So, first of all, what is culinary tourism? Cooking through different international cuisines? Going to Italy and eating all the pasta you can find? Actually, culinary tourism is a travel adventure that has to do with food, be it a cooking class in a new city, a food tour, or a restaurant that everyone's been dying to try. You leave the comfort of your home in search of something delicious and you're rewarded not only with the dreamlike excitement of being someplace new but with a culinary delight to fill your heart and soul with wonder. I may be playing this up just a little but culinary tourism is a significant travel style that has been sweeping the nation since the early 2000s.
The objective of culinary tourism, like most brands of tourism, is to educate and inspire people regarding food and drink. This can mean trips to California wine country or to the food trucks of Portland; you can tour the Culinary Institute of America, a food tour of New York's best pizza, or whatever strikes your fancy and your stomach. Most culinary tourism destinations/attractions are operated by restaurateurs and chefs though that's not a requirement. With the increase interest in food channels and shows, a Millennial boom in at-home cooking and interest in authentic adventures, culinary tourism continues to grow with every passing year. Culinary travel shows like Bizarre Foods and Man v. Food do their job well in making people hungry not only for food but travel as well.
Which brings us to the next question. Where do you find culinary tourism destinations and/or attractions? The answer is, they're everywhere. There are a few big cities in the U.S. that rank at the top of culinary culture, with New York generally considered to be top dog. California, both in wine country and Los Angeles, are high up there as are cities with culinary specialties, such as Philadelphia and cheesesteaks.
Here are a few suggestions for U.S. culinary destinations:
- New York City - Like we said, famous for food. There are so many restaurants and such a high turnover rate that if you ate at a different spot for each meal for the rest of your life, you'd never try all the restaurants in New York. That being said, there's such variety that you'd be crazy not to tour at least some of it. (A popular tour is the Lower East Side Pizza Walk)
- San Diego - Fish tacos on the beach. Need I say more?
- New Orleans - Beignets, gumbo, po boy sandwiches...the list goes on. Take a food tour of the city, starting at the French Quarter, and you'll be glad you did.
- Chicago - Deep dish pizza and hot dogs slathered in toppings. And also donuts...lots of donuts.
- Los Angeles - People tend to think L.A. food is all kale and green smoothies but that's not exactly true. The City of Angels has stayed on trend with food and has delicious artisan burgers, top notch Mexican food, plenty of healthy options, and international foods from all over.
- Cleveland - It's not what a lot of people expect, seeing a relatively small Midwest town on a list of superstars but Cleveland holds its own with food markets and halls, like West Side Market. You can tour the 1912 market and find fragrant spices, fresh ingredients, and farm-to-table proteins.
- Kansas City - Barbecue in its classic, most mouthwatering state. There are enough BBQ joints around the city to warrant a full on BBQ tour.
- Mission District Food Tours - San Francisco - The cultural district has become a definite contender in the food industry. These food tours makes five stops at very different places, including an artisan grocery story.
- Santa Fe Restaurant Walk - Santa Fe, NM - Given by the Santa Fe School of Cooking, this "walk" takes you through the elevated Southwestern style foods of New Mexico.
- Chinatown - Chicago, San Francisco, New York - It's no secret that these three cities have the most populous and popular Chinatowns in the U.S. and that comes with great and authentic Chinese food.
- The Great Boston Cupcake Crawl - You will be crawling by the time you get through all of these delicious cupcake bakeries.
Food, good food, has the singular effect of inspiring the masses, comforting souls, and creating happiness by bringing together communities around delicious meals. Anyone can travel to a culinary destination but the trick is specializing your entire vacation around food. To do this, call your trusted travel agents at Adventure Student Travel and they'll take care that you get the culinary trip you desire.