The 7 Best US Foodie Destinations For an Indulgent Vacation - Full-Time Travel

The 7 Best US Foodie Destinations For an Indulgent Vacation

The 7 Best US Foodie Destinations For an Indulgent Vacation  

By Amber Snider

If your bucket list is influenced by your taste buds, there’s arguably no better country to explore than the U.S., where each destination’s distinctive food and drink scene was shaped by the immigrants who settled there. From poi and Kalua pig in Hawaii, Gullah-Geechee cuisine in Charleston, and Creole-inspired dishes in NOLA, the best US foodie destinations serve up delicious dishes created with local ingredients and international influence. The kind of meals and culinary experiences you’ll never forget. 


Head south for Lowcountry fare and Gullah-Geechee cuisine
Rainbow Row, Charleston | By Tyrone Sanders

You’re probably already familiar with many South Carolinian dishes (think shrimp and grits, collard greens, okra, rice and peas, smoked meats), but Charleston’s food scene is an ever-evolving gastronomic experience. Gullah-Geechee cuisine - a fusion of dishes and cooking styles originally created by the West African communities enslaved and brought to America - helped shape Charleston’s (and much of the American South’s) palate. It’s the best of slow cooking, with simmering pots of fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, stewed greens and heirloom tomatoes, seafood boils, okra soup, and other mouthwatering, one-pot dishes like purloo (typically made with sausage, shellfish and vegetables). Stay in The Dewberry hotel in the heart of Downtown Charleston and enjoy doorstep access to lowcountry fare at the historic 82 Queen restaurant, She-Crab soup at Anson Restaurant, or the local catch of the day at Poogan’s Porch


Indulge in farm-to-table Hawaiian cuisine
Dine at The Four Seasons Hualalai

With its Indigenous, Polynesian, Asian, and Portuguese influences, Hawaiian Regional Cuisine is a confluence of flavors and cooking styles. Feast on whole roasted pig (or Kalua pig), poi (taro root), loco moco (hamburger, rice, and gravy), fresh oysters, ulu (breadfruit), or poké for an authentic taste of the islands. Hawaii is known for its high quality, ultra-fresh fish, so you can’t go wrong ordering the catch of the day at a restaurant. Try the locally-sourced cuisine at Merriman’s (chef Peter Merriman is one of the founders of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine), or get oysters on the half shell and ahi poké at Ulu Ocean Grill at The Four Seasons Hualalai.


Head to Nashville for some hot chicken
Nashville's famous hot chicken | by Blake Guidry

If you didn’t don a cowboy hat and eat some fiery hot chicken, did you even go to Nashville? Made with cayenne pepper and rich buttermilk, Nashville’s super spicy fried hot chicken packs some serious heat. Typically served with a slice of bread and Southern style fixins’ like collard greens, okra, potato salad, fried pickles, or mac-and-cheese, it’s must-have fare when visiting Music City. Visit Prince’s Hot Chicken or Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish for rave-worthy hot chicken that’s not for fragile taste buds, then rest your head at The Russell, a boutique hotel housed inside a former church. 

Napa Valley 

Work on your sommelier skills in Napa Valley
Napa Valley | Solage Auberge Resorts Collection

Tranquil and stylish Napa Valley is a constellation of five different towns known for their world-class wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most prevalent grapes here, but the region also boasts more than 36 other varietals. With countless walking tours, hiking and biking trails, and culinary and wine classes to choose from, Napa Valley is one of the best places in the country to indulge all your senses. Book a hotel adjacent to a winery – like the Solage Auberge Resorts Collection – and you won’t have to go far for a tasting session.    


Ditch the silverware and eat blue crab with your hands in Southern Maryland
Crab cake | By Zoe Schaeffer

It’s an understatement to say that Marylanders are very particular about their crabs (they even named a baseball team after them). Caught fresh from the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland blue crabs are typically steamed with a little beer and water, spiced with Old Bay, and served up with vinegar or melted butter. Every Marylander, from grandmothers to five year olds, will have a preferred theory on the “right way to pick ‘em,” but visitors may prefer to skip the mess and opt for any number of crab dishes. Try baked or fried crab cakes, decadent cream of crab soup (or the tomato-based Maryland Crab Soup), crispy soft shell crab, or crab dip for the ultimate Maryland blue crab experience. Try a fine-dining experience at quaint coastal destination St. Michaels at the luxurious STARS at Inn at Perry Cabin (the chefs make a damn good crab cake). 

New Orleans

Sample Cajun and Creole cuisine in the bayous of Nola
New Orleans | By Rosie Kerr

Jambalaya, Creole-style gumbo, crawfish étouffée, beignets, and po' boys are just a few of the dishes that put New Orleans on the foodie map. Known for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, Nola boasts a blend of French, African, Spanish, Caribbean, and Native American culinary influences. Cajuns (aka the “Acadians'') were the French colonists who originally settled in the city from Canada in the 1600s, and their spicy, hearty food legacy has left a delicious mark on the American South. Fill up on po' boys at Johnny's Po' Boys, indulge in a fluffy beignet topped with a flurry of powdered sugar at the historic Café du Monde, get a true taste of modern Creole cuisine at Brigtsen’s or experiment with Louisiana street food-inspired small plates (think: crispy oyster tacos) at SoBou


