Consider these gourmand-approved excursions when visiting America's top culinary spots.
Often referred to as a melting pot of cultures, America boasts an eclectic mix of residents. It's hardly surprising, then, that its dining scene is just as diverse. From hearty deep-dish pizza in Chicago to award-winning farm-to-table fare in Napa Valley, destinations across the country attract visitors with their world-renowned dishes and cuisines. To help you sample the best of the best while on vacation, U.S. News compiled a list of 15 can't-miss foodie tours in the Best Foodie Cities in the USA. Read on to learn more about each experience.
Savannah Taste Experience: Savannah, Georgia
Savannah embodies Southern charm in everything from its oak tree-lined streets to its top-notch cuisine. For an overview of the city's Southern specialties, sign up for Savannah Taste Experience's First Squares Food Tour. Available daily, the tour gives Savannah visitors the chance to try local staples like she crab soup and shrimp and grits, plus a few surprising finds, such as British meat pies and pork belly doughnut sliders. The three-hour walking tour, which includes tastings at six eateries and shops, costs $53.95 per adult and $40.95 for children 11 and younger.
Sonoma Food Tour: Sonoma, California
Though often overshadowed by Napa Valley, Sonoma's culinary scene is just as impressive thanks to its plethora of specialty food stores, farm-to-table eateries and tasting rooms. To help you navigate the town's epicurean landscape, opt for a three-hour guided walk with a Sonoma Food Tour local expert. The Original Food, Wine & History Tour combines regional history, architecture and culture with food and wine tastings from popular locales like Vella Cheese Company and Wine Country Chocolates. It departs from Sonoma Plaza at 11 a.m. daily and costs $92.
Austin Eats Food Tours: Austin, Texas
Foodies flock to Austin to taste its delectable barbecue and Tex-Mex dishes, but the city's culinary scene extends far beyond these two mainstays. Austin Eats Food Tours offers experiences that cater to a variety of taste buds. If you're craving the classics, join the South Congress Tour, which takes you on a three-hour tasting journey around one of Austin's quirkiest neighborhoods for breakfast tacos, burgers and pizza. Love brunch? Then tag along on the Saturday Brunch/BBQ/Brewery Bus/Walking Tour. Or, pick the Best of Austin Food Truck Bus Tour to sample fare from Austin's famous food trucks stationed around the South Austin, downtown and East Side areas of the city. Tour prices start at $69 per person.
Bite San Diego: San Diego
San Diego vacationers who want to explore the city's food scene by neighborhood should consider one (or multiple) tours with Bite San Diego. This foodie tour operator features six three- to four-hour walking excursions through some of the city's most popular neighborhoods, including the Gaslamp Quarter and North Park, among others. Outings like the La Jolla Walking Tour include samples of fish tacos, apple pancakes and more from at least five restaurants. Details vary by tour, but generally, experiences are available once or twice weekly for $47 per person.
Walk Eat Nashville: Nashville, Tennessee
From regional classics like Nashville hot chicken to Mexican street tacos, this city's eateries serve many dishes worth traveling for. To help you discover Music City's culinary gems, travelers suggest adding a Walk Eat Nashville tour to your itinerary. The company offers three-hour guided walks around Nashville's foodie neighborhoods, such as downtown, East Nashville and Midtown. However, the operator's standout offering is its Nashville Eats Food Tour. Led by "Nashville Eats" author, Jennifer Justus, every Monday, this tour costs $88 per person and includes samples of dishes like buttermilk biscuits and barbecue, plus a signed copy of Justus' cookbook.
Taste of Houston Food Tours: Houston
If you love ethnic food, then Houston should be on your radar. This Texas metropolis is best known for its authentic Tex-Mex fare, but international cuisines like Spanish and Italian are just as ubiquitous. Enjoy a sampling of this multinational influence on a walking tour with Taste of Houston Food Tours. With your $65 or $89 tour fee, you'll enjoy up to three-and-a-half hours of tastings at four stops in The Heights, Montrose or downtown: three of Houston's most food-centric neighborhoods. But remember, tours are only available on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Forktown Food Tours: Portland, Oregon
Portland's fresh, organic ingredients are front and center at its restaurants, farmers markets and 600-plus food carts, making this West Coast city a great destination for culinary connoisseurs. Multiple operators offer tours in Portland, but Forktown Food Tours is especially popular with visitors. Offering everything from Korean-American fusion food cart fare to a cured meat, cheese and beer tasting at a local brewery, Forktown Food Tours features two-and-a-half to three-hour excursions around areas like Division Street, North Mississippi Avenue and downtown. Times vary by tour, but all cost $85 or $89 per person.
