There’s nothing more exciting than a long journey with something tasty at the end. Even when you’re stuck in traffic, sweating profusely in a sticky backseat, it’s impossible not to crack a smile if you’re heading somewhere with good grub. More than anything else, food makes travel worth it.
As the spiritual home of the road trip, no nation is better suited to a culinary pilgrimage than the United States. Whether you’re after smokey barbecue, salty seafood or something a little more upmarket, the US has something to cater for every taste. To help you get excited for some summer travelling, here are seven of the best American foodie road trips.
1. Highway One
Southern California has turned into a Mecca for surfers and diners alike, both attracted by beautiful blue seas and simple, tasty cooking. The many highlights of a trip down Highway One include the numerous beachside taco stalls, serving fried fish and tortillas, heavily influenced by nearby Mexico. Drive from San Diego to LA to discover the best that SoCal has to offer.
2. Kentucky Bourbon
America’s culinary heritage is not just about food. Some of the most famous drinks in the world have been birthed in the States, and Kentucky bourbon definitely falls into that category. The bourbon trail takes travellers through lush green fields and historic distilleries, as you pass the homes of legendary brands like Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam. From Louisville to Lexington, this trip is a must for whisky lovers.
3. Maine Coast
Maine and lobster go together like fish and chips. Over the years, this stretch of Atlantic coastline has become famous for its seafood and regularly produces some of the tastiest, freshest dishes on the planet. If you can time your trip to coincide with the world famous Maine lobster festival, travellers will be in for an extra treat. With nearly 3,500 miles of coastline to explore, there’s no telling what you might discover.
4. North Carolina Historic Barbecue
The southern states have an affinity for barbecue like little else, and North Carolina is no exception. Created to celebrate the region’s cultural heritage, every stop on the official historic barbecue trail has been in business for over 25 years. As a way to sample tradition as well as great taste, these smokey stops are tough to beat.
5. Louisiana’s Bayou Bounty
The Bayou is a unique American landscape. The patchwork of swamps and streams has helped create cooking unlike anything else on the continent, and the Bayou Bounty trail is easily the best way to sample what’s on offer. Travellers can enjoy pork and crawfish boudin and alligator tenderloin in the remote backwaters that stretch between Houma and Lafayette in what is a true celebration of cajun cooking.
6. Northern California
Not to outshone by its southerly neighbour, Northern California is an equally awesome foodie hotspot. In addition to the myriad wineries and vineyards that crisscross this diverse region, organised travellers can expect to sample some of the best food in the world. The French Laundry is just one example of the top dining destinations that dot the area.
7. Maui’s Hana Highway
When it comes to great American food tours, it’s not all about the mainland. Setting out from Paia and heading towards the end of the island, travellers can get a great insight into all the food that makes up the tapestry of Hawaiian cooking. Slow-cooked kalua pork, grilled octopus and, of course, poke are all delicious highlights.
America is full of some of the tastiest regional cooking on the planet. As such, any trip has the potential to turn into a proper culinary adventure. Though these seven routes are a great place to start, there’s no reason why you and a car can’t discover everything else that the county has to offer.