Sip small-batch brews in a craft beer capital
By Josh Olalde

Didn’t know Raleigh was the new noteworthy craft beer destination in the U.S.? North Carolina has the largest number of craft breweries and brewpubs in the South, and Raleigh is home to over 25 of them. Try Little City Brewing and Provisions, an award-winning cocktail bar and brewery with an industrial-chic vibe, Fainting Goat Brewing Company, a small-batch beer spot with a meticulous handcrafted approach, Bigfoot taproom, a brewery with 32 taps and an expansive beer garden, Clouds Brewing, a venue specializing in German-style beer, or Raleigh Beer Garden which boasts the world’s largest selection of draft beer. Can’t decide? Stay at the conveniently located and independently owned Guest House Raleigh and hit a ton of breweries in one fell swoop. 

Want more culinary content? Read: Three Food Experts Share the Travel Experiences That Shaped Them >>

"This sculpture is called "Transmission" by artist Daniel Popper. Its a reminder that we are all rooted in love, unity and the divine. She stands a towering 28 feet tall and is located on Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree. The land is private property, so you can see it from the viewing platform off of Sunfair Road. And take it from me, it's best viewed at sunset."

Reel: @johnofah

There's more to Greece than the white and blue buildings and the surrounding Mediterranean Sea. If you're planning a visit, check out these places below!

📍Kokkinopilos. Preveza
📍Verliga Dragon lake, Thessaly
📍Ithaca island, lonian Sea
📍Aoos springs lake, Epirus
📍Lake Prespes, Macedonia
📍Balda di Stringa waterfalls, Epirus
📍Meteora, Thessaly
📍Pelion, Thessaly
📍Lake Zorika, Epirus
📍Mt Lakmos
📍Crete island, Aegean Sea
📍Gistova Dragon lake, Macedonia

Reel: @farawayfarers

Swim or kayak through the limestone cliffs of the Twin Lagoon, a must-visit destination for those traveling to Coron, Palawan, Philippines. It is called "twin" lagoon because it consists of two lagoons separated by a limestone cliff, with one lagoon on top of the other. The water in the inner lagoon is warm and clear, with a stunning turquoise color that makes it popular for swimming and snorkeling.

Reel: @travelifejournal

Take a dip in a series of seven saltwater lagoons located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The Lagoons of Baltinache are known for their beautiful turquoise waters and unique geological formations. The high concentration of minerals in the water gives it a unique buoyancy that makes swimming in the lagoons a unique experience.

Reel: @everchanginghorizon

Watching the sun rise above the clouds at Haleakalā National Park is one of the most memorable experiences you could have. Haleakalā is a Hawaiian name that means “House of the Sun” and is an awesome place to watch the clear night sky and stars fade away as the sun lights up the sky and the earth.

Reel: @girlchill_sunset

Just 1 hour from Shanghai by train, Cherry Blossom Valley is a popular tourist destination, particularly in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The valley is named after the thousands of cherry blossom trees that cover the area and create a stunning display of pink and white flowers. The trees were originally planted in the 1980s by a group of Japanese experts who were invited to China to help with reforestation efforts. The best time to visit is typically in late March or early April. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Reel: @cyncynti

New Zealand is unbelievable. See it for yourself:

1. Fiordland National Park
2. A classic backcountry hut trip
3. Blue Pools walk
4. Hooker Lake
5. Milford Sound
6. Lake Pukaki

Reel: @kylekotajarvi

Surrounded by lush greenery, towering karst mountains, and the river flowing through, the Detian Waterfall is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the close relationship between China and Vietnam. It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest cross-border waterfall in the world.

Reel: @sophoebelous

Escape to a serene and peaceful oasis away from the bustling city of Marrakech at Le Jardin Secret—a beautiful and historic garden where visitors can escape the noise and chaos and enjoy the beauty of nature. The garden was originally built in the 16th century and is home to many different species of plants, including exotic flowers, citrus trees, and palm trees.

Reel: @hypermiggzz

For a magical moment and bucket list travel experience, visit the end point of the annual monarch butterfly migration. Starting in August, the monarchs travel 2,800 miles south from Canada, making a temporary home amid the towering trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where the two most popular sanctuaries to view them are el Rosario in the state of Michoacan and Piedra Herrada in Estado de México. Standing in silence while thousands of delicate wings beat in unison is something you'll never forget.

Reel: @juliiathompson

There's just something beautiful about snow covered landscapes like this popular attraction in southwestern Utah. Known for its unique geology, @brycecanyonnps_gov consists of a series of natural amphitheaters, called "hoodoos," formed by erosion of the rock layers.

Photo: @nathanleeallen

As we experience a couple more weeks of winter, we can't help but dream of tropical destinations like Hawaii. The warm water, sunny skies, and consistent waves make it an ideal destination for surfers. Hawaii has a vibrant surf culture and community and is also a beautiful place to explore outside of the water, with lush green mountains, stunning beaches, and unique cultural experiences.

Reel: @christopherballadarez

1. @sequoiakingsnps, California
2. @canyonlandsnps, Utah
3. @olympic_nps, Washington
4. @whitesandsnps, New Mexico
5. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
6. Knik Glacier, Alaska

Reel: @nathanleeallen