(Jamie Francis/Courtesy of TravelPortland.com)
Savor Seattle Food Tours: Seattle
Seattle's restaurant menus are known to feature dishes made with seasonal, sustainable ingredients, meaning it won't be hard to find a delectable meal in the Emerald City. To learn more about the foods that make Seattle's dining scene so unique, look no further than Savor Seattle Food Tours. On the company's nearly three-hour-long Gourmet Seattle Tour, which costs $71.99 or $73.99 per person (depending on the day), you'll sample creations like razor clam chowder and wild boar polenta. Savor Seattle Food Tours also offers specialized tasting tours, including a chocolate-themed outing and a guided walk through Pike Place Market.
Charleston Culinary Tours: Charleston, South Carolina
Whether you're interested in an overview of Charleston's low country cuisine or a behind-the-scenes look at some of its eateries, Charleston Culinary Tours has you covered. This tour operator's standard downtown foodie tour includes tastings at four or five restaurants, while its popular Upper King Street Culinary Tour takes you to four dining establishments in its namesake district. More unique offerings include a market shopping experience with a chef and an oyster-focused walking tour. Most tour options cost $60 per person and last no more than three hours.
Gourmet Food and Wine Tours: Napa Valley
With five Michelin-starred restaurants and a bevy of highly regarded wineries, Napa Valley beckons to gourmands and oenophiles. However, reserving a table at one of Napa's acclaimed dining venues can be challenging, so taking a foodie tour may be your best bet for scoring access. Gourmet Food and Wine Tours hosts two Napa-based culinary outings, including one in Yountville that offers a peek at The French Laundry's garden. Each tour will set you back $175 or $195 and covers food and wine pairings at locales like the Lucy Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono and Morimoto Napa.
Melting Pot Food Tours: Los Angeles
Los Angeles' ethnic enclaves are home to some of the country's tastiest eats, which you could spend your entire vacation savoring. To help you locate the best restaurants in off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, such as East LA, and popular culinary spots like The Original Farmers Market, travelers recommend Melting Pot Food Tours. Foodies will especially love the company's Thai Town tour, a Sunday-only experience led by celebrity chef Jet Tila. The tour includes tastes of items like jade noodles and papaya salad in its $199 per person fee.
Foods of New York Tours: New York City
Michelin-starred restaurants, specialty food stores and more can be found in the Big Apple, making it one of the country's top destinations for food lovers. Finding an authentic pastrami sandwich, slice of pizza or bagel is relatively easy here, but for a true taste of New York in Chelsea Market, Brooklyn, Chinatown and other can't-miss culinary hot spots, consider joining a Foods of New York Tours excursion. Visitors rave about The Original Greenwich Village tour, which includes eight tastings of Italian classics like cannolis and meatballs for $54 for adults and $35 for kids ages 3 to 12.
Chicago Food Planet: Chicago
The Windy City is filled with regional specialties (think: deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and sport pepper-covered hot dogs), all of which are available to try on Chicago Food Planet's main tour: the Best In Chow. Featuring stops at local hot spots, such as Portillo's, Al's Italian Beef and Lou Malnati's, this tour lasts up to three hours and costs $35 for kids and $55 to $57 for adults (depending on the season). Meanwhile, travelers interested in sampling Chicago's Chinese fare will enjoy trying steamed barbecue pork buns, egg tarts and more during the seasonal Chinatown Adventure tour.
Doctor Gumbo Tours: New Orleans
Although Doctor Gumbo Tours only offers two culinary tours – a classic food history option and one that combines local cuisine with craft cocktails – this traveler-approved operator is a great option for visitors who want to savor the world-renowned Cajun and Creole fare of New Orleans. The company's three-hour-long Food History Tour combines local history with tastings of gumbo, muffalettas, po'boys and other regional specialties at six locations in the French Quarter. It is offered every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays and costs $55 per person.
Local Tastes of the City Tours: San Francisco
San Francisco is a mecca for seafood and sourdough bread lovers, but the No. 1 Best Foodie City in the USA also boasts top-notch ethnic eats, which you can savor during an outing with Local Tastes of the City Tours. Group walking tours in neighborhoods like Chinatown and North Beach (San Francisco's Little Italy) are available, in addition to evening tours that combine stops in both neighborhoods and include samplings of dim sum, homemade chocolates and pizza. All three tours depart once or twice daily and cost $59 per adult, $39 for youths 12 to 16, and $15 for kids 2 to 11.