Themed food trails keep popping up nationwide. If we were to map the routes all out on a map the lines might look like a plate full of spaghetti.
The appeal is simple: Visit a place famous for a certain type of food and don’t enjoy that tasty dish just once, have it a whole heck of a lot. Indulge while you’re in the best place to get that specific yumminess. Dig in and discover how different chefs give that local specialty their own special twist. Satisfy your curiosity and specific craving. Calories don’t count on vacation, right?
The food trail trend is a foodie traveler’s dream come true—and it makes planning a trip a whole lot easier. You don’t have to look up every restaurant address or suss out every hidden shack, just grab a brochure, map or download the app with all the details spelled out. Off you go to savor the flavor!
Here are just a few food trails worth a trip, including some that are brand new. Check back: We’ll keep adding to the list!
A to Z Foodie Trail – Marion and Mahaska Counties, Iowa
The A to Z Foodie Trail rolled out in Iowa’s Mahaska and Marion Counties in January 2018. It features 26 stops in a loop that includes Pella, Leighton, Oskaloosa, Knoxville and Pleasantville. A helpful brochure available at each stop includes information about each destination on the route plus a map.
Each stop displays a letter of the alphabet so you can take a selfie with the item and letter. For example:
- “B” is for Blonde Fatale Beer at Peace Tree Brewing Company in Knoxville. In 2014, the brew earned a Gold medal at the World Beer Cup.
- “G” is for Gouda cheese curds from Frisian Farms Cheese in Leighton. The cheese is made according to a traditional Dutch recipe for small-batch artisanal Gouda using locally produced milk.
- “U” is for Ulrich’s Genuine Pella Bologna in Pella: The original recipe came from Europe with John Ulrich in 1868. He opened his butcher shop in downtown Pella in 1884 and word of his quality product soon spread.
The trail aims to give more insight into the variety of cultures and tastes of the area. The trail ranges from apples to zucchini, bakeries to breweries and old-world recipes to new food innovations.
Adams County Pour Tour – Adams County, Pennsylvania
Beverage makers throughout the rural countryside of Adams County, Pennsylvania, understand the impression that a drink can make. Taste their passion in every splash.
Destination Gettysburg invites you to get a taste of the Adams County region through a new craft beverage tour that highlights the countryside’s pints and pours. The Adams County Pour Tour brings together wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries in this new liquid culinary trail designed to showcase the destination’s bold flavors.
Rooted in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Fruit Belt, Adams County is home to more than 20,000 acres of apple trees with bountiful farm markets, orchards and vineyards tucked among them. While 100 varieties of apples grow, it’s not all you’ll find: there are also peaches, grapes, hops and more.
Pick up a Pour Tour passport at any participating stop and start your tasty journey of discovery. Stamps are issued at each location when you purchase a drink or tasting. Prizes are awarded for collecting five, 12 and 20 stamps.
Cajun Bayou Food Trail – Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou
In celebration of the meals that make Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou such a standout—and the people who work together to get all that food onto all those tables—the new Cajun Bayou Food Trail has been launched in 2018.
The Trail is comprised of 15 restaurants plus six festivals and events, all of which focus on a true taste of what distinguishes this destination located just 45 minutes southwest of New Orleans.
Visit seven stops on the Trail and you’ll receive a T-shirt.
All the foods you think you already know from Louisiana—gumbo, etouffée, jambalaya, crawfish, red beans and rice, pecan pralines and so much more—can be found in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou.
One of the true delights of the new Food Trail is its authenticity, and the acknowledgment that the secret ingredient at every stop is the love that local chefs infuse into each dish. Sure, you can find restaurants with white tablecloths, but you’ll also find plenty of family-run establishments where recipes have been passed down for generations.
To whet your appetite and to start planning a trip that provides an authentic taste of Louisiana, click here.
Cajun Boudin Trail – Lafayette, Louisiana
The Cajun Boudin Trail puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to discovering Louisiana’s best boudin and other regional specialty meats.
Lafayette, in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country, is the indisputable center of all things boudin and a great starting point for your journey. The town of Scott in Lafayette Parish even holds the title of “Boudin Capital of the World,” as the location of some of the most prominent boudin makers in Louisiana.
Boudin purveyors can be found in “mom and pop” shops, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. Boudin is also celebrated with the annual Boudin Festival in the spring and the Boudin Cookoff in the fall.
