If you’re a foodie looking for your next vacation spot, consider choosing one of the best food cities in the U.S. Sometimes the top vacations consist of little more than sightseeing and sampling local fare. In the great melting pot, you’ll find cuisine from hundreds of nations sparking innovations that can be found from the back of the restaurant to the back of a food truck. But if you’re planning to take a foodie vacation, you need to be prepared for the costs. Whether it’s street tacos for $4 or fresh-caught seafood for $40, budgeting and mobile banking can help you afford to tour the best food cities in America. Check out the most popular hotspots by region below.
20 Best Food Cities in America
Northeast: Home to seafood and home-grown vegetables, the farm- and port-to-table movements are alive and well in the Northeast. Here are some of our favorite cities and stops:
- Burlington, Vt.: Not too far from Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, Burlington is booming with local fare, microbrew pups and a variety of simple but delicious sandwiches shops and bistros. Head north in early fall to catch the foliage or swing by for some winter brews and a stay at a B&B on your way up to Stowe.
- Philadelphia: Philly’s full of historical streets to walk off the calories and great for foodies with families. Whether you go to Pat’s, Geno’s or one of the other top shops like Jim’s, you’ll never find a better cheesesteak outside Philly – whiz-with or without. If you’re looking for breakfast to fuel up before running the steps of the art museum, check out Café L’Aube on Wallace St for crepes and coffee.
- Portland, Maine: When you’re looking for good lobster, you’ll likely head to one of the top seafood cities in America: Portland. Plus, if you’re traveling during the cooler months, check out Harvest on the Harbor for fresh-grown veggies to go with your freshly caught crustaceans.
- Boston: Boston is another city where the history pairs perfectly with the food. Start the day in Jamaica Plain touring the Sam Adams Brewery, then head downtown for delicious seafood at the Union Oyster House. Take a trip to the Aquarium or walk along the Freedom Trail, and then turn toward Little Italy and Mike’s Pastry.
South: Home-grown and home-cooked southern comfort foods blend with coastal delicacies and rich ethnic dishes down south. If you’re looking to explore southern history on your foodie vacation, here’s a few of the top places to go:
- Charleston, S.C.: This is the home of low-country cuisine, delicious seafood and delightful B&Bs. While you’re visiting, explore the first museum in America, take a horse-drawn tour of the historical homes and hit some hot spots off the beaten path like the Tattooed Moose, featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
- Savannah, Ga.: A hot spot for coastal fine dining, the real highlights of Savannah are the small neighborhood cafes that offer home-cooking with local ingredients. Scare off all the extra pounds with a spooky walking tour of the haunted historical homes.
- New Orleans: This city certainly has heart and a unique palate. From the fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House to the Beignets at Café Du Monde or the Cajun-fried seafood in neighborhood cafes, foodies sampling the fare will get a mouthful of ethnic culture with a local twist.
Midwest: When you think of the best food cities in America, Chicago and its deep dish pizza is sure to come to mind. But there are a few other cities to consider before you head west.
- Cleveland: The reinvention of the rust belt means a bustling scene for foodies in Cleveland. From the over 100-year-old West Side Market where locals can shop for fresh fare to dozens of microbreweries and luxurious restaurants run by celebrity chefs, it’s a stop you won’t want to miss.
- Traverse City, Mich.: Ranked the number one city for foodie vacations by Livability.com in 2013, Traverse City offers a self-guided foodie tour brochure for you to explore all it has to offer, from cherries and distilleries to Deering’s market and chocolate treats.
- Kansas City, Mo.: If you love barbeque, you know where to go. Whether you’re looking for upscale dining or sampling the flavors of the food trucks, there’s plenty to do between meals, like listen to live jazz, visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or take in a Chiefs’ game.
Southwest: Home of Tex-Mex and more barbeque, these warm southern states are perfect for foodies looking to warm their winter bones.
- Nashville, Tenn.: What better combination is there than blues and barbeque? In Nashville, you’ll find fresh local fare at the farmer’s market and cool live blues in the barbeque joints in East Nashville and 12South.
- San Antonio: Get authentic Tex-Mex food, ethnic fare and classic southern BBQ, and then visit the historical Alamo or take a stroll along the river walk.
- Houston: When you’re looking to go beyond the typical Texas favorites, try some tapas or French-Vietnamese restaurants in Houston . Or take in an Astros game and follow it up with dinner at a local gastropub.
- Austin, Texas: There’s a lot to eat in Texas, and that’s why we have three cities on our list. SoLa, or South Lamar boulevard, offers live music, a great bar scene and of course, authentic Tex-Mex and barbeque deep in the heart of Texas.
- Phoenix/Scottsdale: Travel off the beaten path this winter and warm up with pizza, wine and farmer’s markets in Arizona. It’s the perfect place for a foodie vacation and mixes the local passion for fresh food with upscale dining or something scrumptious on the street.
West: The western United States boasts some of the best food cities in America. With a large focus on sustainability and local markets, and of course, California viticulture, you’ll find gourmet almost everywhere you go.
- Denver: We’re not quite in wine country yet, but thankfully Denver is home to several major microbrewing companies. It also has its fair share of food trucks and restaurants featuring hearty mountain cooking.
- San Diego: Home to a thriving farm-to-table economy, San Diego blends comfort food with fresh vegetables to create a delightful treat for the localvore. Take the kids for a trip to the zoo or LEGOLAND, visit Little Italy, or spend the day at the spa, all while tasting from the various cafes and markets.
- San Francisco: Cable cars, row houses, Haight-Ashbury and the Golden Gate Bridge: there’s plenty to see and taste in San Francisco. While you’re there, stop by a few food trucks, whip something up for yourself with findings from the farmer’s markets or sit and sip at one of the local coffee bars.
- Portland, Ore.: From the back of the truck to a gourmet restaurant, you’re sure to find like-minded food aficionados. Portland is home to hundreds of foodies. Stop by the food cart pods throughout the city, satisfy your sweet tooth at Voodoo Doughnuts or check out a local brew pub or distillery.
- Seattle: Seattle’s famous for its Pike Place farmer’s market, coffee shops and the best salmon in the country. It may rain a lot in Washington, but that just means more time to taste as you duck into local cafes to stay dry. While you’re there, visit the space needle, take a ride on a ferry boat or visit one of the many lush gardens and parks.
Contribute to your vacation checking account regularly and use mobile banking to stay on track
Whether you need to find the nearest ATM, transfer funds from your vacation savings account to your checking account, or pay your bills while you’re on the road, mobile banking lets you focus on the food and atmosphere wherever you go. As you plan your visits to the best food cities in America, make sure you save for hospitality and travel costs as well as the possibly pricey meals you plan to sample. Check out the city’s tourism website to look at the price points of different meals so you can plan accordingly. Then, consider using your debit card rather than credit card to help you stay on your budget. Just be sure to track your spending through mobile banking so you don’t risk overdrawing your checking account while traveling.
Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.