bay blue crab is the main attraction; try hard-shell crabs topped with Old Bay seasoning or soft-shell crabs fried with butter (that are especially delicious on a sandwich). However, don’t discount the fabulous oysters, which locals prefer in the cooler months. Schultz's Crab House, L.P. Steamers and Captain Billy's are among 100 eateries on this popular trail.
9. Great Coastal Texas Barbecue Trail
Location: Victoria, Texas
Type of food: Brisket, pulled pork, ribs and more
What to expect on the Great Coastal Barbecue Trail: Austin gets a lot of love on the barbecue circuit, but for a more “Lone Star experience,” head to the Great Coastal Texas Barbecue Trail. Established in 2015 as a way to promote the historical and (arguably) more authentic barbeque joints located on the coast near Victoria (between Houston and San Antonio), the trail features eight eateries that all bring their own flavor (and we’re not just talking about delicious meats). Highlights include the turkey at Mumphord’s Place and a three-meat plate (ribs, sausage and chicken) at Uncle Mutt’s Bar-B-Que.
8. Lowcountry Oyster Trail
Location: South Carolina coast
Type of food: Oysters
What to expect on the Lowcountry Oyster Trail: There are plenty of “aww shucks” moments to behold on this South Carolina gem — for both the beautiful scenery and the world-famous oysters. Take a scenic drive through beach towns such as Bluffton, filled with stately homes and Spanish moss that turns on the Southern charm, while enjoying fresh oysters that are raw, fried, on the half-shell and more. Notable restaurants along this popular food trail include Hudson’s Seafood House on the Dock on Hilton Head Island and the Bluffton Oyster Company.
7. Connecticut Pizza Trail
Location: New Haven, Mystic, Hartford, Old Saybrook, Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County, Connecticut
Type of food: Pizza (and toppings!)
What to expect on the Connecticut Pizza Trail: Move over New York and Chicago, the Constitution State is home to some of the country’s best pizza. Or “Apizza,” if you please, as in Sally’s APizza and Modern APizza in New Haven, a city known for its thin-crust tastiness. It’s also the original home of Frank Pepe’s, which was launched in 1925 and is famous for its white clam pizza, featuring littleneck clams, mozzarella and Romano cheeses, garlic, olive oil and parsley on a charred, chewy crust. Over 60 other pizza joints can be found on this statewide trail, including Mystic Pizza, which was so popular it spawned a movie in 1988 featuring a young Julia Roberts and has been rolling in dough ever since.
6. North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail
Location: Eastern North Carolina to Tennessee
Type of food: Lots of pork
What to expect on the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail: It’s debatable which state has the best barbecue, but North Carolina takes its meats so seriously that people even argue over what region's style reigns supreme. Thankfully, you’ll find both Lexington-style (featuring a more ketchup-based sauce) and Eastern-style (which uses a vinegar base) barbecue on this trail of 21 cue’ joints. The rules are strict — pits must be operated continuously for 15 years or more, cook their meat by wood or charcoal and make their own sauce — but that just means favorites like pulled or sliced pork are all the more flavorful. Don’t forget to leave some room for hush puppies and slaw on the side!
5. Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail
Location: New Mexico (statewide)
Type of food: Cheeseburgers
What to expect on the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail: While you’ll find chile used in too many New Mexican dishes to count, the flavor is especially great on a burger with cheese, which has amassed a cult-like following over the last 50 years. Though it’s hotly contested who served the original green chile cheeseburger (the Owl Cafe in San Antonio and Blake Lotaburger in Albuquerque are among the establishments to beef about it), this trail takes you to over 100 eateries that specialize in the dish, from Taos to Las Cruces. You’ll even find a green chile cheeseburger at select McDonald’s locations.
4. Cajun Boudin Trail
Location: Lafayette, Louisiana
Type of food: Sausage
What to expect on the Cajun Boudin Trail: Well, first you’ll need to learn to pronounce it as “boodan” so the locals will know what you’re talking about. Now, let’s hit the road in and around Lafayette and visit over 40 boudin masters who make this popular dish that consists of rice, pork, onions, green pepper and special seasoning stuffed in a pork sausage casing. Choose blood (red) or blanc (white), or try both, with pork cracklins and Natchitoches meat pies. Favorites include Bayou Boudin & Cracklin’, located in a 141-year-old cabin, at Early’s Food Store.
3. Wisconsin Cheese Tour
Location: Wisconsin (statewide)
Type of food: Cheese
What to expect on the Wisconsin Cheese Tour: It’s probably no big surprise that “America’s Dairyland” loves its cheese, producing over 2.8 billion pounds and over 600 varieties every year. This trail, created by Travel Wisconsin, is a three-day endeavor where you can get a true taste of Wisconsin’s serious cheesemaking. In addition to tastings, you’ll find classes, factory tours and other hands-on learning experiences. You can even tailor your stops to your favorite cheese. For example, Arena Cheese is an award winner for Colby and Co-Jack; Hooks is famous for its cheddar; and Emmi Roth’s has some of the world’s best Grand Cru Surchoix. If you don’t have three days, base yourself in Monroe, the cheese capital of the country, and be sure to visit the National Historic Cheesemaking Center.
2. Concord Taco Trail
Location: Concord, California
Type of food: Tacos
What to expect on the Concord Taco Trail: Created in 2020, this is one of the newer trails on our list, yet Mexican and Latinx cooking has been a staple in this California town since 1869, so you’ll find some of the best taco spots in the country, not to mention the freshest margaritas and desserts. With almost 40 stops on the trail, you’ll have the chance to get the taco of your dreams. Will it be crispy fried tacos from Tortilleria El Molino or crispy cheese tacos at Puesto? Or one of the many other varieties that include al pastor, carne asada, crispy fish and even grilled tilapia? Maybe let’s call it a tie!
1. Maine Lobster Trail
Location: Maine (statewide)
Type of food: Lobster and seafood
What to expect on the Maine Lobster Trail: A juicy Maine lobster tail smothered in butter or the state’s iconic lobster rolls are the stuff seafood dreams are made of. Find the best of the best on this 125-mile road from Millbridge to Eastport that’s dotted with Maine’s beautifully rugged coastline, lighthouses, hiking trails and charming New England shops and restaurants. Try Port Lobster Co. in Kennebunkport for classic lobster dinners, The High Roller Lobster Co. in Portland for lobster rolls, and surf and turf burgers at Claws in Rockland, where you can also find lobster shortcake.