So, what is boudin? It is one of the most unique and tasty regional specialties in America. Basically, it is a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings, mixed together and stuffed into a sausage casing, but that’s only the beginning. Boudin can also be made with crawfish, alligator, shrimp and more. You can find boudin balls, eggrolls, king cake and many other dishes made with boudin.
Discover for yourself the variety of boudin that can be found on the Cajun Boudin Trail. For more information, click here.
Donut Trail – Butler County, Ohio
The first and only Donut Trail in Ohio, the Butler County Donut Trail, features 12 family-owned businesses with a combined 372 years of donut-making experience. With participants located throughout the county, the trail is a great way to explore the region while exercising your taste buds.
Since its founding in 2016, more than 9,000 people have visited the Donut Trail, including visitors from nine different countries and 44 states (including Alaska and Hawaii). Offering unique flavors like s’mores, tiger tails, raspberry cheesecake and Reese’s Cup, visitors from school groups to bachelorette parties to family reunions have partaken in the trail and shared their experiences on social media via @DonutTrail.
Grab a passport and at any participating location, travel and taste along the route, and remember to get your passport stamped. Once it’s full you’ll receive a complimentary Butler County Donut Trail T-shirt.
For more information, click here.
Pecan Trail – Florence, South Carolina
Florence is the hub of the South Carolina Pecan Trail, and 22 local restaurants that showcase pecans in their dishes are featured. Progressive dinners are simple. Just use the Pecan Trail passport to choose restaurants for each course, collect stamps, and earn prizes as you go.
You can pick up a South Carolina Pecan Trail Passport at participating businesses. Collect stamps with each purchase then return the stamped passport to the Florence Convention & Visitors Bureau in person or by mail to snag pecan swag. Collect all 22 stamps and earn an official S.C. Pecan Trail T-shirt, stylish drawstring bag and nutcracker.
Whether you like your pecans plain, spicy, topping a pie, or covered in chocolate, a variety of flavors will satisfy your nutty side in Florence.
Surry Sonker Trail – Surry County, North Carolina
The Surry Sonker Trail is a confectionary trail showcasing a heritage food passed down from generation to generation in Surry County, North Carolina.
For the uninitiated, sonker is pie/cobbler hybrid. It comes about by blending fruit and unshaped dough sweetened with sugar, molasses, or other secret ingredients. Sonker is similar to snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike.
“Everyone has their own recipe,” says Carolyn Carter of Rockford General Store, “and I’ve never had a bad one.”
“Sonker is one of those dishes where culture and culinary meet in a very specific way,” says Chef Corey Moore of Elkin’s Skull Camp Smokehouse.
Each of the eight trail locations makes its own interpretation of the dessert. Several places, including Rockford General Store, feature sonker that is baked; some recipes prepare sonker similar to dumplings.
At Elkin’s Skull Camp Smokehouse, Moore starts by mixing fruit with water, sugar and cornstarch and baking for 30 minutes to allow the fruit juices to release. He then makes a sweet batter, pours it on top of the fruit, returns it to the oven, and bakes until golden brown.
“To me, sonker should be full of fruit, topped with a sweet, creamy batter then baked in a deep-dish pan with the intention of feeding a crowd,” Moore says. “We serve our sonker with a scoop of vanilla ice cream which offers a great juxtaposition to its warm, crusty counterpart.”
The Surry Sonker Trail is located in the Yadkin Valley in northwestern North Carolina near the Virginia border. Information and trail maps are available here.
Tenderloin Trail – Iowa
Since 2003, the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) annually names a best breaded tenderloin winner. The hand-pounded or tenderized center-cut pork loins come either blanketed in a custom breadcrumb mixture or dipped in savory batter and fried to perfection.
Last year, IPPA launched a Tenderloin Trail that features 14 sandwiches from across the state, including several previous winners. To participate in the trail, just grab the official passport at any of the participating restaurants or download it at Iowapork.org or TravelIowa.com. Once you’ve have collected 10 stamps, mail in the passport to receive a free T-shirt.
The trail features some fun favorites, including Gov. Kim Reynolds’ pick, the IPPA staff’s favorite that is enjoyed often on Tenderloin Tuesdays, and the favorite of the “Pursuing Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches” Facebook group that has more than 14,000 members.
“The tenderloin trail celebrates the authenticity of the tenderloin sandwich, the local Iowa restaurants that prepare them with expertise, and the rich heritage of the Iowa pork industry,”said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA marketing/program director.